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Before October 2014, I had never ridden a train.

I’m not talking about city subways or bullet trains (although, before October 2014, I had never ridden a bullet train, either). I’m talking about cross-country ones that you ride for hours, where you stay in little cabins with your luggage tucked beside you; ones that seem to make you say “locomotive” instead of “train” in your head.

When I was in university, on nights when I stayed up studying and the campus is quiet, I used to listen to the whistle of the distant train chugging away in the next town. I wasn’t travelling much then, but I remember telling myself that someday I’d hop on a train and go somewhere, and somehow I always pictured myself boarding a steam train like in The Chronicles of Narnia or Back to the Future, regardless of the fact that steam engines aren’t operational anymore—it just seemed more adventurous and romantic that way, I’m not sure why.

In October, during our trip to China, I finally got to ride one—not a steam train, unfortunately, but a train that has a chug-chug-chugging sound, nonetheless—when we travelled from Shanghai to the Taiyuan Province. Achievement unlocked! I even had a special playlist for the occasion.

I have yet to try to ride a locomotive in the Philippines since the PNR’s Manila-Bicol trips are suspended at the moment, and I suppose I’ll have to wait for their cars to be revamped (and, my goodness, their website needs a major overhaul, too). I travel by plane or by bus for now, but I look forward to more train rides!

Off to the Islands, Bohol 2010

When a friend visited the Philippines recently, there was a question that people asked him quite a few times.

“Of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, how many have you visited?”

He just smiled and said: “Two. The island where Manila is, and the island where Davao is.”

During a conversation with him later, he swung the question back at me.

“Definitely more than two,” was my easy answer.
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Photo source: Isaakcom on instagram

Photo source: Isaakcom on instagram

This is not my photo, but it must be in my blog.

Partly because it’s food — and I LOVE food — but mostly because it’s pandas. If you want me to be happy, just show me a panda, and I will melt.

Photo from Isaakcom’s instagram.