Hipster Traveling: A Rough Guide

To be young and unique.

Emphasis on rough. Because if you’re hipster, you don’t play by hard and fast rules. Your mode of living is based on unwritten rules that you know because you’re hipster, not because you read it somewhere.

It’s still a puzzle to me, but it’s so interesting to live the carefree, cool life that hipsters do.  What better way to experience it than by traveling, hipster style. Here are some tips:

  • Skip the typical. What? No photo by the Eiffel Tower? If you’re hipster, you shouldn’t mind; or you should take a photo that’s as unique as your getup.
  • Speaking of getup, you should wear attention-getting clothes that do not necessarily come in bright colors. Most hipster go for the vintage look, but hipster girls can really go for the pretty and bold look.
  • Get inspired. Hipster traveling is all about being creative. A sculpture should raise questions about feminism, a street filled with people should inspire you to create a sculpture, and so on.
  • Be an advocate. No matter where you go, you should live out your advocacy. Whether it is saving the planet, supporting local music, or promoting equal rights for all, you should be a walking rally poster. Look for avenues to help; connect with organizations in the country or area that you’re visiting, and participate by extending your help. Being helpful never goes out of style, so they say.
  • Do something that most tourists wouldn’t. For instance, take a walking tour when everybody else prefers the bus – you’ll never know what you’ll encounter. Instead of watching buskers in New York, be a busker! Take a spot, play your guitar or do your awesome yoga poses, and just enjoy the experience.
  • Go vintage. A hipster appreciates the olden days. Find old books, first edition copies, old postcards, anything old that you can place on your cool workspace at home. Of course you’re a freelancer, it’s too mainstream to work in an office anyway. Make sure you check out the flea market, you might find a great looking fedora there.

Go cheap. A hipster wouldn’t order cocktails. He goes for the beer, the rough kind of drinks and food. He enjoys local culture more than anything, so he skips the five star hotel where you will meet tourists and employees, and chooses a family-owned hostel where he can chat with the owner and have a home-cooked meal. You can start by booking that cheap Air Asia flight to Cambodia, and by keeping in mind all the other tips listed above.

My favorite desserts around the world

Sometimes, all I can think about is vanilla ice cream, and whoever invented the ice cream is to blame. Now the bigger problem is when you get to taste wonderful desserts from your travels around the world. Good luck on finding them back home when you suddenly crave for the sweet goodness of these world famous treats.

Gelato: Italy

Perfect companion while strolling the streets of Florence.

 

It’s not just ice cream. Gelato has a different feel and texture to it – softer yet denser than the usual ice cream that you taste. Florence has the best shops such as Vivoli and Carabe.

Craving? Get it at Caramia or Amici. There has been a gelato craze in the Metro, prompting for more shops to open.

Baklava: Greece; Turkey

Baklava with pistachios and kajmak, very popular in Turkey

 

A thick pastry that is meticulously prepared, baklava originated from Turkey, but is now more known as a Mediterranean dessert. It is made of a dough called Phyllo, and is flavored with honey, lemon juice and sugar. It is really filling, and can pass as a merienda, not just as a dessert.

Filipinos are not huge fans of this dessert. But if ever you would like to try it, order it after a sumptuous meal at Café Mediterranean or Cyma.

Churros: Spain

I dream of this every time it rains.

Fried soft dough dipped in rich hot chocolate – that’s churros for you. Although you can have it plain, you can also try it in other flavor; cinnamon is quite popular. How do you know tat a churros is cooked well? It should be crispy on the outside and really soft inside. And don’t forget the hot rich thick chocolate syrup as the dip.

Dulcinea makes the best churros here in the Philippines. A single order gives you five pieces and a tasty dip. It’s a generous serving for one, but a little “bitin” for two.

Macaroons: France

Coconut macaroons : A recipe I’m determined to make perfectly.

If you dig really sweet stuff, macaroons should be your thing. A pastry made of icing, egg whites, ground almonds and sugar, it is shaped perfectly like two domes stuck together. They come in different colors, usually indicative of their flavor.

Bizu made French macaroons a regular sight in malls. Safe to say that they’re the local shop that you can count on if you want a taste of great flavors.

Black Forest: Germany

Who doesn’t want CAKE?!

If you think about it, the name sounds a bit German. It’s dark and bold, and really decadent. Chocolate cake with layers of icing and cherries soaked in liquor – this is what black forest is. Of course back then it was super expensive, especially considering the ingredients involved.

Here in the Philippines, black forest is quite popular. You can get it in famous bakeshops like Goldilocks and Red Ribbon, and also in gourmet pastry shops and restaurants. No need to take that long haul of a flight from Manila to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Germany.

Popular Dances on my List

Fly to any country and you will be able to confirm that dance is universal. But there are dances around the world that are more popular than the others. Let it be clear though that Gangnam Style isn’t really the national dance of South Korea, although it seems to have become the national dance of the world.

Belly dancing

Move & groove that belly

Thanks to Shakira, belly dancing has now become more mainstream. And although it’s only she who can prove that Hips Don’t Lie, belly dancing is a very accommodating type of dance. You just have to move your body (not your belly actually) and shimmy like you mean it. This dance originated in the Middle East as a form of social dancing.

Bhangra


Another Asian dance, Bhangra is a Punjabi cultural dance done to celebrate a great harvest. It is usually attributed to Indians, although Pakistanis also perform the dance. Like most popular dances of the world, bhangra has already been turned into a workout dance, with routines meant to slim down one’s body. Hey, as long as there’s fun and colors, we’re in.

Salsa

It is as hot as the sauce, yes. Salsa the dance originated from Cuba, and is distinctively technical in style. For one to dance it excellently, there needs to be a mindset of groove and rhythm, as well as mastery of the steps. It would be fun to try it with a partner who can lead you well, though.

Tinikling

Look out for your feet.

Perhaps the most challenging dance in the world, Tinikling is a Filipino dance wherein the dancers step in and out of bamboos that open and close in increasing speed. Fun to watch, but I’m not quite sure if it is fun to dance. The name tinikling comes from the word “tikling”, a kind of bird that has a walk that looks lively, almost like a dance.

Hip-hop

Among all the dances listed here, hip-hop is the newest. It was formed in The Bronx, New York, where dance “crews” would perform on the street with their freestyle moves that involve techniques such as locking, popping and breaking. Perhaps the most pop among all the dances known today, hip-hop continues to evolve, from Justin Bieber dance moves to Usher grooves. Budget airlines like Jetstar don’t fly to New York, so you’d have to spend a lot of money on flights alone, just to see the real thing. Thanks to hip-hop’s popularity, one does not need to book a flight to New York just to learn the dance.

Eco-friendly Traveling Tips

Caring for Mother Earth has direct benefits to us.

Travel is the fastest growing industry today. The world is getting smaller, and adventures more within our reach. But with this progress comes a problem, nay, a challenge, that has something to do with our footsteps and the other things that we leave in a place – trash. How can you help the earth as you travel? Here are some tips.

  • Book a green hotel. Not a hotel that is literally green in color, silly. Green means that they have initiatives to take care of the planet, such as giving you the option to not change your blankets every day, using recycled water for flushing, and creating a ventilation system that maximizes natural air.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. Now take note that the disposable water bottle isn’t recommended for reuse because of contaminants that may be hazardous to your health. But instead of buying bottles of water on the go, just bring a tumbler with you and refill it every time you get a chance.
  • If you must use batteries, use rechargeable ones. Less waste, and less expenses on your end too. Although rechargeable batteries are more expensive than disposable ones, they are more efficient and cheaper in the long run. You should’ve figured that one out a long time ago.
  • Enjoy dining in restaurants. I’m saying that because take-outs entail more containers, more paper, more plastic, more waste. Plus, it would really be boring to enjoy a nice Thai meal inside your hotel room watching cable TV. Eat it on the street, where all the action is!
  • Refuse the bag. While shopping, you would most likely stop by different shops, which will ultimately result to multiple paper and plastic bags. Why not take the first paper bag, and then use it all throughout your whole shopping trip! It is best if you can just use a large bag that you brought from home. It can even be sturdier than a plastic bag or a paper bag from a store.
  • Do not buy byproducts of endangered species. Doing so will only fuel the cruel acts which all the more place animals in danger. Be informed of these facts before you land on your destination.
  • Use public transportation. Renting a car will significantly increase the carbon emission in the area, plus taking the train or the bus gives you a more local vibe of the place. Riding a bus is more fuel-efficient than flying, but it can sometimes be impractical, especially if we’re taking about cheap flights to Boracay. But you know what’s best? Walking. This is perhaps the most eco-friendly way to travel.
  • Encourage everybody to do the same. If not for other people, I wouldn’t be aware of the need to be eco-friendly. Do these earth-friendly travel tips and share them to your friends and family.

Best Travel Apps

Gone are the days when you have to guess the meaning of the word you just heard from the bus driver, and the times when you had no idea which airlines fly to the destination of your choice. Here we list the best apps that you can use whenever you plan to travel, when you’re about to travel, and when you’re actually already traveling.

Planning a Trip

 

Skyscanner mobile app

  • Skyscanner. Search for flights to your preferred location, on your preferred dates, based on your preferred time or airline. You can also use it for a random check-out of any place during the day when you are most free to travel. Hhmm… Where to go on October 30? Just key in the place where you will be flying from and the dates you prefer to fly, and voila! Skyscanner will gladly sort flights to any country based on any of your preference. Want to fly via Tiger Airways? Just sort the options by airline!

XE Currency gives you an idea how much money you will need for that dream vacay.

  • XE Currency. As you plan your trip, you would need to set our budget. XE Currency easily lets you convert money values so you can set your budget right, or cross out a country that is too expensive for you.

About to Travel

Get to know Rome at your fingertips.

  • Lonely Planet. Instead of bringing your thick Lonely Planet guidebook, just buy one from the App Store or from Google Play. Get the guide you need for your country of choice. Going to the US? Which state? Which city? Lonely Planet has an app for that city!

Get the most affordable accommodations even if you’re on the go.

  • Airbnb. With an extensive list of affordable accommodations around the globe, Airbnb lets you choose the best inn or hostel for your next trip around Southeast Asia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. You can check out reviews posted by other travelers, and even contact the accommodation without leaving the app.

During Travel

Don’t speak chinese? No problem!

  • Google Translate. Although it is not exactly fool proof, Google Translate does a great job at helping you understand the language in a foreign country. Just key in the phrase that you can’t understand, and immediately see what it means. You can also use it to translate from your native language to that spoken in your destination. Very useful for when you need to ask “Where is the nearest restroom?”

Memories of your trip stored and shared.

  • Trip Journal. Whether you’re a blogger or just a plain traveler, you need to somehow store your memories. You can use them for future reference, or for creating that scrapbook! Trip Journal is an award-winning app that lets you tag on a map the places that you went to, or geo-tag your videos and photos. There’s also an option that lets you export photos to Facebook, letting friends and family know where you already are and what you’re doing as you travel.

More than the Volcano: the Taal Experience

Volcano crater

The Taal Volcano experience is actually more than just seeing the crater of this world famous land formation. It is an adventure that you and your family would enjoy taking, albeit with soiled clothes and a hardcore sweat, in case you come on a sunny day. Actually, coming on a rainy day isn’t recommended. It’s meant to be enjoyed with the sun shining brightly. Here’s what you’ll go through as you take the trip to Taal.

Drive to Talisay, Batangas

If you’re coming from Tagaytay, you’ll take a route that descends down mountainous roads. The drive will last for around thirty minutes. There are no public transportation that passes through that route, so you should rent a tricycle or van if you can’t bring your car.

Boat ride to the foot of the volcano

Once you get to the lakeshore part of Talisay, you can leave your car parked in a resort and even order lunch for when you get back from your trip. You would then ride a boat that will bring you across from the lakeshore to the foot of the volcano. This should take around 40 minutes. Sometimes, the waves are weirdly strong. You don’t have to worry if this happens though, since the boat drivers are quite skilled. Just enjoy the view, the wind and the waves. A boat ride can cost you P1,500, to and form the Talisay shoreline.

Horse ride to the view deck

Once you get to the shore, you will be welcomed by vendors selling everything from snacks to gas masks. Gas masks? Yes, you will need it, since the trek up to the view deck is one dusty ride. It would help if you have a pair of sunglasses, to shield yourself from dust and from the harsh rays of the sun. After buying a bottle of water and wearing your gas mask, it’s time to ride a horse. The horse handler will ride with you; don’t worry. Just hold tight and encourage the horse, since it can be quite tiring for them. This can last from 20 to 30 minutes, so you owe your horse all the cheers it can get from you.

View deck    

You might be wondering why when you were on the boat you didn’t dock on the always-photographed volcano. Well, that’s because that “volcano” isn’t really one. It’s called a caldera, and the real actual crater of the Taal Volcano is the one you will see after the horse ride. Unfortunately, you will not be allowed to descend to the crater; it’s now forbidden. What you can do instead is to drive a golf ball down to the water. Yes, there’s a golf club up on the view deck, and some balls meant to be thrown away. I’m just not quite sure if doing that is eco-friendly.

If you want to go to Tagaytay, it’s only a two-hour drive from Manila. If you’re coming from the provinces, there are flights you can take either to Manila or to Clark Airport. If you’ll coming from Clark, however, you’d have to add two or three more hours to your travel time.

The Martial Arts of the World

It seems that our ancestors had a lot of time in their hands. They were able to create different martial arts that served different purposes: self-defense, physical development, and even spiritual focus. Check out the most famous martial arts of the world, and what makes them so special.

Brazil: Capoeira

Do the back flips now.

A form of war dance that African slaves created to learn to defend themselves, and to survive the harsh world in the hope that they would soon be set free from slavery. It is a form of martial arts that incorporates music and rhythm, making it look like a relaxed and beautiful dance. However, capoeristas back in the days would work as hitmen, as mercenaries, terrorists that spread fear all over Brazil. Today, you wouldn’t imagine a capoeirista winning a battle over a skilled policeman, as the practice of it is now purely to promote the Brazilian culture and to enjoy the art as an expression of oneself.

Mexico: Lucha Libre

Pro wrestling at its best

If you have watched the movie Nacho Libre, you would know how lucha libre works, both in terms of game rules andwhat goes on in the politics of the game. Basically, it is a wrestling match much like the ones that we see on American TV, only freer and with masks! And although it is illegal to remove the mask of your opponent, matches called lucha de apuesta, or betting matches, the end goal is to remove the mask of your opponent or to remove a patch of his hair. Lucha libre continues to be a popular sport in Mexico, making it the country with the most number of professional wrestlers.

China: Kung Fu

A form of martial arts that traces its history to legendary dynasties that existed more than 4,000 years ago, kung fu utilizes the body for combat and also for self-improvement, particularly of the qi or the energy within an individual. With its rich history, it has evolved from being a fighting method to an aesthetically appealing form of art that champions precision and excellent execution. Although some moves that are used in routine competitions look beautiful, critics say that such movements are in fact unnecessary and useless in actual combat.

Japan: Karate

There have been too many films and even video games that depicted karate as an amazing way to kill a person, to win a battle, and to show one’s skills. However, true karate practitioners say that the karate shown in movies are ambitious modification of the true martial art, which is actually all about self-discipline and mastery. Kids love the sport very much, perhaps because of its popularity in movies, cartoons and games. The good thing is that you don’t really have to go to Clark Airport and board a plane to Japan. There are a lot of karate schools even in Manila.