Thursday, December 31, 2020

My 2020 Travels (The pandemic year)

by Regin Reyno

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Year 2020. Oh what a year.

Before the pandemic and lockdown, I was able to go to a few places. In fact, prior to the lockdown/enhanced community quarantine, it was a busy time for me, hopping from place to place. It was quite adventurous but at the same time, physically exhausting. I was tired but fulfilled. 

And then, the pandemic hit and I had a 7-month rest.

The Lord is merciful. I am so grateful for His protection and providing me this opportunity to travel in 2020.

1. Cebu, Philippines
January 2020

Accommodation: Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, Citi Park Hotel, Ging Ging Resort, Teobas Homestay, OYO 210 Apple Tree Suites

Transportation: Cebu Pacific 

Teobas Homestay in Moalboal

We attended a wedding of a dear friend in Cebu City. Then, my family and I rented a car and toured southern Cebu. It was a relaxing road trip enjoying the scenery of the island.

We swam with whalesharks and visited historical structures in Oslob, hiked at Kawasan falls; and the highlight of our trip: a wonderful stay at a lovely resort in Moalboal; Teobas Homestay. The waters at this resort is amazing. Just meters from our bungalow is the dive site where you can swim. We even saw turtles. The wonderful view of OsmeƱa peak and sunset added to the wonderful experience. And of course, swam with sardines, too.

In Cebu City, I saw my a good friend and college classmate and finally meeting his wife. 

2. Manila and Cebu City, Philippines
January 2020

Accommodation: Zula Hostel, Connecting Flight Mactan Cebu Hostel
Transportation: Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines 

backpacker district in Makati, Philppines

On my way to Taipei, Taiwan and Okinawa, Japan, I had a stop-over at Cagayan de Oro to catch my early morning flight. I stayed at Win Min Transient Inn. I just relaxed at my Inn and had some street food snacks. It was quite a memorable trip as exactly the day before my flight, Taal Volcano erupted. So my flights were cancelled and I was constantly monitoring the news from my Inn’s TV. It was an anxious night, rebooking and refunding flights.

And so, flights were cancelled. So I have to rebook and look for flights. My original AirAsia flight was cancelled. Good thing I was able to find a Cebu Pacific flight to Manila. I had a long wait at Cagayan de Oro airport. It was delayed for too many times. It was a stressful day. Good thing Cebu Pacific provided a free meal from Kenny Roger’s. Then, finally, arrived at Manila in the evening. I went to get my passport at the agency in Makati (applied for a Chinese visa) then proceeded to a wonderful backpacker hostel in Makati. I relaxed at this hostel, explored the place a bit, and befriended some backpackers. Zula hostel is the best backpacker hostel I've been to in Manila.

I was constantly monitoring flights, as all my original flights to Taipei and Okinawa were cancelled.

Finally saw a new flight to Taipei, Taiwan, but it’ll depart not from Manila, but from Cebu City. So, I have to book a flight to Cebu City to fly to Taipei. It was quite stressful and an added expense. But that’s how it goes sometimes. We just to be positive and adapt to circumstances beyond our control.

So I flew to Cebu City from Manila via Philippine Airlines and had a relaxation at a hostel in Mactan island for my early morning flight the next day to Taipei.

3. Taipei, Taiwan

January 2020

Accommodation:Taiwan Youth Hostel & Capsule Hotel

Transportation: AirAsia 

where bubble tea was invented 

My 2nd time in this country. I saw my Taiwanese friends who I befriended during my trip to Machu Picchu, Peru. It was nice seeing them again.

Thanks, Kate and Abby, for the wonderful lunch and bubble tea. Till we meet again.

I’ve been to major tourist spots in this city before, so this time, I focused on experiencing Taipei’s cuisine, like the very delicious omelette at the night market, and of course, bubble tea.
The nature and transportation system in this city is admirable.

4. Okinawa, Japan

January 2020

Accommodation: Airport Inn Naha Asahibashi Station-Hostel
Transportation: Tigerair 

Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu
a UNESCO World Heritage Site

During my around-the-world journey, I needed a visa to enter Mexico. But a Japan visa can be also be used. So I opted to apply for a Japan visa. Now, I have to use that visa. I chose Okinawa because I’ve been to Tokyo before. And I am also curious about the longevity of the people there. It is part of the Blue Zone. 

Japan never fails to amaze me. Everyday there is a ‘wow’ moment. The cleanliness of this country is second to one. 

Naha, a city in Okinawa where I stayed, is one of my favorite places in the world. It is laid back but at the same time, have the conveniences of a major city. The island life can be felt; fresh air, fresh produce, and coastline scenery. I was able to have a glimpse to the reasons of long life of the people here, like their diet, particularly their inclination to bitter gourd. They often eat it. You can even find it in convenience stores, ready to be eaten.

Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, UNESCO World Heritage Site was visited, too. 

5. Cebu City, Philippines

January 2020
Accommodation: OYO 187 The Maxwell Hotel, Cebu Pension Plaza

Transportation: Tigerair

Lunhaw Vegan restaurant in Cebu City

After a trip to Okinawa and Taipei, I’m back to the Philippines. Cebu City as my point of entry, I decided to stay a few days in the city and just relax, have massages, arrange my finances, a bit of shopping, and just experience and enjoy the city.

6. Cotabato City, Philippines
January 2020

Accommodation: El Manuel Hotel

Transportation: private vehicle

biggest mosque in the Philippines

A road trip to Cotabato City in Maguindanao province.

The roads in Mindanao are wide, wonderfully paved, spacious (4-6 lanes). It was during this trip that I saw the enormous progress of Mindanao, especially its highways, ever since Duterte became president. Visit Mindanao and see for yourself. Thank you, president Duterte. 

We went to attend the wake of my aunt. We also visited famous landmarks, such as The Grand Mosque, the biggest mosque in the Philippines, and also the Pink Mosque, and the Ampatuan mansion. It was during this time when the 1st case of Covid19 in the Philippines was recorded. I remember buying a mask at a drugstore, but it was out of stock.

7. General Santos and Polomolok, South Cotabato, Philippines
January 2020
Accommodation: GenSan mission/conference guest house, cousin’s house at Dole Kalsangi

Transportation: private vehicle

We proceeded to visit our relatives in South Cotabato. It was a wonderful experience to be able to see them and have some bonding moment. A wonderful stay and breakfast at Dole Kalsangi was enjoyable and relaxing. Thank you, Lablab.

Dole Kalsangi

8. Manila, Philippines

February 2020

Accommodation: sister’s house

Transportation: AirAsia 

Manila, once again. A good opportunity to visit my sister’s family. I was able to see an old friend, too.

9. Batad, Ifugao, Philippines

February 2020
Accommodation: a homestay at the rice terraces village (forgot the name)

Transportation: Victory Liner and Coda lines 

view from our homestay

A long overdue trip. It has been a great desire to visit one of the best rice terraces in Asia, Batad Rice Terraces. Although I grew up in nearby province, Isabela, I haven’t been to Batad before.

My friend and I decided to travel in the Philippines as it was Chinese New Year holiday and there were delays to her flights and work schedule due to Covid19. We didn’t have any plans, didn’t book anything. We wanted a more adventurous, spur of the moment trip. It was fun.

We took Victory Liner First Class to Solano as all buses to Sagada were fully booked. Then, from Solano, waited at a gas station for buses to Banaue.

We stayed at, literally, the village where the rice terraces are located. It was a wonderful homestay with a million dollar view. It’s hard to beat that.

10. Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines

February 2020
Accommodation: a family-owned lodge (forgot the name)
Transportation: van 

hanging coffins of Sagada

Another top of the list Philippine bucket list. I’m so glad and fulfilled to be able to finally visit it. Sagada is a backpacker’s haven. Relaxing, crisp, cool air, and full of cozy cafes. It is a perfect romantic getaway in the Philippines. We even visited and relaxed at the cafe where the movie, That Thing Called Tadhana, was filmed. Every morning, we would go to Bana’s Coffee Shop and have a cup of French-pressed Sagada arabica. I tried their civet coffee, too, which they claim, is harvested naturally from cats in the wild, not caged.  

11. Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

February 2020
Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast by Budgetel 

Transportation: AirAsia 

A wonderful relaxation in the city after a long travel from Manila. With January’s cool air, it was nice just having outdoor dinner and listening to live music at my hotel compound. This hotel, though inexpensive, is a good place to stay and relax in Cagayan de Oro. I did some writings, too, at my hotel room, for my travel blog. 

12. Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, Philippines

November 2020

Accommodation: Cozy Cabin Dahilayan

Transportation: private vehicle

After months of not going anywhere due to the pandemic, this was our first travel since the lockdown/ECQ. It was a convoy road trip with family and relatives to the mountains in Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon-part of Kitanglad Mountain Range. 

We rented a log cabin. It was a wonderful experience to be in a log cabin in the mountains, together. The nature rejuvenated us. 

Fireplace, barbecuing, roasting, s'mores, nature walks, eating together; it was fun. You can't go wrong with log cabins in the mountains. 

We also visited Jessie's diner, an American diner with vintage cars. 

Many of my travel plans, even big international travel plans were cancelled due to the pandemic this year. It is disappointing.

But I am still grateful to be alive and be able to survive this year and be able to spend it with family. It is because of the Lords blessings and protection. We don’t know what’s ahead, but looking back at how God had led us-His providence and protection-we can be confident that He will never forsake us.

Happy New Year!

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