THE year 2017 has been an adventurous one for me. I ended the last month of last year with a solo travel to Cebu then I opened 2017 with a road trip from Iloilo City to Culasi, Antique. For me, traveling is all about the experience – the journey, the travel companions, the destination, and the locals I meet along the way. Whether it is just a few hours from home or across time zones and oceans, traveling is the whole package. These are my adventures this year that have enriched my perspective on things and have brought me a different sense of satisfaction. Most of them were first-time travels and experiences, so it added a zest of fun into the whole year.
Within Negros Occidental, Philippines
1. Sinulog saKabankalan. The last time I witnessed the Sinulog saKabankalan was when I was a kid. Experiencing it again brought back childhood memories, especially that I celebrated it with family.
2. Mudpack Festival in Mambukal. It was my first time to be at the Mudpack Festival. The slight shower added a fun atmosphere to the festivities as if the heavens wanted to have a part in this environment-focused celebration.
3. Overnight in Rapha Valley.The chilly January air provided a natural cooling system to our purple-colored room in Rapha Valley, Don Salvador Benedicto. What’s more, Dr Albert Jo prepared sumptuous organic food that was good to the palate and to the well-being of our body.
4. Swimming and snorkeling in Sagay City. The city tourism brought us to Carbin Reef, Suyac Island, Museo sang Bata sa Negros, Balay Kauswagan and Kape Albarako. It was a pleasure finding these beautiful places that are just within hours from Bacolod City.
Around the Visayas area of the Philippines
5. Road trip to southern Iloilo and Antique. The start of the year allowed me to visit the churches in southern Iloilo, take a dip in a kawa in Tibiao, and hike the lush hills of Mararison or Malalison Island that reminded me of Batanes.
6. Right at nature’s eye in Guimaras. We traversed the whole province in a tricycle and spent a morning swimming at the floating cottage and at the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve.
7. Wonderful trip to upland Cebu City. There were new attractions in Cebu City that I was able to visit during this trip. The good thing was that these attractions have amazing views and were far from the busy city center.
8. Cave hopping in Camotes Islands. I never realized that Camotes Islands have so many caves. But what I enjoyed more was the sea, sand and sun in its white sand beaches.
Places in Asia
9. Revisiting Singapore. There’s plenty to see in this tiny nation-state. My return here brought me to the Gardens by the Bay, Haw Par Villa, the Botanical Gardens, and Jurong Bird Park in such a short span of time.
10. Four cities in Indonesia. From Palembang to Lampung to Yogyakarta to Jakarta on land and sea, it was great to be back in this country which was my home for seven months 15 years ago. This is a country rich in culture and history.
11. Old and new in Macau.This is another place I revisited this year but I took this trip with my sister. The Cotai strip was a new thing to me. Getting lost also brought me to unexpected discoveries.
12. Kerala Blog Express in India. As one of the winners in the Season 4 of the Kerala Blog Express representing the Philippines, I was able to establish new friendships with 28 bloggers from other countries. It was my first time in India and I truly enjoyed the VIP treatment we got in this 15-day adventure as we traversed the whole stretch of the state of Kerala.
And it doesn’t end here. I’m closing the year with a bang through a revisit of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a brief meet-up with a cousin and a few days of exploring Malacca. Indeed, 2017 is filled with great escapades. I wonder what’s in store for me in the coming new year. How about you, what are your travel plans?
All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at http://firsttimetravels.com. Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels blog.