#30First: Sri Lanka and Vietnam

My #30First Itinerary: Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, May 2014 (Map courtesy of Google Maps)
Yep, it's that time of the year again.

May is my birth month and what better way to celebrate it than to do what I love, with the people that I love. As it is turning out to be an annual tradition, I'll be on the road for 31 days to celebrate my 31st birthday! For the first time, I'm so looking forward to celebrating my 60th someday!

The highlight of this #30First trip will be a 10-day #BackpackSriLanka tour, and a two-week trip with my sister in #Vietnam4Two. I will be stopping by Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia along the way. (See map and itinerary below.)

Why are Filipinos required to have a return ticket?

There is one reason why Filipinos are required to have a return ticket when they travel out of the country, and three reasons why it's non-sense!

Return ticket, check! Body weight... what? Manila, PH
Airlines are required to check your return ticket if you're traveling outside the country, especially as a tourist, to ensure that you will return home and not become one of the thousands of undocumented immigrants/ workers in other countries.

And here are three reasons why this doesn't make any sense:

SQ: Is Philippine Immigration OK with multi-destinations?

If only international travel is as hassle free as domestic. Komodo, Indonesia.

At our Facebook fan page, a follower asked the following question: "Would I have problems at the Philippine Immigration if I have multiple destinations outside of the country?"

First, a disclaimer: I am not an immigration lawyer. My answer to this question is guided by my own experiences having gone out of the country more than twenty times in the last ten years.

For those who do not understand the context of this question, Philippine Immigration requires Filipinos going out of the country to posses a return ticket upon their check in for their outbound flight. If you're wondering why, here are my thoughts on the issue:


Off-road down hill biking in Chiang Mai, Thailand
My name is Froilan and I am the Last Row Traveler. Thank you for visiting this blog.

Click here to know why this blog is called the "Last Row Traveler."
If you want to know who I am, please visit my personal page at froilangrate.com.

If you need to ask a question, want a travel advice, or you need help in making your itinerary, ask me here.

Discover Sibuyan, Philippines [Video]

Sibuyan Island is part of Romblon Province, in central Philippines.

This crescent-shaped island is commonly referred to as the "Galapagos of Asia" for its biodiversity. Learn more about Sibuyan in this video, and add this piece of heaven to you must-go-to destination. Enjoy!

Solo travel and the people I've met on the road

"A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”Tim Cahill 

More travel quotes here: 50 Inspiring Travel Quotes

One question that people often ask me, aside from "Where are you?" or "Are you in the Philippines?", is "Why do you travel?"  This is one question that is easy to answer, and I have many. One of which is to meet new people, to meet new friends.

In the last 10 years, I've met quite a few, and thanks to Facebook, I'm still in contact with some of them. For those whom I am not in contact anymore, I still have our shared moments to cherish. My traveling experience has been made memorable by these new found friends, and on this post, I would like to give tribute to these amazing fellow adventurist.

Crazy Christmas eve celebration in Saigon, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2009

On my first solo backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, I ended up celebrating my Christmas in HCMC, Vietnam. It was my first Christmas outside the country, and the first time I am spending it alone. After a tour of the Mekong River, I went back to the hostel and discovered all my roommates getting ready for dinner. It was an 10-bed mixed dorm in the middle of Pham Ngu Lao - Saigon's backpackers' area.

It was a crazy mix of solo travelers, a girl from Netherlands, a lady doctor from Brazil, a couple of Aussie guys, and the rest from different countries in Europe. We went out to dinner, then had a few bottles of Saigon beer. Too early to call it a night, we transferred to another area that served cheap draft beer (I think it was about 1 USD for a pitcher). Stories were shared, advice were asked and even stories back home were overflowing. After midnight, we went back to the hostel too drunk to care as the others were competing for the loudest snore.

Party in Vang Vieng, Laos

This is how you party in Vang Vieng, Laos. This is just one of the many activities that you can do in this party heaven.

Itinerary: Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand (Ho Chi Minh- Phnom Phen - Siem Reap - Bangkok)

Nature reclaiming old temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
This coming May, we are embarking on an 11 day - 3 country tour in Southeast Asia. This is to celebrate my Dad's birthday, and to fulfill our dream (my Sister and I) to travel with our Dad before he turns 60.

For this trip, we'll be Visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Specifically, we'll be visiting Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Phen, Siem Reap and Bangkok. Below is our itinerary:

My Travel Map

As of August 1, 2013

Tara, byahe tayo!

Froilan Grate | Last Row Traveler
Visit also No Bystanders | Planet Run | Customer Wow | Halo Halo and more 

Do you have a question, or in need of a travel advice? Ask me here!
Factual errors? Please let me know by leaving a comment. Grammatical errors and typos? Read the disclaimer.

Happiest day on the road (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Enjoying a good laugh with the ladies of Siem Reap.
Have you ever laughed so hard and smiled for so long that your jaws actually hurt?

It happened to me while visiting a boarding school in the outskirts of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

In the last 5 years, I've spent more than half my time traveling (defined today as being away from my house in Manila). That's around one year on at least 10 different occasions outside the country, and about three years locally.

Still, this day in Cambodia, during my second backpacking trip across Southeast Asia, is definitely and hands down the happiest day of my life on the road. Here are some of the pictures to show it:

SQ: When is the best time to travel to Thailand?

The Royal Palace is an all weather, year round attraction in Bangkok.
Hello! On this post I am answering our first Submitted Question (SQ) from Ryan (as posted here):

Ryan asks:
"Hi Froi! When is the best time to travel to Thailand? And if you can suggest also, places that is a must to visit and activities to experience, that we should do as a group."

 My answer:

Got a question?

At your service. (Macchu Pichu, Cusco, Peru, 2010)
Do you have a travel question? Do you need help in planning for your next trip? 

I might be able to help. Just post your question or request on the comments section below. 

Happy travels!

Tara, byahe tayo!

Froilan Grate | Last Row Traveler
Visit also No Bystanders | Planet Run | Customer Wow | Halo Halo and more

Your shit or you're shit?

The menu in one of the local restaurants in Siem Reap.
They say grammar is knowing the difference between your shit and you're shit. Well, I have news for you babe, more than half the world doesn't give a shit!

Go to China, where you'll probably stand for hours on the road if you're lost, and you're looking for someone who speaks English to help you. (Yes, I am speaking from experience though admittedly, the incident happened 9 years ago, well before the the Beijing Olympics.)


Froilan lost in Malaysia
Sometimes the best way to enjoy a place is to get lost. (KL, Malaysia 2011)

Below are the itineraries I've traveled the past few years. 

Feel free to ask questions or travel advice on these destinations.

My favorite sunset spots

Sunset at U Bein Bridge, the world's oldest and longest teak wood bridge, in Mandalay, Burma
I love sunsets. 

Sunsets remind us that no matter how rough your day may be, it will soon be over and tomorrow will be another day, another opportunity to try, to make things right.

Below are some of my favorite sunsets taken from some of my favorite destinations in Asia, North and South America.
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Sagada, Mountain Province

The majestic rice terraces


The isolated Anawangin Cove is perfect for group camping

Sunrise in Calayan

Calayan is part of the Babuyan Group of Islands

Chocolate Hills

While green during the rainy season, this attraction in Bohol turns to beautiful brown in the summer.


This remote island in Camarines Sur was host to Survivor France

Samal Island

This Pearl Farm is a famous destination in Davao.

Snake Island

This island, which is shaped like a snake is part of the attractions in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan.


Your private island

El Nido

This island is one of the stops in this famous tourist destination in Palawan

Calle Crisologo

This famous street in Vigan, Ilocos Sur is a reminder of this town's grand history

Central Park - New York

On a clear day, New Yorkers visit the Park to take a leisurely walk, run, play a game of catch, or just relax and read a book.

Brooklyn Bridge

The bridge is picture perfect, both for photographers and soon to be newlyweds having their pre-nup shoot.


A typical Plaza in Quito, the country's capital

New York

The view of Manhattan from the Empire State Building

Iguazu Falls

The majestic Falls shared by Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay


La Paz, Bolivia's capital, at night

Lake Titicaca

Colorful houses on Bolivia's side of the Lake

Pantanal, Brazil

A spot to read a book, and just below are hundreds of Caimans (cousins of alligators)

Copacabana Beach

Rio de Janeiro's famous beach

Curitiba, Brazil

One of the sights to be visited in their hop-on, hop-off Linha de Turismo bus service