Taiwan by Kathryn
Taiwan is beautiful.
Maybe it is because of how clean their streets are - you will never get tired of walking around all day, following your feet (and guts) on which direction to go, because in every corner or every street, you could see how much they have protected their traditions and culture.
Maybe it is because of the temples - long stretch of red and gold structures, with dragons on top of each wall, filled with overflowing offerings, from arranged colorful flowers to sweets of all sorts.
Maybe it is because of their night markets. Taiwan has numerous night markets around, from small ones occupying only a few streets, to huge ones which combined hundreds of clothing and fashion brands in a long stretch of their streets.
And how can I forget their street food - from sweet milk teas with lots (and lots!) of pearls to savory mandu and stinky tofu. You have a lot to choose from, and it is in every corner.
Or maybe it is because of their people - that despite the language barrier because some locals don’t speak English, or only know little English - they won’t hesitate to strike a conversation, or to help you find your way around the city.
There are so many instances in which they would go the extra mile by accompanying us outside their establishment just to make sure that we head to the right direction. And they offer the biggest and the warmest smiles.
Or maybe it’s all of the above.
But whatever the reason is, as a traveler in their country, who just wants to appreciate their culture and traditions, I want to make sure to leave the area as I have found it: beautiful.
Sustainability begins even before the start of your trip, because you have to come prepared (sustainability is a commitment!) to avoid all the unnecessary spending or use of single-use plastics.
Here are the things you can do before your trip:
Save your itinerary, ticket, etc. in your phone (but don’t forget to back it up)
Printing itinerary is not at all necessary at this time and age. Also, you will only use your ticket / boarding pass once, so it’s better if you will just save it in your phone before your flight. Airlines are now encouraging screenshot of tickets. This is not only convenient for you, it could also save papers!
Reusable containers or sustainable items for your personal hygiene needs
One of the many practices that we grew up with when we were young is to bring sachets of shampoo and conditioner whenever we travel, because it’s more convenient. But, to solve this, you can opt for having reusable container instead so you won’t have to bring sachets of shampoo / conditioner every time. Moreover, you could always opt for shampoo bars. Just know whichever works best for you.
Bring your tumbler
Lessen your single-use plastic consumption. Purchasing bottled water all the time is expensive, plus it has the chance to add up to all the plastic waste.
Pro tip: Refill your water during breakfast at the hotel lobby (or restaurant) it’s free!
Bring your own cutlery
Some of us doesn’t know how to use chopsticks (really, though) and sometimes, we find it better to use spoon and fork in specific food. In Taiwan, since they use chopsticks, when you request for spoon and fork, they will offer you plastic ones. To avoid this, you could just bring your own cutlery.
Don’t forget your reusable bag
As mentioned earlier, Taiwan is known for their grand night markets - a place to shop. Every purchase comes with plastic (and some even charge you for the plastic) so to avoid this (and to avoid spending extra NTD for plastics), just bring your reusable bags around.
After the first five steps, then you’re good to go! But here are the other steps you should do during your trip!
Learn your way around the city
You wouldn’t get lost in Taiwan’s public transportation. Almost all of their tourist and historic sites are connected in their MRT / Railway / Train / Bus. So don’t be afraid to go around using their public transportation. It’s easy and convenient, plus it will lessen your carbon footprint, too!
The streets are clean, and the driver follows the rules of the street, so it’s totally safe to walk around the city. They also have wide pedestrian lanes, covered in trees and flowers. Bonus: you can also see squirrels running around.
Rent a bike
Or you could always rent a bike. It’s only 100 NTD (around 160 php) for the whole day (or only until 7PM), which saves you money, and can also serve as your exercise for the day. They also have designated bike lanes, ensuring your safety.
These eight steps only require you to come prepared before you reach your most awaited travel destination - but its low impact for our planet is huge, and is worth every extra tumbler, cutlery, bag you bring, and every train or walk you take.
Siargao by Karen
Siargao is undeniably one of the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines to date. This is definitely an amazing improvement especially for the locals’ livelihood and to the increasing value it confers upon the Philippine seas.
With this development, however, comes a lot of consequences. This entry wishes to enlighten our fellow advocates, as well as all the travelers out there, regarding the responsibility we all tread upon when we visit gems such as Siargao. With this, I also intend to put forward travel tips you may follow to make your experience even more worthwhile.
Here are 5 things you need to know before going to Siargao:
1. Siargao has the most amazing beaches so make sure you have all your beach essentials to maximize the experience, while simultaneously taking others and the planet into consideration.
I follow this by bringing my own set of earth-friendly beach essentials. I brought my own set of Sip Burrito, Rocket, and even the Sora towel my friend got from Loop.
If you plan to take a long dip by the sea, it is advisable to use reef safe sunscreen! Mine is from Human Nature. It is an SPF 30 suncreen that is free from reef-destroying ingredients which usually get washed off when we swim or take a shower, and shall subsequently go to the marine environment. You may read more about it here.
I think it's so nice that there are a lot of souvenir shops in Siargao that sells Human Nature products! So for last minute packers or for those who forgot to bring theirs, you shouldn’t have to worry.
Among the many other things I brought with me that I wasn’t able to take photos of is this perfume and my own baunan. This particular perfume is getting a cameo appearance here because of two reasons: 1) I’ve been using the same scent since I was in high school (need not say that it smells amazing), and 2) because Prescripto lets me return empty perfume bottles to any of their branch with a discount for my next purchase as an incentive. They have been doing this process for as long as I can remember!
When we try to visit different public spaces such as the beach, it is important to take others and the planet into consideration. This section only refers to the little steps I take in order to do so. The effects these may bring may be little, but can go far when practiced consistently and passionately.
2. There are various modes of transportation available in Siargao, but walking is highly encouraged.
In Siargao, you will realize how one spot is accessible to another because of the availability of tricycles, and motorcycles for commute or rental. However, I highly encourage anyone who wishes to visit to walk as much as possible.
Siargao is actually one of the greenest places I’ve ever been at! This fact is already evident the very moment your plane lands in the island. (See how beautiful the airport looks during a sunset!) Strolling is a very relaxing activity and it'll be made easy because of this green surrounding.
We really don't get to see this kind of beauty in the city, so I hope we take every fleeting moment with a worthwhile feat.
Juan Effect is an initiative of Cebu Pacific. It aims to promote a collective effort from its many advocates to help preserve the beauty of the Philippines' most popular island destinations. Sip PH is one of the official partners of Juan Effect. There is actually a surprise code found in the website if you choose to pledge and participate in this movement!
Among the efforts of Cebu Pacific's Juan Effect is the recycling bin for plastic bottles that can be found in Cloud 9, one of the most crowded spots in Siargao. I think it is also important to note the initiative of the locals to ban plastic bottles from this point (see photo above) to prevent tourists from bringing them to the other islands of Siargao. This should already be a clue to anyone who wishes to go to Siargao in the future that is is more convenient to bring your own tumblers because of this practice that these people have been accustomed with.
Another amazing effort of Cebu Pacific are the water refilling stations found at the airport. If you have been to NAIA lately, you may have already noticed them around the waiting areas or lounge for Cebu Pacific flights. This has equipped me, and a lot of other passengers, with a clean and secured water source that we can safely refill our tumblers with.
Most of the restaurants we visited use their own sets of stainless steel utensil as well as stainless steel straws. (Amazing, right?)
Take Shaka Cafe, for instance. They serve a wide variety of vegetarian shake, healthy fruit bowls, and a lot more. We brought our own Steel straws but it wasn't necessary for they are already providing us with in-house bamboo straws, which has made our dining experience even more pleasant.
The case is that, it's either a restaurant serves their drink with a reusable straw or they don't serve the drink with a straw at all. If you really prefer to have your drink sipped through a straw, feel free to bring your own. (Although I still believe that non dependence to straw usage is still the better option!)
I find this observation quite reassuring because of the locals' active awareness and responsiveness towards the measures they have to go through in order to preserve the beauty that their place has. This collective effort is certainly a reason why I will look up to the establishments I had the privilege of visiting.
The locals in Siargao are incredibly nice and friendly! They appreciate every nice gestures you show them, and they warmly welcome you to their homeland wholeheartedly.
A lot of tourist spots are also apparently protected by the locals. From time to time, they would advise you the proper places to throw your trash in, as well as the efforts they do as a community to preserve what they have.
Siargao is also a place for dog lovers. I think in every restaurant we visited, there's at least one stray dog roaming a hundred meter away from its home.
In some islands of Siargao, dogs are also seen everywhere. Each waiting for a temporary companion to alleviate their loneliness (kidding)!
I like how Siargao seems to be friendly place for these dogs to feel comfortable to roam around in, as if even the public places can be regarded as their home. And I hope that we take that into consideration when we encounter them.
And lastly: trees, trees, trees. Siargao is a place for you to reconnect with the earth and the beauty that it has to offer. I really am not kidding when I say that Siargao is one of the greenest places I've ever been at. With my limited stay, and experience, I really think I got to appreciate more of the beauty that the Philippines and the Earth have to offer.