Backpacking for Culture – A Pinay’s Story

For most Pinoys, to travel outside the Philippines alone is not something one commonly hears about, let alone encourage. What more if the traveler happens to be an attractive and still single Filipina, only 24 years of age?But that’s exactly what Lani del Fierro has done recently. And what’s more amazing about it is that she even chose to travel backpacker style. Let’s hear Lani’s story so we may understand why.Lani simply loves the beach. She wouldn’t have gone to Phuket in Thailand just after a few days of sun and white sand in our very own Boracay if she’s anything but a beach lover. But one thing that really attracted her to the beaches in Thailand is because they are protected. Yes, our Boracay in the Visayan region of the Philippines is known the world over for its white and fine sand, but Thailand’s beaches also have something else to offer – and that is, their being protected from the harms brought on by people.Lani found a place to stay in Khao San Road, which is notoriously known to many from the West as the backpacker’s haven. But contrary to what others might think, the room Lani stayed in has a hot shower and has air-conditioning, and very clean for only 580 baht (less than 20 US dollars).On her first day, Lani contented herself with roaming Bangkok. She met a fellow traveler from Germany, who gave her a lot of tips about her planned trip to the islands, south of Thailand. They also exchanged interesting facets about each other’s culture and Thai history while touring the National Gallery, the wats (temples) and the Reclining Buddha. One thing that’s striking for Lani was that the Thais believe so much in their King.After a lot more sight seeing, Lani has been impressed because even the government buses are clean, as well as the taxi boats, the tuk-tuk, and the BTS (the train station). As for best bargains, according to Lani, Chatuchak is the best place to go. However, one of the most fascinating experiences she’s had is that of Khao San Road. “I didn’t feel that I was in Asia. I felt like I was in Europe,” Lani quipped.Leaving Khao San, Lani had her sight on Phuket next. She took an overnight bus, where she met a 22-year-old couple, who was so impressed that she could speak English well and that she’s travelling alone. And talking about that experience led her to think about the best lesson she learned on this trip. And that is, in other countries, people start to travel at a young age, unless they’re Japanese, or unless they travel with a group. But somebody like Lani to be travelling on her own, that is something out of the ordinary.We asked Lani what advice would she give to those who plan to travel here. And here’s her reply – “ You have to know what your agenda is. It’s not expensive to travel.” And as to shopping, which is something Bangkok has become known for most recently, Lani says, “You can see them in Greenhills.”Lani is the eldest among three siblings, and she helps out her dad with her siblings’ education. Her trip to Bangkok was her reward to herself for all her hard work as a Property Consultant at the Playa Calatagan, the Philippines’ first tourism estate designed around a beach community in Calatagan, Batangas.