Out for a great adventure: Nghi Son Eco Park

Travel the World, Vietnam

We’ve got one day to enjoy a free day at Thanh Hoa, Vietnam and there’s only one way to positively spend a day on foreign land, go for an adventure into unknown territories.

This is #juantravels taking the adventure into the Nghi Son Eco Park.

Our start off point was at Anh Phat Hotel located at Bắc Hải, Tĩnh Gia District, Thanh Hoa, Vietnam. From there a taxi service took us to the Nghi Son Eco Park, around 15 minutes away from the hotel.

Budget Watch

Taxi Fare 200,000 Dong (Back and forth)

Entrance fee 15,000 Dong per visitor

Snacks 100,000 Dong at the local bar

The area is a bit isolated from the community being encapsulated by big mountain boulders and forestry but the welcoming pine trees on the entrance will transform your mood and adapt the calmness of the place. It’s a secluded yet worthy adventure spot if you’re a beach person and a nature lover at the same time.

The Beach

On that day, there were only few guests and most of them are enjoying the pristine landscape of the beach. It’s an Eco friendly zone, that’s why environmental reminders are posted as general rules of engagement.

The Rock Formations

Found it amazing how the rock formations manifested itself. The velvet rocks are one of a kind, giving the shore line another accent of natural color regrouping above the golden sand of Bai Dong Beach.

The Chill Pill

We sort of hiked the rock formations and reached the farthest Villa from the beach until we sweat our selves out. We then decided to take the chill pill and cozy up into the local bar for some refreshments.

The Huts

The Eco Park

It’s a perfect get away if you’d ask me. Best for honey mooners or even for a group hang out spot. The place was only modified to suit the needs for easy logistics from the villas going to the pool, restaurant, and to the beach, but other than that the whole of the area will still give you the panoramic feels and intact details of nature.

It was a good sweaty day, one that will be added to my list of best beach day ever. No need for a swim this time. For a change, being a spectator of nature reconnects you to what really tames the eye and fires up the soul. It’s all things calm that revitalize your spirit , calmness that flows through as the waves dance into the tides. The sunlight, as it burns the weight off your shoulder and the trees, as they sway to the wind’s course. All free moving, all in the command of nature.

Found some mix reviews regarding the Eco Park, but for a visitor like me, just a good walk by the beach is more than enough. You don’t let the negativity disrupt your peace. You conquer your mind, as you conquer unknown territories.

Tell me more about your experience too.

Until next time!

#juantravels

Home Herbs Garden : Best Tacloban Finds Edition

Healthy Living, Tacloban, Travel Philippines

One morning while jogging I found this one Tacloban find that deserves an article on this blog.

It’s one of the many “Best Tacloban Finds” that I will feature on the upcoming posts. So if ever you’re in Tacloban City and you need something which concerns about home ornaments, landscaping plants and herbs, this is the place to visit.

Welcome to Dona’s Halaman! Located at Brgy. Abucay, Tacloban City.

Price range of ornaments for landscape purposes starts at ₱150.00 from smaller plants up to ₱8,000.00 for the fully grown “African Talisay”, smaller versions cost ₱350.00 per pot.

African Talisay- Php 8000.00

They also sell succulents with price tags ranging from ₱100.00 to ₱300.00 only, depending on the size and arrangements.

Succulents- Php 100-300 only

The diversity provides cheaper ,quality products and healthy living options for the resilient residents of Tacloban.

My best find though was their garden of herbs, of which I purchased a handful, as a gift for my wife. A cheap price of ₱100 – ₱200 per pot will give you a good jump start into indoor herb gardening.

The Herbs at Dona’s Halaman

Budget Watch

Herbs:

Culantro =₱100

Rosemary =₱200

Basil =₱50

Lemon Balm =₱100

Peppermint =₱100

Hook on plastic pots = ₱20 x 5 pcs = ₱100

Small plastic pot = ₱15 x 2 = ₱30

Bio-plastic container = ₱10/10 pcs

Total = ₱690.00

Famous for its medicinal value, the idea of growing a herbs garden inspired me, that’s why I bought my first five herbs for our home wall- garden.

I bought Rosemary, Culantro, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Basil. I also plan to add more, maybe next time.

These plants came all the way from Davao Province, since Mrs. Dona Alday is a native of the southern Philippines. The row of gardeners and suppliers in Abucay are Davaenos striving in the business of plants and landscaping supplies here in Tacloban. The diversity provides cheaper ,quality products and healthy living options for the resilient residents of Tacloban.

You can visit their site or directly contact her through :

Mrs. Dona Alday

Dona’s Halaman

Abucay, Tacloban City

09099884176

Mrs. Dona Alday- Shop Owner

For comments and suggestions, kindly reach us at juantravelsblog@gmail.com

Home, not happening anytime soon: A Status Quo

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Feature, Travel Life, Travel the World

Traveling professionals like us in the maritime industry are at the receiving end of aftershocks brought by COVID-19 pandemic. Working as back-liners in the battle against a worldwide virus scare brings us at the back of the list of priorities as well. Sure we get that, we are not the most important sector in this new normal but we do have lives to live as well. We also have families who yearn for our return, some of us even have it worst, they have family members infected with the Corona virus and could only do so much as monitoring their conditions, because reality speaking, being home is not happening anytime soon.

There are industry safety restrictions that make it hard for crew change to happen. Most of those rules vary from country to country and could change without prior notice. So here’s a run down of ports and countries that may or may not allow crew change according to Wilhelmsen Ship Service.

Photo Credits: https://www.wilhelmsen.com

The Wilhelmsen Ship Service website offers a real time update on port status regarding its availability for change crew operations and other logistic requirements. The website also offers information about requirements for crew change so that manning agencies could prepare beforehand. It is only in Southern Australia and United Kingdom where crew change are allowed without any conditions. As of this writing there are around 14 countries/ports that DO NOT allow crew change.

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Bonaire
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Cape Verde
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Vanuatu
  • Fiji

like the generations of great sailors before us, we will set our sails and continue our course no matter what kind of storm we face along the journey…

The rest of the countries offer crew change arrangements with conditions and some of the restrictions floats between conditions like who are allowed to embark and disembark and when would be the right time to arrange the most awaited crew change. Covid-19 measures pushed some countries to only allow local residents to embark while requiring foreign nationals to undergo a 14-day quarantine before being admitted to board the ship. This entails additional costs to manning agencies and ship owners making the possibility of crew change disappear into oblivion. A sad reality that thousands of extended-contract crew should deal with. Bonuses and additional provisions are put in place by some manning agencies though, providing additional wages for those who have extended days as stipulated in their contract (cash incentives vary from agency to agency).

For your reference please visit the site for information purposes only. Being aware of the status quo regarding current crew change conditions allows you to manage your expectations, hence lesser disappointments and lesser unwanted stress while at work.

Rough seas make tough sailors and COVID-19 just made us all tougher more than ever.

So, how should a sailor manage his expectations? Here are some advice.

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on Pexels.com
  1. Divert your attention– Diverting your attention toward worthwhile activities while waiting for things to normalize will significantly reduce stress related anxiety. Watch a movie, read a book, focus on jobs at hand. Just as they say, patience is not about the ability to wait but the ability to maintain a positive attitude while waiting.
  2. Communicate often with family– Maintain constant communication with your loved ones. In this crucial times, communication is the only key to maintaining a calm mindset. Being able to know that everything is fine back home will instantly extinguish the worries that blankets the new world. Encourage your family to become resilient and flexible as well, inform them of updates so that they themselves could manage their own expectations. Being realistic with the approach will diminish disappointments when things don’t go as planned.
  3. Exercise or develop a new hobby– Exercise is a good way to reduce stress while on board and waiting for crew change. Take this time to motivate yourself in developing a healthy attitude towards your mental and physical health. Develop a new hobby, read a book, study and develop new work related skills and socialize with fellow crew. All these could help in easing out on the heavy burden in this unknown times.

The status quo is an unfortunate situation for us, sailors of the seven seas, but somehow like the generations of great sailors before us, we will set our sails and continue our course no matter what kind of storm we face along the journey. Rough seas make tough sailors and COVID-19 just made us all tougher more than ever.

#juantravels

Festival Sundays: Manaragat of Catbalogan

Travel Feature, Travel Philippines

Spotlight to the Samar Region!

For August’s Festival prompt, let’s take a virtual ride into the capital of Samar Region, Catbalogan.

In the new normal society, it should be applauded how the people strive and continue with life even with the threat of pandemic. That’s why it is with great pride to share with you how the Catbalogan City adapts with the changes in recent days. Fiestas like the Manaragat Festival gets a green light with the new normal guidelines in place. Check out this posters for the 2020 Manaragat Festival.

Quick Festival Overview

According to their official Facebook Page, “Manaragat Festival” of Catbalogan City started in 2004. The aim of the festival is to protect, preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Catbalogan and the truest identity of Samarnons. Catbalogan is the main capital of Samar Province, the city houses all major government agency offices for the region. It is also a center of commerce and the gateway that connects the cultures of Southern Luzon and North Western Visayas. The city flaunts of abundant fisheries making it the hub for all kinds of sea food commodity especially dried goods. Hence, the local term Manaragat which means people of the sea, since the city is geographically located by the seaside facing the island of Biliran.

Despite the pandemic, the advocacy on environmental protection and cultural preservation continues with programs and activities inspiring the young Samarnons to highlight their culture and resilience through online contests available all through out the month of August.

Quick Trivia:

In the early days of Spanish occupation in the Philippines in the 16th century, Samar was under the government of Cebu but later was declared a separate province. In the 17th Century, Samar and Leyte was united as one province making the city of Carigara as the capital. The union did not bring fruitful results though prompting both islands to separate. It was in 1768 that Catbalogan City became the capital of the independent Samar province.

Festival Take away

Aside from the merriment, I would like to highlight the part that really impresses me as a spectator, it is the re-education and support of the local government for fisheries initiative that help improve the lives of the community.

I think festivals like that of Manaragat deserves more boost and exposure especially for their effort in creating a sustainable livelihood and education for their people. Like in an old proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, I stan these kind of perspective and lift up these kind of people. Truly a worthy manaragat fellows. Join the city in their celebration through online portals and online contests for the month of August. Happy Manaragat Festival every-juan!

How to get to Catbalogan From Manila?

Buses ply the route of Manila to Tacloban on a daily basis and along the route you will pass by the city of Catbalogan after crossing the Samar region. Catbalogan serves as the usual stop over before you finally reach the city of Tacloban. It would take you atleast 16-18 hours of land trip if you ever travel into the Samar region.

By air, you could book a flight from Manila to Tacloban (1 hour) and ride a van from Tacloban to Catbalogan (2 hours by land).

Note: Due to the current threat of COVID-19, travel to and from the provinces are temporarily restricted and strictly controlled.

References:

https://www.facebook.com/manaragatfestival

Festival Sundays: Sandugo Festival of Bohol

Travel Feature, Travel Philippines

Hello there!

In continuation of our #juantravels prompt on Festival Sundays, we are featuring Bohol’s Sandugo Festival. Celebrated mostly for the whole month of July, Sandugo Festival has become the trademark mardi gras that every Boholanon look forward to every July. Sandugo is a historical festival that commemorates the blood compact between Datu Sikatuna, Bohol’s chieftain and Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, in a peace treaty that was formed on March 16, 1565.

Photo Credits: Bohol Sandugo Festival Facebook Page

History Revisited

In a bid to advance colonization and counter the Portuguese endeavor, Spanish expeditions were also launched to colonize the East Indies in the battle on supremacy over trade of spice. Many expeditions failed but it was only under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi that a successful Spanish settlement was established in the year 1565. His first attempt to land in Cebu was met with casualties that prompted him to explore other islands to land. Successful in his endeavor, he was able to land and found alliance in the island of Bohol under the chiefstain, Datu Sikatuna. From there they established a pact between leaders, cut their left arms with a dagger for drops of blood into the wine goblet and drank each other’s blood to form the bond that is now known as Sandugo (isang dugo- one blood). Hence, the blood compact being celebrated yearly in the province of Bohol.

Hot Spot

Bohol is a wanderer’s paradise of its own but for the celebration of Sandugo Festival paying a visit into the Bohol Compact Shrine will surely complete the travel experience.

Location: J.P, EK Inting St, Tagbilaran City, 6300 Bohol

In Photo: The Bohol Compact Shrine

This is the exact inscription on the blood compact monument installed in Tagbilaran City.

About the middle of March 1565, the fleet of Captain General Miguel López de Legazpi anchored along these shores. In the course of this visit, López de Legazpi entered into a blood compact with Datu Sikatuna for the purpose of insuring friendly relations between the Spaniards and Filipinos.

Each of the two leaders made a small cut in his arm, drew a few drops of blood from the incision, mixed it with wine, and drank the goblet containing the blood of the other. Thus was the first bond of friendship between Filipinos and Spaniards.

Quick Trivia:

In the Philippines, an award of entitlement as Order of Sikatuna is regarded as the high presidential decoration conferred as a national order of diplomatic merit given to individuals ,foreign or filipino, who have given exemplary service to the Republic in fostering diplomatic ties for the Philippines and other countries. This title was derived and named after Datu Sikatuna in reference to the blood compact he made with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. It is considered to be the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and the Filipinos.

Insignia of Order of Sikatuna
Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Modern Day Celebration

Tagbilaran being Bohol’s capital spearheads the celebration. The city’s Charter Day is celebrated on July 1 which is followed by a line up of events leading to the end month’s Sandugo Festival. A holy mass opens the celebration with motorcades and street dancing parade following through. Among the major activities during the month is the Miss Bohol Sandugo Beuaty Pageant and the Sandugo Street Dancing Competition which is usually held on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of July, and organized by the Bohol Sandugo Foundation, Inc. (BSFI). The Sandugo Festival also opened economic opportunities with trade and food fair being launched for the month-long festivities. A product showcase of locally produced goods is also held together with medical and surgical missions on selected areas.

The Virtual Celebration

There may have been adjustments in the manner of celebration for this year’s Sandugo Festival because of the current threat of COVID-19 but it did not stop Boholanons from commemorating one of Philippines’ landmark historical treaty.

Here’s a preview of the Bohol’s virtual celebration conducted in the new normal-pandemic status.

  • Sandugo Festival 2020 Virtual Celebration

References:

Official Website: Sandugo Festival of Bohol

Sandugo Festival Facebook Page

PGBh Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Council Facebook Page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandugo

Fuerza San Pedro the #Juantravels Night Tour

Cebu, Travel Philippines
Tour guide explaining the history behind the portraits and their contribution in Cebu’s history

Known as Fuerza San Pedro during the Spanish occupation, Fort San Pedro of Cebu serves as a great historical spot and tour site when you are in the Queen City of the South.

On a quick stop over, we decided to wander around a famous tourist hub in Cebu, from the Plaza Independencia, Magellan’s Cross and eventually into the walls of Fort San Pedro. We did a quick night tour inside the garrison of a once war head quarters. Join us and together we’ll explore the wonders inside the walls of Fort San Pedro.

Brief History

The Fort San Pedro was built under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi during the spanish colonial era. The garrison served as the home and head quarters of the governor to the Philippines as commissioned by the King of Spain. Initially held by wooden structures, the fort serves as command center for Spanish soldiers in the time of Spanish colonization. The walls of the garrison was later on reinforced with stone walls in the 17th century as defense against Muslim raiders. In the 19th century, Filipino revolutionaries took hold of the Fort and used it as a stronghold for battle against foreign occupants. Resembles as a triangular bastion, Fuerza De San Pedro is now dedicated as a historical museum and tourism hub for the visitors to explore with an in depth feature of Cebu City’s history.

What to expect when visiting?

The tour will mainly reintroduce you to the historical events that happened in the city of Cebu since the Philippines’ discovery by Ferdinand Magellan in the year 1521.

Inside the Gallery featuring portraits of famous historical figure.

There’s a gallery room where portraits of Magellan, Lapu-lapu, the Datus and some other key figures are posted. Miniature replicas of ancient Spanish exploration ships are also displayed for public viewing and even the first Philippine flag.

A copy of an ancient Philippine Flag

The Bastions

Since the Spanish invasion also paved the way for the spread of Christianity in the country, a great portion of the museum-converted-garrison pays homage to the Roman Catholic history and its saints. The three corners of the triangular block are the Bastion La Concepcion in honor of Mary or more popularly known as La Concepcion. A devotion towards the immaculate conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Bastion Ignacio De Loyola in honor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish soldier who became a priest/theologian who later on founded the Society of Jesus. Bastion San Miguel, a tribute to St. Michael Archangel whom the Spanish people regard as the protector of God’s faithful people.

A corner of the triangular bastion, from this side stands the Bastion San Miguel

You’ll never know just what you’ll discover, travelling to places as historically relevant as Cebu might just explain why we have complex and interesting cultural differences even among ourselves.

Trivia:

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi ordered the construction of Fort San Pedro as defense against local guerrilla attacks, it was on May 8, 1565 when he renamed the conquered Kingdom of Sugbo (hence the modern name CEBU) into Villa de San Miguel as homage to the protection provided by St. Michael the Archangel.

Viviende del Tiniente

This is the living quarters for the Lieutenant in charge of Fort San Pedro, the space is designated as private home for the head of the garrison. Today, the room features Pistaym, a gallery collection of Cebu City’s history that includes insightful snaps of Fort San Pedro and other historical spots in the city not limited nor exclusive to the Spanish colonial period but also during the American occupation from the lens of foreign observer. According to spectators, Cebu has always been prosperous, promising and forward looking, and us from #juantravels could not agree more.

#juantravels Gallery Fort San Pedro

Travel Take Away

  • In this trip, we learned that The Datus are considered as kings of their own tribe even before the discovery of the Philippines.
  • The tattoos on the Datu’s skin are not just art forms but also represents the number of lives slayed in defending his tribe. While for the women of the tribe, the more ink etched on their skin ranks them as to who is the fairest of them all.
  • Even before the Spanish occupation, the Philippines already had a government formed for the people. The colonization brought in Christianity and introduce to the natives the Eastern culture and ways of living.
  • There’s so much more to learn about the battles between Lapu-lapu and Magellan. History books will tell us about how the Philippines was put into the map by Magellan Circa 1521, but unless we dig deeper, we will not see and establish other key figures in our country’s history.
  • Cebu is a history book waiting to be read by every Filipino. We must atleast try and visit the queen city to explore and learn about our roots as Filipinos. You’ll never know just what you’ll discover, travelling to places as historically relevant as Cebu, this somehow explains why we have complex and interesting cultural differences even among ourselves.

#HTGT

Geotag:

Fort San Pedro location: A. Pigafetta Street, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu

If you want to visit Fort San Pedro, all you have to do is find your way into the Pier area, from there you could walk toward the Plaza Independencia where the front gates of the Fort San Pedro could be easily found.

Budget Watch

Minimum Base Fare Jeepney Ride PHP 8-10

Route tag 03B

Habal-habal ride- Varies from location, for guide into habal-habal riding at Cebu, please visit this post.

Entrance Fee- PHP 60.00

#PINASMUNATAYO: A vibrant campaign to boost Philippine travel and local economy

Travel Feature, Travel Philippines

In an effort to revive and give the Philippine economy a jump-start through travel, shopping and tourism, celebrities/public personalities and netizens are launching a campaign on choosing Philippine-destinations and local products first. Once the COVID-19 Pandemic is controlled and people can go out, Filipinos are encouraged to travel and visit local sites over travels abroad. Feast on local delights and patronize products that are proudly pinoy.

So in support of the said campaign #JuanTravels compiled some of the top suggestions on travel destinations and products that are available in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as suggested by netizens.

From Twitter, Loboc River Resort of Bohol advertized about advance bookings for the resumption of their services. Bohol is one of PH’s top tourist destination where the famous Chocolate Hills are located.

From twitter handle Iloilo Blogger flexing her favorite Tatoy’s Lechon Manok in Iloilo City.

From a netizen with twitter handle @iShaltravel, featuring the the white sand beach of Fuga Island, Aparri, Cagayan

Photo Credits: PinasMunaTayo Instagram Page

Instagram post of El Nido Palawan. Hailed as 2020 Best Island destination, Palawan is surely one of the top beach-island destination in the world. A boost may not be needed but this island-haven will always make it in the list.

Photo Credits: PinasMunaTayo Instagram Page

In photo, the Mayon Volcano of Albay as seen from Legazpi Airport. The perfect coned shape volcano is a major attraction for travels going south of Luzon, that’s why when in detour, pick a perfect spot to capture Albay’s Mayon.

Photo Credits: PinasMunaTayo Instagram Page

This is one of the interesting feature on Pinas Muna Tayo Page, a world-class chocolate proudly made in the Philippines. Will definitely look for this when I finally come home.

Safety Health Reminder

Travelling in the new normal, tourists and visitors alike are advised to always practice social distancing. Bring hand sanitizers during travel and always wear masks for protection. Those items must be on top of your travel checklist.

Final Words

With the world suffering from a huge economic recession, limited resources to compensate for the losses from lockdown, it is only but ideal for citizens to help each other out. Promote local spots to increase income, choose locally made products to keep the economy running and support each other to rise again after this pandemic. So to my fellow Filipinos, let’s choose Philippines, PINAS MUNA TAYO! Flaunt your favorite local destinations too, or promote your neighbors food delivery business, in what ever way possible. The goal is to lift each other up and move forward as one.

For more suggestions and informations please visit their social media pages, like, share and spread the word.

#juantravels

Here’s our #juantravels PINASMUNATAYO suggestion. When in Bacolod, don’t forget to visit Bacolod’s Best Chicken Inasal. For more info click here.

#PINASMUNATAYO

Festival Sundays: Pagoda of Wawa

Travel Feature, Travel Philippines

Since travel is limited during this pandemic, #juantravels is starting up with a virtual tour of festivals that are planned to be celebrated this July if COVID-19 did not happen. This is also a prompt to the creation of Festival Sundays, a feature of selected festivals around the Philippines every month. Can you join me on this virtual trip?

There are more than a hundred festivals that happen in the Philippines whole year round. Most of which are commemorations of religious saints, heroes birthday and town or city charter days. Whatever are the reasons for the celebration and merriment, it only proves that Filipinos will never run out of reasons to be happy, share a drink with a stranger, gather around bountiful tables and mingle with old time friends.

Read on for our first pick on our Festival Sundays for the month of July.

The Pagoda of Wawa Festival of Bocaue Bulacan

Celebrated every first Sunday of July annually, the festival started with a miraculous story of the journey of the floating cross found in Bocaue river some two hundred years ago. Pagodas originated from India and commonly seen as religious multilevel tower built as shrines as practiced in Vietnam, Korea, Japan , China and other parts of Asia. In the Philippine setting, the Pagoda sa Wawa is built to carry a replica of the cross found in the rivers of Bocaue and transported downstream through a fluvial parade. During the feast, devotees and locals accompany the pagoda as it traverse the river of Bocaue, commanding participation not only from devout catholics but from tourist spectators as well.

The Tragic History

To this day, the popularity of the festival transcends with the overwhelming crowd wanting to witness the fluvial parade. This even with a disastrous history that happened on July 2, 1993. The day when the 20-feet tall pagoda carrying between 800-1000 devotees sunk in the middle of the river. 266 fatalities was recorded and the reason for the sinking was caused by a panic reaction from the crowd when they heard firecrackers exploded on the floating pagoda. The shift in weight capsized and drowned the pagoda carrying with it casualties that to this day becomes on of the reason why the festival is being held, to commemorate the lives lost as families gather to pray for their eternal repose.

Quick Trivia:

A Filipino film depicting the 1993 tragedy was made under Seiko films and released on the year 1995.

Photo Credits: Sieko Films IMDB

The 2014 Rebirth

Though it was continued the following year with more stringent safety protocols in place, the revival in 2014 paved the way for the festival to rebuild its popularity and boost local economy of Bocaue. A new 48 feet tall pagoda was built carrying a three-storey level in height on top of three large boats, with a limited carrying capacity and strict life vest-on requirement. During the celebration, small boats were also allowed to join the parade sailing en route with the Pagoda of Wawa.

Photo Credits: Bocaue Rivertown Wonders Facebook Page

How to get there?

From Metro Manila you can ride a Bus going to Bulacan. Estimated fare PHP78 for a 35-minute ride going to Bocaue or bring your self towards Edsa-Cubao where there are lot of buses plying the North Luzon route.

Other Sites

While in Bocaue, you should also try to visit top google suggested tourist spots in the city. 4 out of 5 are churches so if you like doing visita iglesia, this trip is perfect for you!

Shrine of St. Andrew

St. Martin Tours Parish

The Garden

National Shrine and Parish of the Divine Mercy

La Purisima Consepcion Parish Church

Thanks for dropping by for this post! Any violent reactions, suggestions and constructive criticisms are welcome on the comment section. Join me next time for another virtual tour and festival feature!

#juantravels

References:

https://www.a1-philippine-travel-asia.com/bocaue-pagoda-festival.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bocaue_Pagoda_tragedy

Bocaue Rivertown Wonders Facebook Page

Interesting finds in a local Korean Wet Market

Korea, Travel the World

In one of our work-travel stay in Korea, we were able to discover local products in a Korean set up particularly those available in the wet market of Okpo, Korea. It’s impressive how the cleanliness is maintained and how smooth transactions are done in this area. If you’re staying for weeks in the city, a good supply of fresh vegetables, meat and fruits on cheaper price are available in this local public market.

The Okpo capital houses numerous business establishments, restaurants and hotels with residential sections relying on goods from large macro-grocery stores and of course the market. Price of commodities is bit high if you’re buying goods from the grocery stores. That’s why a quick tour is mandatory to show you the interesting finds we discovered in a Korean wet market. Read on for details.

Condiments, Fish, Vegetables and Herbal items

Aside from frozen fish, you could buy live ones from the aquariums on display. A bit pricey compared to frozen goods but buying it fresh should be a good purchase. We bought mostly poultry and veggies though since we have limited time to prepare and cook our meals after work. With a budget of around 150,000 Won, we were able to cover a food plan for a week. That’s around 30,000 Won per person for the whole five day work-week excluding breakfast and occasional lunch. The goods that we bought from the market are worth every Won, I must say.

For tips on buying goods from a foreign land, purchase items that you are familiar with. Different countries have different dietary demands but must have something in common in between. In Korea, we have seen familiar crops of the same variants like those we have in the Philippines like potatoes, cabbages, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic and onions. It was an easy task looking for those we usually use for cooking our own Filipino dish. Also, Okpo caters a global market of workers so most likely there are items available for different nationalities. Interesting find on this section are the herbal items and root stems that we have seen available on display. We kept guessing for its purpose but sadly we don’t have locals to explain those for us. Heads up, English isn’t a popular language here so it would help if you have translator apps on your phone for ease of transactions.

Korean desserts/delicacies, Side dish variants, Fresh Fruits

Of course fresh fruits won’t miss out on our list since it’s another good option available. What we enjoyed looking at where the numerous side dish available in the wet market. All sorts of veggie-side dishes that we enjoy so much from the company food halls and at almost all restaurants around the area. We’ve grown into dining with side dishes while in Korea since its a staple food in every table. You heard what they say, ” When in Korea, do what Koreans do” and of course dine as they do.

My quick choice was the sweet desserts on display, bought at least two sets for 5000 Won each just to taste the sticky rice desserts of Korea. It was not too sweet as I expected and a bit heavy on the tummy, a bite or two was enough for the day. It’s a food fest walking down the main isle of the market and for a traveler, it’s enough sight to be able experience Korea first hand.

they deserve a thumbs up for bringing in nothing but the best.

Korean Streetfoods

The most interesting find on my list is the stand alone Korean street-food store inside the wet market. From there, I stood and watch how they prepare, deep fry and mix the sauce to perfect the crunchy and savory combination of Korean street food delights. With a price range of 500-2000 Won per piece depending on your selections, you could enjoy this authentic Korean specialty in the convenience of the wet market area. You can dine while they cook or take your purchase for home consumption. Free sauce and other dips of your choice.

Final Thoughts

The food is a major turn on if we talk about loving Korea as a whole. From the Samyeopsal food halls, bone soup pubs, world class cafes to the ready-to-eat street food specialties, you’ll crave for more of Korea in every bite and every dining experience. It was a bonus that we were able to cook inside our hotel rooms that we also experience cooking Filipino dishes from ingredients that are purely Korean. The blend of taste is satisfying enough as smooth as the blend of cultures between two peoples.

In hindsight, the Korean brand dominates the world in television, music, movie and even in the food industry. I am not shocked since I was able to experience the quality of life that they offer to the world through the cleanliness, organization and innovative approach in business transactions even to the wet market levels. They deserve a thumbs up for bringing in nothing but the best and setting a standard for the world to follow.

There are far more interesting finds to discover from Korea as a country and I hope to experience more of this progressive nation again soon. Tag me along on your adventures too? Let me know your thoughts about this post on the comments section.

#juantravels

Korean wet market

#JuanTravels: The Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park Adventure

Korea, Travel the World

From the city proper of Okpo Korea, you can hike your way towards the Great Victory Commemorative Park. A park-temple-landmark dedicated to honor Korea’s famous war hero, Admiral Yi Sun Shin.

The Map to Great Victory

Start off Point

The foot bridge/gateway to the hiker trail

The road to the Great Victory Commemorative Park

From the start off point, you need to hike at least 2 kilometers to reach the landmarks of the park. The trail would involve high slopes and narrow mountain ridges that’s why a well conditioned body is an asset on this trip. The trail also offers scenic sea and mountain side view of surrounding islands, you can pause and enjoy the view to trickle down the heat of hiking if you feel like it. Travelling into the park was more of a tourist exploration where you connect every piece of the area like a puzzle exhibit of Korea’s history through the info boards at designated stops.

The Day Hike

It was a long trail to hurdle on a day hike. Luckily, the climate that day was good for hiking, a trek surrounded with pine trees on the sides of the walking isles and the breeze of cold air made a good combination for a do it yourself hike. There were so much stories and catching up talks along the way that we did not notice reaching the highway. It was from there that we ease out on reaching the spot of our adventure.

The Temples, the Shrine and the park

After about an hour of hike, we reached the landmark for the park. Built in 1996, Okpo’s Great Victory Commemorative Park serves to commemorate the victory of Korea’s national hero, Admiral Yi Sun-sin. For a quick history background, Admiral Yi Sun-sin led the naval battle against the Japanese in the invasion of Korea from 1592~1598. The temple is the gateway into everything Yi Sun-Sin, a site dedicated for re-education of the young about Korea’s rich naval-war history.

On site you will see a replica of a turtle navy ship that helped bring down 26 out or 50 Japanese naval ship during the war displayed in the entrance going up the high temple. Inside the temple were relics and and writings of the history as won by the great Admiral. No entrance fee is required but a visitor’s log is open for registration.

the freedom to explore and discover the corners of the earth like an unclad child wandering and enjoying every spectacle along the journey…

Few more walk up the concrete hills and we reached the 30-meter tower with a statue of the great admiral. It’s the final spot for the adventure. Situated atop a mountain hill the tower stands as the highlight of the great victory park, serves as a tourist hub on peak season and as well as an interesting site to visit for hiking and leisure. Aside from the history that it shared with us, I enjoyed the touched of artistic oversight that built the site. There are a lot of memorial parks in the world but Korea really put premium in defining art to its best form. They make heroes like gods with the many artifacts and memorials dedicated to acknowledge the contributions of Admiral Yi Sun Sin in carving the future of their country. Best place to become a hero indeed!

Final Thoughts

It was a refreshing site to visit, calm and very holy to some degree. I like that these kind of monuments and leisure activities could be done just by hiking your way to the spot. No need for vehicles to fetch you nor tour bus to bring you there. You can walk on foot wandering the area and still be able to reach the great victory park. It was my kind of day break, one insightful trip that you get to enjoy first hand on a free time with a free spirit. I think this is what I like and miss about Korea, the freedom to explore and discover the corners of the earth like an unclad child wandering and enjoying every spectacle along the journey.

Reference:

http://www.koreatriptips.com/en/tourist-attractions/264497.html

Blog Essentials: Best mobile apps a smart blogger must have

Blog 101, Travel & Blog Tips

Blogging on the go is such a trend right now. One must be able to create a post, draft its story-line and attach all needed images and videos to complete the article. Good thing is, there’s the option of blogging in the convenience of our smartphones and tablets. Whether you are using iOS or Android powered devices, you can do blogging with ease with the help of this essential apps.

Take a look and download those that you don’t have yet on your device.

WordPress App

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The WordPress app is available in iOS and android devices. Installing the app will enable you to create, edit and publish your articles through your hand held device. Such a refreshing way to blog and interact with your readers.

Merriam Webster

It’s a personal choice given the ease of usage and the quick search results whenever I need a word synonymous to what I want to say. A dictionary is a must have app in your device to facilitate quick word reference whenever you stumble into vague words or you want a substitute words for your thoughts. Download or try other dictionary on your mobile app and see for yourself, what’s best for me doesn’t guarantee a best fit for you. So choose a dictionary that you can easily work around.

Adobe Express or Lightroom App

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to photo editing , I would suggest both of these apps to do the job of refreshing your photo attachments. You don’t need the advance skills of a visual artist to navigate these apps, you just have to learn the basics of editing photo grades of your attachments, just enough to liven up the images.

Quik Story or Go Pro

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

For your video editing needs, I suggest you go with these apps to create awesome video snippets. It could be a slideshow of photos, a short clip of your travels or a montage of both. Either way these app are your go-to apps for your video editing needs.

Page Managers and Social Media apps

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

As previously discussed, Blogging 4.0 means going after your readers into their social media habitats. So install major social media apps and page manager apps to easily take care of your posts and update your readers about fresh contents on your site. Also, this is the best way to interact with your followers, crowd source new insights to publish on your site and create a culture of seamless communication between you and your followers.

Qoura and Reddit

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

These apps are highly recommended since they aid in putting direction into your site’s growth. The latest trends, advice and updates about the internet are hidden behind the walls of these apps. Here you could find what people are trying to learn these days, their interests and what they would like to read while browsing the world wide web. That’s your cue as a content creator, take that tip and publish contents according to the reader’s demand.

” Evolve or die”, or ” Adapt to change and soar high”

The evolution of technology promotes accessibility as a major advantage, smartphones handling operations of web pages and blog sites will still evolve some more. It’s time you ride that free trip to the blogospheres by a touch of a fingertip. You know what they say, ” Evolve or die”, I say ” Adapt to change and soar high”.

#juantravels

All Aboard: 10 New Normal Tips in Air Travel

Airport, Travel & Blog Tips, Travel the World, Travel Tips

Welcome to the new normal of air travel. By now, the fear of catching COVID-19 is still prevalent but could be addressed to moderate risks by applying new normal routines as worldwide lock-downs are lifted to slowly stir the world economy back up. As of this writing, there are over 300,000 deaths around the globe and still without a cure or vaccine against the deadly virus. When it comes to air travel, personal precautionary measure is still your best bet to survive a flight without exposing yourself to the risks of COVID-19.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Don’t let your guards down yet, consider everyone as infected and take note of W.H.O standard safety measures for in flight air-travel.

1.Take note of your seating arrangement, observe those who are seated with you on the same row and at your immediate vicinity. Not to signal panic but it helps in contact tracing just in case. (Knock on woods)

2. Be vigilant with those passengers that show symptoms of the virus, notify service crew if you observe somebody manifesting COVID-19 symptoms. The crew must then assist the passenger into isolation as they seek ground-based medical services. If severe illness is obvious, the pilot in command may consider diversion for the unwell passenger to get the required medical attention.

3. In cases when a passenger shows severe respiratory arrests, a cabin crew will be designated to look after the passenger. As preferred, it should be someone who has previously interacted with the person.

4. Note that adjacent spaces or seats of the patient must be left unoccupied

5. For contact tracing: It is highly advised to provide voluntary information about flight itinerary, contact forms, and next of kin contact details for those who have been directly exposed to the patient.

6. Always bring a medical/surgical masks, preferably N95 type, to protect yourself from infected patients. Large aircraft are fitted with HEPA filters that could filter pathogens depending on the size of the airborne particulate matter. Having your own mask is an additional preventive device if you have interaction with possible COVID-19 patient.

7. Coughing etiquette must be applied. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or clean handkerchief when coughing.

8. Practice hand hygiene through proper hand washing or hand rub.

9. While inside the airport for transfer and boarding, observe social distancing at all times.

10. Submit to quarantine procedures and swab tests upon arrival at your final destination. Recommended quarantine days-14 days.

Final Thoughts

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I have no idea how the new normal in airline travel would look like but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be peaceful and comfy flights for all of us. But one thing I am sure, the new normal is nothing compared to the reward of finally going back home to family, hopefully negative of COVID-19 and positive that life will happily go on. This too shall pass folks, safeguard yourself, stay healthy and COVID-19 free.

#juantravels

Reference:

https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak

How to edit a travel video feature like a pro?

Blog 101, Blogger's Life, Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Feature

I’ll be straight forward in saying that it’s the Go Pro Video Editor App that made my top choice for a video editor, atleast for those videos being told with only the theme, the music and the footages of the experience. No scripts, no spoken parts just plain video entertainment.

I enjoy creating video snippets of our travels and it’s the only app that is easy to navigate with a lot of room to expand your creative genius.

Photo Credits: Go Pro Official Website https://gopro.com/ https://images.app.goo.gl/YnRhaJV5hYkCi45Z8

Top Three Reasons Why Go Pro Video Editor is Lit

1. It’s a free app that you can download from Google Playstore.

It also has another app called Quik Story still under the Go Pro brand, they are almost the same only that the Quik Story has some more music and theme options for your background. Just the fact that it is free and accessible really makes the cut. I don’t even have a Go Pro device just yet, but considering it as a test run, the app is superb. I’m using it with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and it works like magic.

2. Awesome themes, music, transition

Photo Credits: https://androidcommunity.com

My personal choice would be the Action Theme, it delivers crisp visuals highlighting the best parts of the video clips. A little heads up: You can select you own choice of highlighted portions to show according to your liking, adjust and trim video durations and add effects for slow motion or faster sequence. When it comes to music, you have limited choices on the free app but an upgrade will surely open Go Pros music library at your disposal. It’s a mix and match kind of thing but the best part is the video output looks very professional with ease of transition and hd video output.

3. Quality output

The quality of your finish product will most likely depend upon your base video clips. I have tried using low resolution videos and the result was rather mediocre if not distasteful, still uploaded it though for future reference. I like to see the development for the years to come comparing old and new videos on our youtube channel. As of late while taking footages with the Galaxy Note 8 camera, I’m well pleased with the resolution so far. Recommended video resolution for better results 1280×720 .

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Best part of using the Go Pro Video Editor App is that you can create an entire epic video in the comfort of your smartphone. It’s an add, mix and match, play, trial and error kind of sequence until you get the best video creation for your output. It takes practice and patience in trying to complete the puzzle of a story but when you get the result that you desire, it’s definitely worth it.

Tips and Tricks

Photo by Omar Markhieh on Pexels.com

As I venture into doing video features, I can say that the only way to produce cinematic videos would mean adding video effects like SlowMotion on your clips or mix of both with Time Lapse/Hyperlapse, this would create a more in depth presentation of your subject.

Also mastering the art of capturing moving images while zooming in and out of your subject as you take the actual the video. It adds up on the appeal of the output. It also goes without saying that panning out to different directions and playing with camera angle will definitely make your output a lot more awesome.

While filming, take into consideration the theme, the plot and the sequence of your video feature. Creating short snippets of videos with blurring focus on subjects related to the content would be good fillers in between the highlighted portions of the video. They make awesome transition as well creating another set of visual cinematic experience.

Don’t forget to create a storyline, a list of shots that you need to complete the film and envision in advance the whole mood and effect that you want to impart to your viewers as they watch your videos.

Learn more from those who have been doing it for a long time. Youtube is the home for the best travel video creators and they are gracious enough to share the secrets behind their fab outputs. Relearn and explore new skills as you grow into video editing. Small steps means progress and that’s more than enough growth while aiming for the mastery of editing and video production.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Final Thoughts

On that note, I invite you to check out our JuanTravelsBlog Youtube Channel to see some of our video-features. There’s more to learn in this new age of blogging but as the work continues so shall progress and fun improvements. Please drop some comments and don’t forget to subscribe.

Disclaimer: JuanTravels Blog’s video clips are made with free apps and free music backgrounds. No copyright infringement intended. Also those mini-video-features are experimental in nature. Created for entertainment purpose only.

Click the link to view some of our short travel-feature here. JuanTravelsBlog Youtube Channel.

#juantravels

Just another video-editor wanna be.

Best Ways to Earn Money from travel-blogging

Blog 101, Travel & Blog Tips

Yes let’s cut to the chase, majority of us, (if not all) are here for the financial gain that blogging could offer. Many were able to crack the code of monetizing their blog and more are more trying to follow their lead.

Monetizing your blog would take years of hard work, good hours of research, and intellegently handling your space in the blogosphere. In other words, money won’t come in without you doing the actual work because like in all jobs, you have to sweat to get paid. But many learned intellegent ways around the process that cut the years of waiting into months. Those secrets are out online and if you don’t have time to research your options, please read on.

So here are some of the popular options about earning some cash from your blogsite.

Freelance content writing

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

This one always comes to the top of your list. If you are blogging, you are basically a writer regardless of your field of expertise. If you could discuss in writing any other topics aside from your chosen niche, your blogsite could be your resume for a freelance content writing job. I used to browse Freelancer (now known as UpWork) while searching for content writing jobs and content writers could earn from 20 USD per hour up to 100 USD per article depending on your skill sets and content output. Freelance job is a good option while you are building your status as a blogger, atleast you’re earning through that blogging experience.

Affiliate Marketing

You can explore Amazon Associates, it’s an affiliate program that provides commission base incentives for products sold as referred by your site. There are easy steps to register and get approved but the process of earning will still depend on your convincing powers, ergo it is imperative to publish product-review blogposts. There’s a catch though, once you are admitted to the program you need to be able to make a substantial count of referrals or your account will be cancelled and subject for reapplication. That rule could hurt if your stats aren’t that impressive just yet.

Google Adsense

Another idea for your blog money- making options would be enrolling your site into the Google Adsense program. It’s an ad revenue service available for legit and running online sites. Google takes care of publishing ads to you site while you bring in readers or potential buyers through your content. Heads up, there are different calculations about revenue depending on ads published but one thing is for sure, it is still a numbers game. The higher your stats fly, the bigger chances of you earning those dollars.

Brand Partnership

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Established bloggers, those who command high online following, are often times referred to influencers. At this level, brands are the one who actually seek out these bloggers for product campaigns or even collaboration on series of articles. The contract price tag will depend on your reach, stats and volume of your social media followers. We’re talking about top tier, social media king status by this stage. Reaching this status needs looks, luck and good industry connections.

Event feature

Be creative and be innovative. Some bloggers are more likely inclined to producing multimedia contents. With the right equipment, training and expertise, you could start a production company out of your blog. Create proposals in featuring events. Target events with a crowd that follows your niche. Some travel bloggers get contracts for featured content for certain tourism campaign, product feature, a barrio fiesta, charter day celebration or a collaborative tourism awareness ad. The possibilities of earning is limitless as long as you know your worth as a content creator. Leverage your company into taking on deals that could bulk up your blogger status ranking. Also, create a portfolio of your projects on your blog so future clients could check out the quality of your output.

Sell your Travel Photos

Bloggers are self taught photography enthusiasts. The idea of blogging coupled with a touch of artistry and photography is mandatory in creating evolving and interesting contents. Hence, with constant practice you could master photography in no time giving you another income stream on your sleeves. There are numerous sites accepting stock images for a certain amount of cash and some chartered campaign from brands seeking independent and project-base contracts. Enroll on this sites and join photo contests to maximize your earning potential on the sidelines of being a blogger.

Photo by JACK REDGATE on Pexels.com

Now the #RealTalk

I hate to burst the bubble but if you dedicate all your resources into building a blog expecting that it will earn you passive income and take care of all your finances right away, I suggest you reconsider your plan. Since this is still a numbers game, here are some figures about the reality of earning through blogging.

The stats and chances

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

ProBlogger readers answered a survey for 1500 bloggers who were trying to make money out of blogging and found out that only 9 percent makes between 1000-10,000 USD a month. 4 percent or roughly 60/1500 bloggers have said that they earn at least 10,000 USD a month. The rest of the majority make less than 3.5 USD a day. Also, according to Blogging.com survey conducted in 2012, only 17 percent of bloggers are able to sustain and support their family through their blogs, 81 percent never even make 100 USD from blogging. And lastly, there’s the 2 percent who successfully make more than 150, 000 USD a month. They are those who started early and have had enough time to build and grow an audience. That’s just 2 percent of the whole lot of bloggers out there.

After learning those stats I think it’s a good idea to really evaluate your options into doing a blog as a full time job. Many would advice that you should rather create other income streams out of blogging and not rely on your start up blog for immediate passive income. The earning potential of your blog will depend on many factors like the quality of your content, how often you update your site with fresh posts, the demand from your chosen niche and how effective you are in generating traffic and engagements in your site. Nonetheless never forget your core and always go back to the reason why you blog. The stats and the cash will just be there, creating a site that will be helpful and will serve as inspiration to others could be more rewarding over all the cash incentives there is to have. Never forget to have fun doing your blog!

#juantravels

ship and the sky

Learning Photography: Smartphones and travel blogging

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Feature

Maintaining a travel-blog means producing stunning photos of the places you visit because a good article about a travel story needs a decent compilation of clear and visually entertaining images. If you are just starting to blog, it would be wise to purchase a standard action-camera like Go Pro, a DSLR or a smart phone with HD resolution cameras, yes cameras because hybrid smartphones nowadays boast of at least two to four built-in cameras. Having at least one of those gadgets mentioned would make the job of blogging so much easier.

I started documenting our trips with low resolution camera way back our early work-travel days and it is one of the regrets I have had ever since I started travel-blogging. Owning a good quality digicam would have been my best start off point as an aspiring blogger. That’s charge to experience though and a good point for you to remember if you ever want to start a blog.

There are plenty of suggestions about how to do photography while you go along the process of creating blog contents. The good thing about technology is that it is rapidly developing and year after year your options of producing the best images expands and becomes easily accessible through the birth of highly functional smartphone cameras.

Quick History Review

Photography started in 1717 when Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that the substance inside a bottle darkens when exposed to light. This happened when he was able to create brief sun prints of words by using stencils, a bottle mixture of chalk and silver nitrate in nitric acid and sunlight. Fast forward to the 2018 timeline, Kodak produced Ektachrome film in 35 mm format, centuries leap from where it started. Ektachrome offers range of transparency for still and motion pictures film in different formats, a distinctive look on photographs commonly seen in National Geographic. Stating the obvious, the common point through the timeline of photography is its play and manipulation of light. Through continuous research, numerous improvement led to the recent innovations in the field of photography and today you can edit your photo to produce the colors and the shades of your the subject according to your perspective. It’s still the play with light, still the very basic theory as how Schulze discovered it but the technique and the technology improved a thousand fold.

Fun fact: Photography came from greek words Photo which means light and graphe that means drawing.

Smartphones take over

Smartphones are gradually taking over the job of capturing amazing photos, producing excellent shots at par with professional camera standards. In this day and age, anyone with a smartphone could snap the world’s most captivating images with a touch of a fingertip. The growing fascination about photography through their smartphones was hyped since the birth of photo sharing sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc.. It enabled everyone to tap on their creative geniuses into producing amazing images to mirror their daily lives commanding thousands of approval from their followers online. These days, the best of photography is easily defined by the number of reactions you get from your stunning image output.

A good eye is what you need to navigate your way into smartphone photography, to familiarize yourself with ISO, Aperture, SS, the angle of your shot and the different approach at distinct timings. Those are skill sets that you can easily learn through online tutorials or through experience, the basic techniques that you apply as you get to know better the camera functions of your device.

On travel blogging, a high resolution camera on your smartphone is nice upgrade to bring your content quality to a higher level. I actually observed that as I upgrade to better models of smartphones, I get to see better stats due to enticing visual impressions of my contents. Hence, photos that are eye catching encourage viewers to explore more of your site’s content. I also learned that first impression really lasts, that’s why your homepage should feature your best shots to make sure that you challenge the artistic eyes of your viewers and out of curiosity will keep them looking for more. So pin those awesome articles now.

I’m sharing with you some of my outputs onboard. Let me know how you feel about it on the comments section.

JuanTravelsBlog Photography

Gallery 1 Subject: The Ship and the Skies

Light bulb
Mornings
Lifeboat hull
Engine room pipe
Sunset at the poop deck
Provision crane in black and white
Bridge wing
Evenings onboard
Resting at anchor

Useful Tips on doing Photography with Smartphones

  1. Always check that your lenses are clean.
  2. Familiarize with Pro camera-function, tweak and practice shots using different settings. Master filter effects and adjustment of hues, saturation, exposure, brightness, contrast etc.
  3. Use focus functions to keep your subject sharp and create depth to your shots.
  4. Familiarize yourself with basic adjustments on post edit stage. Experiment with filters and light settings to achieve the best look of your shots.
  5. Install Photo editing app to perfect your finish product. Highly recommended app: Adobe Lightroom
  6. Always Back up your data on extra SD cards or better yet save it on the cloud.
  7. Improve your knowledge by watching tutorials online or read review and “how to guides” about doing distinct shots and the simple and advance techniques that goes with it. Practice makes perfect.

Final Thoughts

While I slowly appreciate travel blogging as a stress reliever, I also enjoy learning the ropes of doing photography through my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Note 8- If you ever ask). It offers another world of options and contents that one could explore while blogging. To some it is a casual hobby, to some it is a profession and to most of us bloggers, it is a privilege to capture important moments. Moments that we will live to share with our readers.

Ready your good eye, bring out that camera and in one two three, click and take the shot.

#juantravels

The Negros Forest Park visit: A #JuanTravels Feature

Negros Occidental, Travel Philippines

Sometimes it is nice to go places that could impart some sort of indirect education amongst the young. That’s why during one of my vacation days, I brought my gang of youngsters including my little one into a trip that introduced them to the world of wildlife. It’s the place where they had a glimpse of the real situation of the animal kingdom, the rising number of endangered species and the efforts of us, humans, regarding its conservation and rehabilitation.

We all have to do that one useful travel from time to time. So please read on and join me as I bring you along our trip to another must-visit animal sanctuary, the Negros’ Forest Park.

The Negros Forest Park has been there eversince my highschool days, it is often part of every field trip and educational tours of different schools around the province. I took the liberty to introduce my young cousins and kiddo to the park as early as now, not only for a Sunday leisure time but for an educational experience as well.

The Background

The Negros Forest Park is being managed by the Talarak Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to save endemic faunas from extinction. More specifically species that are discovered exclusively in the Visayas region like the following:

Visayan Spotted Deer

Rufous-headed hornbill

Visayan Tarictic hornbill

Visayan Warty pig

Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon

The foundation houses one of Asia’s most successful conservation breeding program, an initiative that aims to repopulate and bring them back to their natural habitat and as well as advocate awareness about saving the endangered species of the animal kingdom. Currently, there are three natural parks under their care, the North Negros Natural Park, Balinsasayao Twin Lake Natural Park and the Mount Kanlaon Natural Park.

Other wildlife featured in the mini-zoo

How to get to the Negros Forest Park?

Located at South Capitol Road 6100, Bacolod City Negros Occidental. The forest park is situated just across the street from the Negros Provincial Capitol, starboard side. The closest landmark would be the Provincial Capitol Lagoon and from there you could just walk the distance towards the forest park.

Budget Watch

Entrance Fee

Adults PHP 100

Students PHP 50

Senior Citizen/Children PHP 50

“The earth is what we all have in common” and we are bound to protect each other as much as we can, all living things included.”

Friendly Reminders

For strict compliance there’s a list of some rules to be observed before entering the mini zoo in the heart of the city. Refer to photo below for guidance.

Take Away

The quick tour around the forest park was an eye opener not only to the kids but to us adults as well. As the kids enjoyed seeing the different animals featured on their articifial habitat, we adults were able to see how they react seeing new discoveries in this little zoo-park. For a child’s mind, it was a light bulb of curiosity lit and to us it was a realization that we as a people should do more in helping out this kind of initiative. I would often stop to explain that the animals there are being taken care of to make sure they survive and prepare for the generations to come because borrowing the words from the signboard, “The earth is what we all have in common” and we are bound to protect each other as much as we can, all living things included.

I actually commend the efforts of Talarak Foundation not only on the conservation and breeding advocacy but also the community involvement that they encourage converting illegal loggers into caretakers of these species and their habitats. In maritime, human error would always account to 80 percent of the cause of the problem and seeing how humans destroy natural habitats of these species applies the theory even on the environmental concept. That’s why an initiative like this is worth all the recognition it could get. It was clear that it is a social responsibility to respect all life (wildlife included) as bannered through the gates of the forest park. Reducing human’s participation in the destruction of their existence is a good solution but the Talarak Foundation won’t stop there, balancing the ecosystem and repopulating these native faunas brings about pride not only as a Negrense but simply as a responsible, pro-life individual. The message is simple: Love and conserve our wildlife. (- Steve Irwin), just the very same message I wanted to tell the young.

How can you help?

For one, you can do volunteer work to help educate and inform others about the advocacy of the foundation.

Here’s a link to their Facebook Page for reference. Talarak Foundation Page Or donate and visit their website at Official Website Talarak Foundation.

Hope you enjoyed this quick telltale as much as I did. If you ever pick up something worthwhile, please do share this message. Until next travel time!

#juantravels

By the way, here’s a link of the short video feature of our visit to The Negros Forest Park. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe.

The 3 Reasons Why: Fundamentals of Blogging

Blog 101, Blogger's Life, Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Blogging

Hi there! #juantravels here.

So I’m picking up new ideas to explore as I continue to improve #juantravelsblog. Like in all fields, constant learning is key towards excellence and in order to achieve greater heights, one must continue learning and improving his/her craft. A little progress makes a big difference and with that in mind I’m starting the reinvention with the fundamentals of blogging, an online course available at the WordPress’ Blogging University.

The 3 reasons why

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The basic reasons why I blog are:

1. To share with you all some of the awesome travel experiences I have had in my years of work-travel experience around the world. Also, I like to feature amazing spots in my local town and home country, the Philippines.

2. Highlight the best travel tips there is base on personal account when traveling, provide helpful information about anything related to travel safety and share travel hacks everybody should know about.

3. Introduce the behind the scenes information regarding travel-blogging. From photo to video editing, construction of a blog post up to the tiny bits of blogging insights that you could stumble upon along your blogging journey. No detail is too small, any helpful insight known and shared could help in creating an interesting powerful content.

So to sum it up, #juantravels is here to feature places around the world (at least those that I could reach), provide information on travel related topics and of course the behind the scenes, tricks and perks of blogging while travelling. I’m here to tell stories that could help you on your own travels, maybe an exchange of ideas as well. I’ll try to feature old spots, the famous and the untold. Discover new trends and information about the new world we live in. And get you a real picture of the world with fresh eyes, innovative mind and positive perspective. Consider me as a friend, a travel buddy, always ready for new adventures in life and the outside world.

Never stop learning, never stop evolving.

The Mastery of the Art of Blogging

This move to sign up on courses at Blogging University is a conscious effort to gauge my personal growth as a blogger. Practice is the only way to perfect the trade and with the vast choices of content available on the blogosphere, a wise blogger needs to step up his game and master the art of doing a blog. So if you are an aspiring blogger like I am, it won’t hurt to learn new lessons and develop new skills in this platform. My goal is to finish this course well-learned and fully armed with the fundamental concepts of blogging.

Consider yourself as an artist, as a creator of an art form, you owe it to spectators to offer new outputs that touches their soul. Outputs that would inspire interest and curiosity in your work and could connect your audience to you.

Join me as I sail towards these new horizons, discover new territories and introduce new insights on travel and blogging. Never stop learning, never stop evolving.

#juantravels

Seafood Feast: Balaring’s Edge Water Resto

Foodie Feature, Hotel & Foodie Review, Negros Occidental, Travel Philippines

Edgewater Resto at Balaring, Silay Negros Occidental

There’s a seafood restaurant-hub that is highly recommended by the locals if you happen to visit the City of Silay, Negros Occidental. It is a food strip of floating restaurants by the seaside of Brgy. Balaring, Silay City.

It’s a treat for seafood lovers, the good number of choices along the bay would leave visitors curious as to which one really offers the best seafood dish on the land. Welcome to our feature of Balaring, the seafood capital of Silay.

Though the main offering is obviously seafood menu, there are also other choices on meat and vegetable dishes like the signature filipino sinigang soup and mix veggies of chopsuey among others. Driving along the strip, we reached the farthest restaurant from the line of seafood halls at Balaring, the Edge Water Resto. It’s the recommended resto by our local friends since they frequent the area most of the time. For a lunch meal for five persons, a budget around PHP 1500.00- PHP 2000.00 would go a long way, yes a bit pricey to some but a small amount to pay if you’ll chip in as a group. That’s actually a modest estimate, most of the establishments out there offer almost the same or higher prices on their menu, so expect to pay more rather than less.

Your choice of foodhall would then be decided by your choice of dining experience and comfort. Some enjoy the floating restaurants where direct sea breeze provide the misty sea ambiance, while some opt out into more private halls with exclusive cottages for guests to choose from.

At Edge Water Resto, you could dine in the main hall, effected with native bamboo design and sea theme decorations or dine at separate cottages outside of the main restaurant. Private cottages are nice for family gatherings and group dining since it offer exclusive services away from the general crowd.

FoodHall Review

Crew Service– 8/10 It’s a casual resto with no uniformed crew, so ease out on your expectations about dress codes and all. They work with hair nets on though so that’s a plus. Also, their crew are so nice they deserve some tip for patiently attending to their customer’s needs. Wouldn’t hurt to fly them some bills if you have extra to spare.

Cleanliness– 8/10 The restaurant in general is clean and in good order but organization of fixtures could still use a little tweak. There’s plenty of room for improvement on this aspect.

Budget Watch– 8/10 If you are looking for value for your money, I’m caught in between giving it a thumbs up or a stop sign for you to rethink your options. But to carefully lay out the terms, you’re paying for exclusive seafood options and the dining by the sea experience. Seafood delights offered at Edge resto are exquisitely flavorful, compliments to the chef, but if you could create the same blend of flavors cooking in your kitchen with a little less money involve, then I guess practicality wins. But don’t decide just yet, I will leave the verdict to you once you get to dine at any food hall at Balaring of Silay, that would be your turn to compare and contrast.

Food Rating– 8.5/10 We enjoyed their menu of seafood delights and even reordered the buttered shrimp twice and also another batch of rice to pair up with their delicious servings of talaba. My personal choice though was the Seafood Gambas, just my right blend of seafood perfection. The seafood feast at Edge Water Resto was a mouth watering and crave satisfying treat. We may not do it frequently budgetwise but a visit to Balaring once in a while will alsways be a pleasant dining experience outside of the usual.


How To Get There

From Silay City proper, you can ride a tricycle going to Balaring, that’s around 10 minute-ride from the main highway. If you’re driving you can proceed to the Silay Provincial Hospital, turn left through the entrance and follow the signs leading to Balaring. It’s quite a popular area so chances are you won’t get lost.

Final Thoughts

I’d still come back to Balaring when I get a time off and maybe review other food halls along the bay. Until then, I hope this feature would spark interest and maybe encourage you to visit the seafood capital of Silay. Share with me your thoughts about this post on the comment section.

Also, try to watch this short video feature of Edgewater Resto on our youtube channel. Click the link Edgewater Resto, Balaring of Silay to watch and don’t forget to subscribe!

#juantravels

COVID-19 Thoughts: Life and the world after this pandemic

Blog 101, Blogger's Life, Travel the World

Yes, with the power of positive thinking, I’m calling it, COVID-19 will end soon!

As we welcome the gradual lifting of community quarantine lock down from different cities around the world, there is also the introduction of the new normal being imposed for the safety of society. COVID-19 really did a number on us if we are talking about being paranoid or too precafi

utious about our own health safety.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

On the bright side, this is one of the plagues that will be etched in history as the one that made us all value life. It was able to heal earth and restore a large ozone layer depletion according to India Times. I heard it also made the fish in the rivers of Venice visible again under clear waters. We finally saw the mountains of Sierra Madre from a focal point on the ground, in the city of Manila. The virus put a stop at wars between powerful countries (at least a ceasefire on bombing children) and governments were able to focus on the needs and the welfare of their citizens and not on their own political future.

It awaken the humanity in us when suddenly, being a good neighbor with foods to share is such a heroic act. Providing shelter for the homeless wasn’t just a kind gesture, it became necessary to the redemption of lives. Staying at home and spending time with family is not just a wish from a child’s dream anymore, it is a daily reality for weeks now. We live by eating delicious home-cooked meals and threw away our cravings for fast food menus simply because it is the only choice. We value vegetables now more than ever and appreciate our farmers for the nobility of their job. Suddenly, we have seen how vital agriculture is when we need to feed a starving nation. We resorted to healthy, sustainable and safer options. Things that are simple, inexpensive, to the point of settling to the very basics of living. All because COVID-19 happened.

Furthermore, we experience peace as the whole world cooperate to find a cure to the deadly virus. We worry no more about traffic woes and air pollution. Gas prices are down and so are the crimes on our streets. Those are lock down presumptive effects that we get to experience for the time being. We have seen how the pandemic flattened the gap between the rich and the poor because suddenly, nobody is immune. No money is of high value when what’s at risk is something that money cannot ever buy, LIFE it self. In a snap of a finger, being able to safely breathe air in the midst of an outbreak of an airborne disease is the highest form of luxury in the world. And amidst all these, what we have to do to help flatten the curve against COVID-19 is to stay indoors, the biggest required contribution from us.

COVID-19 made us all rethink life, if we are safe by now, it is a blessing. Carpe diem! Live life to the fullest!

Refocus and re-purpose your goals because if we survive this pandemic altogether, that would be our second shot at really making it in life. But we won’t move forward without acknowledging the unsung heroes on the front lines of this war. The doctors, nurses, medical staffs, janitors, garbage collectors, drivers, grocery store personnel and those who selflessly offered their services to actually help in saving lives during this pandemic. We also won’t step ahead without saying our peace with those we lost in this battle, the 209,013 deaths (as of this writing) claimed by the deadly virus. And of course we will not move ahead further without knowing the new normal in a post-pandemic society that we are about to live in.

So no matter what the new normal dictates I guess it’s the will to survive that will get us through.

The New Normal

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The new normal would tell you to actually take care of your self first. Your immune system is your strongest shield against any virus outbreak that will happen. Hence, taking care of your self will guarantee you a good fight if ever there’s another wave of pandemic coming (knock on woods). Improve on personal hygiene, wash your hands properly, take vitamins to boost your immune system. Do all necessary measures to make sure you will be ready to take care of others when the time comes.

Observe social distancing. Not to be anti social of any kind but partying and close contact with a large crowd is highly restricted. We all know by now, that human transmission could go as far as 15 meters away from a COVID infected person, if that’s not enough warning then I don’t know how else to emphasize on keeping a safe distance. Also, when you minimize on social gatherings, clubbing per se, it actually gives you more financial advantage which led me to the next point.

Save up for the rainy days. The community quarantine taught us one thing on the financial aspect, it is important to save for the emergency situations. So create and save up for an emergency fund that could last for 100 days in case another community lock down will be imposed. Prepare emergency go-bags, medicine kits and food supplies that could help you get through another set of community lock down measures. So when history would repeat itself, you would know that being prepared is a good as not committing the same mistake again.

Finally, we have seen how kindness sprouts in us like a seed of hope through this pandemic and it is important to include it to the list of our new normal. We’ve seen how solidarity could go into saving lives, that’s how we should be in this new world. I think that’s the new normal that we should adapt all through out our lifetime. So let us sow kindness and reap bountiful blessings in return. I still feel that Karma (the good or the bad) catches up on us one way or another. That’s why opening our kind hearts to share whatever we could will surely be rewarded accordingly, in due time.

The world will not be the same after COVID-19, the time in isolation, the quiet space to reflect and the fear of losing our love ones and our own life in the midst of all this will change our way of living and even our way of thinking. I’m just staying as positive (thinker) as any other human being should. Believe that we’ll come out of this storm stronger and wiser. That no matter what the new normal dictates I guess it’s our innate will to survive that will get us through.

#juantravels

Blog Insights: Can you keep up with Blogging 4.0 ?

Travel & Blog Tips

We are jumping into the age of a social media multiverse, a multi platform kind of blogging where sky is the limit and the only restrictions in place are those you impose on your self as a content creator. Contrary to some opinions, blogging is still a royalty even if vlogging and social media influencers occupy a massive following in the world wide web. There are still enough rooms for blogging since the blogosphere, alongside other platforms, evolves as well. In other words, if you have just started your own blog, now is still a good time. It is not yet too late for you to create your own site, earn reader’s following and offer your expertise to your chosen niche.

Keeping up with the trend of the trade is the rule of the game and here’s a collection of advise to work your way around blogging 4.0.

Photo by CoWomen on Pexels.com

1. Expand Contents not limited to written articles

As a content creator you are bound to provide new insights and diversity into your blogsite if you want to stay relevant in this modern times. Video content is becoming a world wide phenomenon and blogging nowadays can’t be boxed with me-articles and opinions anymore. Entertainment, information and solution are the most important factors that readers are looking for. If you want to blog now, train your self to be as creative as being able to edit a video feature for your article, offer as much helpful information as possible and always try to share solutions to your reader’s concerns. Those are now part of the new basic blogging.

2. Establish social media presence

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Build social media engagements, that’s the advise everyone if giving everyone. And yes that is basically true, creating social media accounts for your site keeps your followers in the know of your site’s updates. It is also where you post your “short blog posts” to beef up your content. Those posts that are too short for a whole article but enough tid bit to catch interest to your site. Also in choosing social media platform, you must know the scope of your market and the reach of your chosen social media account. Say for example try using Pinterest, a link sharing site in form of pins (photos) that directs readers to your site. The market of readers that uses Pinterest are mostly between the demographics of young and middle aged women. If your blog is about working moms and teenage girls, Pinterest could sure help you get your message across the platform into your blog. If you’re doing a travel blog coupled with amazing photography section, it would be a great add-on to post instagrammable snaps and links into your site’s IG account. Go where your readers go, create connections with your readers through the comment section and nurture engagement through actual interactions by asking questions about articles they love to read. You could also create online contests and develop a scheduled update plan of your social media accounts.

3. Recalibrate contents according to your niche

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are different options as to recalibrating your site’s content value is concerned and blogging 4.0 pushes content publishers to expand their horizon and explore other means to innovate and improve their blog site. As previously stated, it is vital to offer solutions or answer a problem related to your market. Refer to sites like Qoura and Reddit when you start to engage in restructuring your blog’s content. These sites could offer new insights as to what problems you should feature and offer ideas of solution. This is the right time to tone down from posting “me” articles and bulk up by creating posts that answers the W5H1 (why, when, where, what, who and how) queries of your readers. Making your blog insightful enough attracts more followers than just story telling and recounting your experiences, it is important to inject ideas that your readers could consider useful on a day to day basis. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a balance of both, innovation through added contents and authenticity by keeping your brand’s forte. This strategy if done right should work in your blogsite’s advantage.

Final Thoughts

Yes, Blogging 4.0 is an additional standard that newbie bloggers need to keep up with but to simply put it in perspective, it is all about knowing your audience. What is important to them, their interests and the problems they face everyday. Aligning your content with their needs and taking the effort to give them an awesome experience while visiting your blogsite raises your chances to blogging success. Hence, content is still king after all.

#juantravels

464 Going Up to Guksabong Peak: Saturday Hike

Korea, Travel the World
The plain field before reaching the start off point.

464 meters, that’s the height you are trying to reach going up the trail leading to Guksabong Peak, one of the mountain point around the area of Okpo, Korea. I should tell you, it is one of the most featured hike trail in the area and commonly frequented due to the beautiful spectacle 464 meters above the mainland.

There’s a prepared trail to follow through but some recommend the other secret routes to reach the peak, the road less travelled means more fun to some but I think it’s more for the locals to explore. For us, visitors to a foreign land, the DSME trail is challenging enough. So on a Saturday midwinter morning, we went for a body-conditioning day hike to the peak of Guksabong.

The Hike

We went without a guide since one of our comrade was already able to check the spot on his previous hike. The path was steep and at some point difficult to climb but nothing that a quick rest could not normalize. Good thing there are pit stops that offer hikers to take some rest in between the humpy portions of the trail. There’s a viewing deck to relax and regain your strength with the natural view of the mountains around Okpo. There are also training sets and work out machines to get your system in shape in case fitness and endurance is your goal for the hike. By the way, you don’t need to be an expert to catch up with the route, you just have to follow through the hike marks and wooden plank boards as guides into the peak.

The climate was chilly that day, another reason why it was quite a challenge to hurdle the temperature at the same time the physical strain of climbing up to the peak. The canopy-stops are helpful though, gave us enough time to cool down and reenergize before we take on the rest of the climb. Reaching the viewing deck area means you are almost halfway to the famous Guksabong peak.

Quick Trivia:

Guksabong is translated as a state of ritual, high ranking government post or a national character. I’d choose the state of ritual definition since reaching the peak, I have seen how Guksabong peak’s sublime beauty peacefully sit above the mountain top emcompassing a view of Okpo from a distance, high above the city’s very busy economic zone. It’s in contrast with the business as usual facade of Okpo when you are in the capital. At Guksabong peak, there’s just you, the mountains, the sky, and the sea, silently coexisting for a moment.

Also, there’s one traveler who said it was named after the many classical scholars who were able to visit the site which proves its popularity in the hiking arena.

Here are some of the awe-inspiring snaps I collected while on the hike:

Another rest-shelter before reaching the peak
The view at Guksabong Peak

There are many photo worthy spots to pose at when you get to the peak. The 464 landmark, the vintage canopy and the high cascading rock formations to mention a few. And not to forget the amazing panaroma of the Okpo 464 meters down under.

The temple that we pass by along the hike.

One part of the trail going to Guksabong.

Final Thoughts

Going up to Guksabong peak was a nice treat to our sometimes sedentary lives, day in and day out. The cold temperature wasn’t a nice add on though, but the experience was refreshing. I appreciate Korea more because of activities like this, next to the delish spicy cuisine, kimchi to name one (food is still king y’all) and the perfect picturisque destinations that it offers to the world.

In a span of 3 hours we were able to get back to Okpo proper just in time for lunch with sore legs, tired arms, and hungry stomachs but with a well conditioned mind and body.

The day hike gave me the realization that I need to take care of my body this coming 2020 if I want to continue further with hiking adventures. There’s so much from this world that could damage one’s well being like unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, cell damaging vices and even external pollutants. It pays to have seen the Korean lifestyle, how they put premium on health and wellness. It starts with being physically active, eating healthy food and keeping a clean environment and like the trail going to Guksabong peak all you have to do is follow through.

The 464 Landmark atop Guksabong peak

P.S.

We went up for the nice shots and went down with a fun filled hike experience. Still not a professional hiker of sort, just your ordinary traveler-blogger-writer fellow.

Until the next travel-hike adventure!

#juantravels

8 Travel tips when traveling with an infant

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel the World

Traveling solo on backpacking or tourist mode would require you to prepare days before your trip. A couple’s trip would take weeks to set things up from booking the tickets to hotel reservations but traveling with an infant is a totally different kind of preparation and one of the most challenging pre-travel arrangements that you will encounter.

Blogger’s Note: These tips are gathered and applied during our first family trip together with our 8 month old baby. The whole trip went fine but the challenge of travelling and providing infant care is one that you need to really prepare for.

Photo by Katie E on Pexels.com

Here are some of the best tips out there when travelling with infants.

1. Pack LITE on your baby’s Go Bag

If you are traveling with an infant, it’s advisable to pack only the needed stuffs like feeding bottles, hot water storage, pacifiers, and additional sets of wash cloth,extra clothes, undies, diapers, etc. Only those that your kid will need all through out the trip or flight. Also include first aid kit, disinfectant and prescription medicines for your baby in case of emergency.

2. Layering of Clothes

Infants are not yet immune to sudden temperature change, a drop in body temperature will most likely render them powerless over common cold,flu and fever like illnesses, hence proper layering all through out the trip is highly advised. Layer your kid’s clothing with a sweater over long comfty shirt and pants to protect him/her from cold cabin temperature during the flight. The natural body heat from the mother also helps to keep him/her warm all the time.

3. Book in advance

For hassle free transfers from airport to hotels and other destinations, book accommodation and transportation services in advance. There are hotels that offer “Pay in Hotel” option upon arrival which for me is quite convenient and hassle free. Also don’t hesitate to ask for availability of other services like hot water basins, extra pillows and anything that your baby may need while staying at their hotel.

4. Keep your baby’s routine while on travel

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If your baby sleeps at around six in the evening, make sure your little one will get his/her sleep at almost the same routinary time even if you are in the middle of the trip. Feeding time should also be observed as customary to his body clock during normal days to avoid the disruption of his mood. This will prevent discomfort on your baby and will also give you a smooth travel experience.

5. Request assistance for special equipments

Foldable strollers and hand carry baggages for infants are often allowed to be stored inside the cabin for easy access without any undue query from airline staffs. Though it is highly recommended and rather polite to request approval in case there are additional infant care items that you need to bring in with you.

6. Bring in some bite size snacks for your kid

If your kid is already allowed to eat solid food, it is best to bring some extra foods or snacks for the flight especially made for him/her. Long flights could make them crave for food at very short intervals.

7. Doctor’s clearance

Prior any long travel, it is best to check in with your pediatrician and request for clearance to make sure that your baby is in good condition to travel. Any underlying health conditions not treated before the trip may create a bigger problem if it becomes worst while on travel. Prevention is still the best option. Also don’t push through with the trip if you think that your baby’s condition is at risk.

8. Take turns in providing infant care

Photo by andres chaparro on Pexels.com

It takes two to tango and same goes with doing the task of infant care while on a trip. Take turns in doing your child’s routine bath, diaper change, feeding time and sleep time. Give yourself and your partner enough time for personal care and ME time in between child care to make it easier for both of you to carry out the travel experience as relaxing as possible. Teamwork is still key while on travel.

While it is a totally different routine to have a child on a trip, it is a whole lot fulfilling sharing a trip with your family. Mutual support between the couple while taking care of their offspring makes the trip memorable and worth it. Make sure to create happy memories while traveling, take enough photos for posterity purposes and work on every challenge along the way as a team.

#juantravels

Magikland of Silay: Bringing the Negrense pride to the world

Parks and History, Travel Feature, Travel Philippines, Visayas
Photo Credits: Silay Magikland Facebook Page

The magic began last September 17, 2019, when the Magikland of Silay opened for the public. It is the first theme park in the Visayas region of the Philippines developed by the Aton Land and Leisure Incorporated. This new amusement park is an added upgrade to the already renowned historic city of Silay, Negros Occidental. Dubbed as the “Paris of Negros”, Silay City established prominence as a tourism hub due to its Spanish inspired heritage mansions that are carefully preserved and converted into ancestral museums.

The Magikland, being first of its kind in Negros, offers another spectrum of fun and adventure when you come and visit the history enriched-Silay. It’s for children and children at heart, a magical destination for the young and dreamy, the place where fun, thrill and laughter are limitless.

The Concept

Magikland at Night

Magikland was conceptualized to showcase the Negrense heritage as evident on the cultural section of the theme park. Characters on the Magikland’s storybook are based on local myths. Bakunawa, the moon eating dragon from the Negrense folklore serves as the main poster icon of the theme park with Mara Marapara, Pat Patag, Boy Bakunawa and Kit Kanlaon. Together they complete an ensemble of cast that serve as caretakers of Magikland. You would want to meet them as you wander around the first Filipino themed park or maybe after the musical play where the cast sing and dance as they welcome visitor’s with the amusement park’s live story line presentation. It’s like the Philippines’ version of Disneyland, complete with a welcome live show featuring the character’s introduction and an after show meet and greet. The theme park is divided into three zones namely the cultural ,mystical and magical zone with distinct representation of what Magikland is offering. The Negrense pride, new adventure rides and more outdoor fun.

Bakunawa and the rest of the cast during the welcome feature show.

The New Haven

For me it is a new haven for children, a place where they could experience another taste of merriment and child’s play aside from the local “peryahan” (moving funfair). An upgrade to the usual children’s park on the city’s plaza and another spot that is proudly “Tatak Negrense”. The park houses an initial 12 rides with expansion plans of additional zones, commercial establishments, residential areas and a theater.

The Carousel
The Magical Hub
Pat Patag

Kit Kanlaon
The 25 m Ferry’s wheel
The Entrance to the Castle a.k.a Food Hall area

How to get there?

Magikland is located at Brgy. Guinhalaran, Silay City. Coming from Bacolod, that would be one of the first community you will pass by as you enter the city of Silay. There’s a big billboard of Magikland just before you turn right to the entrance . The site is around 300 meters from the main highway and could easily be found if you ask the locals for guidance.

If you’re commuting, ask the driver to drop you at “Bangga Carmela” at Magikland and they will lead you through the entrance. Pedicab fare going into the site is PHP 10.00 only.

From SM City Bacolod, you could ride a van that offers direct trip to Magikland. Fare per person is PHP 70.00 only

Budget Watch

Entrance Fee

PHP 280 per person

Free Admission for kids below 3ft

Group Promo includes additional free rides if purchased as a group

PHP 520 for the Unlimited rides option

Final Thoughts

It’s a proud moment for me as a Negrense to have visited and enjoyed another pioneer innovation in the tourism and realty industry in my home province of Negros. It’s one proof that there’s much to offer the world without going too far away from your roots. Patag is a famous highland spot of Silay, Kanlaon is the province’s active volcano, Marapara a famous mountain peak and Bakunawa is part of our folklore. Aside from the technical assets running the rides for the amusement park, the highly energetic crew, instagrammable spots and up to the crisp audio visual displays, I am blown away by the creative ingenuity of including Negros as a whole into the core of the theme park. It’s a pride we all can relate to, one we will happily share with foreign visitors and the part that unites all Negrense in supporting this project. This is Negros’ best showcasing its local talent into the world. Magikland for me is another offering the Negrosanons and Filipinos as a whole should be proud of.

Come and visit the first Filipino themed-park right here at the heart of Silay City Negros Occidental. I give you my word, Magikland won’t disappoint.

#juantravels

For more information kindly visit their official website: http://www.magiklandpark.com or follow them on their official social media accounts.

By the way, here are some of the instagram worthy shots of Magikland taken by the visitors and lastly if you want to catch a glimpse of our trip, click the link on Magikland adventure by #juantravels. Enjoy!

Photo credits to respective owners.

The Entrance by @itrimucha
Mornings at Magikland by @erkcats

Sunsets at Magikland CTTO

Anniversary Blog: New Travels, New Experiences, Same old #JuanTravels

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Blogging, Travel Life, Travel the World

Blogging is a heavy work load if you put too much pressure on doing it. I’d say it’s a job only for those who are eager and highly motivated. As a self proclaimed travel blogger, I am the editor, photographer, proof reader, researcher, graphic artist, lay out expert and chief content specialist of my blog. It’s a one man show for a ten men job.

Like a spider building its home, one thread of web at a time.

Imagine doing all those, all at once. Extracting your body energy , creative juices and brain cells to complete a blog post with 500 to 1000 words, 3-5 attached photos and carefully worded ideas. It would take you 2-3 days of research about the place to feature, 2 hours or editing your photos and attachments, another hour of proof reading and your post would only be read by two or three people for only three minutes. One out of three may hit the like button but won’t read, the other one may totally ignore your post and the other one might be impressed with your work and leave you a comment. Real talk, the numbers are discouraging which will make you question your purpose. Is blogging still worth it?

Well, those who complain are the ones who are not up for the job because blogging takes a lot of willpower, perseverance and patience. The willpower to focus your mind on creating useful content for your readers, the perserverance to continue doing the blog for a specific goal and the patience to accept failures, rejections and dismal response from the outside world.

True North

My true north? It is collecting useful information about the places I visit. It is sharing them to the world, not to spark envy but to educate and inform. It is pursuing something I am passionate about, new travels, new experiences and new life learnings. That’s how I pictured #juantravels in my head and up until this day, those are the rays of guiding light that I seek whenever I get distracted with blog stats, social media snubs and all the toxic happenings from the outside world.

How is Travel Blogging so far?

Five years ago, I registered in WordPress without any idea about how to start a blog.

Featuring my favorite places, some foodie delights and as well as the chance-adventures have given me the freedom to explore the vast variety of content that I could publish in this blog. 10 years of work-travel, 26 countries visited, 89 blog posts, 5 years since start up and two years of building this blog. There is no stopping me from creating 89 more, continuing this blog for another 5 years and build it day after day until I fulfill my goals of a lifetime. As my travels continue, so shall this blog.

Long Term Goals

I always remind my self that Rome was not built in a day. It took years to establish legends, decades to win a war and centuries to map the world. The key to success is constancy to purpose and the principle is applicable to all things that started small.

For me, #JuanTravels will thrive into the challenges of blogging because it was created to withstand setbacks and failures. Its resilience will bring it back in the game whenever an opportunity arise, or if there is none, will create the opportunity itself. Its authentic brand will cement its name into places featured in this tiny blog. The long term goal is to never quit and never surrender. The world is an open travel feature and there are unlimited blogworthy spots to showcase. The Eiffeltower is just as interesting as your local children’s park if you know where to look for its great spot. The London Bridge is just as magnificent as the Jones Bridge of Manila given its sociopolitical history. The stories will never end and will keep coming as #juan meets the world.

Thank you for following #juantravels. For whatever reasons, whether you are here for the follow back or you simply enjoyed and liked this blog, from the bottom of this traveler’s heart,

ThankYou.Merci.Obregado.Gracias.

Salamat!

To new travels, new features, new experiences, with your same old, #juantravels.

The Top 6 Powerful Passports of the World

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Feature, Travel the World

Wondering how it is like to carry a powerful passport document?

I bet you wish to have one, unfortunately it is only available for citizens from some of the most prominent and diplomatically peaceful countries of the world. According to http://www.visafreecountries.com, there are 6 countries that have passports that scream VIP pass because of the high number of visa free countries they could travel and visit just by holding their country’s official travel document. That’s almost being able to travel the world visa free! Do you want to know what countries belong to the list? Read on then…

Singaporean Passport

Photo by Adhitya Andanu on Pexels.com

Having a Singaporean passport would admit you to visa free entry at 147 countries, 21 via electronic visa and 24 upon your arrival. Now isn’t that first class material? Keep your passport with you at all times though, the perks go away when you lose it as counterfeiters most often target your passport due to its liberal requirements and quick immigration gate pass transactions. Identity theft is still and most rampant nowadays, and the Singaporean gem doesn’t end with the Jewel of Changi, it runs down to the citizen’s passport document.

German Passport

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You’re in luck if you hold a German passport. It means you could travel visa free to 132 countries plus 32 more elecronically approved visa and 15 more that you could take upon arrival. Such a privilege being a citizen of European Union’s powerhouse country. Amongst the EU community, the German passport proves to be the most highly valued and powerful when it comes to its travel benefits abroad.

Finnish Passport

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Finnish passports would get you into 117 countries visa free, 31 more via E-Visa options and 15 could be acquired upon arrival. Trivia: Finnish passports are applied from the Police not from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unlike other countries. Citizens of the country while staying abroad could apply or renew through the Finnish Mission.

Danish Passport

Photo by Ahmad Alsaad on Pexels.com

There are 117 visa free entry countries that would welcome any citizen of Denmark with a valid Danish passport. Citizens from one of the oldest monarch could also travel to 32 countries through electronic visa arrangements and 14 more upon arrival to destination. Quick Trivia: Did you know that there are three different version of a Danish passport? Yes, citizens from Denmark, Greenland and Faroe Islands, though all three carry the same nationality, identifies their specific origin through their own specific Danish passport.

As you bring that national document, you also carry the responsibility of showing the world the character and the cultural image of your country.

Norwegian Passport

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The Norwegian passport will grant you visa free travel to 114 countries. The passport that adapts the EU standard lay out and specs could also give you access to 32 electronic visa grants and 16 upon arrival visas. Known for their love for nature and cultural identity which reflects on their passport layout, the Norwegian passport is one travel document you’d wish to have for ease of access to your favorite travel destination.

Swedish Passport

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Officially known as Kingdom of Sweden. The country is popular for its clean streets and high standard of welfare. Trivia: Sweden is considered to be the only Scandinavian country to have a high power military status. If you belong to this mighty country, you can travel to 117 countries visa free, 31 through electronic visa and 14 countries would welcome and grant you a visa upon arrival. Quite a good deal to be swedish. Ja?

Final Thoughts

Freedom of entry to travel or just being able to travel per se is a privilege that not everyone could afford or have the opportunity to experience. Knowing that only 20 percent of the world’s population gets to travel and see the world for themselves should keep every traveler grounded, present proper accord and observe good manners while staying at a different country. Travelers should also acknowledge cultural differences and observe basic human norms of mutual respect and understanding. The goal is to travel and leave nothing but smiles (not your trash) and take nothing but good memories . Help preserve one’s home and environment so that the host country will be more welcoming to visitors around the world, no matter what kind passport you are bringing in with you.

In hindsight, passports, though not created equal, serve not only as personal identification of the bearer but as a national identity as well. As you bring that national document, you also carry the responsibility of showing the world the character and the cultural image of your country. No matter how small or less powerful your country is, as long as you abide with travel laws and immigration requirements of the host country, you can hold your passport document with pride and with your head up high, wherever you are in the world.

#juantravels

The Noble Job: Life goes on (at Sea), with or without COVID-19

Travel Feature, Travel Life, Travel the World
Sunset view , ship at anchor

It has been a long time since I was able to update about life at sea, especially now that there’s a COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world. Life is still the same onboard, no matter what happens on land, the job and the challenges continue to pop up each new day. Around the world, there’s a lock down on air and sea ports making it impossible for seafarers to sign on and sign off. It’s a double blade hurting both crew, one cannot earn yet after months in vacation while the other extends his contract days away from home. That’s just the normalcy about the job that whether we like it or not, we have to accept and live by. After all safety comes first and we totally get it, we do safety on a daily basis.

All Professions are Noble

Night light for the wee hours

Ours is also a noble job, while the world sleeps, we continue the work to make sure the flow of goods is not disrupted. Carrying 92 percent of the world’s transfer of goods, we are by far the catalyst that fuels the world’s revolution, because when goods are delivered, the world feeds. To get the big picture, think of the continuous global flow chain of food, fuel, factory raw materials, medical supplies etc., that’s our main role, the least that we could do to contribute, and that is a job that we are willing and happy to do.

Life goes on at sea, with or without COVID-19.

Monkey Island

The Odds against us

Having said that, there are many adversaries in this kind of job. For one the hostile weather conditions. We are the first to experience the adverse effects of climate change, since we sail through heat stricken seas and polluted waters. But rough seas do not scare us, tough sailors don’t bend before typhoons moreso with any newly discovered virus, health safety precautions are being applied though.

Fire monitor

What really scares us is the mental torture of being away from home. The sleepless nights thinking about our family’s safety while we are away, not to mention the homesickness and the longing for that deprived family time, that’s a hard emotional blow too. But then again, that’s part of the job. We know why we are here, we are here to build a brighter future for our families and there’s no challenge so big that we can’t overcome for family. It’s like that, for always and forever.

Standing high above sea level

Life goes on, even at sea

If you know someone who works away from their families (not limited to sea base jobs), ask them how they are, pray for them and comfort them, provide atleast an ounce of emotional support. That’s just the exact amount we need to keep going.

Life goes on at sea, with or without COVID-19. So to you back there doing home quarantine, stay safe and keep yourself healthy. Abide with community rules to avoid transmission of the virus. Spend time with family at home (our dream job), renew family ties, do something worth your while and we will survive this pandemic altogether.

We stay at sea as part of our job and we will not complain. For now, you stay at home to save lives, that’s the most noble job right now.

Life at sea, goes on with or without COVID-19

Where could your Philippine Passport take you- Visa Free?

Travel & Blog Tips, Travel Feature, Travel the World, Travel Tips

Planning an international trip? If you are holding a Philippine-passport, it’s time to know the countries that will allow you a visa-free entry according to Henley Passport Index. But first, let’s do a run down of Visa basics.

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How does Visa work?

Simple, a visa is your permit of entry into a country or territory given by the immigration department of the host country. A privilege extended to visitors and agreement among countries with strong and peaceful diplomatic ties.

Types of Visas

There are many types of visas given according to the purpose of stay in the host country. The transit visa gives you at least three days of stay and issued to travelers passing through a country on the way to their final destination. The tourist visa is for people travelling for leisure, commonly given to those on vacation and has longer duration of stay from 30 days to 90 days subject to approval under immigration laws. Business visa on the other hand, are given to individuals subject to conduct business related travel into the country. Requirements for business visa vary from country to country but most often requires bank account certificates, proof of income and basic identification requirements.

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Visa Free Entry for Philippine Passport Holders

The citizens of the Philippines can visit 64 countries without the need for a visa as of July 2019. Check it out if your dream destination made the list:

Visa Free Entry Countries for Filipino Passport Holders

Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote ‘Ivoire, Ecuador, Fiji, Gambia, Haiti, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Peru, Rwanda, Singapore, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Visa Upon Arrival

Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Benin, Cape Verde, Comoros, Dominica, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Iran, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Somalia, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo, Tuvalu and Uganda.

Electronic Visa Option

Djibouti, India, Lesotho, Pakistan, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Visitor’s permit

Pakistan and Sri Lanka with e-visa authorization upon arrival.

Travelling to international destinations and starting off with the countries without a visa requirement is a very good option for first time travelers. And like in all adventures, careful planning and research for the travel is a must.

Additional Reminders:

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Visa Restrictions

Visa Free Entry, as good as it sounds still has certain travel restrictions that vary from country to country before you will be allowed to freely travel , so be sure to check on additional visa requirements or ask from the embassy regarding the matter before booking those flights. Also, you still need to comply and present a valid Philippine passport as proof of identification.

Funds

Many countries though visa free entry, would often require proof of sufficient funds before travelling into their country. Some may need exit flight tickets before approval of entry. Hence, ready those bank books and cash on hand before planning the trip.

International Certificate of Vaccination

There are countries that require vaccine certificates upon entry, it is highly advised to acquire necessary clearance from Bureau of Quarantine before your planned travel. Common vaccines for international travels are the ones for Malaria, Yellow Fever and Hepatitis.

Final Words

Travelling to international destinations and starting off with the countries without a visa requirement is a very good option for first time travelers. And like in all adventures, careful planning and research for the travel is a must. Hope you enjoy your visa free travel destination, comment or share your experience with us on the comment section or through email at juantravelsblog@gmail.com.

Have a safe trip!