Nusa Penida: Bali’s Hidden Paradise (Shhhh!)

Nusa Penida island

This island has long been overlooked by tourists, much to the pleasure of the locals. In fact originally I was not even going to write about it. However my blog is not near as popular as some of the others out there and I highly doubt that this post will result in a flood of new tourists to Nusa Penida, so I have decided ehh what the heck, I’m going to write about it. Despite being located only a 40-minute fast boat ride from Bali, for some reason this island has been completely overlooked by foreigners. It is full of small villages, gorgeous locations, pristine beaches, tons of happy young kids who will all wave and yell “hello mister!” as you motorcycle past, and even a Buddhist temple inside of a cave! There is [...]

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Batanes: A Photographer’s Dream Destination

Morong Beach, Sabtang Island, Batanes

Ask any Filipino what is on their bucket list and almost every one will mention visiting Batanes. Although tourism is a big part of what sustains these islands — life here is not cheap given the fact that everything has to be flown in from Manila — nearly all tourists are Pinoy. Perfect for me because as most of you already know I love going places where other white people don’t…or won’t Batanes is a cluster of ten islands (three of them inhabited) in the farthest northern reaches of this sprawling archipelago. Located less than 200km south of Taiwan, the region is known for it’s beauty as well as its tendency to attract rain and typhoons. Although I escaped the latter during my four days there, I couldn’t escape the rain, which found me [...]

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The Amazing, Weird And Exotic Fruits Of Southeast Asia

Fruits Of Asia: Dragonfruit

New foods and traveling go hand in hand with each other. If you aren’t going to sample the local cuisine and instead prefer your McDonald’s, well then you might want to think twice about traveling somewhere exotic. Those type of people are scaredycat travelers — brave enough to travel but still fearful of trying anything new — and although they may feel safe and secure with their comfort foods, all they are doing in fact is making the rest of us look ignorant. Besides, life starts just outside of your comfort zone…so go on, live life! Try something new.   Fruit Is Nature’s Candy   Fruit never killed anybody and is certainly a lot less likely to give you food poisoning than that questionable mystery meat you purchased from a street vendor. “Wait…is this [...]

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Chavayan: A Trip Back In Time To This Remote Village In Batanes

Chavayan, Sabtang Island, Batanes

The tiny village is located on Sabtang Island, part of the Batanes region of the Philippines and permanently locked in ages gone by. There is only one road in and out of the village, which is nestled on a thin strip of land between the mountains and the sea. This small barangay (Filipino term for a village) has become one of the must-visit sights when visiting Sabtang, however it hasn’t been tainted by tourism yet. For starters there is the fact that most of the visitors to Sabtang are native Filipinos exploring the farthest reaches of their country. A very minimal number of foreigners make it all the way up here, which is one of the reasons that I really enjoyed my trip. As many of you may already know, when traveling I prefer [...]

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FriFotos: Finding Solitude In The Bogor Botanical Gardens, Indonesia

Frifotos: Derek Freal In Solitude At Bogor Botanical Gardens, Indonesia

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of city life gets to be too much and you just need to escape. That’s how it was for me after living in Jakarta for six weeks. So I called up my friend Riyanni — you may remember we did a tourism film on Siak, Indonesia together last September — and we decided to take a trip out to Kebun Raya Bogor, the Bogor Botanical Gardens. Despite being right smack in the middle of Bogor (60km south of Jakarta) the Botanical Gardens are a tranquil oasis and a perfect day-trip to break free from the hassles of life in the congested capital city. Kebun Raya Bogor covers a massive 80 hectares and is situated right next to Istana Bogor, one of the six presidential palaces of Indonesia. The garden [...]

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FriFotos: Enjoying The Frozen Mountaintops Of The World

Mount Fuji From The Plane

When asked to choose between beaches or mountains I invariably opt for higher altitude. Don’t get me wrong, beaches can be nice, but after seeing several hundred all around the world they are essentially all the same — sand and water. However every mountaintop offers both a unique view and a different method of getting to the top, whether it be climbing, hiking, driving, or riding a train. While I have yet to parachute down onto a mountain I hope to check this one off the bucket list sometime soon. Mount Fuji   Tokyo, Japan   Height: 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft)   Notable: Highest mountain in Japan As some of you may know I lived in Tokyo for several months back at the end of 2008. That is what first sealed my love of [...]

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Sabtang Island, Jewel Of Batanes, Philippines

Morong Beach, Sabtang Island, Batanes

When visiting the Batanes island chain in the far northern reaches of the Philippines, one island in particular stands out: Sabtang. This island is only home to 1,500 people but is well-known throughout the country for its white sand beaches, old stone houses, and Mission-style churches.   Thankfully the weather was better today and these photos turned out better than those from Batan Island After disembarking from the ferry all visitors are required to sign in at the Municipal Tourism Information Center and each pay a P100 tourist fee. Turns out that this list is handed off to the Philippines Coast Guard, who will be at the port that afternoon checking names off the list as they board the ferry to make sure that no one has overstayed their welcome. Batanes locals are the [...]

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Feeling At Home In Kuala Lumpur With Back Home Hostel

Back Home Hostel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Whenever I’m in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there is only one place I stay at: Back Home Hostel, one of the most relaxing hostels I have ever encountered along my journeys. Located near Chinatown amongst several other prominent hostels, Back Home stands alone in terms of comfort. The entire place truly has that “back home” feel combined with a fort-type vibe. The entire place is open are and features dual bridges on the second story which overlook to the common area below. One of the first things you will notice as you approach the rooms is that the name of its occupants are written on the chalkboard-style door. Not only is it always nice to be greeting “home” but it also helps when you’ve had a few beers and forgotten your roommates’ names The Rooms…Utterly [...]

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A Hostel So Nice I Lived There For 4 Months

EDU Hostel, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

That’s right, I’ve been living out of the same hostel for nearly four months. But in my defense if you saw this place then you would understand why. Located in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, EDU Hostel is the premier hostel of Jogja. Not only is it the biggest and cleanest but it is also located in one of the best parts of the city. Top that off with a staff of 45 that treat you like family and cater to your every whim — including a chef that makes the best breakfasts I’ve seen at any hostel anywhere in the world (I’ll get to that in a minute) — and it quickly becomes apparent that you are staying at the best place in all of Indonesia. But It Gets Even Better!   EDU Hostel is also [...]

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SXSW Tuesday: And So The Music Begins

SXSW Music

Music lovers around the world are rejoicing this week with the return of the annual SXSW (South by Southwest) Music & Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Yes, every spring the Live Music Capital of the World gets even more jam-packed and visually-entertaining. In recent years over 2,000 bands from all corners of the globe have converged here in my hometown for a week-long festival, and that in turn brings tens of thousands of other people to Austin, including celebrities, media, talent agents and managers, and yes of course, music-lovers. SXSW week is also popular for the debuting of new films, smart phone apps (both music-related and otherwise), and yes, even liquor. The city gets so packed that hotel rooms are non-existent (and if you did book one in advance, enjoy paying 5x the normal [...]

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