Ever wondered how many countries in the world have you visited so far? If you are as addicted to traveling as me, chances are you have a fair amount of numbers to share. Today I stumbled upon this travel world map generator and it made me so giddy to input and color places I have been.
As May is about to close and soon half of the year is already over, I think it is a good time to evaluate how far I have been in my mid-twenties. I only discovered my passion to travel last year and know that I have places to catch on. As of 30th of May, Where Monica Goes has visited 20 countries in the world. I know it isn’t much and I probably covered less than 10% of the globe. Still, as Susan Sontag says, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.“
Where Monica Goes has been to:
Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates.
So where have you been? Feel free to list your countries here or share a blogpost of your own travel world map! I got mine generated for free from Matador Network.
The Republic of the Philippines gains the honor of being the first country to get the spotlight on Where Monica Goes. From its more than seven thousand idyllic islands, clear turquoise waters, world-class diving sites, diverse wildlife, rich culture, friendly and hospitable locals, to delicious food, the Pearl of the Orient Seas can offer so much that one cannot help but to fall in love with it. As a Filipina myself, I can proudly say that I love my country and will always encourage others to come and visit this jewel in Asia. After reading this post, please let me know if I have convinced you to travel to the Philippines!
With a total land area of 300 000 square kilometers, the archipelago lies in Southeast Asia with Taiwan directly in the north, Vietnam in the west, Brunei and Indonesia in the south, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. It is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has many active volcanoes, which contribute to seismic and volcanic activities as well as abundance of mineral deposits – gold (estimated to be second largest in the world after South Africa) copper, nickel and zinc. As for its wildlife, the Philippines is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna within its numerous rainforests and marine habitat.
The Philippine culture is a beautiful combination of Eastern and Western influences. Values, beliefs, languages and other aspects are similar to its Asian neighbors, but also exhibit traces of Spanish and American conquests. Being an archipelago with thousands of islands, the country is home to 186 individual languages. The official languages are Filipino and English. Travelers have easy communication with any local as more than 90% of the population can speak and understand the lingua franca of the world. For religion, it is predominantly Christian with 82.9% of the population Catholics while Islam is the second largest with 5%.
BASIC FACTS ABOUT PHILIPPINES
Capital: Manila Population: 100+ million Official languages: Filipino and English Government: Presidential Republic Currency: Philippine Peso Climate: Tropical Average temperature: 26 degrees Celsius Time zone: UTC+8 Driving: Right Electricity: 220V/60hz
GETTING AROUND THE PHILIPPINES
Jeepney – king of the road; runs within Manila and provinces
Metro – LRT1, LRT2, and MRT3 run within the capital
Bus – ordinary and air-conditioned run within and outside Manila
Van – locally known as FX Taxi; more comfortable than bus but cheaper than taxi
Tricycle – local auto rickshaws that are common public transportation
Plane – with more than 7100 islands scattered in the archipelago, flying is the fastest way to get from one point to another
Boat – locally known as Bangka; best mode of transportation when island hopping
Taxi – both ordinary and cab hailing companies such as Grab and Uber cars.
Kalesa – horse drawn carriage introduced during Spanish occupation; common around Manila and Vigan
The Philippines have three seasons – hot dry (March to May), rainy (June to November) and cool dry (December to February). The coolest month is January while May is the hottest. To avoid strong typhoons from July to August, traveling can be between October to May.
High season is December to April (coolest and hottest months when locals usually take holiday trips) and low season is June to September (typhoon season).
WHERE TO VISIT
To give you a glimpse of the Philippines, here are some wonderful places that I have visited around my country. These will also be featured separately here in Where Monica Goes soon, each with detailed itinerary and travel tips and guides.
The Capital. Culturally and historically rich. Bustling, skyscraper-smothered city where you can eat, drink, and shop almost 24/7.
The paradise of the Philippines. Home of the most beautiful island in the world according to Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards.
Queen City of the South. One-hour plane ride from Manila. Home of the whale sharks, white sand beaches, turquoise waterfalls, spectacular diving sites, among others.
One-hour plane ride from Manila. A short ferry-ride from Cebu. Home of the majestic Chocolate Hills, world’s smallest, bug-eyed primate called Tarsier, pristine sandy beaches, world class diving sites.
Hidden gem in the north. Home of the 2000-year-old rice terraces carved into the mountains.
The very active, perfect cone-shaped volcano. Beautiful, surfing-friendly beaches.
Aside from the seven mentioned above, there are still seven thousand islands left worth mentioning and exploring. The Philippines really has varied beautiful places and activities to offer that one should simply take and enjoy.
If you are planning for your next trip, will you consider the Philippines as your next destination? If you have already traveled here, which is your most favorite part of the country? What is your most memorable experience? Let Where Monica Goes know!
This year, I am very excited to achieve more of the things I have only dreamed of before. As I travel more and get addicted to moving from one place to another, I become bolder with my ever growing to-dos and must list. Without further ado, here is my 2016 travel bucket list.
Go in a tripoint and be in three countries at once.
There is something novel in standing in a place where the borders of three countries lie. Though most of the tripoints I have seen are really not so spectacular, even some are in the middle of lakes or rivers, I think it would be fun to put each foot and a hand in three different countries. Just imagine the idea!
Go skiing in the Alps.
My first experience in the Alps will always stay with me, but now I am upping the ante. I am most likely the least sporty person you could ever meet and I know nothing next to skiing, but this sounds fun!
Ride a hot air balloon in Turkey.
I once watched a TV series where the characters went to Turkey and witnessed the sun set while up in the sky in a hot air balloon. Since then, it has stayed in my mind.
Visit ten countries.
I was able to achieve this last 2015 and plan to do so again this year.
See the northern lights.
It is in my list for years now and I hope to be able to see the auroras this 2016.
Attend a traditional festival in a foreign country.
The last time I was able to attend was in 2009 in Japan and I would like to witness and participate in one again. I feel more attached when I celebrate a festival along the locals – it makes me feel like I’m one of them.
Walk along roads lined with cherry blossom trees during Spring.
My homeland does not have these trees and I do not have the opportunity to gaze up and admire these beautiful blooms.
Try to be a guest of a Couchsurfer.
I am a member of Couchsurfing for two years now yet I haven’t tried being hosted. It was only in mid-January when I had my first guest and I hope I can avail the hospitality of others when I travel around and be hosted.
Go backpacking abroad.
I am known by my friends as the overpacker and suitcase girl. I used to prepare at least two days’ worth of emergency clothes and pack my full skincare regimen. However, I somehow broke this routine and had tried traveling to some provinces in my country for three days with only a backpack! It was a very unique and freeing experience that I would like to do again.
These are my travel bucket list this 2016. I hope to accomplish at least half of it. How about you? What are you looking forward to do this year?