Featured Traveler: Emmie Abadilla

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Emmie has been a long time travel writer for a local newspaper and other publications. She was a self-taught artist/painter (had a one woman show of her angels in oil and hoping to mount her second soon).

Napping with tiger in Thailand
Napping with tiger in Thailand

She spent 10 years of her life in the theatre as a professional performer before turning to newspapering. For a dozen years now, She has been backpacking, mountaineering, canyoneering, scuba diving and trekking.

Emmie in Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada
Emmie in Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada

She was also into volunteer travel as well, taking care of 50 tigers, a handful of lions, a leopard, a cougar and 4 lynxes – plus 30 Asian elephants, in Thailand and in the U.S.

Sleeping with fave Tiger in Thailand
Sleeping with fave Tiger in Thailand

In the Philippines, She traveled from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. Overall, She has been to 52 countries and 5 continents. Now she writes a regular Travel column for Manila Bulletin every Sunday, “My World In a Flashpack” and hopes to publish her first travel book soon.

Tiger takes me for a walk in Thailand
Tiger takes me for a walk in Thailand

Learn more about Emmie by reading her interesting responses to our travel questionnaire below.

• Beach or Mountain?
I was born at the foot of sacred Mount Banahaw and grew up gazing at its blue peak each morning, so I have a powerful affinity with mountains although I’m just as fond of the sea and am a licensed scuba diver.

Volunteering in Elephant Sanctuary in Chiangmai Thailand
Volunteering in Elephant Sanctuary in Chiangmai Thailand

• How often do you travel by air / land?
By air, twice a month, average. I prefer overland travel if I can afford to spare the time because I can see much more at a leisurely pace. I’ll never forget my 3-day journey on the Trans-Siberian train and my overnight solo journey on the Chiangmai sleeper from Bangkok on a full-moon eve. I wish to do Beijing to Tibet by rail one of these days and Saigon to Lisbon .

• What’s your favorite airport?
I often sleep in airports so I’m most fond of the consistent Golden Pillow Awardee, Singapore Changi – a tourist destination in its own right. I had layovers there of 5 hours or more and never got bored.
But I love the Etihad VIP lounge at the Abu Dhabi International Airport too – with its “mini-hotel” for long layovers – complete with massage room, shower, bedroom, splendid business center and world-class Filipino staff.

Hunting with golden eagles in Mongolia
Hunting with golden eagles in Mongolia

• What is your favorite Hotel?
I’ve stayed in countless 5-star hotels worldwide and one 8-star hotel, but I can’t forget the Peri Caves Hotel Pension in Goreme, Turkey . My room was literally gouged out of the insides of a fairy chimney in a magical place full of underground churches and whole villages beneath the earth.

• Who is your preferred Airline?
Etihad, for its business class. I flew via Etihad going to Abu Dhabi and Moscow and had the best sleep on its flatbed seat within a privacy shell, everything I need within my reach. Got the best reward system for my miles too. I used mine to buy a tablet.
I like PAL business class as well – comfy bed, great food, pleasing air hostesses.

Exploring the Altai in Mongolia
Exploring the Altai in Mongolia

• How do you beat jet lag / Motion sickness?
I don’t sleep before a long-haul trip. I can’t anyway, with all my deadlines, the advance stories I have to file and last minute arrangements I have to make.
I’ve never experienced motion sickness, thank God! I dream through the worst air pockets in the sky and the biggest waves at sea. I love roller coasters, perhaps that’s why.

• What are your favorite travel gadgets?
My Canon DSLR camera, though it’s heavy, because I need to document my trip. I can’t live without my iPhone and my Samsung Note 2 and my iPad – for journaling, mobile trip research, emergency re-bookings, sketching, etc. I often had to lug a laptop as well for serious writing on the go.

At the peak of Altai Nuur Mongolia
At the peak of Altai Nuur Mongolia

• Any Tips on how to travel light?
I can’t travel without a lot of metal, but I try to travel as paperless as I can. I keep a digital file of all my travel docs, including my passport and tickets. All my maps are in my tablet and in my smartphones, as well as my itineraries, travel books, etc.

If I’m doing mountain climbing or trekking in combination with city tours, I do the hardcore adventure first and ship my heavy gear back to Manila in advance when I’m finished so I can travel on a single daypack afterwards.

I only bring the clothes I need and do my own laundry along the way.

• Best Backpack Brand? I use Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) backpack from Canada for short trips but my left shoulder and wrist had been damaged due to the bite of the 250-pound cougar I cared for as a volunteer so I can’t carry heavy backpacks like I used to. However, my Victorinox wheeled trolley luggage survived 3 months of heavy battering over land, sea and air during my tour of Europe.

• Top 3 Philippine Destinations?
1. El Nido, Palawan – nature and luxury combined
2. Batanes – very photogenic, feels like the Scottish highlands, sumptuous coconut crabs, wonderful people
3. Siargao – raw nature, exciting waves, stingless jellyfish, astounding caves and lakes

• Top 3 International Destinations?
1- Mongolia- Gobi desert, Ulgii, Altai Mountains, Ulaan Bataar – magnificent golden eagles, wolves, snow leopards, Zen moonscape, music of stillness, Kazakh hospitality, half-wild horses and camels, frozen lakes, mutton cooked in dung stoves and rock-hard yak cheese
2. Russia – Moscow – exhilerating Russian winter, great history, treasures of the Czars, awesome museum and Byzantine churches, heavenly caviar, passionate Muscovites
3. Turkey – Istanbul , Cappadocia, Izmir , Ephesus – relics of the world’s greatest religions alongside harem at Topkapi Palace, breathtaking Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque, temple of Artemis and library, Ephesus, baths and cotton springs at Pamukkale, the underground churches and caves of Derinkuyu, warm people

Favorite Travel Quote

From my experience as a globe-trotter, a quotation from St. Augustine of Hippo rings true: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

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