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,…

In the Company of Two Rivers

LUANG PRABANG, Laos — “To the city center,” I say to the tuktuk driver. The bus from Vang Vieng arrived in Luang Prabang much later than scheduled and I did not anticipate reaching the city at this time. It’s already evening, and my awkward social qualities made sure I didn’t make any friends during the…

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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…

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…

Barefoot and Nameless

KRABI, Thailand — “Wow, that’s all you’re gonna eat?” He is not judging, probably just a bit surprised how a man with a belly that perfectly resembles a watermelon (among others) would not even touch any of the platefuls that paraded on the Lazy Susan. “The fish is delish,” he recommends. I proclaim I’m not…

Top 20 Songs I Listened to During Travel in 2014

Dear faithful reader, It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I, the last among my comrades to stage ineffectual resistance, have fallen hostage to Taylor Swift. I successfully evaded capture a couple of years ago when she released Red and pelted my unsuspecting ears and vulnerable soul with anthems of toxic…

My Top 20 Most Unforgettable Travel Moments of 2014 (Part 2)

Other than taking a break from the joyful impermanence of the nomadic lifestyle, the only good thing about my self-imposed travel ban is the opportunity to desperately long for the road again. The wait, the crave, the anticipation, the minute before a cartoon show begins and the wide-eyed child stares at the screen, hoping for…

My Top 20 Most Unforgettable Travel Moments of 2014 (Part 1)

It was a decision that baffled many people around me. I myself struggled with it too. Halfway through the year, I traded back my passport with a company ID, my backpack with a messenger bag. But such a move was inevitable. For almost three years, I had wandered aimlessly. But given the circumstances, I could…