While writing this our world is in a lock down due to the pandemic of COVID-19. And everything is truly a bit up-side-down for most of us. I only hope that you and your beloved ones are safe and sound and that in the end, something good for our planet can come out of this. Maybe many of us realize we don’t need to fly as much during our vacation. Maybe some companies realize their employees can work more from home. And maybe, hopefully, the interest of eating exotic animals in belief to cure diseases will stop.

For me, working from home during this time, has given me more time and inspiration to share my expeditions, stories and pictures with you all here on the blog. So today I want to share with you one of my early backpacking trip, a long, long time ago, in 2014…

It all started in Singapore, which is the main city to fly to when transferring from Europe to the Philippines. This was when I just started my photo career, so I wasn’t pro on packing yet. The camera bag was 25kg (!) and the backpack around 10 kg, haha!

Singapore has gone from one of the most polluted countries in the world to one of the most green ones. One of the reasons to why this is, is the “gardens by the bay”. An enormous artificial garden that provides good, fresh oxygen!

My dear friend Frida was with me on this backpacking trip, sharing lots of laughters, memories and experiences. Finally in the Philippines we soon realized just how lovely and kind the people were, always helping and wanting to talk.

Our first destination was Bohol, this tiny little island with the many possibilities! There you can visit everything from the “chocolate hills”, to riding a long scary ropeway over the forest and rivers, to visiting the Philippinean tarsier. Here they have a center that aims to preserve the Tarsier, giving 70% of the profit they make directly to preservation!

The Philippines is a great place to take your PADI open water dive cert! Just make sure that you understand and trust eachother, since all the knowledge about diving is super important for your safety!
The waters around Bohol has a clarity of 15-20 meters, so be prepared to see some amazing underwater wildlife, such as turtles, clown fishes, sea slugs. Or why not a school of playing Tunas whirling around in circles!

After spending some time on Bohol, we left for Palawan on the west side of the Philippines, which is mostly known for its relaxed atmosphere and many backpackers. Around Palawan there are lots of islands and its perfect to do some “island hopping” with one of many tour companies in the area to explore them all. But a secret tip is to kindly ask a local instead to both support the locals and so you can design your trip yourself! You can also rent a canoe and go to the islands yourself, just be aware of the strong currents.

There are many great places on Palawan to calm down, explore or to “just be”. Two of my favourites are El Nido and Port Barton. They both are very relaxing but still has lots of options to explore the culinary foods that are so famous for the Philippines. El Nido also offers a little bit more of a night life whereas Port Barton is a little bit more simple relaxation, enjoying nature.

If you want to explore more of the vast forests I can recommend to visit the mangroves close to Port barton, where you can find yellow banded sea kraits resting in a tree after a long hunt in the sea, huge flying dogs and amazing nature! Or just stay on the beach observing the crabs blowing sand balls in super speed in hunt for minerals and tiny planctons.

Over all the Philippines is a great place for backpacking on a budget, and might even be one of the best places I travelled ever! The kindness of its people, the tasty food, the perfect climate, the clarity of the diving spots, the variety of animals and plants, the magical sunsets and the number of islands to explore just make this country a top country to explore!

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