It’s Christmas! And it’s not just the happiest time of the year! It is the season when dreams come true. Through tradition, belief, and superstition, people hope the kindness of the Yule’s spirit will be upon them—that their most fervent wishes will finally be realized.
We are no exception. Team Sweetie indeed has an adventure bucket list! We wish Santa would put them in the big red socks that we hang on our small tree on the eve of Christmas. Allow us to share some of our “12 Days of Christmas” dream adventures. The first eight are reasonably achievable given our circumstances in life.
1. Trekking the Cebu Highlands Trail
(Photo credit: Jing Lavilles of Warrior Pilgrimage)
At over 400 kilometers in length, the Cebu Highlands Trail is the first long-distance trail in the Visayas, snaking along the ridges of Cebu’s long mountain spine. The CHT traverses through lush landscapes, beautiful farmlands, charming villages, and amazing scenery. Being in our home island, this is probably the most achievable item in our wishlist. In fact, we already have plans start Segment 1 next year with Sir Jing of the bushcrafting blog Warrior Pilgrimage guiding us. Who wants to trek with us?
2. Accomplishing the Panay Trilogy
(Photo credit: Dave Llorito a.k.a. Rainwalker 19)
The island of Panay is home to some of the country’s most challenging mountains. Our first glimpse of the mighty Mt. Madjaas when we first visited Culasi stuck us with awe, and we have made a pact to climb it. Two other lofty mountains—Mt. Nangtud and Mt. Baloy Daku—are all calling us as well. All three massive mountains straddle the provinces of Ilolo, Capiz, Aklan, and Antique. Last November 2017, the Iloilo Mountaineering Club successfully traversed the three mountains in 16 grueling days, and we hope to follow their footsteps.
3. Climbing the New Crags of Quezon, Bukidnon
(Photo Credit: Mark Battung of Adventure Technology Outfitters)
When had our vertical bivouac experience with Adventure Technology Outfitters in Bukidnon, we couldn’t help but get excited at the presence of so many gigantic, pristine limestone cliffs. Now, with the supervision of Filipino climber Mackie Makinano and with the support of the Quezon LGU, some of these crags are bolted for sport climbing. In fact, over the past few months, Mackie and his team has bolted over 90 routes! This is definitely an excellent new rock climbing playground not just for us but for rock climbers all over the world. We can’t wait to chalk up and scale those routes!
4. Benguet Cross-Country Trek
(Photo Credit: Adonis of Lagataw)
We fell in love with the Cordillera Administrative Region after visiting rustic Sagada and climbing Mt. Pulag. Fragrant pine forests, lush mountains, winding rivers, and magnificent valleys all blend together in a smorgasbord of stunning scenery, enlightening cultural immersion, and exquisite adventure! Our friend Adonis of the cross-country and trail-running blog Lagataw has been inviting us for a long cross-country trek across the rugged terrain of northern-central Luzon. We’ll surely be joining him.
5. Scuba Diving in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
(Photo credit: National Geographic)
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is right in the middle of the vast Sulu Sea. With an extremely high density of marine creatures, extensive coral reefs, and spectacular lagoons, this World Heritage Site is considered to be one of the world’s best dive sites. Tubbataha is home to over 1,000 species of sharks, turtles, rays, dolphins, whales, fish, and other marine species, many of which are endangered! Usually, going to Tubbataha is part of a dive safari, which involves trips to multiple dive sites and living in a boat for a week! That would be a wondrous adventure! However, such dive safari is extremely expensive; it costs close to Php100,000 (USD2,000) per diver. But no matter what, Sweetie and I consider diving in Tubbataha a must if we are to live a satisfied life. Somehow, we will find a way!
6. Climbing Mt. Rinjani, Indonesia
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some of our blogger friends, knowing how adventurous we are, suggested we climb the majestic Mt. Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia. We immediately took their suggestion to heart. We contacted outfitters and the Indonesian tourism board in the hopes of a sponsorship. We also researched the Net for information about a climb there. It’s quite a costly undertaking though, and our funds are limited. But when our opportunity comes to climb Mt. Rinjani (notice we didn’t say “if”), it will be very special because it will probably be the first mountain that we’ll climb outside the Philippines. Anyone who wants to sponsor us?
7. Climbing Xueshan and Long Dong
(Photo credit: Pashan)
With visa restrictions to Taipei being eased, we may be able to climb Xueshan soon. In fact, our friend Jessie of Se7en Outdoor suggested that we climb Xueshan in early 2018. Undoubtedly, the scenery would be incredible, and the adventure would be ultra-awesome. But what really makes climbing Xueshan very special for Team Sweetie is that it will be our first experience to climb a snowy mountain! Yes, it would be an introduction to alpine mountaineering for us. And that would open up a whole new door of mountaineering possibilities. After Xueshan, we plan to head to Long Dong for some rock climbing as a side trip.
The next four adventures are a bit far-fetched. For now, they are beyond our reach given our financial capabilities, familial and career responsibilities, work schedules, and other factors. But who knows? We are definitely not quitters. With perseverance, we believe we have a big chance to realize these dreams!
8. Scuba Diving with Jonathan Bird
(Photo credit: Jonathan Bird’s Blue World)
Jonathan Bird (the guy in the blue helmet) is one of the foremost underwater cinematographers in the world. He and his team air out Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, a family-friendly underwater science-adventure television program and YouTube channel. It was through this program that we were inspired to take up more advanced diving courses, explore more about the underwater world, and protect the oceans. His underwater adventures are ultra-astounding and very informative. Being avid fans of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, we fervently wish we could someday dive with him and his team in the most breathtaking dive locations in the world. It would be super awesome to dive with Jonathan to explore underwater caves, interact with sharks, swim inside shipwrecks, and more! Check out the Jonathan Bird’s Blue World website too!
9. Sailing on a Luxury Yacht
(Photo credit: Business Insider)
How awesome it would be to cruise to exotic destinations, explore uninhabited islands, dive in places rarely visited by humans, or play with “toys for the big boys.” All the while being treated like royalty! Cruising in a luxury yacht for a week or two wouldn’t just be a dazzling adventure but also a romantic one! Just imagine: a candle-lit dinner on the deck with Sweetie amidst a fiery sunset in the background. A fiddler serenades us with a violin while we enjoy lavish food that are reserved for millionaires! We are low-budget adventurers, but we surely won’t mind being treated in opulence once in a while!
10. Trekking the Lower Himalayas and Everest Base Camp
(Photo credit: Suket Dedhia)
With magnificent snowy mountains, picturesque valleys, massive glaciers, and fertile forests, the Lower Himalayas is incredibly dazzling! It has been our dream to trek here so we can see leopards, tahrs, langurs, red pandas, and other unique mountain animals that we’ve only seen in books and National Geographic magazines. Additionally, because we consider cultural immersion an important part of our adventures, we would love to experience and participate first-hand the culture of indigenous Himalayans. The crowning glory, of course, is to trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal where we may meet world-famous mountaineers that we look up to.
11. Staying for a week inside the Aquarius Reef Base
(Photo credit: Kip Evans of Mission Blue)
Conventional scuba diving limits our bottom time to, at most, an hour or else we’ll have decompression sickness (the bends). That is such a disappointment because there’s so much of the ocean to see. But what if there’s a way to stay underwater for a week without suffering the bends? It turns out there’s a way, and that’s by staying inside the Aquarius Reef Base, an underwater lab in Key Largo, Florida! For a week, we would share a home with denizens of the reef while helping out aquanauts (marine biologists) with their research. Yes, it’s not science fiction! Jonathan Bird had the opportunity to go inside the Aquarius Reef Base, and the facility is fascinating!
12. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
(Photo Credit: Hiking Gear)
One of our biggest dreams is to hike the entire 2,659-mile length of the Pacific Crest Trail. Passing along 25 national forests and 7 national parks, the scenery along the PCT must be astonishing beyond comprehension. We’ll trek along azure lakes, rugged mountains, grassy glens, and lovely rivers, perhaps seeing forest fauna. Along the way, we can resupply and rest in rustic small towns far from the chaos of the city. The ultimate adventure of the PCT—which involves trekking, camping, scrambling, and more—will be one for our books.
We’re pretty sure you have dream adventures of your own. It could be visiting a destination, trying out something you really like, opening a business, mending a relationship—whatever. Go for it, you deserve it. But be prepared for bumps along the way. The way to accomplishing a worthwhile dream is never easy. But with perseverance and by taking away that quitter mentality out of your mind, you can definitely achieve that dream!
Have a very Merry Christmas! May all your wishes—and dream adventures—come true!
(Cover Photo credit: Mark Missman)