Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Experience Traditional Squid Fishing (Candat Sotong) in Terengganu, Malaysia! [SP]

Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014
Showing off my catch at our second fishing trip during the Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014!
Last April 11 to 14, I was invited by Tourism Terengganu and Gaya Travel Magazine to participate in a unique cultural celebration, the Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014 or Pesta Candat Sotong Antarabangsa Terengganu 2014. The huge media event was attended by over 250 delegates from traditional and online media including several bloggers from 25 countries.

Grouped into teams of five, all the media participants set out on fishing boats to catch squid. On two fishing trips, we traveled for two hours from Kuala Terengganu to the open-water fishing grounds around the islands of Pulau Chepu and Pulau Kapas. Each trip took more than six hours, including travel time. The teams with the largest and most catch would be awarded the winners of the squid jigging challenge.

Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014
Fishing boats set off for a night of squid jigging off the coast of Kuala Terengganu
Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014
A marshall holds up my squid on the first fishing trip! 

A type of handline fishing, jigging is the practice of fishing with a type of fishing lure called a jig, which consists of a lead sinker with a hook molded into it and usually covered by a soft body to attract fish or squid. Jigging for squid involves attaching colorful, feathered jigs with needle-sharp hooks at the end of a nylon line. Now and then, the line has to be jerked to lure and snag the squid. The fishermen of Terengganu have been using this traditional fishing method, locally known as candat sotong, for generations, and something the local tourism board wants travelers to Terengganu to experience, especially those who are interested in game fishing or angling.

Squid jigging took a lot of patience and perseverance, as we continually tugged on our fishing lines for many hours, as our boat bobbed on the rough waters of the Gulf of Thailand. With quiet persistence and some coaching from the event marshals who accompanied our trips, I was eventually able to catch a total of two squids on both trips – not bad, considering that I was the only one in the boat, besides the fishermen, who caught anything. I was really proud of my catch because it was the first time I actually fished out something from the ocean myself! My squid fishing experience made me realize all the hard the work it takes to put seafood like calamares (battered squid) on the table. The best part was enjoying everyone's catch as the freshly caught squid was grilled for dinner at Riyaz Heritage Marina Resort,

Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014
One of our boatmen with his catch
Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014
The freshly caught squid we all caught was grilled to perfection at Riyas Heritage Marina Resort.
At the end of the four-day festival, the Filipino travel bloggers swept the social media prizes, courtesy of Tourism Terengganu and Gaya Travel Magazine! While I obviously failed to reel in the largest or most squid in the event, I won the "Most Active Social Media" prize for my live online updates, and one of the daily "Best Instagram Photos", together with Gael Hilotin of www.thepinaysolobackpacker.com and Ivan Henares of www.ivanhenares.com.

The squid jigging season in Terengganu runs from May to August. For more information on squid jigging tours in Terengganu, please contact Tourism Terengganu at 77A Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, 20000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia; Tel. no. +60 96262020; Fax no. +60 96262022; Email : info@terengganutourism.com.

This blog post was made possible through the Terengganu International Squid Jigging Festival 2014, a media event held last April 11 to 14, 2014 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. The event was organized by Tourism Terengganu and Gaya Travel Magazine.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I accept advertisers as long as they are relevant to tourism, adventure and outdoors. For advertising inquiries, please e-mail eazy@eazytraveler.com

Saturday, June 14, 2014

DIY Walking Tour – Davao City

Location: Poblacion, Davao City
Starting Point: Museo Dabawenyo
End Point: Magsaysay Park 
Distance: 4 km
Duration: 7 hours

Emerging from a small riverside trading settlement of Bagobo tribes in southeastern Mindanao, the area we now call Davao City was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1844 in opposition to the Sultan of Maguindanao, followed by the official colonization of the region in 1848. In the early 20th century, Japanese settlers thrived in the city working in abaca plantations so much so that it became pre-war Philippines’ “Little Tokyo” and, later, a bastion of Japanese forces during World War II.  Heavily bombed by the Americans during the war, only a few heritage structures have survived. 

Today, Davao City – the largest in the Philippines in terms of land area – thrives with its diverse ethno-cultural landscape, the so-called “tri-people” consisting of indigenous lumad peoples, Muslim Moros, and Christian settlers from the Luzon and Visayas. Throughout the last decade, the city has been acclaimed to be one of the cleanest and safest with the iron-fisted leadership of the Duterte political family, making it an ideal place to explore on foot. A walking tour of the city’s poblacion district – the oldest part of Davao City – will provide a glimpse of its cultural influences and cosmopolitan aspirations.

D' Bone Collector Museum
D' Bone Collector Museum
• Start your tour of downtown Davao at Museo Dabawenyo (free admission), housed in the former Court of First Instance built in 1953. The museum has interesting displays on indigenous clothing and photographs of pre-war landmarks throughout the city, many of which sadly did not survive WW-II and the proceeding industrialization of the city. Photography is not permitted inside the museum galleries.

Note: For those interested in ethnography, one should also find time to visit the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography – admission: PHP 100 – located in Insular Village in Lanang, 7.3 km away from Museo Dabawenyo.

• After a dose of history, science buffs may detour to a quirky museum along the southern stretch of San Pedro Street, traversing Quezon Boulevard. Started as a personal collection of an American missionary since he was a young boy, D’ Bone Collector Museum (entrance fee: PHP 50) opened in 2012, displaying over 500 skeletons of land and marine animals. Check out the skeletons of a 21-foot Burmese python and the colossal 41-foot sperm whale! The non-profit is active in environmental conservation and marine animal rescues in Mindanao.

• Take a pedicab back to the corner of Quezon Boulevard, and walk past Osmeña Park to San Pedro Cathedral. The original structure was built in 1847 during the Spanish period, but was replaced with a concrete reincarnation created in the 1964 that draws inspiration from Muslim Moro culture. The mushroom-like façade was patterned after the vinta (Moro sailboat). 

San Pedro Cathedral & San Pedro Street
San Pedro Cathedral along San Pedro Street
• Turn right at C. Bangoy Street, and find the Oboza Heritage House tucked away at the corner of Rizal Street. The beautiful white abode, built in 1929, now houses an upscale French-Mediterranean restaurant called Claude’s Café de Ville. Main dishes are PHP 300 to 1500, but are well worth the splurge.

• Head to People’s Park along Palma Gil Street to burn those calories after lunch strolling around its gardens, sculptures by local artist Kublai Millan, and the “durian dome”, a very modest answer to Singapore’s Esplanade Theatres by the Bay. This urban park is open from 5:30 to 10:00 AM, and 3:00 to 11:00 PM.

• Walk up Claro M. Recto Avenue to Aldevinco Shopping Center, a popular tourist bazaar selling arts and crafts from across Mindanao (and even Indonesia) like pearl jewelry, Maranao woodwork and brassware, and versatile malongs (sarongs).

Davao City Chinatown
Davao Chinatown Arch of Unity
• Four Chinese arches demarcate the boundaries of Davao’s Chinatown area, which centers on Ramon Magsaysay Avenue.  From Aldevinco Shopping Center, turn right and walk through the Arch of Friendship. You can walk for 1.4 km down Magsaysay Avenue past restaurants serving noodles and siopao (meat buns), and dusty hardware stores owned by Chinese businessmen, or catch a short jeepney ride to the Arch of Unity across Magsaysay Park.

• Feast on the iconic fruits of Davao, the durian and pomelo, at the Magsaysay Fruit Stands, near the entrance to the park. Gloria Fruit Stand towards the right side had the best durian prices during my visit at PHP 50 per kg, compared to PHP 80 per kg of the other stalls.

• You can take out your durian and gobble it up while having a one-hour foot reflex massage at Magsaysay Park for only PHP 60. Enjoy getting pampered under a tree, while the sea breeze blows in from the Davao Gulf. The perfect way to end your ramble around Davao’s downtown!

Magsaysay Park Durian Stand
Durian stall at Ramon Magsaysay Park
HOW TO GET THERE: There are direct flights from Manila and Cebu to Davao City. Francisco Bangoy International Airport is located 40 minutes northeast of the Poblacion district. Taxi fare from the airport to poblacion is roughly PHP 180, or you can take two jeepney rides into the city center. Ask the driver for San Pedro Street.

WHERE TO STAY: My Hotel and Daylight Inn are the cheapest sleeps, located along San Pedro Street, and a perfect home base for this walking tour. Single fan rooms with common toilet and bath are only PHP 250 at both guesthouses. For a more comfortable option, look for Bahay ni Tuding Inn & Resto through an alley off San Pedro Street. Rooms start at PHP 870 with air conditioning, WiFi, a hot and cold shower and cable TV. Continental breakfast is included.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Travel in Asia Like a Local with Withlocals.com!

One of the most memorable parts of traveling is connecting meaningfully with the local culture: starting an enlightening conversation with your seat mate on that long-haul bus ride, spontaneous tour of a mountain village by a farmer, or sharing stories over an authentic home-cooked meal. So on your next backpacking trip across Asia, why not seek out local expertise with the help of a new travel website called Withlocals.com?

Withlocals is a marketplace connecting travelers from every corner of the world with locals across Asia offering unique travel experiences and home dining opportunities. The website was created with a mission to connect people and cultures through local food and activities.

You can use Withlocals.com to experience refreshing travel experiences in three ways:

EAT Withlocals

Savoring local cuisine is one way to intimately experience culture.  Make new friends over an authentic lunch or dinner by eating at a "home restaurant", where you can also learn more about the food you are enjoying.

TOUR Withlocals

Want troop to a hidden beach or wayside temple away from the hordes of tourists? No one knows a place quite like a person who has lived there their whole life. Tapping local knowledge will take you beyond what's listed on your guidebook.


Go beyond sightseeing and acquire new skills with talented locals. Drive a tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai, or learn to make batik in Yogyakarta. From extreme sports to skilled artistry, there’s an activity for everyone.

Book a new and exciting travel experience, and go local at Withlocals.com!  Or do you have a local dish, or travel experience you want to share with travelers? You can also be a Withlocals host! The website will first launch in Southeast Asia and South Asia, with experiences offered in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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