10 Tips for your long Indochina Trip

Angkor Wat Temple Sunrise

  1. Know the Do’s and Don’ts of each countries you are visiting.  Greet the locals properly with their language and respect their local customs.  They might require you to remove your shoes or dress up accordingly, especially when visiting temples.
  2. Considering the weather and Tip #1, wear comfortable clothes and shoes good for walking a few miles. Don’t bring too much clothes.  Make use of the hotel’s laundry services… it wont cost you much than to pay for an extra weights on airline luggage.
  3. Create a travel itinerary.  Plan ahead!  It helps a lot to get the best of your time during your travel.  Read blogs, reviews and testimonies of the places you are going to visit or the activities you are going to do.  Though itineraries are ideals, consider a list of other places to visit or things to do with-in the area of  your stay for “Plan B”.   Hiring a local guide is also advisable to give you a depth understanding of the culture and story behind of the places you are visting.
  4. Print out your airplane/bus tickets.  Also, keep a printouts of your passport and other secondary ID’s with emergency contact person and numbers at the back.  Of course you can have it on your mobile, but having a printed copy as backup adds peace of mind.
  5. Prepare an offline or printed map with local translation.  It is easier to pinpoint and ask help of the locals when searching for directions using maps with local names of the place, especially when riding a taxi or tuk-tuks.  Uber or Grab taxis are available on some cities and provinces with-in Indochina region, but you need an Internet data connections to book their services.
  6. Enjoy local cuisine and drinks to get the best experience and save moolah.  Observe or ask the locals not the tourist.beers-of-indochina
  7. Bring your meds and also for flu, diarrhea and also a mosquito repellant.  It is safer to have those meds with you when you need it than to ask a local pharmacist.  Keep away from places that might have mosquitos or insects that may cause sickness.
  8. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of clean water especially while enjoying #6.  Drink only from a bottled water or bring water filter with you just to be sure.
  9. You might need to bring a universal travel adapter plugs to charge your gadgets on wall sockets for your power bricks. Check your local standards and compare it to the countries you are visiting.  And also… Most of the hotel rooms have limited power sockets, a lightweight power strips can also save you from hassle of charging multiple gadgets.
  10. Use sling bags or belt bags to secure your gadgets, passports or wallets. Place it in-front of your body and keep on eye on it while walking on city streets and on busy area like public markets.   Although it is less likely to happen, but don’t give pick-pocketers a chance to do it.
  11. [Bonus] DO NOT use public WiFi.  Use VPN to protect your information and privacy and enable firewall on your PCs/Macs. There are many tutorials on YouTube about using VPN for travelers to learn from.
  12. [Bonus] Learn to bargain and practice your acting skills when dealing with the locals.  Don’t look at their eyes if you are not interested. Use #1 as leverage and negotiate using their local language.
  13. [Bonus] Organize your currencies.  Use envelop or currency pouch to separate paper bills and coins.
  14. [Bonus]  Instead of US dollar money changers, use ATM to get local currencies from your beloved currency.
  15. [Bonus] Some countries offers GST refunds on goods and services upon exits.  Keep your receipts to avail if you have plenty of time to line up and filling up forms on airports and on border exits.

10 Myths in going to Balabac Palawan Philippines

Onuk Island, Balabac, Palawan, Philippines

  1. No public transport available in Balabac
    • You can take the a Van Transfer Puerto Princesa – Rio Tuba vice versa.  Rio Tuba – Balabac Public Boat operates daily, but there’s a chance to cancel the trip if not accommodated with 50 passengers.  In Balabac, Habal-habal and Tricycle is the main means of transportation with-in the island.  Island-hopping, you can hire a private passenger boat big enough to counter the waves, with “puppet” boat (a smaller boat) to bring you to the shore without damaging the beautiful corals
  2. Balabac is Infested by Mosquitos with Malaria
    • There are reports in some islands (not all) in Balabac that does have cases of Malaria disease.   Take some anti-malaria shots or meds before going to Balabac.  It is best to ask your nearest doctor/hospital about anti-malaria meds.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  3. There is Niknik (Sand Mites) infestation on Balabac beaches and shorelines
    • Yes there are Sand Mites in “some” islands… but again, not all.  Cover your skin as much as possible at night.  Put on insect repellant or lit a bonfire (not on the sand) near your campsite.  The smoke will push away the insects, not the fire.
  4. No drinkable clean water in Balabac
    • In Balabac town proper, there are shops where you can buy bottled water.  There’s even purified water refilling stations.  Before hopping the near by islands and shores, bring enough water that you think you need to consume during the trip and in campsites.  It is best to have a portable water filtration system and water purifier tablets with you during the trip.
  5. No Mobile Phone Signal in Balabac
    • You can get full bars with Smart and Globe with in Balabac town proper… but no data with Smart.    Save your phone battery by turning on Airplane mode during sea travels.  In some part of Balabac facing Sabah, you can get Malaysian mobile phone signals.
  6. There is no electricity in Balabac
    • Electricity is not 24/7 in Balabac town proper…  No electricity at all outside the town.  Some households use solar panels.   Bring and full-charge your powerbanks… or bring portable solar panels and crank chargers if you need to charge your devices.
  7. Infested with Saltwater Crocodiles
    • There are sightings of saltwater crocodiles in near-by rivers and mangroves shorelines.  Most of the victims are dogs, chickens and goats…  and a fishermen who went night fishing  got bitten by a small crocs.
  8. Tourist and Foreigners are not welcome especially non-Muslims in Balabac
    • They are generally friendly and hospitable like any other places in the world.   Religion is not an issue… You just have to respect everyone you meet and their culture when you visit places on your travel.   Balabac population is mostly Muslim brothers and sisters.  Muslims and Non-muslim in Balabac get along happily and peacefully.   Just for your safety and record purposes, you need to drop-by and register to the Balabac police station.  Another tip: Hire or a local guide.
  9. No resort nor hotel and lodging in Balabac
    • Look for “Sing and Swing” Lodging/Hotel in Balabac Town.  They offer rooms with fan, shared bathroom and comfort rooms.  Accessible to all shops, markets and wharfs.
    • You can set a camp for your tent or hammock on the islands for free.  Most of them don’t ask for payments… just hand over enough money as token of gratitude.
  10. You need to break a bank to visit Balabac
    • “If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.”…  travel with a group to save cost and for your safety.  There are lot of alternative and less expensive way to travel going to and staying in Balabac.  Its up to your personal preference.

Banana Island, Coron, Palawan, Philippines


Banana Island is a fish and coral sanctuary in the southern part of Coron, Palawan, Philippines.  Preserved and privately-owned by Gallego Family, they allow visitors to swim and see the clams, corals and lots of fishes just few meters from the shoreline of the island.


To visit the Island from Metro Manila, I made a sample 2-nights travel itinerary for you to begin with:

MONDAY (Day 0)

  • 05:00am ~ 06:00am : Breakfast
  • 06:00am ~ 07:00am : travel to Manila Airport
  • 07:00am ~ 08:00am : Check-in
  • 08:00am ~ 09:00am : Boarding
  • 09:00am ~ 10:00am : Manila > Coron Airport (SkyjetAir 9am flight)
  • 10:00am ~ 11:00am : Coron Airport -> Coron Town
  • 11:00am ~ 01:00pm : Lunch and restock in Coron Town
  • 01:00pm ~ 02:00pm : Shopping in Pantalan
  • 02:00pm ~ 04:00pm : Coron Town to Banana Island Passenger Boat
  • 04:00pm ~ 05:00pm : HAYAHAY
  • 07:00pm ~ 08:00pm : Dinner


  • HAYAHAY, snorkeling one to sawa, sunburn
  • Eat, Sleep, Repeat


  • 06:00am ~ 07:00am : Breakfast
  • 07:00am ~ 08:00am : Pack-up
  • 08:00am ~ 09:00am : Catch-up Bulalacao -> Coron Town Passenger Boat
  • 09:00am ~ 10:00am : Van Transfer Coron Town to Coron Airport
  • 10:00am ~ 11:00am : Check-in
  • 11:00am ~ 12:00nn : Boarding
  • 12:00nn ~ 01:00pm : Coron to Manila Airport (CebuPac 12nn flight)
  • 01:00pm ~ 02:00pm : Home Sweet Home, Lunch
  • 02:00pm ~ 03:00pm : UPLOAD! UPLOAD!


Things to bring:

  • Camera
  • Waterproof Travel Bags
  • Snorkeling Gears
  • Aqua Shoes
  • Coral Reef Friendly Sunblock
  • Battery Pack for your Gadgets, solar or crank usb chargers
  • Garbage Bag
  • Food and Water
  • Bread for fish feeding
  • Cooking Stove, Cook Set and Fuel (optional)
  • Eating Utensils (optional)
Me (left) with Mr Gallego (right)


Things to Remember:

  • Beach camping on the island is no longer allowed
  • Day-tour entrance fee is PhP 200
  • Overnight fee is PhP 850 ~ PhP 1000 per night
  • Most of the cottages have lights and electric fans run through electric generator
  • Some
  • They can cook for you, but bring your own food to cook
  • No fishing, but you can ask them to fish for you
  • They have a small store that sell few items like softdrinks, beer, alcohol drinks, cigarets, and chips
  • Waterproof your bags, phones and gadgets
  • DO NOT use non-coral-friendly sunblock
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out. No garbage should stay on the island
  • The Coron-Bulalacao Passenger Boat operates Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays only.   Bulalacao-to-Coron-Town: leaves at 8am~9am, while Coron-town-to-Bulalacao between 2pm-4pm in Pantalan.
  • Contact their Facebook page for guidance : https://www.facebook.com/banana-island-coron-palawan-120622397968261/


How about you? How’s your Banana Island experience?


Photo of the Day: Isla de Capon Grande, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines

Isla de Capon Grande, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines
Isla de Capon Grande, San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines

Capones Island, also known as Grand Capon or Capon Grande Island (Spanish: Isla de Capon Grande) is a small island approximately 1.9 kilometers (1.2 mi) long by 0.4 kilometers (0.25 mi) wide, at its widest point, lying some 3.8 kilometers (2.4 mi) off the coast of the province of Zambales on western Luzon island in the Philippines. It is the largest of the Capones Islands (Islotes de los Capones), a group of three small islands which also includes nearby Camara Island and another islet connected to it by a sand bar.[1] The island is administratively part of barangay Pundaquit of the Zambales municipality of San Antonio. (wikipedia)

The island is characterized by huge rock formations and steep cliffs surrounded by white sand and coral beaches. The Capones Island Lighthouse is located on the hillside near the western end of the island. (wikipedia)

Highlights of our Adirondack primitive camping going to Mt Marcy

Celebrating his 68 birthday, my Dad (right) and I (Left) reached Mt Marcy summit last September 21, 2015

Check out the photo gallery : http://blog.macoymejia.com/adventures/mt-marcy-via-van-hoevenberg-trail/

Our pantry for 2 nights away from our camp to avoid bear attacks.


Using Jetboil Flash and Stanley Cook Set to prepare Breakfast

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