Have you ever traveled alone to a place you haven’t been to? If you did, can you kindly recall what did you feel before your much anticipated trip? Were you afraid of getting lost? Was it uncomfortable? Was it challenging? Did you hesitate or thought of cancelling your trip at the very last minute? Or was it the other way around?

I guess we have same questions and apprehensions. What I felt with my very first solo backpacking adventure was a mixture of fear and excitement like a sweet-and-salty popcorn. Seriously! It was mind boggling for me and at some point I asked myself if I really have to do it. Well, my mind told me a resounding YES! Thanks to the article I’ve read from my old travel magazines which says “Do one thing everyday that scares you!” That was an AHA moment after reading those lines and if you happen to read my previous post regarding Work Life Balance, you’ll understand why I travel once in a while. Travelling for me is a sweet escape from my work and city buzz. Travelling for me is an antidote to boredom as well and I usually travel in groups or if I travel alone I would make sure I’ll have someone I know from the destination I am going to but this time it’s totally different.  I went to a place I only just saw online and I didn’t know anyone from there. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

I’ve first heard about the place when my fellow financial consultants at Pru Life UK went there after the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda last November 2013. The Prudence Foundation took 100 volunteers from 13 different countries to take part in a volunteering program to build 135 disaster-resilient homes in the island.

I have traveled by air, land, and sea just to reach Bantayan Island in Cebu,Philippines last May 18, 2015. An hour airplane travel from Manila to Cebu.  A 4-hour bus travel from Cebu North terminal to Hagnaya port. An hour ferry-travel from Hagnaya port to Bantayan Island. My first impression about the place was laid-back and peaceful. Even at first few seconds you’ll experience the tranquility of the area. You’ll not hear loud music just simply the sound of nature and you’ll notice that the island has really fully recovered from the tragedy after almost 2 years.

Bantayan Island is an island located in the Visayan Sea, Philippines. It is situated to the west of the northern end of Cebu Island, across the Tañon Strait. The island group includes numerous smaller islands (some uninhabited or uninhabitable), mostly around the southwest corner of the island. About 20 of these islets stretch for about 8 kilometres (5 miles) southwest from Bantayan municipality port area, with some nearer ones being accessible on foot from the main island at low tide. The islands are beside the busy shipping lanes for ships and ferries coming from Mindanao or Cebu City on their way to Manila. The islands are all small and green and low, virtually indistinguishable one from another.

And here are my top 10 reasons why Bantayan Island is ideal for your first solo backpacking experience: 

1. The Maps. An hour airplane travel from Manila to Cebu.  A 4-hour bus travel from Cebu North terminal to Hagnaya port. An hour ferry-travel from Hagnaya port to Bantayan Island.img_31791

2. Typhoon Haiyan’s aftermath.

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3. Cheers Mate! My newly found Aussie friends.

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4. Long-stretched white sand. IMG_5985

4. Old churches made out of corrals. IMG_5876

5. Sta. Fe Beaches.

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6. Stalagmites and stalactites!

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7. Authentic International German Burgers and Sausages.

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8. Affordable Restaurants

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9. Backpacker-friendly Accommodations at Bantayan Cottages. I got a fan room for Php 400 or USD 9 only per day. The Bantayan Cottages Resort is located directly in the near of the Port of Bantayan Island. The Cottages are made in the native style with cogon roof and are surrounded by a lot of plants, so that every cottage for itself is a little more private.
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10. To infinity and beyond. An infinity pool of Bantayan Island Nature Park.

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