2017 In Review: Discovering The Known & The Unknown

In less than 2 days, 2017 will come to a close. Another great & memorable year will soon come to an end. Before we welcome 2018, let us look back how this year went. I do not consider this a major travel year because I think every year is a major travel year for me.

My solo travel adventures, which started in 2016, continued this year. I went to most places all by myself & then met amazing people whom I shared good memories with. I also had the chance to reunite & travel with good old friends.

Selfie with Broken Beach in the background 📷

In 2016, I went to places which are known to most of you (perhaps except Koh Lipe). These places gave me unforgettable experiences & different insights. 2017 was a bit different. I’ve been to known places like Coron, Taipei & Ubud, but I’ve also visited unknown places (to many Filipinos) like Port Barton, Nusa Penida & Komodo. 2017 was a year of discovering the known & the unknown.

Let us rediscover the the known & unknown places I visited for 2017.

Port Barton

Port Barton’s village beach

My first solo trip for 2017 happened in March where I spent a weekend in Port Barton. It is a small undeveloped village in the northeast coast of Palawan. It is a more basic version of El Nido.

Enjoyed the tour to untouched islands & pristine beaches 😍

Everything in the village is limited – from accommodation choices, restaurants, electricity to mobile network access. These limitations didn’t hinder me from enjoying a weekend away from the busy city life. I went on an island tour which took me to untouched islands & pristine beaches. I had my first close encounter with a turtle in German Island. I also made good memories with people I met on the tour & in the hostel.

Close encounter with a turtle in German Island 🐢

Blog: PORT BARTON: Palawan’s Secret Paradise


I had my second Palawan weekend trip for 2017 in Coron. I decided to go there during the Labor Day weekend (to save work leave credits) & booked my round-trip tickets using my GetGo (Cebu Pacific Air‘s loyalty program) points.

Met these amazing people in Coron

I walked around the town & hiked Mount Tapyas on my first day. I took the Ultimate Island Tour on my second day & the Island Escapade Tour on my third day. I flew back to Manila on the fourth day.

Coron’s crystal clear waters 😍

I prefer the escapade tour over the ultimate tour. I think Kayangan Lake, Siete Picados & Twin Lagoon were really beautiful; however, these places were super crowded. I enjoyed the relaxed & laid-back escapade tour to the jaw-dropping Malcapuya, Banana & Bulog Dos Islands.

Malcapuya Island – the highlight of this Coron trip 😍

Blog: CORON – Paradise Beyond Words


Taipei was my first international trip for 2017. It was also my first time to use my renewed passport. I’ve been to this city in 2015 with my high school friends. This time, I went on another weekend trip with my work colleagues.

Taipei ’17 buddies – Rona & Shiela 😎

We went to the usual places like Taipei 101, Ximending, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Liberty Square, Shilin Night Market & 228 Peace Park. We also went up north to the countryside to visit Shifen & Jiufen.

Colorful vibe of Jiufen 😍

We loosened up a bit by joining TourMeAway‘s Pub Crawl Activity. It was a long fun drinking night with people from all over the world. Our pub crawl photo even made it to the activity’s Klook page. I also got my new HTC U11 during this trip – definitely worth the investment.

Got a new phone in Taipei -the HTC U11

BlogTAIPEI Revisited: 3-Day Weekend in the Heart of Asia (Less than ₱15,000 all in!!!)


I went on a last-minute weekend Siquijor trip with friends last July. I flew to Dumaguete with a friend & boarded the next ferry to Siquijor. We then met another friend in Siquijor & started exploring the island.


Reunion with Geof & JE in Siquijor

We had lunch at Larena Triad Restaurant overlooking the island, went exploring at the Guiwahon Mangrove Park, (they) had fish spa in the century old balete tree, walked around the Lazi Convent & Church, jumped off (a number of times) the famous Cambugahay Falls & enjoyed some lazy (except me who tried the cliff diving) afternoon at Salagdoong Beach.

Cambugahay Falls – the highlight of my Siquijor trip 💦

We had a short Dumaguete side trip; we stayed there for a night before our flight back to Manila. Our friend, who is based there, took us on a late night city tour (?? haha) just to see how it looks like.

BlogLast-Minute SIQUIJOR Weekend (For Less Than ₱7,000 Including Airfare)


Explored Ubud with Mary Ann & Lyza

I spent half of my annual birthday month trip in Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been to Ubud in 2014 but I didn’t have enough time to explore the place. I went back for 3 full days to explore different temples, hike up & down the rice terraces, eat the famous crispy duck, walk around the town, tried the luwak coffee in a coffee plantation & go to the waterfall.

World famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces 😍

I also attended a cooking class with Paon Bali. I learned to prepare local dishes & ended up eating them as well after. This Paon Bali Cooking Class was the highlight of my Ubud visit.

Local food we ate after the cooking class 😋

BlogThe Wonderful Indonesia Series: UBUD – From Temples To Rice Paddies

Nusa Penida

Instagram-famous Broken Beach 😍

The other half of my week-long birthday trip was spent in a relatively unknown off Bali called Nusa Penida. For 2 straight days, I hopped on a motorcycle & explored this untouched island.

Atuh Beach – a cove between 2 cliffs 😍

I went to ‘Instagram-famous’ places like Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach & Kelingking Secret Point. I also went to the hidden Crystal Bay for swimming & relaxation. On my 2nd & last day, I spent the whole day in Atuh Beach, another ‘Instagram-famous’ cove that is between 2 high cliffs.

Another Instagram-famous – Kelingking Secret Point 😍

I stayed in Kuta for a night before my early flight back to Manila. I’ve been to this place in 2015 but I still walked around the crowded beach & waited for the beautiful Kuta sunset.

Kuta sunset – what a beautiful view to end this week long birthday trip 🌅

BlogThe Wonderful Indonesia Series: NUSA PENIDA – Hidden Paradise Off Bali


Kanawa Island 😍

Two months after spending a week in Indonesia, I decided to fly back & sneak out a short weekend trip to Labuan Bajo. This small village / town is the gateway for the more famous Komodo National Park (Komodo Island).

Worth the 30-minute hike up the mountain 😍

I took the shared overnight boat trip to the islands. The islands were hours away from each other by slow boat. On the first day, we went snorkeling on Kanawa Island, swam with the manta rays in Manta Point & hiked up Padar Island for some amazing views. We parked somewhere near Komodo Island & stayed there for the night. The boatmen prepared all our meals while on the boat. We slept under the stars & clear skies.

Ha, once in a lifetime photo with a Komodo dragon 🦎

The following day, we walked around in Komodo Island to spot Komodo dragons, went snorkeling & swimming in Pink Beach & spotted some wildlife on Rinca Island (more Komodo dragons lol). Our boatmen allowed us to snorkel & jump off the boat in a random snorkeling point right before going back to Labuan Bajo.

Met up for dinner with the people I was with in the overnight boat trip

Blog: To Follow

Tokyo & Kawaguchiko

Dinner in Tokyo with Laura & Leon (former HTC people) & Kristin

The week-long trip to Japan was my last trip for 2017. It was not my first time (I’ve been there in 2015 & in 2016) so I decided to explore the not-so-famous areas like Kawaguchiko. I flew to Tokyo in the morning, then I met Laura & Leon (people I met in HTC Elevate years ago) in late afternoon until evening.

Picture-perfect Mount Fuji 🗻😍

The following day, I took the bus to Kawaguchiko where I stayed for 2 full days. I met good friends in the hostel which I went around the place with. We went up to Mt. Fuji 4th Station, walked around Kawaguchiko town & we even went cycling around Lake Kawaguchiko. I saw Mt Fuji at its finest (a lot of times!!) during my short stay in this quiet town.

Cycled around Lake Kawaguchiko with these guys 🚴

Blog: To Follow

Takayama & Shirakawa-go

Takayama Old Town 🏠

After spending 2 days in Kawaguchiko, I took a 5-hour bus ride to Takayama. Takayama is a city that is located in the rural, mountainous Hida region in Gifu Prefecture. Just like any other Japanese rural centers, the city retains traditional character. This is shown in the preserved old town. I walked around the old town & the city for one whole day. I was able to visit various temples & museums along the way. I also tried the famous Hida beef in one of the restaurants near JR Takayama Station.

Hida beef for lunch 😋

I went on a half day side trip to Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the foot of Mt. Haku-san. Located about an hour away from Takayama, this old village is characterized by gassho-style farmhouses. I spent 3 hours walking around the village, hopping from one house to the other.

Shirakawa-go from the view point 😍

The visits to Takayama Old Town & Shirakawa-go were the highlights of my stay in Gifu Prefecture.

Gassho-style farmhouse in Shirakawa-go 😍

Blog: To Follow

The list above doesn’t account the number of times I went to my hometown in Albay for family functions & random weekends. I plan to continue going home (every few months) to my parents in 2018. There’s definitely no place like home.

Picturesque Mayon Volcano 🌋 There’s no place like home 😍

The trips above pretty much sum up my 2017. It was a year of discovering known places like Coron, Taipei & Ubud, to not-so-known places like Siquijor & Kawaguchiko & to relatively unknown places like Port Barton, Nusa Penida, Komodo & Takayama. It was another year full of memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. I already have a few trips planned for 2018 & I look forward to exploring more of what this beautiful world has to offer.

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11

The Wonderful Indonesia Series: NUSA PENIDA – Hidden Paradise Off Bali

After spending 3 days in Ubud, I decided to go down & spend the next 2 full days in the islands. There are 3 known islands off Bali – Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan & Nusa Penida. Most tourists & travelers go to the 2 small islands – Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan because of the beaches. I decided to the less-visited Nusa Penida. Vlogs of Thomas Alex Norman & Christian LeBlanc (Lost LeBlanc) have urged me to visit this beautiful island.

Kelingking Secret Point – one of Nusa Penida’s highlights 😍

Nusa Penida is the southern most & the biggest island off Bali. Part of Klungkung Regency, the island is characterized by beautiful rock formations & untouched nature. The island is slowly becoming popular because of its stunning landscapes but everything about the island is still basic.

Another highlight of the island – Atuh Beach 😍

Nusa Penida may not be a popular destination for Filipinos but I will show you below why you should include this place in your list of go-to places. Believe me, the photos of places you see on Instagram really exist on this island!

How I Went To Nusa Penida

I booked my boat transfers to & from Nusa Penida with Maruti Express. Normal ferry rates from Sanur to Nusa Penida costs 75,000 IDR for locals & 125,000 IDR for foreigners. I don’t know the reason behind the different rates but I guess the locals get a ‘discount’ or maybe that is the actual rate.

Stunning view from Angel’s Billabong 😍

I saw from Maruti Express’ website that they offer a pick-up & drop off service + round-trip tickets to Nusa Penida for 550,000 IDR. However, they have a promotion until 31 December 2017 that sheds 20% of the rate, making it only 440,000 IDR. I took this offer. It still looks expensive if you try to compare it with the usual 125,000 IDR x 2 = 250,000 IDR. If you are to add your taxi / Grab or Uber ride from the hostel to Sanur & back to the hostel from Sanur, you will most likely pay the same amount.

The Maruti fast boat to Nusa Penida

The Maruti Express staff picked me up from Lokal Bali Hostel at 7:00 am & then we went straight to the office to get my tickets then to the waiting area by the beach. The fast boat left late (a little past 9:00 am; supposed to be 8:30 am). The trip to the island took us about an hour. Upon arrival in the port, I waited for my free shuttle to the hostel.


Nusa Penida is an island that is yet to be developed. The island has limited choices of places to stay. I was travelling on budget but then again as mentioned in my Ubud post, I wanted to have a private room for my stays for the trip (well except the 2 nights in Lokal Bali Hostel). A friend recommended that I stay in Full Moon Bungalows. It is one of the few budget accommodations in the island.

My private room in Full Moon Bungalows

View outside my room

Full Moon Bungalows have dormitory rooms for a cheaper price but I opted to stay in a private air-conditioned double room with toilet. I got the room for 300,000 IDR per night (600,000 IDR for 2 nights) on Booking.com. The rate includes a breakfast meal & free shuttle services to & from the ports. The hostel also has free Wi-Fi in the rooms & in the common areas (probably the most decent connection I had on the island). The rooms were made of bamboo walls & aren’t soundproof. You will hear what is happening in the other room & vice versa.

Hostel’s free breakfast – nasi goreng!! 😋

I think the accommodation I got on the island is a bit expensive but I think it was okay. I am in island with very limited choices of accommodations. This is also what you need to pay when you want privacy & an air-conditioned room. C’mon, I’m on vacation. 😉

Hostel’s pet cat – super cute one! 🐱

How I Went Around Nusa Penida

The only means of transportation around Nusa Penida is by car or motorbike. Cars are usually used by tour agencies while backpackers rent out & drive motorcycles. I was not 100% confident about my motorbike skills (plus a friend warned me about the dangerous bumpy roads in the island) so I hired a motorbike with a guide. It cost me 300,000 IDR for the whole day (petrol included). I know it was a bit expensive, but I didn’t want to risk my safety. It’s still way cheaper than paying 700,000 IDR for a car & a driver.

Where I Went In Nusa Penida

With Nusa Penida being untouched & undeveloped, access to the unique places to visit is hard. It usually takes an hour or so from one beautiful beach to the next bay. People also go to the island to go diving with the mantas & snorkeling. I don’t dive & I didn’t feel like snorkeling so I decide to pass on those 2 activities. Instead, I went to the following beautiful scenery:

Angel’s Billabong

Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful rock formation with a natural infinity pool in it. One can go to the infinity pool by climbing down the challenging rocks. Visitors are not advised to go down during high tide as people can be washed away to the sea due to strong water current.

Broken Beach

From its name, this place is a beach that was formed because of a broken part of a cliff. The circular form is about a hundred meters in diameter. What’s nice is you can actually walk around it.

Kelingking Secret Point

Kelingking Beach is my favorite place in Nusa Penida. You won’t believe this place exists until you see it in person. It only looks like a small finger attached to the mainland when you see it in the photos but it’s really huge in person. The limestone cliff & white sand blend well with big waves & blue waters. This stunning view point is out of this world; definitely a must-visit in Nusa Penida.

Crystal Bay Beach

After a long day of going around places, my guide took me to Crystal Bay Beach for some sunbathing & relaxation. It was a perfect sunny afternoon to enjoy the beautiful views of the bay & the rock formations.

Goa Giri Putri

Goa Giri Putri is a holy temple cave located in Suana, Nusa Penida. The entrance to the temple cave can be reached after climbing a hundred steps up. All guests are required to sign up in the guestbook & give a small donation to the temple. Everyone then has to go through a very small hole to make it to the cave temple. The temple has a number of worship areas & shrines inside. You will see a big opening at the end of the temple – this serves as the temple exit.

Atuh Beach

Atuh Beach is a hidden place characterized by scenic cliffs, beautiful but dangerous rock formations, untouched green nature, turquoise waters, white fine sand & big waves. Very few people visit this beach every single day so it’s a perfect place to relax, sunbathe & watch the beach. I spent my entire last day in Nusa Penida in this beach. You don’t need to worry about getting hungry whilst on the beach; there are small shops & restaurants in the beach selling food & drinks.

Most daily tours to Nusa Penida (from Bali) don’t include Atuh Beach in the itinerary so make sure to always check with your guide / tour office. You should not miss this beautiful untouched gem.

Another Day & Night In Kuta

Back in my favorite hostel in Kuta – Lokal Bali Hostel

After spending 48 hours in Nusa Penida, I boarded the same boat back to Sanur in Bali. I went back to Lokal Bali Hostel, stayed & relaxed there for the whole afternoon. I went swimming in the pool & had a quick nap. In the afternoon, I went to Kuta Beach for the sunset & met friends for dinner.

The famous Kuta Sunset 😍

Journey Back To Manila

The following morning, I went to the Ngurah Rai International Airport to fly back to Manila via Kuala Lumpur. I boarded the late morning Malindo Air flight to Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival in KLIA, I immediately transferred to KLIA2 for my next flight. I dropped by the supermarket in Gateway@KLIA2 to get some treats before boarding my Cebu Pacific Air flight back to Manila.

Stopover in a random beach 🌞

Trip Verdict

That’s me enjoying the superb view of the Broken Beach 😍 Trip was a success!

I had an awesome 7-day (or maybe 6 full days not including the last day) trip around Ubud & Nusa Penida in Bali, Indonesia. It was nice visiting Ubud & rediscovering what this little cultural town has to offer. I didn’t have any regrets taking a side trip to Nusa Penida. The island offered some of the most beautiful & stunning landscapes I’ve seen in my entire life. The Paon Bali Cooking Class, Kelingking Secret Point, Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach & Atuh Beach were the highlights of this trip. I may not have seen everything Bali has to offer but I am happy with the places I went to this time. I look forward to returning in the returning in the future – I just don’t know yet when will that be.

Jaw-dropping beauty of Angel’s Billabong 😃

Do you have any questions about Nusa Penida? Feel free to ask you questions & share your thoughts by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Thank you for reading. Make sure to watch out for my Komodo blog post!

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11.