Reshma Narasing is an avid traveller from India, who particularly loves to fly solo and get off the beaten track. Here, she shares some of her favourite experiences in the Philippines (and one disaster) that can be found beyond the country’s perfect beaches:
The Philippines is a nation of more than 7,000 gorgeous islands, and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
But there’s much more to enjoy than just a lazy beach vacation, there’s also lots for the adventure seeking wandering souls, history buffs and mountain lovers.
I started my travels in Manila, a city that doesn’t seem to sleep. Next, after I’d had my share of beach destinations in the fantastic Palawan and the hidden gems of Negros and Cebu provinces, I spent the rest of my time in the mountainous provinces up north.
It was one of my incredible backpacking trips in South Asia and the East, and so I’d like to share the best — and worst — of my experiences in the Philippines.
1. Fighting my fears: Zip Lining in Las Cabanas
I have to admit something here first: I’m scared of heights! But it’s one of the many things that I’ve been working upon. So, when I heard about the zip line that connects two islands in Las Cabanas, Palawan,I saw a chance to challenge myself. So, with a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms, I did it. When I was mid-air, my fear transformed into ecstasy the moment I saw the gorgeous view beneath me, the shades of blue stunningly stretched until the horizon.
I wished it lasted longer… and so I did it again! I couldn’t stop smiling as I flew through the air.
2. Bontoc: Riding on top a jeepney
Whenever I visit a new country, I love to experience all the different forms of transportation on offer.
So I was in for a pleasant surprise in the Philippines — I was amazed at the number of options. Whether it’s the vibrant jeepneys, the tiny tricycles, tuk-tuks, trains, buses, cabs, ferries, motorboats or flights, the Philippines has it all. Needless to say, I tried and enjoyed all of them.
But you know what I liked the best? Going on a 45-minute ride sitting on the top of a jeepney amid the mountains of Sagada. There were no seats left inside when I arrived, so I joined two local men and hopped on top.
The magnificent landscape at every turn among the hills was a treat for the eyes, while the cool breeze also elevated my happiness!
3. All the other adventures
The Philippines offered me many adventures in a single trip, both on land and in water. Apart from the journeys in ferry and speedboats, I did some kayaking and snorkelling. I particularly enjoyed some hikes, including to the terrace rice fields in Banaue, one to watch the sunrise on Mount Kilipitan and another to enjoy the sunset near Lake Danum.
The Sumaguing cave tour was the most exhilarating, challenging and the adventurous of them all as it included a bit of everything, from rock climbing to rappelling, for more than two hours.
4. Exploring the UNESCO heritage destinations
I visited two of the country’s UNESCO heritage destinations: The longest underground river in the world in Puerto Princesa and the rice terraces of Banaue. Apart from these, I explored the ruins of the World War II hospital on Corregidor Island that stands as a testimony to the years of war.
5. Finally, when I dropped my phone in a lagoon…
Ok, so this isn’t a high point, but it was a valuable lesson. During an island hopping tour in El Nido, I was looking through the shots I’d just taken and my mobile slipped out of my hand into the lagoon.
I had been a bit slack in backing up my photos, so I lost them all along with the mobile. So that’s something I will never let happen again!
So all in all, it was a memorable experience in the Philippines. And some day I’d love to visit again.
So, let me know what else I should explore!