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House of Open Doors: The Manila You Don’t Know

MANILA, Philippines — Guidebooks paint two-dimensional portraits of Manila: Intramuros here, Chinatown there, traffic everywhere. Online accounts reveal all her glaring flaws: she’s noisy, highly disorganized, a little suffocating, and totally insane. Yoshke Dimen takes a leap of faith in this sorely misunderstood megacity in search of her good side and finds that only those…

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Conversions

ZHANGJIAJIE, China — He looks at my passport, and I know something is not right. The bank teller stares at my currency exchange form and gives me a look I can’t decipher. My stay in Zhangjiajie is ending, and I need some yuan to catch the last train out. His fingers tap the desk anxiously,…

Top 17 Travel Moments of 2017

2017 could have been the best year of my life. For 10 straight months, it just kept on giving. Blessings after blessings, places after places, awards after awards. It was generous; it was kind. And then it began taking.

Square One

The other week, for the first time in a long time, I watched the sunset from a plane. After 7 years of travel blogging, I had been so used to flying that its joy eventually got lost on me. Air travel had become an opportunity to catch more sleep. Most of the time, I unintentionally…

Bricks and Daggers

It’s been a month now. It’s crazy how life can turn from happy to empty in an instant. When I watched this sunset 2 months ago, I was enveloped in an air of positivity. Things were at their best —- career, relationships, family. I thought, wow, things could not get any better than this. And…

He had not even seen the sea.

He had not even seen the sea. Just last week I was planning a family trip to Palawan. I was excited that his first memories of the sea would be so beautiful, in El Nido, which would have been an upgrade from the plastic mini-pool that we set up at the back of our house.…

Downpour

BRUSSELS, 2016. We were admiring this view when rain poured, cutting short what was supposed to be an hour-long stroll from Fritkot Bompa (where we had our best fries in the city) to our hostel. We took shelter under a narrow balcony of a nearby apartment.

Within Frame

PARIS, 2016. She stretched out her arm as far as possible so she could properly frame herself and the Eiffel Tower on her tablet. She tried sitting down and re-angling multiple times, but the tower was massive and her reach inadequate. She was just about to leave her spot when I finally rose from the…