The Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Of all my experiences from living in Taiwan for 9 months, backpacking the Holy Ridge Trail in 5 days was one of the highlights. The Holy Ridge (or “雪山聖稜線” in Chinese) is an awe-inspiring, often razor-thin ridge of mountains in Taiwan’s Shei-pa National Park. It spans from north to south, connecting the famous Snow Mountain (“雪山” / “Xueshan”) all the way to Mt. Dabajian (“大霸尖山” / “Dabajianshan”). At 12,749 ft, Snow Mountain is Taiwan’s most famous mountain and second highest. As we traversed this ridge in an O-shaped loop, our views spanned the mountain range and we summited several peaks along the way and climbed more than a few sketchy scrambles. From sparse, steep rocky bits to lush forest hiking, this trip had some unforgettable views and even better memories. Continue reading

Philippines Photo Journal

What does a week in the Philippines on a backpacker’s budget look like? Well, 4 islands and approximately $430 later, and I have the water-damaged iPhone pics to show for it:

Maolboal Beach, Cebu, Philippines

Our flight – one of the cheapest ones I could find – landed in Cebu. Which is convenient, because Panagsama Beach is just a few hours away by bus. This was our first stop.

Maolboal Backpacker Lodge hut

We stayed at Moalboal Backpacker Lodge, which gave us a private hut for one of the best deals we could find on the beach. Naturally, after a day of travelling, I made a beeline for the hammock.

Motorcycling around Maolboal

To get around, you’ll need to either hire a ride on a tricycle (always an A+ experience) or rent a motorbike if you want to be more mobile (and feel cool).

Baby goats

Stopping for baby goats on the side of the road is an obvious must.

Eating bananas on the beach

The bananas in the Philippines are shorter, fatter, and 100000% more flavorful than your run-of-the-mill Dole version.

Eating mango on the beach

And fresh mangos on the beach? I’m sold.

Maolboal beach dock

All good here.

Path to Kawasan Falls

We took a day trip to Kawasan Falls, one of the must-see stops near Maolboal. This was taken on the short hike up.

Coconuts near Kawasan Falls

Along the way we found a guy selling coconuts from the trees lining the path.

Kawasan Falls

We made it! Incidentally, this was also the last picture taken before my phone’s waterproof case failed. RIP, old friend.

Maolboal Backpacker Lodge Common Area

Chilling in the common area of the Moalboal Backpacker Lodge.

Bananas for breakfast!

Bananas for breakfast!

Sunset over Maolboal Beach

Our last night in Moalboal we had dinner on the beach as the sun went down.

Tubod Marine Sanctuary, Siquijor

The next island we stopped at was Siquijor! Just a couple minutes from our hostel was a quiet little marine sanctuary with tons of coral and fish.

This hermit crab was vicious! Lil sucker pinched me so hard.

This hermit crab was vicious! Lil sucker pinched me so hard.

A Rooster & Dog in Siquijor

A rooster and a dog, chillin’ in the shade of the best damn roadside bbq we’ve been to. Not pictured: a rousing “Happy Birthday” sung a cappella by the waitress, followed by her solo of Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do. Gold.

Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor

Cliff jumping at Salagdoong Beach on the northeastern tip of Siquijor! It doesn’t look very far, but I screamed like a baby.

Shadows at Salagdoong Beach

After cliff jumping we swam in the cool water for the rest of the afternoon.

Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor

Tarzan-style jungle swing into Cambugahay Falls! One of our favorite spots in Siquijor – the water was so warm and blue and had several tiers to splash around in. Best way to spend an afternoon!

Harold's Mansion at Dumaguete

Our last island of our short trip was Dumaguete, where we stayed at Harold’s Mansion. The selling point of this backpacker’s haven was definitely the rooftop, which was perfect for chilling out after a day of snorkeling or exploring the town! Restaurant, bar, hammocks, and billiards – it was also a great way to meet new people (and run into old friends we had seen on other islands).

Snorkeling at Apo Island

We took a day trip from Dumaguete to Apo Island (technically our 4th island of the week!) where we got to swim with sea turtles and gorgeous fish, which was amazing. We also got amazingly sunburned on our backs. You win some, you lose some!

Boat ride to Apo Island

The boat ride to Apo Island was under a hour from Dumaguete!

Dumaguete Fruit Market

If tropical fruit is your thing, go straight to the source at the Dumaguete Fruit Market and load up to your happy heart’s content!

Casaroro Falls, Dumaguete

We rented scooters on our last day and checked out Casaroro Falls!

Bamboo at Casaroro Falls

You’ll pass a pretty grove of bamboo trees on the 300-something steps down.

Mango at Casaroro Falls

Mango courtesy of the fruit market, of course.

Baby Geckos

Rescued 2 baby geckos from our room at Harold’s Mansion!

Halo Halo and Curry

Ended the trip with a giant veggie curry and a Halo-Halo, a popular Filipino dessert with shaved ice/taro ice cream/papaya/evaporated milk/actual milk/cornflakes/sweet beans/chewy things/a cherry on top. So refreshing and delicious.

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to visit on a budget, the Philippines is the perfect place! Our only regret is that we only had a week – with the myriad of islands to hop around to, you could easily spend a month and still have more to see. Philippines, we’ll be back!

Cheers,

Mia

The 5 Lightweight Items We Can’t Travel Without

Packing lighter is no news to backpackers and trekkers who want to ease sprains and strains on their weary muscles. But the ultralight packing trend that the outdoor industry is embracing can be applied to travelers as well – even if your end destination is a resort instead of a tent under the trees. If you have a big trip coming up but are fed up with lugging around those 2 exactly-50-lb suitcases, this article is for you! Not only will international transfers be a breeze, but you also don’t have to break your back stuffing it into the back of a taxi, shuttle, or longtail-boat-transfer-to-tiny-island-resort. Win-win! Leave the packing tips to us, embrace the minimalism, and focus on all the R&R you could want on your actual vacation. Continue reading

Safest Airlines in the World: 2016

Qantas Arlines

Qantas Airlines took the top slot for the third consecutive year.

For the third consecutive year, AirlineRatings.com has released its annual list for the world’s safest airlines. They base the ratings off of factors like certifications, audits, fatality records, and incident records. And for the third year in a row, Qantas Airlines was the top pick for safest airline! The company remains completely fatality-free, which got praise from the editors as “extraordinary.”

The entire list of top 20 airlines, alphabetically arranged, are as follows:

  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines
  • All Nippon Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airline System
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

…and on the other end of the spectrum, they also rated the 10 worst airlines (womp womp):

  • Batik Air
  • Bluewing Airlines
  • Citilink
  • Kal-Star aviation
  • Lion Air
  • Sriwijaya Air
  • TransNusa
  • Trigana Air Service
  • Wings Air
  • Xpress Air

They all happen to be from Indonesia, Nepal, and Surinam. C’mon, guys!

For more info about this year’s winners (and losers), head over to their full review.

Cheers!

Mia

P.S. featured image courtesy of TechDrive.

How To Never Miss a Flight

Missed Flight

Don’t let this be you.

Show of hands from seasoned travelers…you may think you’re pretty savvy because you know your way around an airport, but can you say that you’ve never missed a flight? Dave Hamamura, professional wanderer and airport pro, lays claim to this feat. (We want proof, Dave.) Lucky for us, he’s shelled out his best tips for speeding through airports on his travel blog Dave Wanders. And yes, sometimes you just have to sprint to your connecting flight in another terminal, dignity be damned. (Just pray to the good lord that it’s not at Charles De Gaulle, or you better start cardio training ASAP.) Continue reading

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Lost stuffed animal goes on airport adventures at TIA

Hobbes at TIA

Hobbes surveys his view at the Tampa International Airport (TIA), where he went on a few grand adventures.

SWOONING over this sweet travel story, courtesy of some nice folk at the Tampa International Airport (TIA)!  6-year-old Owen Lake was flying with his mother from Florida to Texas when he lost his stuffed tiger, who was appropriately named Hobbes after the beloved comic strip character. Though the airport was able to find Hobbes, Owen and his mother had already left for their trip to Texas…and when they returned back to TIA, they found out that Hobbes had been on quite the adventure.  Continue reading