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.

50 Inspiring Travel Quotes

Why travel? To meet new friends  (Aboard a ship in Halong Bay, Vietnam)
Below are 50 of my favorite quotes on traveling compiled from all over the net.  I especially like the first one, but I feel all of these quotes reflect either the reasons why we travel or what we should aspire to be when we travel.

Enjoy and do leave a comment if you agree or disagree with them.Also, do you have your own quote that you would like to share? Add them in the comments section.  

Tara, byahe tayo!™

1. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

2. “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

Tips in choosing the right Travel Agency in Khao San

As they say, all backpacker roads lead to Khao San
If you're looking to book a tour to the floating market, here are some tips for you:

1. Ask for the name of the tour agency who will do the actual tour. Some are just agents / resellers for another company.

2. Look for the cheapest price, but compare the inclusions. Some agents may sell the same tour for a higher price, but you'll get the same service/ quality.

3. Ask what is included. A cheaper price may not include a boat tour.

4. Ask how many stops are there to shop, and what kind of shops are included. It depends on what you're after for, be it painting, carving, silk, etc.

5. Ask what boat tour is included. There are two types: paddle boat and motorized long tail boat.

6. If motorized boat is included, ask what is the area covered. Ideally, you'll see the community and some canals away from the market.

7. Ask what kind of car/van will be used. Though using a bus may be cheaper, it would mean a lot of wasted time waiting for more people. Confirm that the AC would be working well, too.

8. Ask for a guarantee and tell them you will demand for  a refund if the terms are not met. This will encourage them to be honest about the trip, and allow you to decide if the trip is worth the price.

9. Ask around, ask at least 4 agencies before you decide.

10. Do not be ashamed to ask. If they are not accommodating, that is already as sign of poor service during the actual tour. Move to the next agency. There are hundreds of them.

Related posts:

Damnoen Floating Market: DIY or Tour
DIY Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Floating Market: DIY or Tour

Are you planning for a trip to Damnoen Saduak, Thailand's famous floating market, but is unsure whether to book a tour in Khao San or to do it yourself?

Here's a guide for you.

DIY Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (Thailand)

For my second task as part of Bangkok 2012 Challenge (details here), I need to go to Damnoen Saduak, Thailand's most famous Floating Market, for less than 300 Baht.

Fruits and assorted Thai food sold in the floating market
Usual tours from Khao San would range from 300 Baht to 600 Baht, and this includes only transportation to and from the floating market plus a 20 minute long-tail boat ride around the community. You would have to pay extra for a paddle boat tour around the actual market (100 - 150 Baht, shared). Since this is only a half-day tour, leaving Khao San at around 7 AM and you'll be back usually at around 1 PM, no lunch is included. That means you'll have to pay for your own food while in the market - and there's plenty to choose from.

Related post: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: It's the ice cream, and more

This is actually my third time to visit the floating market. The first two was through a tour agency booked in Khao San. Since there are plenty of competing tour operators, each trip is different. Some include a trip to the Snake Museum, others stop at various cottage industries (silk, painting, carving, etc).

The best ice cream, served on top of fresh coconut flesh

But my trip to Bangkok would not be complete without a trip to the floating market. I want to go back for one reason: FOOD.

(A listing of all the top picks is blogged here.)

Specifically, I'll travel 110KM from Bangkok in search of the world's most delicious ice cream. Well, almost. But it's so good, I'm literally salivating on the way there, and I usually end up ordering 3 to 5 servings for every visit. In fact, I'm such a fan the ice cream vendor knows me even if I just visit once a year.

So, is it possible to go to Damnoen Saduak under 300 baht?

Bangkok Airport to Silom for less than 100 Baht

Inside Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport
My first task for Bangkok Challenge 2012 (details here) is to go to Silom Area from Suvarnabhumi airport for less than 100 Baht. Here are the usual mode of transportation for this route, and the corresponding costs (in Baht):

Via Taxi = 400 - 600 (depending on traffic conditions) plus toll fees

Airport Rail Link = 90 (until Phya Thai Station) + 30 (SkyTrain Phya Thai to Silom)

So am I successful?

Bangkok Challenge 2012

For my stop-over going to Mumbai, I was choosing between Singapore (via Singapore Air) or Bangkok (via Thai Airways). Singapore was cheaper by about 100 USD, but I still ended up choosing Bangkok.
Tuktuk drivers waiting for tourist to bring around the city.

This is the nth time that I am visiting this beautiful city, so to make this trip more exciting, I've decided to embark on a challenge: To survive in Bangkok for 3 Days/ 2 Nights for only 1500 baht (roughly PhP 2,000 or 50 USD).

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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