Friday, 25 May 2012

Bojo Macaraig of Quezon City, PHILIPPINES


11. Featured Traveller 

Bojo Macaraig 
Accountant : Traveller




(Quezon City, Philippines)

                               
"Explore a country on your own for a more exciting and challenging travel."  

Visa: Limang Taon Na Paglalakbay 
    (Five Years of Travelling)

Hello, I'm Bojo and I am a traveller, quite a traveller I should say.  To see the world is everyone's desire and I have started travelling to other countries a couple of years ago, to beautiful destinations that I want to explore.  My passion started when my friend Arlene Quindoza introduced me from one traveller to another until we are able to form a group of four with Glen Gallardo and Emma Padios who is a travel guru being the owner/manager of the City Light Travel and Tours, Inc. They all play an important role in introducing me to the world of travels, and eventually became my travel buddies.

Most of our travels are not with a group or guided tours.  We prefer to explore more on our own.  We do research and collect travel information through the web and tips from other travellers.  We all believe that by doing so, we have enough time to plan, to wander, and to discover places at our own pace.

My five-year journey are detailed below.  Some of the information may help you plan your travel to these destinations.  It all started in Asia.  Please continue reading..... you may find my story interesting!

2007 
My first destination was Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam.  It was the first country who stamped a 30-day tourist visa on my passport upon my arrival. Vietnam is a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation), same with my country, the Philippines.  Nationals of ASEAN member countries are issued a free visa upon arrival.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is vibrant and energetic.  It's peaceful all around and I can see the the city's improvement and recovery after the war.  I explore the city on foot and admire the French architectural designs of the twin towers of Notre Dame de Cathedral, Post Office, Saigon Opera House, Reunification Palace and the famous Ben Thanh Market, among others.

Visa ~ Vietnam & Cambodia
We took a bus going to Cambodia on Day 2. We left HCMC at around 7 a.m. and arrived in Siem Reap city via Phnom Penh (Capital city of Cambodia) at 8:30 p.m. It's a long and tiring journey.  Cambodia's culture and historical places are preserved though it is listed as one of the world's  poorest nations.  Yes, Cambodia is the second ASEAN country that stamped a tourist visa on my passport. Cambodia is tagged as the Kingdom of Wonders.  The Angkor Wat which is a finalist in the New Seven Wonders of nature, is the largest religious temple in the world, built by the Khmers in the year 1113.  Siem Reap City is the place wherein the Angkor Archeological Park is located.   We visited some temples like Ta Phrom, Angkor Thom and others.

The following night, we returned to HCMC via Vietnam Airlines. It's 45 minutes of flying.  We then continue exploring the city for the rest of our stay.

2008
Four months after my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, we decided to continue our journey to Shanghai and Beijing at springtime.  Here in the Philippines, we don't have spring and winter, so I was so excited to experience the cold weather.  In China, Filipinos are required to apply for a tourist visa prior to arrival, so I did get one.

Visa ~ Hong Kong & Macau
Shanghai is the oldest city in China wherein the old and the new area have their own character. Huangpu District is the old area where the famous The Bund is located and from this point you can see the new area called the Pudong District.  One question you may ask is "what's the difference between Huangpu and Pudong?  My answer to this is that they have an entirely opposite architectural skyline.  In Pudong, it's more modern and in style while in Huangpu, mostly are old and historical buildings. Both districts are equally magnificent.


We took an overnight train from Shanghai to Beijing. Upon arrival in Beijing, I noticed that the city is busy preparing for the Summer Olympics to be held in five months time.  Roads and pavements were in the stage of rehabilitation, as well as subway stations.  We visited the city's National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, while it is under construction. There are many places in Beijing worth visiting. One of them and the most interesting is the famous Great Wall of China. Visit this wonder at spring time.  Take my advice and you will be glad you did.

Five months after my spring travel to China, I came back during summer.  This time I have to explore Macau and Hong Kong with the company of my college friends.  I can't help but compare the two cities as they both have different views of China;  one is a former territory of the Portuguese and the other is a former British colony.  We, Filipinos are visa free in these two regions.


Visa ~ Singapore & Macau
Macau is famous for the blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures and its gambling industry, which includes Casino Lisboa, Macau, Sands Macau, The Venetian Macao, and Wynn Macau.  From Macau we had to take a ferry going to Asia's world city of Hong Kong.  My first destination is the Disneyland.  It is my dream to see Disneyland and my 30 years of waiting to meet Mickey is over. It's a day of fantasy and adventure to a young at heart like me.

Then two months later, I find myself exploring Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It all happened  in just 7 days.  These countries are ASEAN members so the immigration formalities went on smoothly. 

Uniquely Singapore is truly one of a kind.  A small country with  unique skyline surrounded by an extremely clean environment and well-disciplined local people.  


Visa ~ Malaysia-Thailand-Vietnam
It's a 5-hour travel by bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia, dubbed as Truly Asia, is a muslim developing country. It is a bit ahead of the Philippines in terms of economy.   KL is the capital city of Malaysia where the Petronas Tower is located. It used to be the tallest building in the world  until the opening of Taipei 101 in Taiwan and Burj Tower in Dubai in the year 2004 and 2010, respectively. The view of the city of Kuala Lumpur and the famous tower is just amazing.

We then fly to Bangkok, Thailand via Air Asia.  To put it simply, Bangkok seems like a web to visitors in the city.  Tourists are all over the place and the Sky train made it easier to move around with the help of taxis, tuk-tuks, buses and motorcycle taxi which are overflowing.  Bangkok, which is tagged as City of Angels, will seduce you with its charm and the smile of the local people.

2009
In October of 2009, I re-visited Hong Kong and Macau with my parents, as they also deserve to have a great tour.  It was my second time to Hong Kong and Macau.

Visa ~ Korea
On December 26 of the same year, I travelled to South Korea to experience for the first time, the snowflakes in Seoul. The first winter I ever had. Luckily enough, it was snowing on our first day in the city. This and all the things I have discovered here made me think of coming back again and again which includes a glimpse of the border line between North and South Korea. I obtained a tourist visa to South Korea as required  prior to my entry which is free of charge for Philippine passport holders.

2010
Four months after my last visit in other Asian countries, I fly to Taiwan which is branded as the Heart of Asia.  For some reason, I feel that this slogan best describe Taiwan as compared to other Asian countries that also made an effort to obtain the same position including the Philippines. The Philippine tourism should exert more effort and work harder so that it is not left behind by other neighbouring countries. Taiwan tourist visa fee costs approximately $45. Filipino nationals with unexpired US visa may apply tourist visa online for free to this country.

After exploring Taiwan, I decided  to re-visit China, and this time, my destination is Guangzhou, the place where XIV 2010 Asian Games was held.  Took some photos of it including the Canton tower which has the tallest TV tower with highest observatory level.  Other than that, there's no other place worth visiting except for the shopping area where I bought cheap products at wholesale prices.

Visa ~ China
I went back to Macau for the third time from Guangzhou using the local bus.  I stayed overnight at the Venetian Macau to have fun time at the casino and then headed back to Guangzhou the next day.

Thirty days later, I gave Mom a trip to Bangkok as my gift for her 60th birthday.  To make her happier, I also bought an airline ticket for my Dad so that they can have bonding time outside the country for the first time.  It was my second to Bangkok so I just play the role of a tour guide to my loving parents at this particular journey.

2011
Five months later, I was in Brunei ~ The Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures, with my sister.  We visited mosques in Bandar Seri Begawan. 

I did not like the very hot weather in Brunei.  Inspite of this, I am giving a thumbs up to this country.  It is worth a visit.  If you are coming to Brunei, my advice is to stay for two to three days only which is enough to explore the most part of it.  Brunei is also an ASEAN member, hence, no charge for the tourist visa.

Visa ~ India
Another country with the weather so hot is India which I did not like to experience again the 47°C extreme heat. I was there in June 2011 and the overall experience is just incredible. We chose the services of Mr. Narendra's travel agency to go around New Delhi, Jaipur City in Rajasthan and Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Taj Mahal is so amazing.  It is interesting to note that this Monument to Love is listed in the new 7 Wonders of the World. Mr. Narendra is the operator of  www.colourfulinindiaholidays.com for Golden Triangle tour. He provided us a car with a driver for this whole journey.

Filipinos are allowed to get Indian tourist visa at the airport upon arrival, but we obtained one at the Indian embassy in the city of Makati.   Our flight from New Delhi was via Bangkok so we decided to have a stopover. The fact that this is my third to Bangkok, there is a good chance to visit Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. This city is a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya is a little over an hour travel time from Bangkok by a public van.  You will find the terminal of the van located near the Victory monument.  This is a transport plying Bangkok-Ayutthaya-Bangkok route.

2012
February 29, I was a tour guide for people who requested to keep them company while in Korea.  They have to meet their relatives whom they did not see for more than 13 years. We had to meet them in Uijeongbu city in South Korea  Here, I witnessed a very emotional reunion.  There were tears of joy on their faces and am happy to be a part of it. This trip is also the answer to my wish to have a second glance of the city of Seoul.  I was so impressed on my first tour in 2009 so I promised myself for a re-visit.  Korea becomes my favourite among the Asian countries I have travelled to.

Not long after, I returned to Korea but this time in Busan City.  That was 4th of April. It's amazing to see the cherry blossoms for the first time.  Must be one of the reasons why it was branded as Dynamic Busan.

I am thankful being on the road, above the sea and up in the air for five consecutive years. I have to congratulate myself for this experience of a lifetime.  It truly is a fantastic journey.  I will not stop travelling and will keep on exploring the world.

On a different note, I must tell you that I have a blog where you can find details on my local travels to many destinations in the Philippines. Feel free to visit www.bojomacaraig.blogspot.com.  I am not the best writer but I am happy to share my travel experiences with the hope that some people will like and benefit from it.


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Are you a traveller who would like to share your travel story with our blog and our readers?  Then, I'd love to hear from you! 
Please email me at fromatravellersdesk@gmail.com

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