Manila Minorities
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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…

Josephine
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Two Years Later

PARIS, France — “Promise me you’ll come to Paris,” she managed to say in between strides. Each step was swift and fleeting. We were chasing time, trying to catch the opening of a puppet show. It was astonishing how we could still have a conversation in the middle of the erratic barrage of motorbike traffic…

Zhangjiajie
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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,…

taking travel personally
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Five-Hour Connections*

MALACCA, Malaysia — We stepped out to the garden almost at the same time. And almost at the same time we placed a bottle of softdrink on separate tables. “Would you mind if I smoked?” I asked politely. “Absolutely not, I’m here for the same reason,” he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Aurelian,…

2015 Travel Moments

Top 10 Travel Moments of 2015

I’m writing this in between shivers. Inside this heaterless apartment in Tokyo, the winter cold offers itself as the perfect excuse from not doing anything at all. But it’s the last day of 2015 and the heat coming from my laptop provides the badly-needed warmth. Just like the mountain of blanket that buries me, my…

Top Travel Songs 2015

Top 20 Songs I Listened to During Travel in 2015

Nothing proves just how important music is to me than travel. I can’t imagine 12-hour bus rides and 5-hour airport layovers without it. Music makes trips more enjoyable, moments more memorable, and transfers more tolerable. It’s been a great year in music. From Taylor Swift’s surprising 1989 to Justin Bieber’s even more surprising Purpose to…

Cardwell

Telltale

CARDWELL, Australia — The bus pulls over, and I am the first to jump out of it. It has been hours since our last stop. If internal organs could talk, my bladder would be throwing profanities at me, and my stomach would be hysterically begging for something to digest other than itself. Coming from Cairns,…

IMG_4548-Edit

Smile, Mate!

DARWIN, Australia — I stop in my tracks for two things: the delicious scent of grilled chicken is becoming too difficult to ignore, and the sunset’s afterglow illuminating the night market is just too irresistible not to be captured. I take a deep breath, raise my camera, and work the shutter. When I put my…

Guilin

Charades

GUILIN, China — I stretch my arm into the air to draw an imaginary river, but it is met with another highly baffled look by the woman in front of me. “Tour. Li River. Yangshuo,” I said while trying my darnedest to conceal my frustration. Spirit of Mulan, guide me. It has come down to…

Lost Need Direction

Trust Issues

BATANGAS, Philippines — I am staying at the porch of our Batangas home and pondering life’s complexities when a family van pulls over. The window rolls down and reveals the matriarch in the passenger seat. “We’re going to Manila,” she says. “Should we go straight?” “No,” I reply. “If you’re Manila-bound, turn right.” With that,…