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Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the province of Kalinga in Northern-Philippines. It is home to the famous traditional tattooist Whang-od Oggay. Buscalan Village is also considered as the last traditional-tattoo haven in the Northern Philippines. Despite the distance and difficulty to reach the place, it doesn’t stop visitors (both local and foreigners) from visiting this village. That’s why sometimes, people’s journey to the village is considered a pilgrimage. 

Whang-od Oggay. Circa 2014

I went to Buscalan for a visit after three long years. I first visited Buscalan back in 2012, then been going back and forth between 2015 and 2016. Most houses back then were completely made from traditional materials, its foundation and walls are made-up of woods and the roofs are completely made-up of cogon grasses. But now, almost all houses are made from modern materials, like concrete and metals. Most of the houses were also converted to transient homes to accommodate all the people who visit the village. 

Typical Scene in Buscalan, Circa 2012

I also noticed a huge boom in tourism, there were like around thirty people waiting in line to get a tattoo. It’s nice that the village is receiving lots of visitors, however, this gives rise to some problems like problems with waste disposal, etc. I’ve observed that most visitors bring tons of plastic stuff with them and most of the time they just leave most of it in the village and this often leads to all of these plastics being scattered around.

So basically now, you cannot go to the village without a local-guide which I think is nice since it gives livelihood to some people. You also need to pay a visitor fee of php75 like around 1.5USD when you enter the village, which I think is ok as long as the money collected are being used properly for the development of the village. I still remember before, when villagers invite you over for a coffee whenever you pass by their homes but now you need to pay around 20php for a cup. Well, I think everyone needs to put a price in everything nowadays.

Visitors from other countries smile as they mingle with the locals over some bread and coffee. Buscalan, Circa 2014

One major noticeable change I noticed when I visited Buscalan is the construction of a concrete road towards the village. It’s sti ll on-going, but from the most vehicle-accessible point of the road to the village, it can now be only journeyed for 30 minutes. Many people (mostly people who are not from the village) were against it before, but now I think they’ve realized the importance of it to the villagers, especially to those young students who needed to walk several kilometers on rocky, muddy and narrow paths just to get to school back then. 

Side of the mountain is carved to give way to the construction of the concrete road to the village. Circa 2019

Change is inevitable, especially in this modern world we are in. I don’t know when I will be able to visit Buscalan again, but I’m excited to see what changes will happen till my next visit. 

Have you been to Buscalan? If so, then what are your thoughts and insights on the current situation of the village? Feel free to share them on the comment section below. 

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Traveling can be tiring sometimes, especially when you need to endure long haul flights and long hour bus rides. Thank goodness with Europe, most countries are pretty much situated near each other, so you can pretty much visit several countries in a single trip. That’s what I did with my Eastern-Europe Itinerary, I visited Krakow in Poland, Budapest in Hungary, Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia and Prague in the Czech Republic in a single trip.  But in this article, I will be discussing mainly about Budapest. 


Budapest is the capital of Hungary, a country landlocked by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. 


I arrived in Budapest from Krakow in Poland. It took roughly around seven hours to get here through bus. Quite long but it was all worth it when the site of Budapest has appeared from afar. And upon reaching the center, all I can say is that it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. 


Before, there were two cities in Budapest, mainly Buda and Pest, they are basically located on opposite sides of the Danube River. But then they decided to merge the two cities into one and then they decided to just join the name of the two cities together. Hence, it’s called Budapest. 


There are lots of things which Budapest is famous for, but often times, people come here to experience Budapest’s public Baths. They have what they called ‘SPArty’ here, which basically means ‘Party in a Spa’. So you can pretty much go to a rave party in a Spa in Budapest. Well, you know what they say, only in Budapest! 

Below are compilation of some of the best places which I visited when I was in Budapest. 


Top Things to Do and See In Budapest


Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament is Budapest’s famous landmark. It is one of the most iconic structures in the city. The parliament is situated in Kossuth Square, in the Pest side of the city and on the banks of the Danube. Aside from being an icon, It is also one of the most picturesque landmarks in the city.

The view of the parliament from the other side of the Danube River is basically a view to die for, especially during sunset- it’s just freakin’ gorgeous, so if you’re in Budapest or if you’re planning to visit this beautiful city, make sure to include this in your to-do list. 

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is an island in the Danube River. It is a tranquil getaway within the city. Here you can see the ruins of a 13th-century Dominican convent, a musical fountain and a small zoo. Other attractions include jogging tracks, thermal spas and swimming pools. You can also experience a great view of the Hungarian Parliament from here. During the warm months, there are pop-up bars and restaurants, as well as live music to enjoy when visiting the island. Definitely one of the must-go places when in Budapest. 

Margaret Bridge

Margaret Bridge or Margit híd is a three-way bridge in Budapest, Hungary, connecting Buda and Pest across the Danube and linking Margaret Island to the banks. It is the second-northernmost and second-oldest public bridge in Budapest.  -reference: Wikipedia

Heroes Square

One of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes, often erroneously referred as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

-reference: Wikipedia

City Park

Budapest’s city park is located just after the Heroes Square. It is basically a place where everyone can find something to do. For me, I kinda enjoyed sitting on one of the benches here and just watch the duck swim on the pond.

Budapest Zoo

My favorite place in Budapest. The Budapest Zoo is the oldest zoo in Hungary and one of the oldest in the world. It has over  one-thousand animal species and is located within the city centre, which is unusual for a zoo. The zoo opened its doors on 9 August 1866.

Vaci Street

Often referred to as the tourist street. The Vaci Street is one of the most famous street in Budapest. It features a large number of restaurants and shops catering primarily to the tourist market. The best place to go when you plan to buy a few items for souvenirs. 

Liberty Bridge

In my opinion, I think this is Budapest’s most beautiful bridge. Come here during the night to see what I’m talking about. For photographers, make sure to bring your tripod with you-this is basically one of the best spots to do some long-exposure photography in the city. 

Have you been to Budapest? How was your experience?! Share it with us through the comment section below.

#pest #europetravel #travelguide #hungary #visithungary #buda #budapest #visitbudapest #exploreeurope #travelphotography #easterneurope #sparty #europe

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Istanbul, modern day Constantinople is one of the most beautiful cities which I’ve visited. It’s quite a big city to explore, so when you visit, make sure to allot at least three full days. Istanbul is situated between two continents! Yes, you’ve read that right, two continents! ASIA and EUROPE to be specific and it is separated by the Bosphorus River. This Turkish City is one of the easiest cities in Europe to get in to, as it is one of the biggest aviation hub in both Europe & Asia and there are lots of flights from almost any parts of the world flying to or through here.


The two main airports in Istanbul are Ataturk Airport and Sabiha Gocken Airport. Istanbul’s old town in its Euro-side can be reached within 30-minutes from Ataturk Airport and 2-hours if you’re coming from Sabiha Gocken Airport. There are actually multiple shuttle buses from these airports going to Istanbul’s Euro-side which departs every 30 minutes. And the best thing about these shuttle-buses is that it stops near Taksim Square where you can start your stroll around the old town!

Below are some of the best things to see and do when in Istanbul!


TAKSIM SQUARE

Taksim Square is the most famous square in Istanbul, it is one of the main gateways to Istanbul’s magnificent streets and avenues. Here you can spend a good 20 minutes for photos. You can also buy some bird-feedS from some of the local vendors in the square if you want to feed the thousands of pigeons roaming on the square, trust me, it’s therapeutic!

Istiklal Avenue

So after spending some time in Taksim Square, you can directly head to Istiklal Avenue from there, you just need to follow the railway from the square stretching all the way to Istiklal Avenue . In my opinion, I think Istiklal Avenue is the most beautiful avenue in Istanbul and one of the best in the whole world. Here you can walk past hundreds of cafes and shops. It is estimated that there are about three-million people in total which passes through here in the course of a weekend.

TAKSIM NEVIZADE

Taksim Nevizade is one of the highlights of Istanbul’s nightlife. It is the Red Light District in Istanbul. You can find it in the middle of Istiklal Avenue. Just enter the alley beside MAC Cosmetics Shop in the middle of Istiklal and there you can find the Nevizade. Here you can enjoy a great local beer and lots of amazing Turkish Cuisines.

GALATA TOWER

Galata Tower is a medieval stone watch tower built centuries ago. It is situated at the other end of Istiklal Avenue. You can climb the tower to get a magnificent view of Istanbul. Tip: Head there in the morning to avoid long queue during busy hours. You know what they say, you have never actually been to Istanbul if you didn’t have any photo of Galata Tower in the background.

BOSPHORUS RIVER CRUISE

After exploring the streets of Istanbul, head over to the Bosphorus River Bank and get yourself a Bosphorus River Cruise Ticket! Your Istanbul trip wouldn’t be complete without going on a Bosphorus River Cruise. This is the best option if you want to witness the real beauty of both Istanbul’s Europe and Asian side from the middle of the Bosphorus.

THE BLUE MOSQUE AND HAGIA SOPHIA

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are some of the most beautiful pieces of architectures in this modern world. These structures were built during the Byzantine Era, so imagine how much history these places have. They are both located on Istanbul’s European Side, so when exploring the old town, make sure to include these in your itinerary. The two are just situated quite near to each other.




ISTANBUL GRAND BAZAAR

According to wikipedia.com, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. Must be quite an attraction! So why not include it on your list of places to visit when in Istanbul!

Have you been to Istanbul? How was your experience? Share it with us through the comment section below!

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