Friday, December 30, 2011

Travel 2011: Rabbit Year Rewind

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

The days are counting down so quickly! In a day, 2011 will bid adieu and the year of the Metal Rabbit will sleep as the Dragon makes a roar in a few weeks. But before I get too caught up with the excitement of traveling in the coming year (and add more backlogs in my list), let me wrap up and rewind how the Rabbit year has been.

I jumped start the year with a leisurely  Road Trip To Pangasinan. It was work related, with lots of opportunities to discover more the tale of two cities of - Urdaneta and Dagupan, known to be the safest/cleanest city and the Bangus Capital of the world respectively and visited the many places of interest in its capital - Lingayen passing along the equally endowed municipality of Binmaley, the Seafood Capital of the North.

Then before January came to a close, I had a chance to be in Tagaytay once again to tour around three couch surfers from Taiwan (Ryan, Nikki and Jordan). The itinerary for that day became my entry to the Pinoy Travel Blog Carnival' Best One Day Itinerary.

For the love month of February, I did a Douglas Mc Arthur and returned to the romantic  capital of Pangasinan - Lingayen, to complete the property due diligence assignment. The work was easily coupled with pleasure, spending the night at the nearby Hundred Islands National Park In Alaminos City, which is only 45  minute-drive from the capital.

On our way back, we stopped in Calasiao for a sumptuous feast of crabs and shrimps courtesy of my friend Atty. Rubenita Bigol in addition to its famous puto and kutsinta treat for travelers.

March ushered in with a quick road trip to Cavite and side trip to Antipolo City but followed by frequent road trips to Pangasinan, an opportunity to get to see more towns like Mangatarem, Bolinao, BaniSan Carlos, Bayambang, and Villasis  in addition to the usual do.

The month of April literally opened up with a travel to Binangonan on April Fool's Day (not for some prank jokes but) to attend my aunt Liway's post birthday celeb slash pre-reunion prep for the first ever Lavarro Family Reunion. Then for the Holy Week, I had a hometown treat discovering the paradise right in our backyard - the Calaguas Group Of Islands in Vinzons, Camarines Norte.

With my new-found friends in Calaguas, we went on a Summer Road Trip Around Laguna in May enroute to enjoying the Kiping and Other Colorful Stars of Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. And as my month won't be enough without a drive to Pangasinan, work required me to go back there affording a chance Meeting With the Best and the Beast of Urdaneta City, napping at a quaint town of Binalonan and attending the summer destination wedding reception of my friends Delilah and Randy in Manaoag. 

June was my busiest month work wise - with more frequent road trips to Urdaneta City  almost on a weekly (and sometimes on a weakly) basis. Well I had to be nice to my bosses and clients you know, to get the green light for my month-long trip to the United States at the end of the month! But still I was able to start my Lakbay Jose Rizal At 150 Heritage Trail  with sites visits around Manila (Rizal Park),  Antipolo City, Malolos, Bulacan and San Fernando, Pampanga. Finally, the feat of being in Four Countries In One Day added to the mid - year excitement!

Travel wise, July tops prettily in terms of the most number of flight segments, covered road trips distance,  new places and exciting experiences. In order, my month-long vacation took me to Daly City, San Francisco, Sacramento, Coloma, Martinez, Vallejo, Marin County, Hayward, San Jose , Oakland (all in California) , Las Vegas (Nevada), Newark, Freehold, Edison, Atlantic City (all in New Jersey), Cincinnati (Ohio), Denver, Castle Rock, Aspen  (Colorado),   St. Paul Minneapolis (Minnesota), Pennsylvania, Indiana, Downersgrove & Chicago (Illinois), Cleveland, Kirtland (Ohio)  and New York City, Palmyra, Niagara Falls (New York). Blog wise, I was able to blog daily (albeit belatedly) with 30 posts! yeahey!

Back in the Philippines from my month-long US vacation, the travels for August were limited to a 4D/3N get-away with friends in old, familiar destinations watching a parade! I was in Hongkong with my high school friends Lanie, Angie, Dolly and Kuya Mike enjoying Disneyland's Flights of Fancy Parade in the mid-week. Then, flown in Davao with my friend Nilo to watch the Kadayawan Festival Parade along with the fun Pinoy Travel Bloggers (PTB) friends, which culminate in  my gutsy commute to Cateel, Davao Oriental the following day. 

The month of September was  a month of many exciting and not-so exciting firsts! On the first day of the month, I found myself arriving in Brunei Darussalam for the first time, with my parents, brother Joel and friend couple Jojo and AA. It was my parents and brother's first travel abroad while it was first travel abroad as a couple for newly weds Jojo and AA. During the 4 - day stay, we were able to experience for the first time meeting a royalty and attending a Hari Raya Aidilfitri Feast At the Sultan's Palace and to get to know for the first time a  Golden Treasure named Jonathan, a  complete stranger who paid for all our rooms in a five - star hotel for two nights stay! 

But the not-so exciting first (sad!) was when I missed my flight to Dipolog  due to heavy traffic and not-so-trained driver. It should have been 3D/2N adventure with my Kuya Mike, checking off the 10 sites featured in the Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail in Dapitan, Katipunan and Dipolog.

Wow, except for a quick road trip to Urdaneta, Pangasinan (work related) and in my hometown Vinzons, Camarines Norte for the long week-end,October, my birthday month was almost travel-free, less busy month this year (unlike in previous years) where I had birthday adventures abroad. It was, of course, for a good reason! My prince, announced I could either be in Idaho (his parent's hometown) and other US States (for Christmas and New Year) OR Europe (Austria, Germany and London) for his birthday (January 19). Both were appealing and so I can't and didn't want to choose! He agreed after I promised to not spend on travels for October and November!

Still part of the travel deal with my prince, I did not go anywhere far for the month of November!  This allowed me to host, Joy, a couch surfer from Beijing. I picked her up from Clark, Pampanga where she arrived from Cebu and brought her to the American Cemetery, Mall of Asia and NAIA 3 the next day. Travel preparation wise, this month is full of stuff to blog about as it was the time to get all the visas needed for the mini RTW (round-the-world-trip) in December and January!  I applied for my first ever UK visa which was surprisingly fast and easy (took a day) and my second Schengen Visa before the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

And finally the most-awaited month of December brought excitement by being able to fly on three (3) new airlines (Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Continental), meet my PTB idol Ron Cruz of Flip N' Travels during a lay over in Changi Airport (Singapore), have a five - hour lay over in Frankfurt, Germany, celebrate Christmas with my prince and brother's family in New Jersey, USA and enjoy every unhurried days left this month with my prince until the coming year!

Surely 2011 has been a blast! Oh! the excitement of checking off some bucket lists and receiving high travel credit ratings both in Lakbayan (for Philippines Travel) and Geckogo (for World Travel).As I counted it today, I had 22 flight segments aboard 9 airlines (Asiana, United Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Delta Airlines, Singapore Airlines,  Lufthansa, Continental, Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways),  visiting 12 States in the US,  (4 of them -Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota new and added to my 28 US States to date), 12 new US cities, 5 countries in Asia (Hongkong, Seoul, KoreaTokyo, JapanSingapore and Brunei Darussalam), 1 in Europe (Frankfurt, Germany), and 1 in the Philippines (Davao City) with 82 rounds of road trips around the United States and the Philippines - ALL within whoaah, 92 days(who says you can only get 15 days paid leaves?). 

In sum, 2011 has been much of a Rabbit year for me - affording me longer vacation time for a  more relaxed, unhurried and calm travel experiences! I kinda like it that way!! Do you?

Happy New Year to all!


  1. it was indeed a very fruitful year! cheers for more travels and blessings next year! happy new year! :)

  2. Wow it was such a loaded 2011 for you attorney. Travel-wise and in romance. Hope you had a more wonderful year in 2012 (that will include walking down the aisle) :)

  3. what a busy year!!!
    i am equally glad that i finally had the chance chatting with you in person...

    sana dumaan ka pa rin ng SG en route back to PH. see you soonest!

    I wish you a happy 2012!

  4. Mervs thank you for the usual prompt comment! DI pa tapos yung post ko, nabasa mo na!!!i intentionally posted an incomplete year ender (til July) so it will inspire me to complete it if reader took notice. you did!! thanks and read your yea ender, relly a great year of travels for you!

  5. sayang po at hindi ako nakasama sa inyo sa pahiyas.
    at ang dami nyo na palang navisit na states, konti nlng.
    pf course i wish to have a schengen visa too someday.

    cheers to more travels this 2012.

    ps. yung calaguas, kapitbahay nyo lang po. doubleng-inggit.haha

  6. Marky for once I wish you were an angel saying that about "walking down the isle"!It was a good year indeed and it became a lot more exciting meeting the fun,crazy, intelligent travelers like you and the rest of PTB and PTB Bagets! Cheers to an awesome year ahead Marky!

  7. Ron, I am also hoping I could swing by Singapore and have a meet up with you and the other PTB in January. We have not made any changes on my ticket as of now, so hopefully Singapore gotta stay! Have a blessed New Year celebration and may the coming yea brings you wonderful surprises in travels and romance!

  8. Thank you so much juandefulpinoy for dopping by. Cheers to a fruitful yea ahead in travels and blogging!

  9. James thanks for dropping by. Yea, for some reasons I thought we have met in Pahiyas! Di nga pala natuloy. Oh well, it would be fun to join your adventures. Cheers to a great year ahead, with more safe travels and a Schengen Visa!!

  10. Indeed, your life has been such a journey! More to come on the year 2012, will be following your adventures from now on and hoping to get lots of points and tips on traveling, including budget!
    Thanks, If it not such a hazzle do add me up also with my dining adventure though!

  11. hello Joy! Wow,this is such a surprise to have you drop my blog and leave comments. I will try to write better (budget wise haha) and will be honored to add your blog to my blog list.More adventures to you for 2012!!!


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I've been to 446 cities in 23 countries
Mhe-Anne is an explorer that:
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