December 26, 2015

Back to the Beginning: Mt. Hapunang Banoi

Reaching the peak of the second tallest mountain in Rizal was sort of a double celebration. Of course it was brag-worthy of an accomplishment for an acrophobic like me. Having been to Mt. Pamitinan and Tinipak river this year, I've acquainted myself with the technicalities of Rizal's mountains due to its natural landscape, and I expected Banoi to be similar but I absolutely did not expect it to be ten times harder. 

It was easily one of the toughest things I've ever had to endure. Not because of my lack of endurance or experience, but because I have the ultimate fear of heights. But thanks to pride and peer pressure, I reached the top and with the best people in my life. We conquered our first mountain together, and my last destination for 2015, which summed up my Project 25. And along with completing my most difficult climb to date, I found myself reflecting on the similarities of the past year of traveling to the experience of climbing Mt. Hapunang Banoi.

There were many times when I felt like giving up but the drive to finish it was greater than the urge to give up or succumb to my acrophobia. There were so many challenges, lack of funds, lack of time, missed trips, and whatnots but it's always overwhelming to see that lovely view from the top in   the same victorious way that I'm writing my 25th and final entry on the project that defined my weekends and (some weekdays) in 2015.

It's the company that matters. Of all the trips I'd gone to in the past year, and of all the mountains I've conquered, scenery and attractions only come next to company. Climbing this mountain was hella fun with my favorite people on my side, though I've had a similar experience earlier this year. I realized that a trip was made more fun and memorable with the right people no matter the destination. 


DIY is the way. We spent a good 300 pesos for this particular climb including transpo, snacks, and guide and govt fees. Cheap right? Tour packages for this specific mountain can range from 500-1900/pax according to my research. DIYs are the best bang for your buck. Not only do you control your time, throughout the year, I learned that you really save a lot when you plan your own itinerary and control your own expenses. Research. Research. Research!

Always be Equipped. When going on trips. It's always better to be prepared than trying to find a solution spontaneously. As I had mentioned, a bit of research can go a long way. Aside from knowing the budget and itineraries, most blogs and sites give you tips on how to maximize your time and money. As with Rizal, I saved 50 pesos because I brought my own gloves. I had enough water for myself. Packing the essentials and staples and keeping them handy could save you a lot of time and 

Travel doesn't have to be expensive. If you put just a little bit of effort in utilizing your available resources, you'll realize that you might come up with a plan that won't drain your wallet. In my case, I researched a lot and worked out x-deals with a lot of people and organizations. I hardly stayed in luxurious hotels and focused on experiencing local attractions and features unique to a place. I never would've completed this project if I had just booked the first travel package I saw online. There are several websites that offer cheap alternatives to the norm: AirbnbCouchsurfingWorldpackers, etc. Be adventurous!

That sums it up! Whew, what a lovely, exciting, adventurous, tiring unforgettable year that was. Cheers to 2015 and cheers to an even more awesome 2016!