ECOTOURISM

MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
So what happened? They asked me many questions and requested me to present my company ID, the contact number of my friend in Hong Kong (which they attempted to call), my YouTube channel, and my work.

► Here's my personal account of the current situation (civil unrest) in Hong Kong as a tourist.

► When the rioters invaded Mongkok and burned a university... I was inside a MTR station...

[Hong Kong, China]
EDMARATION
| 1 | [HONG KONG] ► AS A TOURIST, IT'S MY RESPONSIBILITY TO FOLLOW THE RULES.
Geopolitical issues are complex and complicated topics for an overnight discussion. Sadly, issues like these are everywhere in the globe; and the fact that sharing your views about these issues would potentially offend or hurt someone, communication or freedom of speech is apparently not the best solution to reconcile differences. Each person has his/her own opinion or interpretation of these issues which make it even more complicated and dividing. Even Hong Kong, the progressive and freedom-loving city we knew, was not spared from the chaos of geopolitics and of opposing ideologies. Here's my personal account of the current situation (civil unrest) in Hong Kong as a tourist.

Before I start writing my main narrative, let us define "safety" first. Oxford dictionary defines it as "the state of being safe and protected from danger or harm". For this blog post, I'm not going to use the Oxford definition because I believe everywhere in the world is unsafe, which would make me easily lead to the conclusion that Hong Kong is unsafe (the riot alone is already enough to say that there is an impending threat or danger). For the purpose of this blog post, I'll contextualize safety as "being able to visit and experience the tourist attractions of Hong Kong without an actual encounter with the rioters and sustaining physical/mental harm or death from such encounter."

I visited Hong Kong from the 16th to the 18th of November 2019 and what I will share to your are my personal encounters and experiences in Hong Kong. I hope it may give you an idea of what's happening there. By the way, some of the information I shared here were based on the actual observation and insights of someone who has been living in Hong Kong for more than 5 years whom I had the chance to talk with.


Tourist Safety at the Hong Kong International Airport



My port of entry in Hong Kong was the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). I landed at the airport at around 10:00 AM. The airport seemed to be under normal operation.

HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
| 2 | [HONG KONG] ► THE AIRPORT SEEMED TO BE UNDER NORMAL OPERATION.
My experience at the airport was not smooth though as I underwent a second-level assessment at the Hong Kong immigration department. They did not exactly tell me what was the problem but I thought they didn't like the idea that I would exit Hong Kong via the Central Ferry Terminal and eventually, Macau Airport. One thing more, I was supposed to enter Hong Kong via Macau, but I canceled it because of a sudden more important appointment that came along with my flight to Macau the same day; so I had to book another flight but this time, to Hong Kong. I think the immigration officer got confused of the conflicting flight itineraries I presented with two flights landing either in Macau or in Hong Kong.

So what happened? They asked me many questions and requested me to present my company ID, the contact number of my friend in Hong Kong (which they attempted to call), my YouTube channel, and my work. Basically, the questions they asked were based on the documents I presented and on my answers to their questions. It was like an endless domino. They seemed to generate questions based on every single answer I gave them; and it went on and on.

Anyway, I could not blame them if they were very strict because as a tourist, it's my responsibility to follow rules and undergo the process. Speaking of safety, the airport was probably one of the busy places in Hong Kong you would less likely encounter rioters; and I think the Hong Kong/China government will not allow riots to happen there, as it may greatly affect the aviation operation of one of the world's busiest airports.

Aside from my interrogation experience at the immigration office (which is not actually a threat, it was a security measure), I felt very safe and secured at the Hong Kong International Airport.


Safety for Commuters (Airport to Tsim Sha Tsui)



I left Hong Kong International Airport via the airport bus terminal. Everything went well. There was no special or additional security checks other than the routine. I easily purchased a ticket, boarded the bus, and left the airport peacefully.

HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
| 3 | [HONG KONG] ► I LEFT THE HONG KONG AIRPORT VIA THE AIRPORT BUS TERMINAL.
NATHAN ROAD
| 4 | [HONG KONG] ► PROTESTERS IN HONG KONG TARGET CROWDED AREAS; AND THAT INCLUDES THE NATHAN ROAD, A POPULAR SHOPPING LANE IN HONG KONG. THERE WERE NO PROTESTERS DURING MY STAY HERE.
TSIM SHA TSUI
| 5 | [HONG KONG] ► I TOOK THIS PHOTO FROM INSIDE THE BUS. TSIM SHA TSUI LOOKED EXCITING, NO RIOTERS SEEN.
The travel was smooth and seamless. I didn't see any rioters along the way. I didn't see special checkpoints. I reached Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui full of friendly people, not rioters.

Although Nathan road is one of the places where the rioters stage a mass protest, they don't necessarily control the area. They organize protests at different parts in Hong Kong. I enjoyed my stay at Nathan Road because the location was very convenient for travelers.


How Safe is Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui?



Protesters in Hong Kong target crowded areas, and that includes the Nathan Road, a popular shopping lane in Hong Kong located in Tsim Sha Tsui. There were no protesters during my stay; however, there were "signs" showing that protesters once brought fear and threat to certain areas. I saw one MTR station (subway system in Hong Kong) that was closed because it was burned by the protesters, hence, causing public inconvenience in this particular part of Hong Kong that time. Some parts of Nathan Road were also hideous because the rioters left a tasteless and cheap marks by vandalizing the once orderly and nice-looking public facilities of Hong Kong.

Aside from the tasteless remnants of the protesters, I didn't encounter any problem during my stay here. By the way, the rioters usually organize a rally during weekends. At Nathan Road, I did not witness any problem during my weekend stay there. Everything seemed peaceful.

| 6 | [HONG KONG] ► THIS IS THE MINDSET OF THE REBELLIOUS CLASS. THEY THINK THEY ARE THE ENSLAVED.
| 7 | [HONG KONG] ► TSIM SHA TSUI, HONG KONG'S VIBRANT OLD DOWNTOWN, IS UNSHAKEN BY THE SO-CALLED MASS PROTEST WHICH IS MEDIA-AMPLIFIED TO APPEAR BIG AND TO APPEAR SUPPORTED MY MAJORITY OF HONG KONGERS.
| 8 | [HONG KONG] ► MODY ROAD IN HONG KONG WAS NEVER MOODY. HONG KONG TRADE CONTINUES, BUSINESS AS USUAL.
What is shown by the huge profit-oriented media companies of the West and their allies in the East is that Hong Kong is doomed. Their plot shows us that Hong Kong seems helpless and that the rioters are significant enough to control everything in Hong Kong. In fact, some Hong Kongers don't even care about them. Some give them the middle finger and a laugh. They are free to exercise their freedom of speech; but one thing is for sure: China, with its power and seemingly different perspective of human right, could easily wipe them out if they become a threat to general public safety and security of Hong Kong.

Although I'm against a government that oppresses its people, what I wanted to convey is that Hong Kong is still a part of China (though they have two different political systems, for now); and with China's policy on National Security that is frowned in the West, stopping the protesters is an easy task if they want to sans the human rights consideration. What I mean is, the mass riot is an insignificant scene of the wholistic Hong Kong. The news I'm seeing on TV is actually very interesting, but don't expect to experience that drama when you go to Hong Kong as tourist (unless you would intentionally join the rioters to experience that drama yourself then go ahead). Tourist who will use their common sense will most likely get rid of the rioters.


Is it Safe to Commute via MTR in Hong Kong?



As I said, everywhere is unsafe. Paris, New York, Sydney, and Shanghai are even less safe compared to Hong Kong. In fact, according to the Economist, Hong Kong is the 3rd safest city in the world (2019) in terms of personal security. Aside from the closed MTR stations destroyed by the freedom-loving protesters, Hong Kong administrators (and I'm pretty sure China oversees it) would make it sure to keep its populace safe and secure from the hands of the protesters. If there are threats from the rioters, the MTR administration would close "threatened" stations and quickly inform the public about the closure as heads-up. I experienced this my self.

NATHAN ROAD, Hong Kong Protest
| 9 | [HONG KONG] ► ALTHOUGH THE PROTESTERS DESTROYED SOME MTR STATIONS (SEEING THE GENERAL PUBLIC SUFFER SEEMED TO BE THEIR GOAL, WHAT A CONSCIENCE!), TRAIN TRANSPORTATION IN HONG KONG WAS NOT NECESSARILY PARALYZED.
When the rioters invaded Mongkok and burned a university as part of their freedom of expression in expense of the same rights and freedom their fellow Hong Kongers have, I was inside a MTR station in Hong Kong when I heard a public announcement informing the commuting public that the train would not stop at Mongkok station because of the public disorder caused by the rioters who consider themselves "politically woke". Apparently, the awakening that they have is something that projects public disorder, fear, and suffering.


Other Places in Hong Kong



Near the guesthouse where I stayed in Hong Kong is a historical place called the Signal Hill or the Blackhead Point. The hill features a >100-year-old tower which was used to monitor incoming vessels into Hong Kong harbour.

HONG KONG SIGNAL HILL/BLACKHEAD POINT
| 10 | [HONG KONG] ► THIS PLACE WAS VERY SILENT AND PEACEFUL YOU'LL FORGET THERE'S A SPORADIC PROTEST HAPPENING IN HONG KONG.
Aside from the tower, Signal Hill also has a park with a view of the Hong Kong Harbour. If getting rid of the rioters is your concern, then this is a safe haven. It was indeed a very peaceful place.

During my experience here, I saw some Caucasian people reading a book or just relaxing. There were also Hong Kong couples having the romantic time of their lives. I only saw about less than 15 people here during my 2-hour stay. Forget the rioters, they only target crowded areas where they could garner maximum publicity and visibility.


Is it Safe in Hong Kong at Night?



Like what I mentioned above, everywhere is unsafe because danger is everywhere; but for this context, it's about getting rid of and avoiding physical harm from the rioters.

I roamed around Tsim Sha Tsui until 11 PM without encountering the rioters. Again, it's common sense. Do not go where the rioters go. I was enjoying my time in Tsim Sha Shui viewing the Hong Kong's night skyline and the Avenue of Stars while the rioters were busy burning a university near Mongkok. What I'm trying to say is, the rioters do not control everything that's in Hong Kong. Just avoid them and enjoy the places of Hong Kong without them.

HONG KONG PROTEST
| 11 | [HONG KONG] ► FOR THE RIOTERS, THEY ONLY HAVE UNFORTUNATE LIMITED OPTION: LIBERTY VS DEATH. MAJORITY OF HONG KONGERS WHO DO NOT SCREAM THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION DRAMA WOULD PROBABLY CHOOSE LIBERTY AND LIFE. WHAT A POSITIVE OUTLOOK WOULD THAT BE! IF YOUR SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM IS ANOTHER PROBLEM, THEN THE RESULT WOULD BE ANOTHER PROBLEM.
HONG KONG VICTORIA CLOCK TOWER
| 12 | [HONG KONG] ► VICTORIA CLOCK TOWER, PLEASE ENLIGHTEN THEM.
I watched the Victoria Harbour light show and explored the Avenue of stars at night peacefully with the cold Hong Kong breeze. There were many tourists that time (although much less than the usual because of the fear of tourists to travel to Hong Kong).

Other popular public places like the central terminal, central district, and Victoria Peak seemed to operate normally; although you have to be mindful of the schedule and location of riots so that you could avoid them.


Safety Tips



1. Do not wear black or white shirt. These colors are what the protesters wear.

2. When exploring during the weekend, be mindful of the location of the protesters/rioters as they usually do it (burn schools, destroy MTR, etc) during the weekend. Weekdays are generally normal days in Hong Kong.

That's it! Happy travels and Happy New Year! World Peace! 💚 | end of story |

Maps Showing the Location of #HONGKONG

MAP OF HONG KONG
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This post was filed under the categories "Special Features". See more posts related to this below.

✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ The insights, condition and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try the activities or see the properties/places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time.

► UPDATE HISTORY FOR THIS BLOG POST
|2| 02-January-2020: Twitter metadata was added.
|1| 01-January-2020: This post was published.


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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
...if you compete to prove to others that you are better, you may fail; but if you compete because you want to prove yourself that you could do more, then you're winning.

► While I don't really compete with fellow travel bloggers, we have to admit that many bloggers these days give their best shot. If you do not level-up your game, your blog will go unnoticed.

► For the past two years, my emotion and mind were battlegrounds until I made up my mind to set aside blogging in the meantime.

[Special Feature]
NASUGBU, BATANGAS
| 1 | [NASUGBU] ► BLOGGING IS BOTH FUN AND TIRING, EVEN YOUR BIG SELFIE BECOMES AN ISSUE FOR OTHERS.
Lately, I've been more interested in writing personal experiences and moments in my life than writing the adventurous travel tales. Having written hundreds of stories that highlight my probably cutting-edge and unique travel experiences (that I'm sure, every traveler possesses), I've come to the point of becoming thirsty of writing random light moments without the YOLO and buwis-buhay travel plots.

To begin this random musing, the blogosphere is an awesome but a competitive space. While I don't really compete with fellow travel bloggers, we have to admit that many bloggers these days give their best shot. If you do not level-up your game, your blog will go unnoticed. While some bloggers who do it "because of passion" may not care about the metrics or the opportunities blogging could put to the table, I think it would be safe to say that when people notice your blogs, that's a validation that you're passionate about it; and that you're giving your best shot.

Speaking for myself, I have always been a competitive person; but for the right reasons. I compete not to be recognized but to trigger my inner drive to give its best shot. In the long run, it's not the prize nor the recognition that I'm after to, but the self-improvement and the motivation to be the better version of my self that I am looking forward. As a conclusion, if you compete to prove to others that you are better, you may fail; but if you compete because you want to prove yourself that you could do more, then you're winning; because it's your old self whom you are competing with.

When it comes to blogging, the stories and experiences of fellow travel bloggers are really mind-blowing. Did I experience pressure to write? The answer is yes. Many bloggers use the best cameras or drone footage to capture the best view, offer their out-of-this-world writing skills worthy of a magazine gig, bring out their natural charisma that's worth a TV show, and name them all. The blogosphere is full of bad-ass super-talented individuals. Because of these, I looked down to my self. I didn't have the best gadgets. I didn't have a huge travel fund to afford an adventure to unconventional travel destinations. I didn't have the English degree to be able to write stories flawlessly without grammatical or punctuation errors. I had many limitations. I'm a nobody in this space saturated with somebodies.


When I started blogging



I started from scratch. I didn't even have a personal computer when I started blogging. After my work from the hospital, I spent my hard-earned money at the computer shop where I could rent a computer to blog. To be honest, a huge chunk of my meager salary goes to the computer shop where I stayed until closing time.

When I started my travel blog, it wasn't about being a blogger. I used this free platform to make my life easier. You know, I have a personal diary that I update every day. I realized, writing manually was very time-consuming for me; aside from that, the speed of my manual writing cannot cope up with the speed of the ideas that come out my mind. I thought doing an online diary would make my life easier, hence, this blog you are reading.

Having that interest for travel, I became curious if there are "travel bloggers" out there. That time I was not yet familiar of the basics of blogging. I didn't even know about these so-called blog niches. I wasn't even aware there were existing blogging communities. These curiosities led me to discover these "travel bloggers" who took my breath away. Gahhh! They looked so cool. They looked so rich. They looked so hip. They looked so awesome! I instantly became an avid follower. I was constantly 'fanboy-ing' of their existence.

You know, my mindset that time was, these cool travel bloggers were the rich kids of my generation and I was amazed on how they could maintain a lifestyle like that. As I browsed their blogs, they've been everywhere! I was mind-blown of these possibilities—that you could make traveling constantly as your lifestyle. I was a HUGE fan because I know I couldn't do what they were doing.

Being a fanboy would lead me to stalking their profiles. I yearned to know more about them personally. I stalked their Facebook profiles and other social media accounts. Until one day, there was a trend going on in the travel blogosphere. From writing the luxurious and seemingly unending stress-free life of these bloggers, the tone turned more personal. I didn't know how it started but there was a point where bloggers became more open of the realities they were facing. The travel blogosphere became a little personal.

I started to learn that not all of these bloggers were born heirs (although some are "legit" hipsters and born privileged). I found out that some of them were also like me. I learned about their stories that motivated me to do the same, to be the same. Armed with a childhood motto of "If others can, why can't I?", I confidently registered a subdomain under a free blogging platform and started writing my travel stories.

Fast forward, I gained some followers and readers (not too much, sakto lang). Random people popping out from my inbox would surprise me with their words of admiration and gratitude.


How Blogging Affected Me Negatively?



I've come to a point where my "blogging" became my priority in life. I used to be stuck inside my room creating contents all day. I even skipped meals and utilized my "time for sleep" just to improve my blog. I was like a zombie—but a happy and fulfilled zombie. I was very hooked. Even my personal life was affected. I didn't even join the family meal because I was busy. I went to work sleepy because I stayed wide awake until dawn just to blog. Yes, this is very embarrassing to admit but it really happened to me.

The reason why I've come to that point was because I was enjoying all the attention and the positive feedback I was receiving. I loved it when people tell they admire me. It was a great feeling when people see you as extraordinary. With all these accolades, I was addicted with the attention and the positive feedback I was receiving. My ego was soaring high. I got several TV guesting and appearances. I worked and chilled with government officials. I saw my works exhibited in a museum. I saw my photos as a cover of a magazine abroad. I appeared in the local news. People in my place started identifying me as a "blogger" and no longer that dark, skinny, poor boy from Brgy Ayusan Sur who came from a humble beginning. From scratch, the opportunities opened so fast that I didn't have time to self-reflect. It was very quick and overwhelming for me who never expected these things; mostly happened in the innocence of my early to mid 20s.

People thought I was very rich (no I'm not) because I used to post travel photos daily and they expected more. I was pressured by the demands of the people, so I gave in—because the attention I was receiving was addicting (lakas maka-artista, feeling lang! haha). I didn't know I was already on that crucial point because no one re-oriented me to reality. I was just enjoying the moment until one day, I realized my professional career (nurse) was not moving forward. Yes, once in my life, I wanted to become that "successful blogger" who would rake fortunes and opportunities. I kept pushing for that goal. I made my self believe that "I was happy" doing this. Just a clarification, I was indeed happy and contented with my life when I was hooked to blogging. I was genuinely happy, but behind the happiness is a feeling of fear and uncertainty. I wasn't sure where would this happiness lead me.

PIKKANG FALLS, SAN JUAN, ILOCOS SUR
| 2 | [SAN JUAN] ► THIS IS A PHOTO TAKEN AT PIKKANG FALLS (FROM MY MOST RECENT TOWN EXPLORATION PRIOR TO THIS BLOG POST).
Fast forward (this was actually in 2017), my father turned 60, now a senior citizen. That was the turning point in my life. I woke up from a long delusional dream that I would become successful in the path that I wanted to take. I started blogging in 2011 and 6 years has passed (in reference to year 2011-2016), I realized I was already left behind (as a nurse). Although I cannot deny the fact that blogging gave me a lot of opportunities to bring out the best in me and to do the things I never imagined I could do, the blogging career that I wanted to have was probably not yet for me. I think I was deluded by social media posts like "quit your job and travel the world." While it worked for some people, it surely will not work for everybody because each of us has different callings.

Now I've learned a lot. For the past two years, my emotion and mind were battlegrounds until I made up my mind to set aside blogging in the meantime. The passion is still there. You know, it is still burning. Writing my stories online is always in my mind but I'm wiser now. I've learned to balance everything. Two years ago, after my father turned 60, I decided to grow my professional career. I took a leap of faith, took the risk, and changed my previous perspective.

EDMARATION
| 3 | [TAGUIG] ► I TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH TO GROW MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER.
I left the hospital and ventured on other opportunities. I'm no longer wearing that white uniform but still, I landed on a nursing job. I now work for an American health care company based in Nashville as a medical necessity analyst/reviewer after I became a US-registered nurse (a basic requirement for the job), a title I worked hard a lot while giving the internet the less attention it deserves so I could focus on more important matters. While growing my professional career, I am also venturing into the world of modeling and showbiz.

My obsession for social media and the online world no longer ruled my life. I now learned to rule it instead. I learned how to use it wisely. When I started to distance myself from social media and internet (and lessen its use) for more than 2 years now, I accomplished a lot more than I ever imagined.

EDMARATION
| 4 | [METRO MANILA] ► I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BECOME A MODEL OR AN ACTOR. I THINK IT'S NOT YET TOO LATE. THIS IS THE REAL 'YOLO', IT'S A MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZED IT'S NOT ABOUT QUITTING YOUR JOB. IT'S ABOUT WORKING FOR YOUR DREAMS AND EMBRACING THE OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE 'YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE'.
The false hope that I gravitated to achieve in the world of blogging actually stopped me from expanding my territories. Somehow, my social media and online territory did expand but it was only limited to that niche. I realized, I could do more. From being self-centered, I've transformed myself to becoming a provider for my family. My parents are not obliging me to give, but I'm making my family as my motivation to become the better version of me. Being the eldest, I grab opportunities to give back. During the peak of my activity in blogging, I didn't have that sense of responsibility. I only cared about the likes and shares, and on the fortune blogging could give me. However, after that turning point, I realized that it's more meaningful to have a sense of responsibility. For me my family is now my greatest responsibility. It's no longer my blog readers whom I've always wanted to please.


Ending Thoughts



I've actually written this piece a month ago; because I procrastinate a lot, it took me a month before I decided to publish this. It's now 12:58 AM as of this writing and I'm here on my bed writing these ending thoughts. I'm currently here in Makati while writing this post. With my green hangers, I made it to the last paragraph! I'm on my "bed mode" while writing this which explains the real time photo below.

EDMARATION BLOG
| 5 | [MAKATI] ► REAL TIME: THIS WAS ME WITH MY GREEN HANGERS, AT THE MOMENT I WAS WRITING THIS POST. I THINK THERE'S NO NEED TO PRETEND THAT I HAVE A POSH ROOM BY REMOVING THOSE HANGERS. I'M ONE ORDINARY GUY LIKE MOST OF US.
To those who became successful in blogging, I salute you guys! I believe IT WAS FOR YOU, and I encourage you to expand your territories more in this niche because the harvest is ripe. You're lucky in this field! As the saying goes, "Many were called, but few were chosen." I think I was one of those who were not chosen. This may sound a little bitter though, for not achieving the online career I dreamed and expected. Haha.

My journey in blogging was colorful and meaningful. I never regretted being a blogger, I only learned life lessons from it. Should I continue blogging? The answer is a BIG YES! I will continue blogging because I am excited for the new lessons it may teach me today, and in the future—the same life lessons it taught me in the past that molded who I am today. The exciting part is, I've become more responsible of my decisions and I could probably balance my personal, spiritual, professional, social, and social media life now. Happy blogging! 💚 | end of story |

I value your thoughts! The comment box is located at the most bottom part of this section. :)



► UPDATE HISTORY FOR THIS BLOG POST
|2| 04-November-2019: Additional ideas added. Photos 3 and 4 added.
|1| 03-November-2019: This post was published.


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