Travel and Tourism

What’s your most unforgettable travel experience?

WORDS WORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”  — St. Augustine

Traveling gives us a lot of great memories we can always look back on. Getting out of our comfort zone opens the mind to more ideas and possibilities. And while it gives us a peek into how the rest of the world lives, it also makes us appreciate more what we have back home.

For busy people, traveling can help bring back equilibrium when life back home gets  too stressful. Traveling with the right partner or group is the key to a perfect holiday.

Menchu Katigbak

My most unforgettable experience was my trip to Paris in the fall of 2013 when the elevator of my apartment konked out for 10 days and I was on the sixth floor. I was so stressed out from climbing up and down the stairs that I got shingles. Luckily, I caught it in time and the doctor gave me medicine. It was my most miserable trip to Paris; I cut my trip short and dashed home to Manila. In the end, there’s really no place like home. However, Paris still remains my favorite destination. It is my second home.

Michaela Madrigal Eduque, student, Fordham Universty

When my dad suggested going to Siem Reap during one of my short school breaks, I had to admit that I was a bit hesitant, not knowing what to expect as it seemed to be the complete opposite of the big city travel experiences I was used to. But I think that the reason why I loved Cambodia so much was because it wasn’t like a big city experience. There was a certain level of beauty, solitude and happiness in exploring the Angkor Wat temple despite it being a major tourist attraction. It was refreshing and somehow freeing to be able to go on a hot-air balloon ride and just see the open sky and endless fields of lush green, uninterupted by skyscrapers and freeways but rather, just the occasional temple or house. And yes, I wasn’t surrounded by the big shops, museums or modern landmarks that usually give me joy in big city destinations, but I was able to get the same level of fun and satisfaction — if not more — with the nature around me, especially in befriending an elephant with a banana offering. I still am a big city girl, but I think that the reason why Cambodia is my most unforgettable travel experience is because on top of everything, it taught me that sometimes, the most fulfilling memories happen where you least expect it. 

Timi Gomez Aquino, marketing director, Jollibee Foods Corp.-Chowking

We just celebrated 10 years since I was a delegate of the Ship for the Southeast Asian Youth Program, a cultural exchange between Japanese and Asean youth. We traveled the region in a Japanese cruise liner for over 45 days. It was an unforgettable opportunity to meet a diverse set of friends, live with and learn from our neighbors and even meet my would-be-life-partner, Bam.

Eloise Alba Carballo, editor in chief, Accent magazine

I love to travel so it’s hard to select one unforgettable experience. But a few months ago, I took a trip to Morocco and spent some days camping in the middle of the Sahara. The lights from the desert sky, an authentic Berber meal, and the sounds of the tribal chants made the 10-hour journey worth every step.

Karen Fabie Concepcion, equestrienne

The most unforgettable travel experience for me is my most recent trip with my family to Paris. Ton and I brought our three girls for the first time to Paris to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We had a great time together especially since it was our daughter’s first time to Europe. The sights, the food and the bonding time we had as a family will always remain special and memorable to all of us. 

Monica Zobel Urquijo, student, Goldsmiths, University of London

After two exhausting days of travels, nothing could have excited me more than seeing the Malagasy landscape from the plane window. It was an exhilarating thought that I would spend the next six weeks in the land of lemurs, moonshine, and my fellow dreadlocks- life loving-vegan co-workers researching endangered reptiles, amphibians and lemurs. After an eight-hour truck ride, filled with chickens, bongos, Malagasy chants, go pros, and a few miscellaneous items, the research team arrived at the west coast of Madagascar. The weeks to come were packed with early morning lemur runs, tracking countless amphibians — most camouflage, may I add — and kayaking trips to remote islands. Never could have I imagined how much I ended up getting out of the trip. Madagascar will remain with me forever, and was truly unforgettable.

Fe Rodriguez, businesswoman

What we have been enjoying and indulging in lately is traveling with the whole family, grandchildren included.  Being a big group means frenzied if not chaotic travel by plane, train and car, roughing it in apartments and comfort food in charming local restaurants. But the inconveniences are made up for by quality family time together, the joy in seeing the children and grandchildren mesmerized by the beautiful sights and enriched by the cultural experiences.

Pia Ongsiako, businesswoman

Driving from Paris to Prague with my husband during a white magnificent winter, my heart and senses were overwhelmed by the experience. Our route took us through the backroads of the countryside where quaint towns offered us distinct culinary treasures and picturesque landscapes. Those memorable moments, shared with my loved one, I had never before experienced in a lifetime of traveling.  

Alicia Colby Sy, lifestyle editor, Town&Country Philippines

Two years ago, my husband and I, along with three other couples, went on an amazing tour of India. While in Rajasthan, we went on safari in Ranthambhore National Park hoping to see the celebrated Indian tiger.  There were six of us in our  open jeep — a driver, guide, my husband, myself, and another couple. After driving around the reserve for over an hour we figured that we would have to go back the next day and try again as it wasn’t uncommon for people to leave the park without seeing anything.

As everyone was busy looking for a tiger, six pairs of eyes were searching in all directions. And then it happened. While parked on a dirt road, I spotted a giant, four-legged tiger walking toward our jeep. With a tiger less than 10 meters away, I couldn’t figure out why no one was reacting. For about 10 seconds I kept quiet trying to figure out if what I saw was real.  Didn’t they see it or was I hallucinating? How could they not see it? I began to doubt myself. But as the tiger was approaching the jeep I decided to call everyone’s attention as I was getting frightened at this point.  “Hello! People! Huge tiger at 12 o’clock!” I shouted. Suddenly,my companions turned from all the directions they were facing and in a mad panic the driver and guide began excitedly talking in their dialect. Ecstatic, the guide started to radio all the other jeeps in the park to come to where we were to see the tiger. A sighting that close up was extremely rare, and for me, it was just a little too close. Those tigers are huge and intimidating.

Judy Dy-Tumangan, COO, TOGRI Philippines Inc.

My husband DK and I recently visited Brazil for the World Cup. It was an experience unlike no other. The spirit of the World Cup in the land of football is incredibly thrilling. I wasn’t a big fan of the sport before the trip. But now I have football fever. Ole! 

Sevrine Miailhe, marketing and communications manager, Rustan Commercial Corporation

In July 2010, my in-laws invited Edouard, the kids and I to do a boat cruise with them. It was a first for our family. We had signed up for 10 days sailing from Rome to Venice and we didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out to be our most unfrgettable travel experience so far. We loved every bit of the trip. The Royal Clipper was nicer than expected. It’s the largest true full-rigged sailing ship in the world today. The itinerary was excellent; starting in Rome, then Ponza, Capri, Taormina, followed by Corfu (Greece), Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnic, Hvar, Rovinj (Croatia) and ending in Venice. It was a perfect vacation for all three generations with enough time for family bounding and also for every generation to enjoy their own activities. Entering the Grand Canal in Venice on this majestic sailboat is something one cannot forget. 

Beth Romualdez, food writer, book author

Last October, after a train ride from Milan to Venezia Mestre with a friend, I realized I had lost my wallet. Our driver who met us at the station advised me to report it to the police right away.  Having studied and traveled extensively in Italy, I normally could get around in my basic conversational Italian, but not a word of Italian came out as I related to the police how I lost it.  In my wallet were three credit cards and cash.  Luckily, our four-day stay in Friuli Venezia was all paid for by my friend who owns a prosciutto factory.  We went back to Milan at the end of our visit and heeding the advice from my friend I checked again with the police at the station if they had found my wallet.

It was obviously a shot in the dark, even as I prayed hard to San Antonio de Padua. I had no hope of recovering it. I went to the police station and lo and behold, my wallet was there with all the credit cards intact except the cash.  My wallet was not picked but it fell from my lap as I removed the contents from my body bag to get my iPod.  Apparently, a fellow passenger in the first-class cabin found it on the floor and turned it over to the police.  With the credit cards already cancelled and without cash, all I could hope for was a smooth flight back home. Upon landing in Dusseldorf where we had a five-hour stop-over, we decided go to the city to have lunch at a restaurant that offered the best beer and baked pig’s knuckles.

I never imagined that I could be so excited to get a VAT refund. It saved my day and it was more than enough to pay for lunch and dessert of marron glace at Neuhaus.

Bibai Gaisano Puyat, owner, Renegade Folk Co.

My most unforgettable travel experience was when my husband and I went to Paris on our honeymoon in 2012. Aside from admiring the tourist sites, I was thrilled to discover the charming streets the city has to offer. There is something that tugs at the heart in every corner — from old architecture, quaint boutiques, sprawling parks, or you can just sit by a café and people watch.

To this day I still dream of walking the streets of  Rue de la Bûcherie. As the great author Ernest Hemingway said, “If you are lucky enough to live in Paris, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” That is exactly how I feel about Paris. I just fell in love with its beauty. I am forever changed by it.

Former Senator Migs Zubiri

My most unforgettable trip was with my wife Audrey when we went on our honeymoon to Africa in January 2006. We started in Zambia where we were able to go on river safaris on the Zambezi River. But the highlight of it was when we went for a swim in the “Devil’s Pool,” which is a naturally formed “pool” literally on the edge of the great Victoria Falls, the largest falls in the world. 

From there, we flew to Botswana to explore the  Okavango Delta. We loved the excitement that we felt every morning as we left the camp, never knowing what surprises we would see or would happen out in the bush. It was amazing to see lions, elephants, rhinoceroses and leopards, among others, in action in their natural habitat. We ended our trip in Cape Town, South Africa. We visited the famous sites, vineyards and enjoyed their delicious restaurants though what I will never forget is when I went diving with white sharks. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I look forward to returning to Africa as a family, when our children are old enough, so they can experience the same unforgettable wonder and amazement we felt.

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