“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Dalai Lama
Traveling has always been my drug. There’s something about seeing the wingtip of a plane with its backdrop slowly changing from your place of origin to the sky, the clouds, to somewhere new. It’s liberating, exciting, and fun!
Luckily, I have a job that allows me to explore the world a little more these days and I am ever so grateful for it.
2016 has been filled with trips for family, blogging, and the mere exploration of places unseen. Listed in this blog are trips that have made my 2016 a year to remember.
San Francisco, California
As they say, “home is where your heart is” and I think I’ve figured out that I’ve left a big chunk of my heart in San Francisco. Firstly, this place is ever-so-gorgeous. Vibrant. Alive. Scenic. Beautiful. I enjoyed seeing and exploring the golden gate bridge, the Fisherman’s Wharf, and downtown San Francisco.
I think what made this stop even more special is my family. After years, I got to spend so much quality time with them. Nothing beats that. By the end of my trip, I had fallen completely in love with San Francisco!
Baker Beach Pershing Drive, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco | The biggest hurdle to get the perfect spot by the Golden Gate Bridge is the number of tourists also scrambling for the exact same thing. Fortunately, we found this perfect beach which was big enough for us to enjoy the view without being in a rush.
The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach
The view of the city | Driving back to Daly city from Downtown San Francisco and we had to stop to take a picture of this beautiful view. Bright lights and all. The city is just as alive in the evening as it is when it’s full of people working during the day.
On our way to Fisherman’s Wharf. This was my first adventure in San Francisco. We took the train and found out that from here, it was a long way to Fisherman’s Wharf. Well, relatively speaking.
On our way to Fisherman’s Wharf
A quick break from our walk to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Art galleries and stores surround Fisherman’s Wharf. This was one I truly enjoyed.
The Most Crooked Street in the world (Lombard Street) | This is famous for its “steep one-block section with eight hairpin turns.” | Trivia: This was named after Lombard Street in Philadelphia by San Francsico surveyor Jasper O’Farrell.
Finding our spot at Golden Gate Bridge
Exploring downtown San Francisco | Picked up my mom from her office and walked around downtown for a bit that day.
Cable Car around The City | One of my favorite activities in downtown San Francisco. Did with this family and it was such a thrill going around the city through a cable car. | Trivia: It is the world’s last manually operated cable car system.
Family and In-N-Out 😉 | We just had to, because well In-N-Out.
Who doesn’t love a road trip? We rented a mini-van and drove to Vegas to stay for a night, then off to NV-AZ to see the Hoover Dam, and lastly to Arizona to be in midst of one of the most beautiful sights (in my opinion) in the world – The Grand Canyon.
Although for a tropical girl like, I felt like my nose was going to drop off while exploring the Grand Canyon, I was pretty much ready to face that consequence. Yes, that is how beautiful this spot is. Unforgettable. No words needed, just pictures.
Crowded in our minivan but who cares when you’re with a fun bunch?
As Vegas was only a stopover, we only spent one night there. We chose to explore Fremont Street, a five-block entertainment district in historic downtown Las Vegas. My brothers, sis-in-law, and I even went ziplining through the Jon Bon Jovi music that was playing in full blast. Fun experience!
Fremont Street | I think what I enjoyed the most, apart from the ziplining experience, was the live band playing that night.
Fremont Street Entrance
Busy and bright.
Hoover Dam | This was a quick stop, still worth it though. Trivia: Once known as Boulder Dam. It is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.
My favorite picture from our Hoover Dam stop.
Grand Canyon National Park | Came across the sun setting while we were trying our find our way around the park. Absolutely captivating!
It was extremely cold there, but well worth it. This picture was taken in pain (due to the coldness of the place) but just had to with this backdrop. We ran to the van right after this, ran for our lives.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon in all its glory.
Top of a rock!
The ones who made this road trip so special – Ohana!
New York City
Let me explain why I’m so fascinated with this city first. I used to imagine walking the busy streets of NYC back in the day; maybe even living there. The thought of being in the busiest city (or so most say) in the world, made me set my eyes on visiting one day.
Thanks to some of my favorite TV shows and movies as well, this fascination grew through the years. I finally managed to fly to NYC in January this year. I squeezed in three days away from the family in California to spend time with friends in the Big Apple.
The Grand Terminal. The Empire State Building. The Met. The Rockefeller. Times Square. Serendipity. Oh the three days were filled with adventure; the kind of adventure I’ve pictured all these years!
It was everything I imagined it to be that night. Busy. Bright. Vibrant. Fun. Soulful. Oh if I could fly back right now, I would. Pic by: Maia Villapane.
The Metropolitan Museum, one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. Trivia: It is the largest museum in the US and one of the most visited in the world.
Central Park (Pic by Maia Villapane)
The afternoon we attempted to see the Statue of Liberty. It was way too cold and windy that day, they had to close early. Next time!
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park | Trivia: Sculpture designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868 and unveild in 1873.
Empire State Building, a 102-story skyscraper located on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets in Midtown, Manhattan, New York City. Trivia: Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State.
The Plaza Hotel | This is significant for me because as a kid of the 90s, I watched the Home Alone movies. This was featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Trivia: The Beatles stayed at the Plaza Hotel during their first visit to the United States in February 1964.
Walking around NYC at night
Taking advantage of the train being empty on our way home.
The featured artist at The Art of Style at the Met.
The Grand Central Terminal | Trivia: Built by and named for the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad in the heyday of American long-distance passenger rail travel, it covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world.
The Rink at The Rockefeller Center
One of the highlights of my NYC trip, SERENDIPITY!
Serendipity’s famous Frozen Hot Chocolate
In transit, around the city.
Central Park | Pic by Maia Villapane
Strawberry Fields, Central Park | This spot is dedicated to John Lennon, named after Strawberry Fields, a song he wrote. What made this magical is there was a musician singing Imagine while we were there.
Radio City, nicknamed Showplace of The Nation
The Rink at Rockefeller Center with Maia
Me at the Art of Style at the Met
In transit – best way to go around! I have yet to master the routes though
Enjoying tea with my friend Thirdy, also from the Philippines.
Central Park | Pic by Maia Villapane
Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada
This has got to be one of the most beautiful spots I’ve been to. Scenic. Magical. I was in awe every step of the journey.
Scenic Lake Tahoe | We drove from Daly City to Lake Tahoe to enjoy this view.
Considering I only get a few weeks of winter when I’m in transit, I embrace spots like this. There’s something beautiful about seeing snow everywhere, it’s almost like the little girl in me is awakened.
Someone’s snowman, standing still.
My playground that day.
Our view from where we had lunch that day. The name of the hotel/casino escapes me! We had a very good buffet deal though, which obviously was wasted on me as I don’t eat much. But this view? Well, this is what I enjoyed the most.
Far from being commercial, this island has become one of my ultimate favorites in the Philippines. Being brought there was a nice birthday gift. I was elated to finally go to one of the islands that’s been on my list for so long!
With tons of activities and spots to visit, this island is never boring. We surfed, biked around, sang in karaoke bars, visited spots like Cloud 9, beaches, Sugba Lagoon, and Magpupungko Tidal Pools.
Not a day went by when we weren’t filled with bliss! This has got to be one of the best spots in the country. Oh and did I mention the food? Absolutely delicious meals from so many choices of restaurants over there. My favorite? Kermit (trust me, it’s imperative that you go)!
Harana Surf Resort | I enjoyed staying here as it had access to a good beach for walking and enjoying the sun to get a tan. Also, delicious food! Additionally, it’s home to the best coffee in town – Fili Bean’s Espresso.
Magpupungko Tidal Pools | One of my favorite spots in Siargao. Althouuuugh, I stepped on a sea urchin so it ended up being a very tearful afternoon! *lol* Come prepared, or atleast be mindful while swimming.
Daku Island | For just P1,500, you can island hopping. The islands they’ll take you to are Daku Island, Guyam Island, and Naked Island.
The beach in front of Harana Surf Resort
Enjoying the sunset at Guyam Island
Magpupungko Tidal Pools
Magpupungko Tidal Pools
Pleasure Point Cafe
Kermit’s pizza – one of the highlights of our Siargao trip!
Harana Surf Resort
Best way to go around! We rented the bike for 500 for 24 hours.
The view from our room at Harana Surf Resort
Bangkok, Samut Songkrahm, Hua Hin, Nang Loeng, Phuket, and Chiang Mai, Thailand
One of the biggest blessings for me in 2016 was being able to work with Thai Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand. Through this collaboration, I was able to visit various areas of Thailand this year. I traveled to Thailand three times with our friends from the two groups and other travel bloggers and writers.
The first of which was for 84 Perspectives of Thailand, an initiative for the Queen’s birthday with 84 bloggers and writers from different countries traveled to Thailand to experience different cultural activities. This was when we visited Phuket. The second trip took us to Samut Songkram, Hua Hin, and Nang Loeng. The last of which was just in November. We went to Chiang Mai. One of the cities I’ve always wanted to visit.
This I can say about all three trips – highly cultural, informative, and meaningful.
In partnership with Thai Airways and TAT PH, traveled to Thailand to write/blog about various areas on my blog, @JamieInTransit.
Post Mangrove planting (pic by Carrie Sim)
Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development
Exploring The Grand Palace (pic by Carrie Sim)
The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Cocktails at Shangri-la, Bangkok
Mangrove planting activity (pic by Carrie Sim)
Bangkok with Phoebe from Australia (IG @littlegreybox_Phoebe)
Sino-Portuguese House | With the whole Southern Group – Team China, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong and Australia
Foto Hotel, Phuket | I particularly enjoyed the artsy vibe at this hotel. Loved everything about it, actually, and looking forward to going back!
Sino-Portuguese House, Phuket (pic by Carrie Sim)
Shopping for ingredients to use for our Thai Cooking classes (pic by Carrie Sim)
Sarah, Phoebe, Carrie, and Maui of the Southern Group of #84PerspectivesofThailand
Team Philippines, Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong
Nang Loeng | Famous for Nang Loeng Market, this area gives a glimpse of Old Bangkok
Hua Hin Hills Vineyard | One of my favorite stops while we were in Hua Hin – great view, delicious food, and good wine – great combo, right?
Nang Loeng | Cooking Pad thai out in the streets
Hua Hin Night Market
Nang Loeng | I found most of the locals so well-dressed!
Arts of The Kingdom, Bangkok
Arts of The Kingdom in Bangkok with the whole FAM group of my second trip with Thai Airways and TAT
Don Hoi Lot – Catching razor clams
Don Hoi Lot
Samut Songkrahm | We woke up early to witness how the monks would go around the area for offerings. This was at about 5:00 am.
Nang Loeng | The locals playing chess for fun, wouldn’t it be nice if we let go for our phones and actually do something like this every now and then? It was an eye-opener for me.
Farewell and Gratitude Dinner
Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok
Chiang Mai (pic by Marky Ramone Go) | Started our tour with a Temple Run
Chiang Mai – is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand.
Chiang Mai (pic by Marky Ramone Go)
Walking around Chiang Mai and trying to see if we could ride this instead.. 😛 Pic by Marky Ramone Go.
Temple Hopping in Chiang Mai (pic by Marky Ramone Go)
Their grief over the King’s death was apparent till the time of our trip there, my third trip for Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways. We took the trip in November.
Umbrella Village in Chiang Mai – Bor Sang (pic by Marky Ramone Go)
Amari Watergate Hotel, Bangkok | The whole FAM group of my third trip with TAT PH
We were a day late for Loi Krathong, but Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort, Thai Airways, and Tourism Authority of Thailand organized our very own festival at the hotel when we got there.
After our dinner cruise in Chiang Mai – all smiles!
Loi Krathong at Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort
Baan Kang Wat Art Village | One of my favorite spots in Chiang Mai. You’ll find nice cafes, restaurants, and art galleries there.
Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort | Such a lovely boutique resort in Chiang Mai. It was quiet, romantic, and the food was amazing throughout our whole stay. I’d definitely go back and stay there during my next Chiang Mai visit.
At Hang Dong district in Chiang Mai
Market in Chiang Mai
The whole group for our Chiang Mai FAM trip with Thai Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand
Oh, all the wonderful memories with all the friends I’ve made during the the three trips! Here’s our #JUICEKOTHAI group during one of our nights in Chiang Mai when we kept this bar open.
Camiguin will always be one of my all-time favorites. When I was younger, our family would travel there almost three times a year. Our grandparents owned a cottage there; a cottage we still love till this very day.
One of my brothers got married on that island, so you can just imagine the many beautiful memories we have there as kids and as grown-ups. I got to visit this charming little island again in 2016.
I got to visit Cebu twice this year. Firstly, to explore Bantayan Island and secondly, to spend a weekend away from the metro with loved ones in Shangri-la.
Cebu will always be one of the options for me for quick beach getaways as it has a mix of everything. Glad I was able to go twice this year. And for those who haven’t been to Bantayan? It is gorgeous there! Quiet and the beaches are beautiful!
It isn’t the longest beach in Cebu, but it does the trick! Great activities in store for you if you stay at Shangri-la.
With Vineet, Jo, Yahvi, and Jimmy
Ogtong Cave, Bantayan Island
Paradise Beach, Bantayan Island
I had a hosting gig in Baguio early in 2016 which gave me the opportunity to explore the city for a quick bit. What stood out was my trip to the BenCab Museum. Here are a few pictures from that trip.
This was probably one of the most beautiful days I had in 2016. A day spent only two hours away from the city, but because of certain reasons this trip was special.
The plan was to have no plan. We had breakfast at Taza Fresh Table, Taal Hotel. From there, looking at the view, we spontaneously decided to go for the Taal Volcano tour. We ended the day with a wonderful and delicious dinner at Antonio’s.
Perfect day, if you ask me.
Ready for breakfast at Taza Fresh Table
The view from Taal Hotel
That sums it up for my travels in 2016. It’s been a beautiful year full of adventures! Thank you 2016 for satiating the wanderlust in me.
2017, I cannot wait for your stories to unfold!
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
10 Things To Do in Siargao, Philippines
Experiencing Thailand | Exploring Samut Songkhram, Hua Hin, and Nang Loeng
Jamie In Transit: Phuket, Thailand