15 YOLO Trips I Survived

15 YOLO Trips I Survived

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For some reasons, we want to test our own limits beyond what our sober mind thinks. We take the chances. Because YOLO. Because opportunities missed are things we regret the most later. I have my own share of craziness in choosing exciting adventures too. Because greater stories don’t start with a “Once upon a time, I nap on a hammock.”

On the other hand, there are also instances when we are also left without a choice but to continue our trip even though universe becomes playful as it sends unpacified waves, flaky weather and unforeseen incidents.

Here are the most daredevil experiences in my travels from my recent memories:

1. Demilitarized Zone (North Korea and South Korea)

The Lonely Planet travel guide to Seoul includes a snippet of this border barrier that cuts the Korean Peninsula. It is life threatening yet intriguing that it would forever haunt me if I don’t step in the zone. I’m already in Korea that time for a stretch of 8 days so why snob DMZ! My friend Jase, who has been in Seoul and practically lined up my itinerary, convinced me to go. I booked a whole day trip that will allow me to visit both Joint Security Area and Panmunjeom within a day.

Being a photoblogger, it is inevitable for me to take photographs. However, one constant reminder is to snapshot only on designated places. We are not allowed to take pictures while we are in transit near the DMZ. Likewise, not to take pictures of the military facilities of South Korea.

Joint Security Area, Wandering Weekend Warrior
We’re only permitted to take pictures at straight angle. Otherwise, someone will shoot us from the other side.

North & South Korea in Joint Security Area, DMZ
At a single moment, I was able to visit two countries. On the left of the demarkation border is North Korea. South Korea lies on the right. Awesome right?

Dora Observatory, Wandering Weekend Warrior
In Dora Observatory, we’re only allowed to take pictures from afar. We can use the binoculars though.

We were also told about the bloody history of deaths and incidents of violence in DMZ on the entire trip. The ongoing tension between the two countries is chilling my spine. The prize at the end of this expensive trip? A delicious bulgogi lunch in the Imjingak. Yay!

2. Sabtang Island (Batanes)

Sabtang waves in Batanes

To cross from Batan Island to Sabtang Island, we need to take a boat. Unlike the usual tourist boats that I’ve ridden at before, the water vessel does not have ‘katig’ or the outrigger of the boat. We need to cross an open sea where West Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean meets.

Batanes waters are deep blue and bubbly white. The waves are the most dangerous kind that I’ve witnessed. What lessen my worries during the transit is the look from the faces of the locals. They’re not bothered at all! Because according to them, everything that time was still normal. Even though most of everyone else was either praying the rosary (seriously!) or vomiting.

3. Islas de Gigantes (Iloilo)

stranded at Islas de Gigantes

We left Estancia under the heat of the sun. But upon reaching a point just few kilometers from the Gigantes Islands, the heavy rain suddenly poured. The visibility became zero that we weren’t able to identify the exact direction to the northern island. We slowed down the vessel. I got to pee out of nervousness in the open sea. I was with my two friends. (They barely knew each other.) And in times like these, my life vest is my best friend over anyone else.

4. Danjugan and Turtle Island (Negros Occidental)

It is a reminiscent of Batanes and Islas de Gigantes but severe. The boat we had is smaller. We didn’t even have life jackets ready. Someone’s not talking because he’s scared. Because he is the only one who doesn’t know how to swim. And that joke was on me. I already preset ‘If I Lose Myself’ as the background music of the video that I’d make for this adventure but I never wished to experience it literally. That is to lose myself in the open sea. Well, there’s our master Julius and two boatmen and guide. But still.

Thus, the Buwis Buhay Travel & Tours group was born.

waves in Danjugan, Negros
Would the boat topple, those GoPro cameras become witnesses.

5. Taraw Peak (El Nido)

I brought two point and shoot cameras while climbing the limestone peak but one slipped from my hands and got broken. I was devastated. But I needed to continue the hike even my slippers were almost torn by the spikes of the limestones. There’s even a kiss-to-wall climb to conquer. All these things plus a story of a foreigner who ended up dead after falling somewhere from his climb were quite too much to handle. But we survived. The picture at the top is worth 100 likes.

Taraw Cliff in El Nido, Palawan
Facundo, ilabas ang diamonds! Bilhin ang Bacuit Archipelago!

6. Tandem Paragliding (Cavite)

While Sir Buko Raymundo told us how safer paragliding than zip lining is, relying our lives to the wind is definitely a YOLO moment. And it’s indeed fun. It is the most enjoyable one among the others in this list. Not until we saw the struggle of the other tandem paragliders to take off.

Buko x Facebuko Paragliding

7. Scuba Diving (Maldives)

It was my first time to do discovery scuba dive. I took notes of the tips from my closest diver friends to keep me calm. Before the actual dive, I was not really afraid of the activity not until I watched the introductory video. A part of me suddenly “can’t even” when it was shown that one of the skills to learn is taking off and bringing back the regulator mouth piece. Lagot na.

Scuba Diving in Maldives

8. Mt. Marami (Cavite)

The trail was muddy hell made out of the rain the night before we hiked. It also rained as we descended from the summit. Good thing I was with head pack in the trail and we’re just half an hour away to the origin. I wished lightning wouldn’t strike whenever we passed by in an open field. I brought my DSLR and fortunately a garbage bag too to waterproof my carry-ons. Muddy hell because Marami lives on its meaning, which is many. There are many forks in the trail and some of the members got lost and had returned to the station two hours after we made it.

8. White Water Rafting (Cagayan de Oro)

UPDATE: How can I miss the white water rafting during the first publish of the post? I almost drowned in this activity. If I were not saved, I’ll be lost in Cagayan de Oro River. I guessed the mind already suppressed those memories.

Whitewater rafting is a dangerous activity. Our tour guide and boat man asked us if we would like to experience “more”. We agreed even we knew what he meant. He wanted to capsize our raft. There were instances that he failed to maneuver the raft to topple but when the right moment came, it was definitely epic.

Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting

Take a look at this gif. I was that one who’s trying to reach our guide but unfortunately due to the rapids of the river, I was just carried away and was the last person from the raft to be saved. After that, I didn’t worry if our raft would topple again. I just experienced the “more”. By the way, I felt the theory of relativity there. I thought that scene lasted only for a second but when I watched it, the struggle to reach the raft took 10 seconds.

9. Mt. Pulag (Benguet)

The Ambangeg trail was indeed executive made for beginners. It is a stroll in the park if I must say. There are cliffs where you might fall over to upon hike to the summit but we know there exist more and much worst somewhere else.

panda hiker in Mt. Pulag
Who hikes the cold Pulag with that weird Panda headdress, in shorts and in sando? Yeah, that’s me.

What really makes Pulag a big challenge is the temperature at the camp site. I wore two jackets and an undershirt enough to thaw me. I used my Panda costume as ear muffs. We’re four inside the tent but we’re still okay with the setup because the cold really bothered us anyway. It also rained the mornight. Luckily, our tent’s sturdy and we hadn’t gotten much condensed moist inside after the rain.

Mt. Pulag campsite

10. Mystical Milkfish (Caramoan)

Incomparable with Taraw cliff but I wasn’t sure why I risked my life to see a mythical milkfish. Fear of missing out maybe.

milkfish at Caramoan Islands
Legend says that one visitor took out one of the two milkfish from this lagoon. He suffered sickness and deaths of his immediate family. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the milkfish.

11. Biak-na-bato (Bulacan)

If you’re a first timer in Biak-na-Bato or if you act as a novice spelunker, you’ll be required to pay for a tourist guide. My guts told me that I can do it since I have read some blog posts of travelers who had done it by themselves. It was dangerous and I got no one with me in case something wrong happens.

a ladder in Biak-na-Bato
The ladder that you see in the middle was rusty, too thin and unstable. You have to use that ladder to go to the first entrance of the bat cave.

12. Ponta Cave (Hinatuan)

I already mentioned how much I despise this cave here. It is not worth it.

Sarzosa Ponta Cave, Wandering Weekend Warrior
Two faces of Sarzosa Ponta Cave: Happiness and Haggardness

13. Oslob (Cebu)

I lost my cellphone in the taxi on my way to NAIA. I had contacted Mama about it before checking in but upon arrival in Cebu I had no connection to anyone I know. I was not confident how much I remember my itinerary because I got no Google Maps and notes now.

From the airport, I headed to the bus terminal going to Oslob. Without enough sleep, I reached the diving resort before 6am.

It was also my first time to use the DigiPac underwater case for my DSLR. I risked my camera too. All for the sake of seeing the biggest mammal on earth, the whale shark.

And when you hear stories that some visitors died while swimming with the whale shark, it’s always a big deal.

whale sharks in Oslob

14. Cave Connection (Sagada)

Sumaguing Cave is the most beautiful cave that I have explored. But it comes with the price – your life. It becomes free when you survive it.

Because we went there in a long weekend and during Panag-apoy Festival, the cave was jam packed with spelunkers. We finished crossing chest-deep waters, passing several cliffs, and rappelling after 5 hours.

Sumaguing Cave, Wandering Weekend Warrior

15. Mt. Manalmon (Bulacan)

Because I couldn’t swim yet and I haven’t tested my biceps, forearms, and grip for a long while. It was funny that from afar the locals are chanting and cheering for me… to take the splash. The most challenging parts in the bridge are the thin cables that connect perpendicularly parallel cables. It is quite tricky because you have to side-step mid-air.

Mt. Manalmon monkey bridge

The Video

What does not kill you makes you stronger, right? Here’s a video (watch it on HD) of the YOLO trips that I’ve been to for the past two years.

Oh life. And I’m loving every second, minute, hour, bigger, better, stronger power.

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