Best of 2012

Forgive the silence… would you believe that I ushered in the New Year with colds and fever?  But that didn’t stop me from having friends over for the count down. No.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

This-is-forever

Credits:  Quickpage from JSprague’s 4ever kit, created by Brenda Neuberger

2012 has been good to me.  Even with much less travels this year, I’ve managed a few unforgettable firsts.  Here they are; some I have not even posted but will pre-empt:

1.  The Bus Ride to Vang Vieng

bus-to-VV

A 4-hour bus ride from Vientaine on a sleeper bus made for petite Laotians.  Worst was the bunks were meant for (yes) 2 petite Laotians.  We’re definitely far from petite.  So imagine the trip.

2.  First time on a Hot Air Balloon

vang-vieng

Soaring high in Vang Vieng, watching the town wake up.  You get the best view in town, if you ask me.

3.  The Boat Ride to Y’ami

boat-ride-to-Y'ami

An idea that came to fruition had us journeying to the northernmost island of the Philippines on a grueling 3-hour boat ride off Itbayat Island in Batanes.  Why?  I ask the same question many times over.  An experience hard to topple.

4.  A Night in Siayan

siayan

We had to break the grueling boat ride and stay overnight in an island about 1 hour away from Itbayat (the farthest inhabited island of Batanes) because the waters along the Bashi Channel can be treacherous particularly in the late afternoon.  Getting to the island, beautiful as it is, is an adventure in its self.

5.  Hiking Up to Cape Engaño

Palaui-view

Beautiful sight, up there.  That’s all I will say for now.  Watch out for my post – coming soon.

6.  Enjoying an Onsen Bath

hirayu-onsen

While it snowed too.  A totally exhilarating and liberating experience, I dipped in those pools two nights in a row.  Awesomeness.

As for 2013, I’ve got some exciting plans already in the pipeline. I’ve been working hard to get that to fruition over the holidays, truth to tell.  It is going to be an exciting year.  I feel it in the air.  How is your 2013 looking so far?

Siayan

We scrambled through rocks, walked through pastureland until we reached a beautiful beach.

As with Y’ami, a shore entry wasn’t possible.

The boat took shelter at one side of the island, hidden by a cove of volcanic rocks; the boat is safe there for the night.

We, on the other hand, had only a tarp to shelter us for the night.

If it rains, we’re doomed.  And as thunder rumbled and lightning flashed through the night, deep sleep eluded me.

Siayan Island is about 1km in diameter.  It is 164m high and is considered an inactive volcano hence the rocky path to the beach.

Lying about 8 km north-northeast of Itbayat, it is just an hour away from the farthest inhabited island of Batanes.

Itbayat in the distance.

The water can become turbulent however and our guides took precaution and insisted we stay the night in Siayan.

When they said that the island has a water source, I had in my mind a stream tucked away in a forest somewhere.  Instead, it is more of a concrete rain catchment built on top of a hill.  The water stored there is only for bathing, not for drinking.  We took turns rinsing ourselves and I should add that the view on this hill is spectacular.  I meant to take a photo but unfortunately never got around to doing so because I don’t normally bring a camera with me when I take a bath, do you?  So I keep forgetting.

Dinner and bedtime was early because we were tired from the day’s excitement and there really wasn’t much to do after dark.

Breakfast Feast prepared by our guides.

The walk back after breakfast was another struggle – going down this time.

Definitely not a walk in the park.

A glimpse of our boat from the top.

Back in Paganaman port, we walked up steep steps (with our stuff) to the road where our truck will return for us.

Waiting for our ride.  Tired from the journey and the sleepless night.

A grueling trip worth all the experience.  Will I do it again?  Perhaps not back to Y’ami, but to other unexplored territories, hell yes.  As I always say, I’ll do (almost) anything at least once in my life.