Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why I decided to spend my Christmas holidays in Islamic States

I just had my adrenaline-fix from the adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia but I am finding myself in Jakarta (Indonesia) and will be in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru (Malaysia) for the next two weeks. 

I am not boasting and I am not travelling for travel's sake. So why I am doing it on a holiday which is supposed to be a family event? 

Christmas holidays should be spent with the family, tradition say. It is not just about shopping for material gifts but really spending quality time with our family. 

What and who is family?  People close to me by now know I got other concepts of 'family".  Close friends knew why. 

Family is not just your mother, father, sisters and your immediate family. Family is where you find kindred souls who support you and know you well despite the bad things thrown at you. Family is the people who love you unconditionally. 

My immediate women-led family. 
Also when holidays come, the questions though well-meaning is also tactless. "So when are you getting married?" or "Why are you still single?".  Imagine yourself being asked these every year. These questions  are not necessarily from my immediate family. Nonetheless this always make me cringe. 

I grow up independently and I owe my fearlessness to try new things with my maternal grandmother. She wanted me to be open-minded. I took that courage with me and explored areas beyond our little town. I know if she is alive now, she will understand. She will have tampo  but she will understand and will support me.  She was our peacekeeper. The sad thing is, the small piece of land she left is now a subject of a family feud. I have been taking care of the tax payments and keep some documents so that made me a stakeholder. Not that I am interested to sell the land in the future. I hold on to it as it is a memory of my grandparents. And there is where I spent my childhood. 

As the "single and mature" one, some members of the family wanted me to solve the feud and make plans to "develop" the said land. Developing the land takes time and money! And I am not  investing my hard-earned money to it as there are a lot of interested parties. I know how land feud can be very bloody, literally and figuratively. I have enough headache already. 

At this point, I don't want to act mature and solve the problems of their own doing. I wanted to have  a stress-free holiday. So when I asked my soul sister Nur Hasanah in Jakarta if the offer to stay with her in Jakarta is still open and she said a big YES, I checked for flights and booked it without any second thoughts. I met Nur through our 3-week fellowship in Wageningen and our sisterhood was strengthened by our common love for travelling and getting out of the norm. She also introduced me to Counchsurfing and she already visited me in Davao last year. Her post was prophetic telling me that the next jumpshot picture we should have will be in her turf.

From Wageningen, Netherlands to Davao City (Davao del Sur) and Dahican, Mati City (Davao Oriental), the crazy Asian partners in crime (Nur Hasanah and I) are reunited and jumping around!! Last posted in my FB account in August 2013. 
Things are falling according to its place. And before my passport expires, I want to maximise it as the renewal process will surely take long. I promise to help out my sister settle That land problem in January. I will take a rest as I will be taking new refresher classes for my MA class. And career-wise, there are exciting things coming. 
I want to experience this Christian holiday in a predominantly Islamic country. Get lost and find myself. I want to make a sense of the feeling how to become a minority in this long Christian holiday and see how they do it in other parts of Asia.  I wanted to be uprooted in my comfort zone. Besides, is this not the best way to start the ASEAN 2015 Economic Integration work? I'd like to think I am an ambassador of goodwill. haha! 
I will try to keep up with my odd-ventures here (though blog posts with the previous trips still unfinished).

"A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry"

I don't question my immediate family's love for me, but there are things they cannot just comprehend. Like the idea of continuing further education, the idea of travelling and the "expenses" one incur. Why not invest it to somewhere else or with something tangible? They could not understand why I am in an NGO and not "settle for a more stable government work." I already invested in something tangible and travelling is an investment too. It makes you more confident and see things in different perspectives. And besides I spend my own money for my travels. This is always a subject I don't want to talk about when I go home but always crop up in the conversations. I got tired of explaining. 

Then by big chance, another friend I met through the Courchsurfing  site will be in Jakarta and he invited me to spend the other half of my holiday break in Malaysia. I was  supposed to host him in Davao but he was not able to obtain a visa in time.  I got another Couchsurifng gal, Azra Ain to host me in Kuala Lumpur. 

Cheers for a great year ahead of us! Merry blessed CHRISTmas! Do not forget the real reason for this season. And let's create more stories together. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 2. The Temple Run Tour

We started our day early, woke up at 4AM and started our troop to this famous structure. We fell in line and waited eagerly for Mr. Sun to come out. I’ve done it once in Kiltepan, Sagada but the throng of tourists here are unparalleled!

Humanity's craving to glimpse heaven for a while. 

The sunrise and the gaping massive crowd are just overwhelming. Tourists come here in thousands. I am amazed by the sturdiness of this century-old structure and how withstand not just battles but foremost, the onslaught of tourists. 

A day tour will cost you $20 including a free photo-op at the entrance. Hightech sila teh. And we assure you, one will be enough exercise for your legs. It is definitely Temple Run game in reality. Dili lalim mubaktas, musaka ug mag-ambak-ambak sa mga temple oi! 

Splendid reflection snapped at noon
I love the movement of the monk's robe. Saw him when we're about to leave Angor Wat.
Old buildings like this make me emotera.
I was about to walk when this young lady with her mom came.
This shot reminded me of the story about Narcissus and the Goddesses. 
Funny combination for a table in a resto at Angkor Wat

This kid along other kids were catching fishes in the mud.
He gladly posed for us. 

Angkor is undergoing renovation as most of the bass relief has been touched by thousands of humans and owing to climactic changes too. There are already cracks in the wall drawing. The tour for Angkor Wat itself will take you a half day. And it’s a hot day so prepare to have those towels and handkerchief and your water.We decided to take our lunch at the resto near the Leper King Terrace. Nakim knows the owner of the resto and he helped us out ordering local dish.

At the entrance of Ta Phrom

After eating, we continued the tour. We went to Prasat Ta Phrom  or the Jungle Temple. Or as a new branding for moviegoers, it is now more known as the Tomb Raider Temple, where Angelina Jolie shot her action-packed movie. This is where nature has taken over the structures. There is also a hospital built here. There is a sense of co-existence yet an eerie hostility  of struggle between the trees and the bricks, not measured by minutes but in centuries.


Notice the faces in the towers.

Bayon Tempe. It links heaven and earth. 

mirror image


Angkor Wat is a whole complex of three temples built to honor Vishnu. It is first a Hindu temple and later on, became a Buddhist one. It is a symbol of the country, and appears on its flag. The Angkor Thom complex covers around 400 square kilometers  with temples, hydraulic structures like the reservoirs, basins, dikes and communication routes. The Angkor Wat, Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Phrom show us the grandeur of Khmer architecture. It was built by King Jayawarman II and served as the capital of the Khmer Empire until the 15th century.

It is named as Angkor from the Sanskrit word meaning City or Capital. King Jayawarman II declared himself as the “universal monarch” or “God King”.  But there was a rebellion in 1431 by Ayutthaya causing its population to migrate. The influence of the Khmer empire stretched up to the border of neighboring country called as Siam (Thailand). If you have been to Ayutthaya in the Chao Phraya River Plain of Thailand, you will notice the similarities with the Angkor. Ayutthaya became a new central power while Angkor’s central empire control diminished. The similarities in both structures showed slavery has a role. One reference in Ayutthaya wrote that it was migrant Khmer peasants and slaves who worked on Ayutthaya, explaining the influence.

Then we continued the walk to the Bayon Temple where you can find the temple heads carved in 54 towers. This temple is dedicated for the Buddhists wherein you can find the four faces of the Bodhisattva (enlightened being) Avalokiteśvara (“Being who looks down” and it can either be male or female). Its eyes are downcast, bearing broad forehead, big nostrils and thick lips that curl, making that half-smile. It is also the center of the Angkor Thom complex and serves as the “symbolic link between heaven and earth.

There’s a long line of walls and another temple before going to the Leper King’s Terrace. I am too exhausted while Nina and Xyza want to explore the outskirts. I decided to walk alone and go directly to the King’s Terrace. There are a lot of temple workers who were taking their break. Most do not speak in English but one old woman worker grimaced when one tourist came up at the stairs with her plunging sleeves top and bra already showing. She motioned to her companion and her companion shook her head. 

The last stop for me is the Leper King Terrace. Why the name? It refers to the statue of a Leper King at the terrace, seated with his right knee raised. It is naked and it is considered unusual in Khmer art. Some historians said it is Javanese-style.Is the king a leper? One account said that Jayavarman VII was a leper that is why he built a lot of hospitals during his reign. But there is no historical record for such, while other accounts the said figure represents the God of Wealth, Kubera. 

I am still waiting for those two and Nakim is nowhere in sight. So I just followed a path at the back and I chanced upon a local artists who’s doing his finishing touches for his sunset artworks. I tried conversing with him but he said, “no no English!” and pointed to her daughter-in-law for the prices if I want to purchase his work. I said I don’t have much money and I don’t have a house yet where to hang those lovely artworks. I just sat there and looked  while he painted. He keep on smiling and laughed. He motioned for me to come closer and look at the details. I am amazed by how he mixes the colors. He said (through his daughter-in-law translating) that he draws from memory of the Angkor Thom and adds other details. He grew up watching the sunrise and sunset there and never left the place. He smiled saying he hopes his grandson will be able to see  the magnificent view from his childhood.

I thanked him for his time and walked to find a shade while waiting for Nakim. Found him under the tree with an English dictionary at hand. He is polishing his English language skills, he said with a laugh. We talked about the next day’s plan and other options. We had enough of the temples and he recommended going to the Silkworm Farm. It’s quite far and that would entail additional rent for his tuktuk. And I prefer to check out the downtown area. He suggested we can go to the Tonle Lake, artisan shop then downtown tour. I said that’s brilliant. I just sat at the back of the tuktuk and watched people passing by.  I’m seeing kids on their bikes heading home after school. The dogs are lazing around, their fur already color red from the dust.

The two gals arrived and our day does not end here. We went back to the Angkor to catch the sunset. The sunset is usually depicted in artworks and postcards setting behind the main Angkor Wat temple. The sun rises there, yes so the sun sets at the other side, in front of the temple, at the bridge and another inland lake.   Looking at the sun on its last hours of splendor, changing the colors in the horizon..that's one great way to end this real Temple Run scene. 

We reserved a dinner buffet and Apsara show at the Amazon Angkor Restaurant. The owner of the Happy Guesthouse brought us the (and also picked us up at the resto. Very humble guy!) It is for $10 for a buffet dinner to serve a large group of tourist. The chicken amok is great and they also serve other dishes like Japanese and Italian. The food is not shabby nor super exceptional. But the dance is another story. .

The Apsaras, is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in the Hindu and Buddhist mythology. It is a dance- drama. It is a flowing sensuous dance with feathery movement. It is well restraint with the controlled knee and toes and splaying of the fingers. While doing this, the neck and the shoulder remain erect, giving a sense of serenity.

Also apsara is everywhere in the temples. The dances were used to hold at the temples too. But now, well because of tourism it is now in the restaurants and marketplaces.  They also performed theatrical traditional dances like the good harvest dance (like our own “maglalatik”) and the romantic fishing dance depicting the rural life of Cambodia. 

We went back to the hostel with big grins on our faces.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 1: Longest Bus Trip. Saigon Direct to Siem Reap

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”
Fedora Cap Girls arrived in Ho Chi Minh.
For several days I AM A MILLIONAIRE BABY! 
Kuya Rene, his wife and Rene Jr.
Rene shared the Goldilock's polvoron his granny gave him. Such a sweetie!
Ema is not thrilled to see us. Stranger anxiety! 
Crossing the border of Vietnam and Cambodia
The number of motorbikes are overwhelming.
I like how bicycles thrive here. Kids go to school in bikes!
No the cows and the elephant are not real!
The altars in front of the house for blessings from the spirits 
That's us with our friendly and reliable tuktuk driver, Mr. Nakim!
Contact Nakim if you will find yourself in Siem Reap.
Tell him of three fedora cap crazy girls and he will surely giggle. :)
The chill-out zone of  HAPPY GUESTHOUSE! 
Highly recommended place. Affordable. Very friendly staff. Organized info on all transport services.
Even cats know how to chill here! 

We arrived at midnight in Tan Son Nhat International Airport Terminal 2. We have to wait at sunrise to go to the bus terminal going to Siem Reap. It will be a 12-hour grueling travel so we decided to take naps at the bench. It is my first time to sleep on the bench in the airport! We woke up at quarter to 5AM and the Sapaco Bus scheduled trip going to Siem Reap leaves at 6AM! And we can’t see any taxi. I’ve read several travel blogs and they only recommend VinaSun or Mai Linh. I tried calling their call center but it was a disaster. We’ve been talking for 10 minutes, but we can’t understand each other. I hang up when this taxi driver approached us. It is from the Saigon Tourist Taxi and we are quite adamant to take it but time is running fast. In simple English, we told him we need to go to  Sapaco Terminal at 325 Pham Ngu Lao St, District 1. He nodded. Yes he understands.

We were already inside when he kept on talking on the phone, I suspected he was asking for directions. After paying the 1,000 Vietnamese dong (VND)  toll fee, he stopped in a taxi’s line outside the airport. There were a lot of them there waiting! And he turned us over into another driver with a bigger taxi. We couldn’t understand it at first, alarmed when our bags are being transferred. Then the other driver explained that he got a customer waiting downtown so he will take us instead. Phew! It would take 15-20 minutes going to the bus terminal but since it is almost 6AM, the driver assured us he will get us there in time and he truly drove fast. And we’re too amazed he got the latest iPhone 6 at that! Aba sosyal si kuya!  And he’s very helpful, even to a point of teaching me how to count properly the Vietnamese Dong in paying taxis.

We got on the bus terminal on time, purchased tickets and put our luggage. We are on our seats when the bus conductor asked for us passports.  Still sleepy, we’re too slow to get the instructions.  Then the man behind us talked to us in Tagalog. “Tandaan niyo yung conductor ng bus. Siya ang magbibigay niyan sa border.  (Remember the bus conductor. They will be the ones who will give that to the border (patrols)" Holy kamote! Here is Kuya Renato (surname withheld) and his family. I remembered he was also in our flight from Manila. He lives in Phnom Penh for 11 years now and married a Khmer woman and they got an 8-year old son, Rene. His wife paid for our toilet usage since it is cheaper for locals and he helped us in the queue on crossing the border. He explained to us the process in crossing the border. There are bills attached to the passport. Lagay ba. Corruption is rampant. Hindi lang sa atin unique yan! In broad daylight, you can see compromises made in the name of convenience. 

We stopped at one of the eateries after the border and Rene started saying “Kakain!” We laughed. He only knows Tagalog words like “kain”, “Tubig”, “tulog”. Kuya Rene hails from Lucena, Quezon and they went home to the Philippines for a month-long vacation. His son laughed at us when we could not understand the lady at the resto charging us “One dollah!”. He kept on imitating the lady’s voice and laughs. The one dollar is for the cold towel offered to us during lunch and we thought it was a complement from the bus company!

Kuya Rene gave us the number of Ate Grace, one of his friends in Siem Reap who is also from Davao and now works as a teacher there. 

When we arrived in Phnom Penh, we have to transfer into a local bus company. We arranged earlier to meet Marj and her adorable baby Ema Ayeesha. Several of our friends and her sister sent padalas of clothes and vitamins.  Marj is my college housemate and after- college roommate and she now lives   in Phomn Penh with her chuwariwap. Goddamn this woman, how can she give birth to a child and still look like a teen-ager? Aside from the chatter on motherhood, she's still the good 'ol crazy roommate I knew. Ema was shocked probably by the onslaught of kisses from strangers that she wailed. Later Marj texted me that Ema was so anxious and also very hungry. We will be staying with them after two days and surely, Ema will see our awesome tita yaya skills. 

We bade goodbye to Kuya Renato and his family. Also to Marj and her crying princess. We still have another 6 hours ride to Siem Reap  and we were running late for an hour. We didn’t give some extra cash in the border so our passports were processed late. We are passing the countryside full of dark brown earth and thick dust that resembles the roads when you pass the towns of Carrascal and Claver in Surigao del Sur. Do they have mining also here?

Then we stopped in another eatery for merienda and hygienic needs. I noticed they got this altar in front of their houses and businesses. It is like our own tambara and there is an offering for the spirits for good luck.

We arrived in Siem Reap at half past 9pm. We already booked our accommodation with Happy Guesthouse with the help of Marj. She texted me that the bus terminal address where we will be arriving was incomplete so I need to call the hostel in order for them to gie instructions to the tuktuk driver who will fetch us. My cheapskate self is already worried of the several roaming texts I’ve been sending earlier and I’ve been scolding myself for not buying a local sim first thing at the border. 

We’re beaten tired and everyone is rearing to get off the bus when a young man  alongside other drivers holds a bond paper with my name on it. Oh Thank you God! Our tuktuk driver’s name is Mr. Nakim and his female friend Sophie tagged along. Sophie is trying to practice her English and we tried to make conversations with her. It  is just a short ride from the Old Market to Happy Guesthouse, a homey hostel nestled at the center of a backpacker’s area! We arranged the next day’s tour that will start at 5AM with Nakim then checked in at the hostel.  

After washing up, we decided to walk around. It’s a countdown to midnight for Nina’s birthday. We found a Hawaiian Pizza House and meet Ah Ti Juju. It is a family-owned business and he happily took our orders of noodles, tea, coconut shake (as recommended by another diner). There is no available cake so we ordered their house delight pizza and requested for candles. Ah Ti apologized since they only got one large candle.  We told him it's okay; we will even accept vigil candle. After eating, they took out the pizza and the other local diners joined us in singing Happy Birthday. Ah Ti made us a generous helping of pizza and put some effort making a flower-shaped tomato on top and he managed to find more candles.


Nina is beaming, happy despite the lost Tab along the way (she can’t still figure out how and where she lost it). We just consoled her that probably the spirits wanted an offering. I lost my cellphone pouch and Xyza lost their office logbook.  In life, we need to lose something in order to know its value (or non-value) and to be able to regain something better. I hope I can easily say this is also applicable to our love lives. #H U G O T!  Eeeeeek! :D 

Let’s choose to be happy instead of what we have. We can replace material things but not the memories and stories

We hope to create great memories here. And we're looking forward for the sunrise.  ♥ 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Before the Trip Hullabaloo

 My week leave (Nov. 18-20) coincided with our 4 major activities! As we were making our organization’s plans, I was guilty for taking a leave in one of the busiest week. But this trip is already planned way ahead. I just never filed my leave earlier. But some of my colleagues already knew of my plans. Thankfully, I got a very supportive Deputy Country Manager and colleagues who know the tenacity of my Dora-like adventures. Travelling is a need. It invigorates me and for the past months, I was lost. I need a breather.

I made the necessary arrangements prior to the said events. I made all the checklists. And even on the day of my flight, I was still confirming guests for the forum launching in Cotabato. There was an input on conflict-sensitive resettlement (which is quite crucial for my planned MA thesis), trip of our Regional Area Manager and another forum at Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

And to top it all, Manins asked me to check possible itineraries and also updated hotel bookings and addresses! The preparations were in a daze. Months before it, we thought it was still far only to realize it is now around the corner. We crammed and panicked thinking of possible mishaps. When can I have a stress-free travel? But then again, we thrive in stress. We survive stress

Just last night as we were trying to add additional baggage, CebuPac’s website decided to be crappy. I only got 2 hours of sleep and there are people who just love to burst your happy bubble. I could make a nasty response but then I realize, we have to be prepared when things go wrong as we planned. I try to remember the goodness of other colleagues who are willing to take the burden of the work I will be leaving. We have to acknowledge that while we don’t have any hold of other people’s attitude, we can choose how to react.

Airport Drama by AJ Efondo
Photo source:
Airports are one long waiting game. I arrived from Davao at 12NN. Flight to Ho Chi Minh is at 10:50PM. I detest airports before as I associated it with tears and long goodbyes with loves ones. I never liked going to airport every time my mom goes back to Hongkong as OFW when I was young.  Anyway, my work and these itchy feet gave me opportunities and I had made my peace with this place.

As I was lounging around, killing time when this young lady approached me. Janeth (surnamed withheld) , a 3rd year BSEd Values Education  approached me and tried to sell a beads keychain she made to support her studies. I am wary of these rackets; I know of an organization that requires its members “quotas” and the holidays are fast approaching. Janeth is  nice and sincere. We talked for a while about the difficulty of balancing time for studies and finding some money to sustain the drill of getting a degree. She’s quite good in doing the marketing of her beads and approaching strangers requires a lot of guts and of course, self- confidence.  She left and I have this on my hand: 

Philippine-flag shaped bead keychain.

Then I continue reading Kafka on the Shore when an elderly woman, in her 50s approached me and asked if I was a frequent traveler. I said yes. She asked if I can help her and older sister regarding their flight to Kalibo.It's their first time. They were looking for the check-in counter. It is just 5:15PM and their flight is at 9:05PM. They traveled from Tagaytay and they got 2 big bags. They showed me their ticket and they got no check-in luggage. I told them they can purchase a prepaid baggage but they insisted that the person whom they purchased the ticket that they can just check-in their bags! Of course you can do it but with an exorbitant fee of P200/ kl and their bags is beyond 20 kgs, while you can only pay half of the price if you got a prepaid one.  I convinced them and we marched to Cebu Pacific’s office but we were stopped. We missed the 4-hour before the flight purchase time limit by just a hairline (10 minutes). Sales office said sorry and they are strict with the time. Oh the irony of it (you know flight carriers are known for always being delayed but they are strict and will charge you several bucks for just being late for a minute). I wanted to raise my eyebrows. I was just there earlier when I purchased an add-on baggage and there was a long queue of disgruntled customers for the late advisory of cancelled flights to Tugegarao (2 flights) and Caticlan. Missed the time limit by the dot? I would really understand the guideline when there is an equal strict rule imposition when they also cause so much inconvenience with the passengers.

We all fall for this. 

I am grateful for these flight carriers, Cebu Pacific for one for its annual promos (Pisofare and holiday discounts) but it seems these promos make us accept the crappy customer service as the collateral. And it is no wonder that another passenger break all loose when he demanded for his lost baggage. The ground crews said it was in another flight only to find out it was just left in the check-in lane.  And it is not helping when these crews, just shrug their shoulders telling the passenger nonchalantly, “You can go home sir. We will just deliver it.”  There is no time or date and when the passenger needs it badly, expect the curses. It is in these situations that a  person who can empathize and communicate well is needed.  Acknowledge the anger and the inconvenience your company caused and as its employee, you will do all what you can do to resolve it. Imagine the hassle of going thrice to the airport for the lost luggage in the midst of hurting traffic. Take responsibility. Company image is built not with just the promos, magazines and press releases. It is foremost, built by the employees to whom the passengers talk to. We know they are outsourced, employed through an agency and most of the time, they couldn't care less. Workers who are bonded by commitment and benefits will work efficiently. Contractualization, hiring employees through agencies lessens the burden from the employer. as they are no longer held liable for employee benefits like paid annual leaves, retirement benefits. And we have seen again and again how the employer-employee- customer relations have been strained. 

I am not singling out Cebu Pacific here. I had my own share of whole-fucked-up-terminal-waiting-game experience with Philippine Airlines (PAL) last month. But nothing can compare to the no unfriendly passenger scenarios with CebuPac. Take note that because the tube used in ferrying passengers during boarding is paid, it is not used. Instead, everyone is asked to go down the long flight of stairs. That's very unfriendly especially to differently-abled passengers and mothers with children. My older sister's plight is worth telling.  She got 2 kids in tow; flights were delayed until midnight and no assistance was given and no information when exactly they will be flying. And oh just last week, they lost one of my colleagues who is a frequent CebuPac flyer. There was a crack on one of the windows and they only realized it after they have already flown. They have to go back and the handling was nightmarish. There are still more stories of course of these crappy services we get. We can choose to boycott them but with only 2 airline carriers we have, do we have that much choice? I hope this ASEAN 2015 economic integration can really boost the competition and make these two airline companies improve their services. 

Flight to Manila

Flight back to Davao.
ooooh sunset, how I love thee changing colors of the skies. 

As our midnight flight to Ho Chi Minh  is being called I heaved a big sigh of relief. The idea of flying over the clouds with the huge seascape underneath gives me a sense of freedom. Those fluffy white clouds remind me of cotton candies and warm childhood ceremonies. To fly on air is to dream. To wander and stay youthful. Truly Peter Pan knew how light one can be and to see the landscape in a macro perspective. And when I fly, I closed and my eyes and left the baggages of the long day at the terminal. So long worries. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet the Backpackers of Vietnam-Cambodia Trip

This is Ma. Nina Regina Quibod. The birthday girl.
The Fedora Cap Girls!

We embarked on an 8-day trip from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Read the next articles and let us share our story. :)

Nina, Ninya or Kapitan is a wildlife biologist, a lover of bats  and a certified noisy traveler.  I call her Manins or Kibodsky, Our first trip together was in Bangkok last 2012. It was our first Asian trip and our first time to travel together for her birthday. I booked the flights, she paid for it. I got a Couchsurfer friend said yes to host us both. I regaled her of my “travel agent’s skills’ only to realize too late she only got 3 days there as the flight back time is at midnight! I was embarrassed for the said booking mishap but Nina maximized her stay visiting temples.
Manins is a loner sometimes; She will disappear for several minutes because she's engrossed with other little details in the place you're visiting. She's a ratpack too.  She collects postcards (and sends one for herself) and currencies in all denominations of each country she visits.

We have no strict itineraries and we like countryside trips. Being on the field for so long had taught us to love spontaneity. We have known each other for 10 years now and gladly, we have survived each other beyond college.
This is our second trip together since we already proved that we can survive each other  in Bangkok. For this trip, we booked the flight as early as September last year on the much awaited Pisofare promo of CebuPac.  In the middle of the night, I got a call from her of her plans and I am a kaladkarin (willing  to be dragged). Besides she’s a willing sponsor.  This trip has kept us excited for rest of the year.

This is Fei Xyza Asuncion. She’s a friend of Nina and we only met personally on the day of our flight to Ho Chi Minh. She texted me while I was charging my phone at one of the columns in  Terminal 3.On the first glance, I knew we can travel together.  Nina with her super busy schedule totally forgot to introduce us but it was an instant hit of talk and laughter between us.  She’s sweet and has been mistaken as Cambodian when we crossed the border. She takes pictures of every food we partake.

And meet me, Dora and my pack. My backpack has been with me for 5 years now and I joke that my relationship with my backpack is even longer than my romantic ones. HAHA. Okay let's sing:
♫ ♪ Backpack, Backpack!  I'm The Backpack Loaded Up With Things And Knickknack's Too. Anything That You Might Need I Got Inside For You. Backpack, Backpack! ♫ ♪ 
They say, you will learn a lot from a person when you lived with them and when you travel with them. You will know your idiosyncrasies and attitude that can either be endearing or very annoying. And it is best to really have a travel buddy who has the same personality like yours. Gladly, Nina and I have surpassed that. And Xyza is also a no-fuss traveler.


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