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How To Hike Luzon’s Highest Peak

Lawyer Bernadine Nacua hikes up the highest peak in Luzon and discovers an elevated other world.

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I don’t remember where or how I first saw pictures of Mount Pulag’s sunrise and sea of clouds. All I know is that from then on, it became a part of my growing bucket list of places to visit. Finally, last Chinese New Year weekend, armed with my P500 cheap round trip Cebu-Manila tickets, I was on my way.

Mount Pulag is the third tallest mountain in the country and Luzon’s highest peak, with a summit at 2,922 meters above sea level. There are different trails that reach the summit, the easiest being the Ambangeg trail. But although it is considered the easiest, the four to five hour trek from the Ranger’s Station is still a challenge.

It is cold and windy at the summit, so make sure you’re dressed warmly, especially if you go during the cold season. I had four layers on me and I still felt cold.

If there is no sunrise and sea of clouds during your visit, like on ours, don’t worry. Mount Pulag is more than just those two, which would have just been icing on the cake. It has unique landscapes that make you feel like, as cliche as it sounds, you’re not in tropical Philippines. The landscape changes at different elevations, so there are three different experiences as you go up and down the mountain. The grassland is in the topmost portion, the mossy forest in the middle, and the pine forest below.

The pine forest is not as dense along the trail. This zoomed-out view of a mountain covered with pines is only one of the breathtaking sights to see during your trek.

They say mountain weather is very unpredictable and seeing the sunrise and the sea of clouds is not always guaranteed. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t blessed with seeing both that weekend. Instead, we got a sea of fog. Still, being a lowland tropical island dweller, I still found it a fascinating sight.

The mossy forest is, well, literally covered in moss. It has huge ferns, which reminded me of those dinosaur movies I used to watch as a child.

We stayed at the Ranger’s station area because we were told that Camp 2 (which was higher up) was closed to give the area time to recover from all the campers that stayed there before. Vehicles can actually go up to the Ranger’s station and park there overnight. See?

After witnessing first hand the toilet situation at Camp 2, I would STRONGLY and highly recommend staying at the Ranger’s station area where toilet facilities with modern plumbing are available. If you can stand the cold water, you can even shower there. 

FAST FACTS

About four hours away from Baguio, Mt. Pulag is home to many rare species of animal and plant life, including the dwarf bamboo, the Philippine dear, the cloud rat, and so on. 

Many tour operators have packages that include Manila pickups for a more convenient arrangement.

Some tips:

  • Bring rain-proof and warm clothing. The mountain gets pretty chilly, so make sure you have something to fight the cold.
  • Pack only the necessities. You’ll have to carry your backpack all the way to the summit, so don’t fill it up with things you don’t need.
  • Wear shoes with traction. Wearing shoes with grooves in the soles will come in handy when navigating through damp terrain.
  • Bring water. Hiking while dehydrated is never a good idea.

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Plan Your Next Staycation at Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotels

Just how many people travel to another country to stay at a hotel? Not a lot, for sure, and that’s how a excellent brand like Marco Polo Hotels steps it up.

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Plan Your Next Staycation at Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotels

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how a staycation is possible in a bustling city like Hong Kong. As a gateway to Asia, it brings in millions of arrivals—in 2018, the number soared to a record high of 65.1 million visitor arrivals, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. That being said, there’s no shortage of things to experience for tourists and travellers.

From dabbling in business to enjoying theme parks to indulging in local grub to hitting the town at night to learning about culture, the vibrant city is bound to have something for you—precisely why Hong Kong is a go-to place for a lot of Filipinos. Ask any Filipino who’s been out of the country about where they’ve first travelled to; chances are, you’re going to get “Hong Kong” as an answer.  

It’s hard to resist the temptation of exploring what Hong Kong has to offer, but for some seasoned travellers who’ve experienced all these quite a few times, a different experience—like a staycation—might serve as a welcome change. Just how many people travel to another country to stay at a hotel? Not a lot, for sure, and that’s how a excellent brand like Marco Polo Hotels steps it up.

Photo from Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel

In Hong Kong, Marco Polo Hotels has 3 branches: Marco Polo Hong Kong, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel, all of which are located in Kowloon, at the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. All three hotels have access to Harbour City, Hong Kong’s one-stop largest shopping complex which houses over 450 shops. This might serve as a test of willpower for those who love shopping, since the world’s leading luxury brands are just literally a few steps away from their hotel room.

Staying at Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotels ensures a relaxing staycation, with well-appointed rooms and suites—ranging from Superior and Deluxe to Continental Club and Harbour View Rooms—many of which feature breathtaking views of the harbour and Hong Kong skyline. The service is a guaranteed experience in itself, as their hotel staff are friendly and helpful.

Photo from Cucina

Whichever branch you choose to stay at, you’re bound to have a superb dining experience with their array of restaurants. The famed Cafe Marco is a classic, and you can’t miss out on its other restaurants such as Cucina, Three on Canton, among others.

Considering that The Culinary Journeys is a campaign that’s been built into the hotel chain’s mission, you get to enjoy local fare, and international cuisines as well. This way, guests can travel the world through their palates without leaving Hong Kong.

Guests may also enjoy access to the Continental Club Lounge, where breakfast can be taken for a quiet start to the morning, offering exclusivity and delicious morning fuel. (Just a tip: don’t forget to grab some of the Portuguese egg tarts. When I had breakfast with Harbour City’s Karen Tam during my stay, she divulged that many Filipino celebrities hail their tarts as the best among all Marco Polo Hotel branches. After having a small serving of these tarts myself, I couldn’t help but agree, and told her that I wish I could bring boxes of them home.) Afternoon tea can be enjoyed at the Continental Club Lounge, as well as cocktails to cap off the night—or start it, if you plan to explore Hong Kong’s neon nightlife.

Don’t get me wrong, you can always try to look for something new to do, or revisit what you love about the city, but if you’d like to try it, there’s so much to do without having to leave the four walls of your hotel room.

Considering a staycation in Hong Kong? You know where to go.

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There’s Only One Way to Go Korean

Designed to make travel better from the inside, out.

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Of all the ways to go, what if you go Korean?

It’s hard to deny that South Korea holds a great deal of influence in the world today, so much that the term Hallyu Wave must have been something you’ve heard of at one point in recent years. While you may not be into the more-popular, colourful world of Korean Pop or well-written Korean Dramas, there’s a chance that you may be interested in the country’s fashion, skincare routines, makeup brands, or maybe even its cuisine.

The interest in South Korean culture has opened up a lot of opportunities for the country to proudly show the world what they have to offer—and the world wants to see it all, if the increasing number of tourists flying in to the country is any indication.

I’ve been to Korea a couple of times, and for trips, I’ve always flown with Korean Air. Speaking from experience, I found no parts of my voyages dissatisfying. When flying, surely you’d want everything to be in place for the whole voyage, beginning from the moment you book your ticket down to your arrival at your destination.

When you go Korean, there’s attention to every detail. While I typically don’t eat on the plane (as I prefer to take them before or when I get to my destination), I found myself appreciating the flag carrier’s in-flight meals, as they were clearly freshly-prepared and served with careful attention by the staff to suit each passenger’s needs. Comfort is a guarantee, and you get your own blanket should you feel chilly. All these create a memorable in-flight experience, which you can only get from Korean Air.

There are many ways to go, but only one way to go Korean.

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Start Planning Your 2019 Destinations at This Exciting Travel Fair

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New year, new destinations.

Holidays hunters can get their 2019 calendar ready at the Singapore Airlines & Silkair Travel Fair 2019. In partnership with BPI, Changi Airport Group, Globe Platinum, and Singapore Tourism Board, this travel fair is now on its sixth year and features the best fare deals and exclusive offers of as much as USD90 in value.

“We want to make every journey more personal for our customers, as we keep them in mind when designing products,” says Singapore Airlines General Manager, Lee Yong Tat.

With the theme “Making Every Journey Personal”, it offers over 80 destinations to choose from, at amazing all-inclusive round-trip Economy Class fares from USD154 to Singapore, and other Asian destinations starting from USD194.

Fares to Australia begin at USD 553, New Zealand from USD658, Europe from USD717, and USA at USD876.

Flights booked during this travel fair have a travel period from January 18 to December 31 of this year. To know more, drop by the Singapore Airlines and Silkair Travel Fair 2019 at Ayala Center Cebu – The Gallery from January 11-13, 2019.

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