Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TRAVEL ROUND - UP: A Dozen Memorable Combo Trips For 2012!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Flights and Ferry / Road Trips could well be the central themes of my 2012 Travel Round Up! But while it is easy to say that the first half of the year from January to June was filled with flights around the United States, Singapore, Germany, Indonesia,  United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Philippines and the second half from July to December is full of road trips around the country, separating the two is not always possible. Many a times I have to fly to get to the destination and while there I get the most of the place by going on a ferry or road trips. So, in the same fashion as the ubiquitous offerings for "combo meals" or "complete meals", here's my 12 Memorable Combo Trips in chronology as entry to the Pinoy Travel Blog Carnival for the month of December.

United States of America (North America)
Combo 1. Fly to NJ (USA) then Road Trip Around PA (USA)                                To See Life's Simulated Journey Destinations 
After taking a Luftansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Newark, New Jersey, I welcomed 2012 with the thrill of seeing the historic New Year Eve's Ball dropping from the flagpole atop the historic Times Square in New York City. But since it was my fifth round in the Big Apple, a road trip around Pennsylvania was in order, not only because of its relatively  short distance travel from New Jersey where I was staycationing, but also because this State of Independence has it all - from birth  to living life to the fullest to death destinations!  My first weekend was spent around Philadelphiaa place where the United States began to take shape and getting its nickname "the cradle of America". Then I traveled to Hershey for mouth-watering journey to enjoy life's sweetest pleasure - chocolates! But as every good things end, my final destination in this "Chocolate State" was in Gettysburg, a place where "more men fell than in any other battle fought in North America before or since".  This scene of carnage, however, became a symbol of sacrifice of the 51,000 soldiers buried there and an inspiration to the living, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered the well-known "Gettysburg Address"
Combo 2.Fly to Salt Lake City then Road Trip Around Utah (USA)                                To Experience Winter Haven Destinations
Being the only airport in Utah, I arrived in Salt Lake City aboard a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey. But since it was my fourth trip in the capital and the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the many LDS-related sites like the Temple Square, decided to take a road trip to the home of the "greatest snow on earth" - Southern Utah! The trip took me more than 4 hours of combo car and shuttle rides, which to date was the longest winter journey I ever had but it was so worth it! Snow jumping, making snow angel, shoveling for fun, being a snow bunny whenever I see the velvety snow while going around Long Valley Junction, Alton, Cedar City and Duck Creek - ah, the experiences I will never forget!    

United Kingdom (Europe)
Combo 3. Fly to Heathrow, London then Road Trip Around Greater London For A Glimpse Of The Olympic Destinations 
As a first timer who did my homework, I knew that Greater London, England has so many attractions I want to see - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye, British Museum, Westminster Abbey, Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, to name a few. But with only a full 24 hours on this England's capital in a spread of two days, my toughest decision was, what to do first? I got my bearings inside the London Tubes, or what Londoners call the Underground Rail Network or the subway (thanks to my friend Cath Iblan!). And although I am not good at commuting (and could hardly remember directions), I had a fun experience and smooth journey aboard the tubes and have seen the treasures this 2012  Olympic Games' host has to offer! 
Combo 4.Fly to Heathrow, London then Road Trip To Lincoln and York England  For  Two Days Out In History 
On board the Virgin Atlantic Airways, I have flown to Heathrow, London instead of Humberside Airport, a small international airport situated where my nephew's family lives. This decision allowed me to experience the hospitality and luxury of the youngest fleet in the world while exercising a Leap Of Faith  traveling for 5 hours at night to a new destination without a cellphone! In the end, I had much - awaited reunion with nephew at a place that didn't disappointKingston Upon Hull, famed because of its longest suspension bridge, is only an hour or two away from old cities for a day out in history! My host Steven (and Juris) drove me to the City of Lincoln to climb and get breathtaking views of the city from the 900 year-old Cathedral and Lincoln Castle (in picture) dating back to 1068. The second day, we went to the City of York, England  where I've seen, heard, felt and climbed the Medieval, Roman and Viking England of yesterday!

Philippines - Mindanao (Asia)

Combo 5. Fly To Dipolog Then Road Trip To Dapitan and Katipunan                 For A Travel Like Our National Hero 
Still awed about Dr. Jose Rizal's travel around Singapore and London and wanting to be one of the 100 pilgrims to complete the 27 sites in the Lakbay Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail, I flew over Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte with my two brothers Mike and Joel aboard Cebu Pacific Airlines. After a visit to the Dipolog Cathedral we beat the clock to ride the last bus to Katipunan, which is home to Rizal's Farm. It was a lovely experience seeing the more than a 100 years old mango tree and meeting the 96 years old Crisostomo Eguia Sr., son of Rizal's student, who now owns the farm. The following day we took a road trip to Dapitan and got to know more the life in exile and the making of a national hero! 

Combo 6.Fly to Iloilo then Ferry to Bacolod and Road Trip To San Carlos City and Ferry To Sipaway Island For Island Discovery
In May, I culminated the Visayas Leg of Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail with a flight to Iloilo aboard Air Philippines. After checking off two-must sees in relation to Rizal, I ferried to Bacolod City  and scored a cheap but nice accommodation with swimming pool while in the area. The next day we had a unique  CERES Road Trip bound to San Carlos City, crossroad city being in the middle of four major cities in the Visayas - Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City and Dumaguete CityFor some wet fun,  we took an 15 - minute journey on an outrigger boat and a  short tricycle ride to Sipaway Island, geographically  known as Refugio Island.At the Whispering Palm Island Resort we breathed in fresh mountain air, enjoyed a dip on its cool water, felt its white sand and feasted on the beautiful tropical sights for onlyPhp 300 inclusive of a day tour entrance and lunch! 

Combo 7.Fly to Cebu then Ferry / Road Trip To Dumaguete                              and Siquijor Island For "Mystery It's More Fun In The Philippines" Tour
Dumaguete is the capital and largest city of the Province of Negros Oriental, which I visited for the umpteenth time by flying direct from Manila. This year, I gained access to this gem through combo trips - by land (flying to Bacolod City and taking a Ceres bus) and by sea (flying to Cebu and jettying across Sibulan, Negros Occidental). The combo trips do not end there though. Since Dumaguete is a principal seaport, I used it as a jump off point to Siquijor where I've got my much - needed break away and relaxation amid stunning and picturesque surroundings. Also, I was able to check off my 64th (out of the 80) province of the Philippines

(Bonus: I finished at No. 65 in the Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail while my brother Joel was No. 66 and my brother Mike at No. 77!)

New Zealand (Oceania)

Combo 8. Fly to Auckland the Road Trip To Hamilton Then To Hobbiton        For A Magical Journey To Middle Earth 
This year, heaven's conspired to  let me check off my so-called Pacific Triangle Dream by being in New Zealand for a couple of weeks. Thanks to an invite for a lawyers' conference in Hamilton and for a promo fare on Jetstar from Singapore to Auckland! And because it is my first time in this dream destination, I naturally had a dizzying amount of places to go in my itinerary! I let loosed of my inner child by conquering Middle Earth in Hobbiton, and then beckoned its beautiful scenery and wide range of fantastic attractions while snapping some pictures I  listed as  My 7 Super Shots of New ZealandRead below to know three (3) must - takes road trips around the country "last settled by humans"...
Combo 9.From Hamilton Road Trip To Waitomo                                                      For A Scenic Travel  and Easy Caving
After experiencing the unique beauty of Hamilton, I went on a joyride with my friend Helen to experience scenic country roads, peaceful surroundings and anything that glows!  The trip took us through prime Waikato farmland, to Otorohanga to meet New Zealand’s national symbol - kiwi and finally to our main destination - Waitomo (or water hole). Call it the cave region of New Zealand! It was amazing to be inside Waitomo Caves with its subterranean splendor decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms in its natural, un-altered state.  Yet, the caves are surprisingly easy to walk through with its with  well-paved roads, making the caves enjoyable even by kiddos!

Combo 10. Fly to Auckland Then Road Trip To New Plymouth                                 For A Garden And Parks Experience Like No Other
My attraction favorite in a new destination is easy: immersing myself in nature for free! Yes FREE - and my post Top 10 Highlights in New Plymouth would show you that was just what I've got in the most liveable city in New Zealand and the best small city in the world! As my new love destination, New Plymouth boasts of  having in its soil the almost perfect cone Mount Taranaki or Mt. Edgmont, parks with beautiful scenery and gardens worthy of celebration! At Pukekura Park, I walked along trails through the inner-city botanical wonderland and discovered a lake, zoo, tea house, waterfalls, playground, viewing deck, and this iconic poet's bridge! Then I wandered inside the beautifully landscaped Tupare Garden sculpted from a hillside overlooking the Waiwhakaiho River, climbed up to Paritutu Centennial Park for a breathtaking view of the mount and the sea, and the list goes on until maybe 245 parks and reserves and counting...
Combo 11.Fly to Auckland then Road Trip Around                                                       and To North Shore To Get To Know The Place
While in Auckland and its nearby North Shore, I found excitement and exhilaration around every corner of this coveted  largest urban area in New Zealand. I first got my culture and history fixes inside the Auckland War Memorial Museum where I submerged myself in the large collection of Maori and Pacific Island artifacts, treasures, carvings, largest collection of applied and decorative arts in New Zealand and aextensive permanent exhibition covering wars including a war canoe. Outside, I brought out my  camera and snapped pictures as we circled around this iconic building doubling as museum and war memorial and perfectly located in the middle of a garden! For some more natural scenery, I sampled the many bays and beaches open everyday for FREE like the Mairangi Bay, a facility just a stone's throw away from my friend's house and Long Bay Regional Park, a popular destination where I enjoyed the sweeping expanse of sand, sea, sun and super fun photo ops with my young friends - Pen and Moe!.  

Singapore & Indonesia (Asia)

Combo 12. Fly to Singapore then Ferry/Road Trip Around                        Batam, Indonesia For An Exploratory  Trip
From Auckland, I flew back to Singapore on Jetstar. But since it was my fifth stint in the Lion City, I braved travelingl solo to Batam, Indonesia, one of the 18,000 plus islands of Indonesia and the largest of the 3,000 islands of Riau Archipelago. This industrial hub is only 50 minutes south of Singapore and easily and cheaply accessible by ferries for only Php 1,550 round trip! At the Batam Centre International Ferry Terminal my adventure started with hiring a taxi service to get the most of my 2 - day stay. BaRelang Bridge  is Indonesia's bridge system that connects the three islands of Batam, Rempang and Galang  where the bridge name was coined from.  It is a chain of six (6) various types of bridges, the most popular of which is the cable-styled bridge that connects BATAM and Tonton Island and locally called as Tengku Fissabilillah. Many tourists and street vendors come together on the bridge for a nice photo session while tasting Batam's street food. So did I!

This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December 2012 with the theme 2012: This Year In Travel, which for the first time is being co-hosted by two travel bloggers - Gay Mitra - Emami (hot momma with combo surnames!) and Regine Camille Garcia (a first timer blog carnival host with combo first names)! Check out the previous blog carnival topics in Estan Cabigas' Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival.


  1. This combo travel menu is juicy and yummy a seem to be a must-try travel-destination-adventure combo. Very nice!

  2. Hey Missy great to see you in my blog and thank you for this comment. Looking forward to your travel round up - as juicy as your travel confession!!!

  3. My, you've been busy indeed! Nice going.

    1. thanks Tita Lili for dropping by my blog.yea kinda busy like you and now i'm looking forward for your exciting travel round - up!

  4. Great post! Wow, you had so many trips and explored places this year! :)

    1. thanks Ephraim for dropping by and for leaving comments.It has been a great year with varied experiences - good and challenging but one thing sure, it was all worth it! Cheers to more fun and meaningful travels for you as well!

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  8. argh, kainggit attorney! i'm kicking myself that I have not met you in Auckland. you arrived on the day of my wedding pa naman sana :(

    1. Rain dear! thanks for dropping by my blog. yea i missed you in Auckland but i'm sure we will surely meet someday. at least now i have your wedding anniversary to look forward to as i anticipate for my second visit to NZ, a country i really fall in love at first sight!

  9. Awesome 2012 travels! I could only dream of those combo trips! :) hats off. More to come in 2013! Cheers!

    1. thank you so much Riz for dropping by my blog and leaving comments. With you being an expat in Malaysia - these combo trips and more is just around the corner in 2013! Hope to meet you. For now I want to follow your blog!

  10. andaming combos Atty Mhe-anne. Inggit ako but at the same time happy for such a wonderful and super nice person like you get to experience all of these in a year. Cheers for an even better 2013. (do i hear wedding bells?)

    1. hey Marky! thanks for dropping by and for the comments and well wishes for the coming year. Wedding Bells? I really hope so in June. I hope you and Lauren will still be in the country to attend! Pag sure na i'll send invite.

  11. Jampacked kung jampacked! Congrats Atty Mhe-anne for a very travel-full year! Grabe nainggit naman ako sa Hersheys na part lalo na sa Hobbiton! Pangarap ko din makarating sa Middle Earth eh!

    1. glad to see you here Joan dear! super fun trips in Hershey and Hobbiton indeed and I'm sure you'll be on your way there soon. you've got so many fun travels this year as well!

  12. hirap naman mag order. pwede i-order lahat sa bucket list? pero unahin ko na yung new zealand! hehe

    nice nice nice 2012. grabe. inspiring run down.

    1. thanks Nik for dropping by. all the combos are available for the taking of those who are adventurous and great photographers like you!!!i will surely envy all your NZ photos next year then!!!cheers to 2013 and looking forward to the completion of the 80 provinces!!

  13. Wow! You've been to destinations I am only dreaming of so far, but will hopefully go to. =)What I want to see in Utah are the huge reddish rock formations. =)

    1. I'm sure Claire you'll be there very soon! I've seen the reddish rock formations during my summer or fall travels in Utah but since i went there in winter this year, the rocks are whitish being capped with snowflakes! Thanks for dropping by my blog!

  14. even before clicking the link to this post, sinabi ko maiinggit ako nito. so true. daming byahe na kakamangha Atty Mhe-anne! cool thing is we've met the person behind this blog! cheers to even MORE trips around the world and the Philippines!

    1. wow! the great Dong Ho is vising my blog for the first time on the first day of the year!thanks so much and i'm so happy that I finally met you and added another travel blogger idol in my list!cheers to more fun-filled 2013!

    2. hahaha... the great??!! of course Atty Mhe. ill blog hop as much as possible this year.

  15. I hope I can blog as much but i'll be a regular Eskapo visitor! you take great pictures Dong Ho!

  16. Wow! You truly have a COMBO Happiness there! Eurphoric combo if you ask me, and you know how to make us combo-jealous! Be safe on your combo-travels in 2013!!!

  17. So jealous that you got to go to Middle Earth! :) The number of your international trips is just overwhelming. Cheers to your year of travel, Atty Mhe Anne!

  18. Indeed it is all a COMBO everything for you in 2012 ate Mhe Anne! :) Your travel destinations are really something - it gave me a lot of reasons to persevere to get to where you are now. Thank YOU!

    All the best! Great travels and great memories for you this 2013! Keep inspiring! :)

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