Why Camarines Sur should always be one of the most and must visited provinces in the Philippines?

A long long time ago when the heavens poured down natural scenery on the Land of the Morning, Philippines, a place called Camarines Sur caught most of it. Blame the colossal titans inhabiting the land; they were holding celestial buckets during that time.

Camarines Sur (Central Bikol: Habagatan na Camarines; Filipino: Timog Camarines; and better known as CamSur at present) in the Bicol Region may have suffered a dramatic decline in the number of visitors in 2013, a year after it was being declared as the country’s top tourist destination, but it remains as one of the most sought after destinations in the Philippines. The credit goes to its diverse attractions from front line to off the beaten path. Extreme sports, recreation, cultural, nature, adventure, and religious tourism spots are almost countless—and these are close to if not within Naga City’s vicinity.

In 2016, the Philippine Dairy Inquirer, the most widely read broadsheet newspaper in the Philippines with over 2.7 million nationwide readers daily, once again confirmed that CamSur is the most visited province, with 2.06 million tourists in 2015, or 45.5 percent of arrivals. Being the second home of this blog’s author since 2013, promoting tourism for the province has been one of Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind’s serious missions.

With Camarines Sur’s continuous tourism power since 2006, when the CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) began full operations, evidenced by the Philippine Statistics Office and Department of Tourism‘s reports, there is no doubt that it is still on top of the best destinations in the Philippines. Impressive limestone formations and pristine beaches in public or secluded areas for beach bums, pulsating adventure spots for the brave souls, biking and hiking trails for contemporary health enthusiasts, among others are only some of what makes the province an absolute standout.

Take a peek at Pinoy Travel Blogger SonyboyFugaban and Professional Landscape Photographer Rodel delos Reyes, with the big help of their fellow Instagram wanderers, have to say about the grandeur (i.e., upcoming destinations that you should add to your travel bucket list) that is #CamSur through their photos and as to why it should always be one of the most and must visited provinces in the Philippines.

The CWC in Cadlan is equipped with world-class water-based entertainment facilities not only for wakeboarding and water skiing but motor cross, skateboards, and BMX trails.

Add to that the equally attractive sites that serve as perfect side trips in every visit to CWC: the Eco Village and Lago del Ray.

CWC is definitely back to the grind; it hosted the “2016 Wake Park World Championship” last year (October 2016).

The immaculate beaches of Caramoan will not disappoint both locals and foreigners; it is still the province’s, not to mention Bicolandia’s, ultimate summer capital.

The Philippines’ best beaches and islands” that was published on CNN’s website in November 2016 recognized Caramoan as the sixth placer on the list.

The lofty Mt. Isarog is not only a paradise for mountain climber’s but even bikers for its adventure friendly trails.

During casual conversations, we're frequently asked about our favorite season. The part that makes me wonder most of the time is the inclination of fellow Asians, here in the Saudi, to choose winter over summer. Well, I've come to a point when I suspended my disbelief. One's favorite is his favorite after all. Winter and summer are the equivalent of hot and dry seasons in the Philippines, in the tropics. I've always reveled in summer; it's inherent to me. There maybe days when I avoid the scorching heat but that will never bate the affection I feel for summer. #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #travel #reflection #story #itsmorefuninbicol #bicolbloggers #visitcamsur #nature #mtisarog #summer

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This mountain, which stands 1,966 metes above sea level (MASL), is actually a natural park with rich biodiversity and fresh countryside views.

Beautiful #sunrise #mtisarog #travel #asia #philippines

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For those who are up to recharging their batteries from the zest-draining workplace stress, Panicuason offers natural hot springs and modern outdoor adventures.

Panicuason is the blogger’s next must-see CamSur destination.

The home to the world’s smallest edible fish in the world, Lake Buhi, and the only white pebbles beach in Camsur and the whole Bicol Region give the same treat.

These places offer an unscathed scenery that will force any sightseer to put his mobile phone down.

Take a peek at one of the country’s freshwater wonders that is an endemic species of the very placid Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur: tabios (a.k.a. sinarapan – the world's smallest commercial extant fish). When I was just frequenting the province in 2007, I could say I've had enough of it. (Tabios dishes still make my sac growl.) But when reports about its inclusion in the list of endangered species surfaced in 2014, its availability on the market followed the same fate. I hope the local government will make an institutional intervention in the preservation of this species. #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #itsmorefuninbicol #bicolbloggers #philippineimages #sinarapan #endangeredspecies

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They literally define a laid-back yet quaint place, which makes a getaway to either of these two truly rejuvenating.

Waterfall chasers will go after Iriga City, Libmanan, and Pili while spelunking aficionados should go down to Adiangao and Kulapnitan.

#hotspring

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The earth has its music for those who will listen 👂🏻🎵 – George Santayana

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This province is also teeming with historical churches that radiate ancient Spanish vibe and festivals—such as Karanowan, Harana, Partido Baybayon, Kaogma, Boa-Boahan, Tumatarok Lagonoy Kadahoman, May Ilaoud, Bikol Pastores, Kamundagan including the two of the country’s most celebrated ecumenical and offering festivals Peñafrancia and Tinagba respectively—all year round.

Happy Fiesta, City of Naga! Viva La Virgen! #PenafranciaFestival #HomeTown #HomeSweetHome

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Tinagba Festival 2014

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Finally, CamSur is home to a variety of authentic Bicolano food such as Pinangat, Laing, Bicol Express Pasta, Pancit Bato, and Laing Pasta

Naga City is, of course, swarming with restaurants and eateries along Magsaysay, Peñafrancia, or Mayon Avenue where these delicacies can be found.

Meryienda time! 😘😉👍 #bicolfood #pancitbato #sinapot #yummy

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Laing Pasta #nagacityfood #bicolfood #rollscafeph

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Verily, Camarines Sur is not only Bicol region’s financial, commercial, industrial, business, and cultural hub, but a reliable tourism icon of the Philippines with its spectacular nature wonders and modern entertainment facilities of various forms that will make every visitor, be it a traveler or tourist, come back for more.

This is my entry to Ms. Gretchen Filart Dublin of Blog Carnival BadgeFilipina Explorer‘s PTB Year Opener Blog Carnival titled “Best Upcoming Destinations for 2017”.

Related Articles

10 Extreme Adventures in Camarines Sur (traveling-up.com)

5 Places to Visit in Camarines Sur (travelbook.ph)

Camarines Sur Festivals (flyphilippines.biz)

Caramoan Travel Guide 2017 (thepinaysolobackpacker.com)

Naga City Review, Camarines Sur, Philippines (survivetravel.com)

Stay, Stray, Play and Feast: Ten Delicious Uniquely CamSur (camsurstaystray.blogspot.com)

The Leaning Tower of Milaor (nagacitydeck.com)

Cafes in Naga City (bicolblggers.com)

(Feel free to comment on the things that were missed from you personal list.)

Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip To Dubai: “Food Trip at SOY in The Dubai Mall”

Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip To Dubai: “Dubaiscapes”

One of the perks of staying in hotels during leisure trips aside from security, comfort, room service, and internet access is luxury in the forms of swimming pool, fitness center, and in-house restaurant. This was how we started our second day, 16 July 2016. We took advantage of Ramada Deira’s luxurious offerings.

It was good news for us to know that the hotel’s swimming pool and gym are just a floor away from our room. I went to the gym first to do a few sets of weightlifting workout as warm-up for swimming before joining Onel and Ren at the pool in about 20 minutes.

The rarest yet very loved form of exercise that I do is swimming. Thank God I did learn it before teenage years kicked in or I couldn’t have enjoyed the river near our place back in the day or the swimming pools in the other places I’ve been to. The reasons why I still love swimming—even if I don’t have a pool—and can’t do it regularly more than any other forms of exercise are it burns more fat, helps build stronger muscles, and is very effective in burning off calories. I read, believed the supporting scientific studies.

Good times! (July 2016) #whenindubai #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #thewanderingstenographer #dubai #uae

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Summer in the Middle East was already at its peak during that time and, generally, it keeps people from leaving their air-conditioned rooms. As a result, excursions are like Giant Pandas in the forest habitat of southwest China’s mountainous areas: extinct! Swimming is no exception. But we don’t care about the piercing rays of the sun if there’s a chance for us to swim even in a pool.

After indulging in the hunger-inducing activities of the morning, we went to the in-house Filipino restaurant, Barrio Fiesta, to avail the free breakfast. I stuffed my sac with protein rich food coupled with black coffee. That was such a moment to relish because we were eating some of our favorite local food. It felt home!

At approximately 9:05 AM, we were already inside the moving bus  for the four-hour city tour.

Our first stop was at the Dubai Museum that is lying under the Al-Fahidi Fort along Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai.

Wordless Friday Series (Episode 6) #mydubai #streetphotography #dubaimuseum #whenindubai #dubai #uae #alfahidi

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The museum was built in 1787 to defend the Dubai Creek, which is another major attraction in Dubai.

The entrance has a fascinating exhibition of old maps of the Emirates and Dubai, showing the expansion that hit the region after the oil boom. Below the ground floor are display halls with exhibits, showcasing various aspects of traditional Emirati lifestyle including artifacts from the 3,000-4,000 year old graves at Al Qusais archaeological site, and a souvenir shop offering an array of Dubai mementos.

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The courtyard area boasts several traditional boats and a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind-tower. The right-hand hall features weaponry and the left-hand hall showcases Emirati musical instruments.

The three photos are only a glimpse of what can be seen at this Museum.

The fun part of a city tour via a bus is the chance to see countless, awesome cityscapes, especially along Sheik Zayed Road and D 94, but it’s very difficult to get a decent photo of them.

It requires a considerable amount of patience to take good snapshots in a moving vehicle.

Sheikh Zayed Road is the primary access route crawling across Dubai’s modern downtown business district.

This wide, eight-lane highway is brimming with jaw-dropping skyscrapers, rimmed with towering glass and steel, along its length.

D 94 is also known as Jumeirah Road or Jumeirah Beach Road; King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud Street; and officially as Al Sufouh Road. It starts at the Dubai Maritime City and ends at Jumeirah Beach Residence, coalescing with Sheikh Zayed Road.

The road runs parallel to Dubai’s coast along the Persian Gulf and along E 11 (Sheikh Zayed Road), connecting the sub-localities of Jumeirah (Jumeirah 1, 2, & 3).

The street art in the photo is a trademark of Al Ghurair Food (AGF). It's strutting along Al Ghuraiba Road in Bur Dubai and is one of the attention-grabbing views during a city tour in Dubai because of its unique visual appeal and the sponsor behind it. According to AGF's website, the company entered the foods industry sector in 1976 through the creation of National Flour Mills in Dubai. Today, Al Ghurair Foods is a strong force in the UAE's business sector with technologically advanced and multi product manufacturing enterprise and with a market presence in over 25 countries in 4 continents. #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #whenindubai #streetart #streetphotography #citybustour #dubaiscape #dubai #uae

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The next stop is another prominent landmark in the City of Now: Atlantis, The Palm. This is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious resort hotels in the world; it is set on the iconic Palm Jumeirah island that allows a full view of the Arabian Gulf.

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It’s one of the frontline landmarks that define Dubai’s beauty and modernity. A visit to the city won’t be complete without taking a groupie in front of it.

Wordless Friday Series (Episode 7: Usies) #mydubai #atlantis #entrance #thepalmdubai #cityscape #usies #dubai #uae #iphoneography

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The same goes for our penultimate stop which is the, as in The Most Iconic Ladmark in Dubai: Burj Al Arab.

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When I hear the word Dubai, the first thing that comes to mind is this burj. Really!

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You could just tell by the warm fuzzies depicted in our striking pose behind it. We can’t help but take a photo of it because its iconic and it really makes for a perfect background or beach scenery.

This stunning part of Dubai was our penultimate stop during our city tour. Burj Al Arab is still the, as The Most Iconic Landmark of Dubai. When I hear the word Dubai, the first thing that comes to mind is this burj. Really! If you set foot on this place, you can’t help but take photos of it because its iconic and it really makes for a perfect background or beach scenery. Burj Al Arab maybe the 13th most expensive hotel in the universe but in the Middle East, it's the only one regarded as a 7-star hotel. (https://yobynos.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/chronicles-of-a-three-day-trip-to-dubai-dubaiscapes/) #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #storiesofthewanderingfeet #burjalarab #iconic #landmark #jumeirah #beach #summerlovin #travelblogger #whenindubai #dubai #uae

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We spent a total of 30 minutes feasting on the turquoise Persian Gulf’s offing with the 13th most expensive hotel in the universe on the side.

Then we zoomed off immediately to our final stop: Dubai Mall—the 6th largest and the biggest shopping mall in the world.

The Dubai Mall is nesting at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. This one was actually not included in our tour package. We only requested the tour operator to drop us at the place and was granted.

Our arrival at the mall was perfect time for lunch. But before we got in, I noticed this handsome thing flaunting its flair in front of the mall’s main door. Our sacs were already growling but being a collector of its toy version, I had to give the car the attention it deserves.

That would be all for now in this episode. I consider the Dubai Mall along with Souk Al Bahar and Burj Khalifa as Cyclopean Trinity. They have to be encapsulated in a separate blog post.

#Deira #Dubai #UAE #SheikhZayedRoad #RamadaDeira #DubaiMuseum #DubaiCreek #AlGhurair #AlKazimTwinTowers #dubaiscapes #BurjAlArab #DubaiMall #AlFahidiFort #Cityscapes #iPhoneography #JumeirahBeachResidence #D94 #JumeirahRoad #D94 #AlSufouhRoad

Related Articles & References

Dubai (iamella.com)

Dubai Travel (huffingtonpost.com)

Top 15 things to do in Dubai (joaocajuda.com)

Why You Should Visit Dubai In 2016 (spotahome.com)

A quick travel guide to Dubai (adventurousmiriam.com)

Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip To Dubai: “Deirascapes”

The Dubai International Airport may be the busiest airport to date but its sterling interior adorned with swooping silver arches; promenades of lush artificial palms especially at the baggage claim area; and other customer-centric features such as the validated way-finding signage and passenger flow coupled with various food and retail outlets provide passengers with timely capacity comfort. This was exactly the kind of experience that we had upon queuing up at the immigration and airport security check from a five-hour flight with a leeway at Bahrain International Airport.

There was no better way to start our journey than riding the Metro that is linked to the airport. Getting to Ramada Hotel in Deira turned out simple and easy not to mention relaxing with the prevailing humid hot weather.

I am used to climbing mountains back in the Philippines; I love dripping with sweat. Nonetheless, an antiperspirant is a must have when traveling to this part of the globe during summer which peaks in July.

We reached the hotel at about 20 minutes. It was too early to check in though so we decided to stay for a while and have lunch at Reef Mall, which is just a few meters away. We were like happy kids while ordering the food we have back home—sisig, fried tilapia, chicken barbecue, laing, halo-halo, kakanin, etc. “Craving satisfied!” is what we all exclaimed after the boodle fight in spite of the fact that they’re a little more expensive here than in Saudi Arabia, which we understand. (Just consider that comment a disclaimer.)

We then checked in at exactly 2:00 PM, had our luggage stored, fixed some stuff, slept for three hours, and woke up at 5:00 PM. We actually had no clear itinerary for this trip other than Onel’s meetup with relatives and high school batchmate. By the way, that day was Onel’s birthday so he decided to give us a treat and her aunt whom we will be meeting at City Centre Deira at 6:00 PM. We took a taxi to the centre this time around.

Dubai taxis have a good reputation based on travel reviews and we affirm it at this point.

Wordless Friday Series (Episode 3) #mydubai #dubaibeauty #street #streetphotography #whenindubai #deira #dubai #uae

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As first timers in Dubai, the landscape of this concrete jungle registered really magnetizing in our optical organs. I couldn’t help myself taking snapshots especially when I saw this clock tower in the roundabout we passed by on our way to the centre.

This structure looked very ordinary at first glance but after asking the modern dossier about its background, it metamorphosed into something extraordinary with historical significance. The Telegraph newspaper listed Deira Clock Tower or more popularly known as Dubai Clock Tower among the 17 most beautiful clock towers in the world and one of UAE’s most prominent monuments.

Based on what I had seen from the train, hotel, and car window, there’s no doubt we’re in the City of Now.

It took us 15 minutes to get to City Centre Deira. This centre is also known for being the place for serious shoppers with over 370 stores from an array of mid-market popular fashion shops for young and adults; an extensive selection of electronics stores, fast food and restaurants, cosmetic brands, toy stores, jewelry and textile court; and a hypermarket, Carrefour.

The aunt had advised that she couldn’t make it to the agreed time and we should expect another hour of waiting. We were able to explore more about this shopping centre because of that. Most of the fashion shops such as Pull & Bear and Topman were on sale during that time. They were so tempting; each of us ended up buying a few items. We also tried biting the AED 350 for one movie at VOX Cinemas but held back after a contemplation. We were on the brink of reconsidering the decision when the aunt’s text came in: she’s at the meeting place. What a timing I must say as our sacs were already pleading for food. We landed at Chili’s after prowling the food court for best casual dining restaurant, according to the celebrator.

We spent roughly an hour and a half of casual conversation, including catching up of the kin, before we parted ways. It was fun meeting the aunt who was very chatty.

By 8:30 PM, we went to Carrefour to buy some grocery items. Our booking only entitled us to a free breakfast for two days. The groceries will help us get through the rainy days.

We opted for the train on our way back to the hotel for convenience and economical reason.

While in transit, I marveled at the flickering lights in every corner and amazed by the squeaking music coming from the train each time it stops. I was really enjoying what was taking place every minute of that twenty-minute train journey.

That night at the hotel, we found ourselves flipping channels to kill time. Prior to that, we came up with definite plans for the following day: to go for a City Bus Tour and visit the Dubai Mall. The ambiance was light and pleasant and cheerful. But when Onel and Ren dozed off, things changed.

Silence began enveloping the room and the long empty hall on thick carpet outside. It was saddening for a short time. So I thought of something better to do other than waiting for my eyes to close in the midst of two warring, snoring beds. That’s no big deal to me of course. I’m nocturnal. I opened the window, brought my camera out, and watched the lights as they effortlessly give life to the fleeting immobile streets of Deira.

I took the nighttime scenery dancing in front of me to heart. I was so moved by the scene. I was able to weave words I couldn’t normally do when I’m inspired. I felt like my mojo was punched in a good way.

In big cities such as Dubai, what you can so look forward to seeing after the sun slipped from view is watching the electric dance of nightfall. The view captured in the photo speaks a lot about the special wonders that city lights create. It will make you realize that there is much more than the city's commanding skyscrapers, humid weather, shopping malls, luxurious cars, and free beaches. There is that kind of wonder above any of those. The one that lies hidden beyond the fancy curtains or window panes to a view only a few have seen. #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #storiesofthewanderingfeet #travel #reflections #hugot #whenindubai #cityscape #citylights #downtown #lookingbeyond #mundane #simple #traveltodaytv #dubai #uae #mydubai

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The caption of this IG photo is one of my favorite travel quotes, partly because I wrote it.

Truly, Dubai is full of inspiring views and scenes meant to stir travel bloggers into writing beautiful pieces.

I spent a few more minutes enjoying Deira’s vesper urban scenery then called it a night.

Related Articles

Cooking for Kishore: Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (cookingforkishore.blogspot.com)

Not Your Usual Friday Brunch at Jigsaw Restaurant, Avani Hotel (themometkeepers.com)

Wandering the Gold and Spice Souks of Deira, Dubai (aroundtheworldl.com)

Visiting Dubai fish market felt like being a celebrity (nina-travels.com)

5 most impressive landmarks in Dubai (milleniumhotels.com)

10 Things To Do In Deira, Dubai (theculturetrip.com)

Deira Gold Souq (egypexpresstvl.com)

#Deira #Dubai #UAE #ReefMall #RamadaDeira #DeiraCityCentre #Chilis #DeiraClockTower #DubaiClockTower #DubaiMetro #Cityscapes #iPhoneography

Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip to Dubai: The Airport!

On the 15th of July in 2016, I, Onel, and Ren left the quiet morning of Al Izdihar  for a trip to one of the most modernized cities in the world known for its avant-garde architecture, colorful nightlife scene, and ultimate shopping experience: Dubai.

Since this is my as well as Onel’s first international travel, the excitement was silently uncontainable. Ren, on the other hand, has already been traveling across Asia and Europe. It felt comforting to have someone like him on board. This explains our being extra early birds that made me realize how the airport has become an absolute part of my life and how important its glass walls, vast arena, and ceiling until that day. I also noticed how much time we could actually spend on observing things that take place around us for the moment if we veer away from checking Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter feed. Glad I did, primarily because I really wanted to make the most of the opportunity. 

Airports do evoke two basic emotions for those who live in two countries like us, OFWs. It’s inevitable to feel sad each time we set foot on the entrance, to wish that each step inside means going home for vacation other than the usual fetching or dropping off someone. We were fortunate that happiness was our prevailing emotion at that moment obviously because this trip was for leisure. The three of us believe that in this day and age, traveling is a necessity.

Every cloud has a silver lining so does the three-hour airport purgatory we had to endure before entering the passenger boarding bridge.

Have you ever paid attention to that massive glass wall that overlooks the boundless runways and aircraft parades, the noisy agora, or the high ceiling at the airport?

If you haven’t, take time to do so. I have caught the unexpected festival of geometry, scenery, space, and the engineering wizardry behind them because I did. This amusing incident gave me one of my priceless travel moments and realizations.

I recently learned about the science behind the massive glass window. The panes that are wrenched into a compound curve, convex in the vertical plane and concave in the horizontal is a design intended for making it look more like a portal to a space warp than a mere window. The ceiling on the other hand is built with an imposingly scaled geometry fluttering overhead while the exposed steel grating ceiling shows off what it is made of. These are only some of the major engineering wizardry behind the airport’s structure. All for the purpose of providing passengers with that much needed distraction and entertainment to cope with the unavoidable airport purgatory.

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Our gratitude to the people behind that science. Airports could have been real purgatories each time we travel if not because of them.

Did you have a particular experience that helped you cope with the hustle and bustle of the airport?

Related Articles

10 Mind-Opening Realizations You Have Each Time You Travel Outside Of Your Own Country (thoughtcatalog.com)

5 Heartwarming airport stories that prove the airport doesn’t have to suck (theinsider.com)

How airports are the saddest and happiest places on earth (rappler.com)

Heartwarming Travel Stories (travelandleisure.com)

2016: A Remarkable Year for The Wandering Feet’s Shutterbug

During the year 2006-2011 in my home country, digital cameras are ubiquitous. Nowadays in various parts of the world, digital single-lens reflex cameras dominate the scene. If you have either one of those and use it for fun or passion, you could call yourself an amateur photographer.

It was in 2012 when I became a full-time amateur photographer—when the blog officially turned into a travel blog. When I fell in love with sharing the experiences and photos from climbing mountains and, soon, travels. And after a few years of being a shutterbug, I only acquired one of the many essential photography skills (but still, a work in progress): composition skill. Truth be told, I still rely on the available automatic settings of my shooting equipment. This equates to doing trial and error technique—taking innumerable photographs and come up with just a thing or two for sharing.

After all those years, I have learned that there is a slow progression of technical knowledge in photography without the formal education requisites. This holds true for my case obviously. I still have good reasons to be proud of the little achievements from just being an enthusiastic photographer nonetheless. 

Thank heavens social networking sites and hashtags exist on the web. It was them that paved the way for my photos to be noticed.

I am referring to the 15 photos on my Facebook and Instagram that made it to It’s More Fun in Bicol, Bicol Bloggers, and Philippine Images’ FB pages and IG accounts respectively this year. These photos showcase some of the best tourists destinations in the Philippines.

Calaguas Island Tour’s Day 2: The Time of Our Lives” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

Catching the Rustic Sunset in Calaguas Island” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

Calaguas Island: A Perfect Microcosm of Paradise in the Bicol Region” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

CamSur Watersports Complex is Still Bicol’s Most Modern Destination” (Cadlan, Camarines Sur)

Lago del Rey: CamSur Watersports Complex’s Better Half” (Cadlan, Camarines Sur)

Why Bagolatao’s White Pebbles Beach Is The Perfect Summer Destination In The Philippines” (Minalabac, Camarines Sur)

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking In The Natural Scenery (Minalabac, Camarines Sur)

The Joy Of Summer” (Black Sand Beach, Bacacay, Albay)

A Sneak Peek At The Astounding Landscape Of Camarines Norte In Vinzons’ Port Logpond

(I never really knew how much of a standout Bicol Region is until I was compiling the photos earlier. I am proud to be an adopted Bicolano since the 30th of May 2008.)

The Abundant Mount Cristobal Of Quezon Province(Laguna/Quezon Province)

The Pristine Water Around Capones Island” (San Antonio, Zambales)

The Most Beautiful Cove In The World” (Pundaquit, Zambales)

A Magical Site Trip To Lobo Beach Club & Spa” (Lobo, Batangas)

Outreach To Mount Timbak” (Atok, Benguet)

In May 2016, I also got an opportunity to be interviewed by the Sr. Copywriter, Soffian Manaf, of Photobook Worldwide as as part of its endeavor to partner with different personalities around the world to take a peek at how their passion translates into a work of art. I was fortunate to be their 13th artist for this collaborative work: “Photobook Interviews: Sony Fugaban“. 

Photobook Interviews: Sony Fugaban (blog.photobookworldwide.com)

Photobook Worldwide is the leading maker of premium handmade photo books that let you cherish your best memories into gorgeous coffee-table books. They currently serve more than 100 countries worldwide, and has 4 global offices located in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

And, the blog post titled “A Tour to the World Sights Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia” that was featured on “Life in Saudi Arabia” and its social networking sites. This was actually a story of non-credited post which I discovered by chance. I called the attention of the blog’s administrator right away. I got the credit for the post and photos eventually. 

In all fairness, the administrator was very apologetic and submissive when we were exchanging emails and comments. I would have been a lot happier though if I was given due credit the proper way (i.e., citing my complete name and the blog’s as opposed to “Souce: Yobynos”).

“A Tour to “The World Sights Park” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (life-in-saudiarabia.blogspot.com)

“Life in Saudi Arabia” is dedicated to giving readers the complete guide (Climate, Living, Birth, Procedures and much more) to living in KSA. It now has over a million followers, collectively.

Without the help of these Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and websites, I would have not noticed the improvement in my composition skill. They have significantly boosted not only my photos’ likes and blog’s traffic but my confidence as well. According to business.com, there are 1.8 billion photos being uploaded on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, and WhatsApp every day since 2014. So if famous pages, accounts, or websites—be it local or international—feature your work, it is definitely an achievement.

The least I could do then is to return the favor by expressing my overflowing gratitude through this year-end blog post. Having said that, it will not end here. I am to enhance my composition skills; learn about correct exposure and using filters; and post process works via Adobe Photoshop are some of the many things that excite the philomath in me as we speak. 

A million thanks to It’s More Fun in Bicol, Bicol Bloggers, Philippine Images, (for the special mentions); Photobook Worldwide & Life in Saudi Arabia (for the features respectively); Almarai Company, Ace Galleta, & Sai Achanta (my travel sponsors this year); Renante Crisostomo & thechinitowanderer (my first international travel buddies; our Dubai Chronicles series are now in queue for publishing); Mabel Kwong (my virtual writing mentor), Ms. Wonderwall (my number 1 supporter) and all those who contributed to this yet another prolific year for “Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind“.

Cheers to more photos, blog posts, and travels in 2017!

This post is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival hosted by Mervz of “Pinoy Adventurista”.

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How To Personally Obtain A Dubai Visa Online Within An Hour From Riyadh

After seeing the TV commercial about Dubai being dubbed as the “City of Now” in May 2012, I immediately added it to my bucket list. Setting foot on what both contemporary & futuristic city looks like and to stand face to face with the tallest skyscraper in the universe are intangible achievements especially for travel bloggers.

However, it was only this year, 2016, that the trip to the city got crossed off. Leisure travels for a white-collar worker slash parent slash breadwinner is a challenge I must say. Nevertheless, it was worth the wait. My gratitude to Leonel Mark Tusacano and Renante Crisostomo Jr. for facilitating the trip five months ago; it would have not been that easy for me.

Since the trip is my first ever, if you may, international travel, this post has to be shared particularly with first time travelers to Dubai. In this case, first time applicants for Dubai tourist visa.

I know a lot of people in our workplace who experienced difficulties applying for Dubai visa. In fact, majority of them resorted to having it processed by a third party via websites. The thing is, the very website being used by those who are engaged in this kind of activity use the same medium that applicants themselves should or could have directly used. The problem with Google and other search engines is they display too many websites (e.g., uaevisa-online.org, instadubaivisa.com, dubaivisa.net, dubaivisaservice.com, etc.) that lure first timers in this endeavor. In addition, those websites are the ones displayed as default for any Dubai visa related queries or searches. Though they are legitimate websites, they charge big time, of course, and that is where it becomes impractical. The same goes for travel agencies, airlines, and hotels in Dubai that also require huge sum of refundable security deposit as a prerequisite of this transaction. So I highly encouraged you to do it personally.

Had we let our host smooth the way for our visas, we should have been ripped off with AED 500 (comprising AED 263 for their processing fees and actual fees of AED 237 [in the event that the application is rejected]) plus the dreading albeit refundable security deposit of AED 5,000 — each. The application period is no consolation to this as well.

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If you are planning to apply for a Dubai visa through hotels, you should really read this!

Thank God we came across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Interior website before accomplishing the application. An applicant for Dubai visa should go straight to gdrfa.ae to avoid those extra charges from travel agencies, airlines, and hotels; to avail of the guaranteed faster service (1-4 hour processing); and pay only the exact, appropriate charges (AED 237). In my case, as well as to my travel buddies’, I received the visa within an hour after submitting and paying for the application last 13 July 2016.

But before heading to the UAE Ministry of Interior website, please ensure you have with you the travel documents below.

1. A copy of confirmed round-trip ticket and hotel reservation.

2. Color scanned copies of ID picture preferably 4.3 * 5.5 cm in white background, passport’s first page (first-entry visa page‘s and iqama or equivalent if you are an expat) & last page, and another valid ID, respectively.

3. Credit Card.

Also, prior to initiating your visa application, make a note of or see to it that you do the following:

1. Create an account on the UAE Ministry of Interior website, gdrfa.ae.

2. Apply for a visa a week before arrival date.

3. Passport must be valid for a minimum of six months at the time of travel.

4. If you are to stay at your immediate family member or friend’s apartment, ensure to bring with you a copy of his/her invitation letter, passport, and valid residence ID. These may not be required for uploading but would be needed at the airport.

5. There is no guaranty that every application will be approved as each is still subject to UAE Immigration Rules and Regulations. An applicant could be denied on various grounds. One thing is for sure: Chances here are a lot higher than when applying for a US visa.

6. If you you want first-hand information about these concerns, telephone the UAE Embassy in your area. Here in Riyadh, the number to call is 00966-11-4881227.

7. For a step-by-step process on how to fill out the online application form, click here.

8. Arabic translation of an applicant’s complete name, mother’s, and birthplace’s are compulsory fields respectively. But worry not. There is an Arabic translation icon for each of them. You just have to click on it to reveal the accurate Arabic translation.

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Last November 2016, one of my colleagues, who was not aware of this, had to use Google Translate for said fields. He came to me when he lost hope of getting each of those Arabic translations correctly done. Google Translate works only for transliteration, which means it is not accurate in cases like this because it only changes the letters from one alphabet or language into the corresponding, similar-sounding characters of another alphabet.

After seeing the TV commercial about Dubai being dubbed as the “City of Now” in May 2012, I immediately added it to my bucket list. Setting foot on what both contemporary & futuristic city looks like and to stand face to face with the tallest skyscraper in the universe are intangible achievements especially for travel bloggers. Check the following URL for full text of how I personally obtained a Dubai visa online within an hour: https://yobynos.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/how-to-personally-get-a-dubai-visa-online-within-an-hour/ #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #travelstoriesworld #dubaivisa #dubaivisacharges #dubaivisafees #dubaivisarequirements #howtoapplyfordubaivisaonline #dubaivisatips #travelersnotebook #dubai #uae #burjalarab

A post shared by Sonyboy Fugaban (@thewanderingfeetandmind) on

I never dreamt of traveling to another country nor getting to where I am currently based in because of work. All I know now is that when the travel bug bit me, the possibilities of where these wandering feet could take me became almost endless.

#DubaiVisaRequirement #DubaiVisaTips #HowtoApplyforDubaiVisa #WheretoApplyOnlineforDubaiVisa #HowtoApplyforUAEVisa

References/Related Articles

Dubai Visa Easy Tips To Get Your Visa (uaexp.com)

How to Get a Visit Visa to Dubai for Filipinos (pinoyhow.com)

Dubai Travel Tips: How To Obtain A Visit Visa (sallybernstein.com)

How to apply for Dubai Visa (for Filipinos) (jayandsabaroundtheworld)

Visa Requirements for Philippine Passport Holders (touringbuddy.com)

Procedure to Apply for E-Visa UAE (Dubai) for GCC Residents (life-in-saudi-arabia.blogspot.com)

Lago del Rey: CamSur Watersports Complex’s Better Half

Getting Intimate with Cows at Almarai Company’s Al Danah Farm in the “Milk Road”

Almarai Company (Almarai) never stop committing to its catchline: “Quality You Can Trust”. This is the reason why it embarked on providing the general public with free visits to its cow farms and processing plants in Al Kharj in the year 2013 as part of its whole new level of bringing intimate connection with the customers.

Our last visit (“Almarai’s Central Processing Plant In Al Kharj“) did not include any of the seven dairy farms: Al Hamra, Al Fanar, Al Nakheel, Al Rabiah, Al Badiah, Al Danah, and Todhia. Almarai is so gracious that we were given another chance to book a visit last 14 August 2016. Our gratitude to our colleague, Warren Rivera, for including me and my friends in the invite sent to Almarai’s Communications & PR Department two months prior to said date. (Booking is a bit of challenge due to the rising public demand especially during this time of the year and early summer.)

We had to check the bakery plant once again because the arranged visit included it as the first stop. The final one would be the Al Danah Farm, which is just a few kilometers away from Almarai’s Central Processing Plant (CPP) area.

We were all filled with so much anticipation and excitement as we were nearing the dairy farm’s gate. Finally, we were setting foot on one of Almarai’s seven dairy farms. How interesting it would be to see herd of cows in the desert. I had always thought cows are only a thing in the tropics where grass ideally thrives. It was difficult to picture farming them in a Saudi Arabian desert. Thank God for the booming dairy farms in the capital city that challenged the imagination of the concerned locals. According to what I read, there are more than 120,000 heads of cattle being raised in Al Kharj and 80 percent of the dairy products produced in Saudi Arabia comes from the area. Hence, the name “Milk Road”.

Almarai, of course, holds the highest number of the figures; it is the largest integrated dairy foods company in the world.

Before we entered the facility proper, we had to undergo disinfection at the gate. The bus that carried us had to be disinfected too through another form of disinfecting equipment a few meters away from the gate.

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At about ten minutes, we were already seeing the cows peacefully resting in the sheds which the caretakers call “‘parlor”. The smell of sheds was what took my attention for a minute. It brought me back to my hometown in the Philippines where a number of cows graze in front of our house.

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The smell is something not so, for lack of a better word to describe it, inviting because of huge milk vats mixed with cow dung on the grounds. Nevertheless, it was something that made me feel closer to home in a special way.

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I am not a technical person when it comes to this kind of facility but one thing I observed, based on the the way the geezers run the operations of the farm, is that everything is closely monitored―from the cows’ identification system to how much milk they produce respectively, even the narration of how silage are being meticulously made…among other processes.
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These thousands of cattle are all of Holstein breed. Logic and research tells me that is so because of their outstanding milk production.
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The entire herds produce an average of 13,000 liters a year.
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A total of one hour and a half was spent at watching and photographing the cows, the parlors, and the milking house. We all went back onto the bus for a drive through the restaurant in CPP for our lunch. Then, after gorging our sacs and taking a bag of freebies, we were again back inside the bus to, this time, head home.
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The trip was a great way to break the monotony of my travel trips. Funny how dairy farms in the desert emerged this big. Keeping cows in the middle of the kingdom’s barren lands is no easy task. Almarai never fails to impress the world with its innovative demonstration of relentless pursuit of providing quality dairy and food products everyone can trust.
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For booking requests, please visit the Almarai website or click here to get straight to the page in the above screenshot.
(Location Map/DirectionExact Address: Almarai Al Fanar Dairy Farm, 10, Harrad Road, Al Kharj 11942; Telephone No. +966-11-470-0005)

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Joyride to Nofa Farm and Resorts’ Safari Park & 1MW Solar Power Plant

It was already gloaming when Ace came to fetch us from the lawn (Nofa Farm and Resorts: A Private Oasis of Tranquility and Restful Retreat). Yahoo! Off to Safari Park at last.

When we were at the court’s parking lot, we were given the privilege to choose between a van and a 4×4 pickup. The adventurous spirit in us picked the one that suited the character. The next thing we knew was we were “cargo-loading” as opposed to top-loading on the pickup’s. We were also joined by some of Ace’s fellow tennis players who were not able to visit the park in the morning. It was so much fun―really! We had to shoot a live video. Check it out!

We were only able to catch a few animals like the lone gazelle at the entrance and ostriches near the paved road.

There were those that were visible and roaming around the park but were either elusive or too far away that could not be nicely captured by our cameras.

The growing vibrancy of the gloaming was actually the thing that made this joyride worth having, I believe. Staring into the distance as darkness slowly fell was breathtaking.

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The kind of views that could be framed were so unique that I could not help myself bask in the glory of the moment. I felt so blessed that I was on that vehicles open cargo.

The experience was soon epitomized by the rolling hills capped by sunset colors in the distance; the glittering sand dunes; the center pivot irrigation equipment and the grass below them; and the astonishing structure of the one megawatt solar power plant comprising 28 units of CS500 Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV) Dish System.

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This solar power facility is the very supplier of clean energy into Nofa Resorts’ whole internal grid.

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It is worth mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key emerging market for Solar Systems, which paves the way for a cleaner and greener energy source and, soon, replacement of domestic oil consumption. I must say I love this place now more than ever.

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This area of Nofa Resorts has fleeting desert riches that make for quaint golden hour pictures. With all the beautiful adjectives that came out from each of our mouths while witnessing the spectacular scenery nature was painting during that time, we were all enthralled beyond question. The opportunity to view the entirety of another Saudi Arabian destination in Riyadh Province during the gloaming is such a cherished experience. 

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It was another perfect time for sunset picture when we got back to our accommodations and the court.

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It felt incredibly satisfying to bear witness to this another equally rare moment―when the sun is that low and creates a nice, warm light that makes the skies come alive at the ending of the day. Seems like everything around lights up as the day gradually transitions to night. Yes, we have not fully seen the animals at the Safari Park but the kind of attraction that fed our senses during the entire ride was more than enough.

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That golden light makes the world look insanely beautiful! We were so happy and content to have been part of this once in a lifetime joyride.

Nofa Farm and Resorts or Nofa Equestrian Resort (Location Map

P.O. Box 66223
Riyadh  11576 Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-11-6542981
Phone: +966-11-6542900
Email: support@nofaresort.com

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