This year, I decided that traveling would be a priority. In between work and different projects, however, it becomes hard to sneak away from the metro and sneak in out-of-town trips.
The solution? Find beautiful beaches accessible from the city at a moment’s notice!
Puerto Galera is one such beach town. Known for its nightlife and beautiful beaches, Galera is located in Mindoro — an island at the southwest portion of Luzon. A boat or a ferry from Batangas City will bring you to the island’s sunny shores.
I brought the Moto M and Vivo V5 Lite on a quick trip to Mindoro, and these are the beautiful views captured through their lenses.
Personally, camera specs mean so little to me. What’s important is how the actual photos turned out. I put the two phones to the test.
While Puerto Galera is home to 32 beaches; one of the most famous ones is White Beach. The stretch of fine white sand is the perfect spot to laze around on hot summer days.
In this ideal shooting scenario, there is not much difference between the Vivo V5 Lite’s 13-megapixel camera and Moto M’s 6-megapixel camera. There are, however, visible color differences. The Vivo V5 Lite’s photos seem more saturated compared to the Moto M’s cooler palette — it’s as if the Vivo camera has an automatic Clarendon filter.
Vivo’s V5 Lite has a 16-megapixel selfie camera while the Moto M has an 8-megapixel selfie cam. More importantly though, both have beautification mode (!!).
Both phones also have an HDR shooting mode (which, I am told, just means that the cameras should be able to capture more details from bright and dark areas even under extreme lighting conditions). Proud to report, the function does seem to work well.
Puerto Galera is home to many hotels and dining establishments. You will never run out of places to dine in and eat at here. It’s also very easy to explore the town as tricycles and jeepneys are available everywhere.
The Vivo camera obviously did better in our jeep shoot, but both didn’t do so well under the weird lighting conditions.
Time for a close up! The Vivo camera seems to take brighter photos, but this washed out some of the detail.
Don’t forget to grab fresh fruit shakes by the beach! This is the HDR mode at work. The Moto M’s camera took photos which are more true to life. Vivo’s color settings (I call it “automatic filter”) make for a prettier photo, though.
Evenings at Puerto Galera are not quiet. The steady influx of tourists make for a great nightlife, and it isn’t uncommon to find people drinking by the beach come night time.
Sunsets by the beach make for a great background. Both phone cameras didn’t do justice to this view.
There are also countless events in Puerto Galera. One of them is the annual Malasimbo Art and Music Festival which is a treat for your senses. Plus, it’s literally held atop a mountain.
(Note that the lights at the venue were blinking the whole time, so that may account for the darker Moto M photo.)
Nighttime photography is always a struggle with phone cameras, but I was impressed with the photos the two phones came up with.
In terms of picture quality, there was not much noticeable difference between the two as observed by my untrained eyes.
For Instagram #TravelGoals posts, these two phones can and will certainly deliver. The camera differences lie in the colors of the photos produced. The Moto M churns more authentic photos in a cooler palette, while the Vivo V5 Lite’s photos are more warm and saturated.
I was impressed by how the two phones performed, overall. Vacations usually present less than ideal shooting circumstances (especially by the beach or on a mountain, at night!) but the two phones were able to bring home memories from the trip through beautiful photos.
24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
[irp posts=”11235" name=”24 Hours in Barcelona with the Huawei P10"]
24 hours in Mövenpick with the Honor 9X
I didn’t want to leave
I know you must feel strange to be hearing back from me writing another travel article when last time I tried, I preemptively said that I was horrible at writing about my adventures. Well, you guys might have to deal with reading my silly little travel psychobabble again because I went to Cebu for a weekend and I brought the Honor 9X with me.
Okay, this is technically not fair since Cebu is like home to me at this point. I luckily grew up visiting Cebu a lot. My older siblings were born there, so that’s not much of a surprise. On this trip though, my parents opted out of staying in a hotel in the middle of the bustling city. We decided to stay by the beach at Mövenpick. We have never been to Mövenpick before. So, it was going to be pretty interesting to explore the place.
The view was stunning. I didn’t even know what to capture first. It was that gorgeous. When we arrived, the staff were lovely enough to let us roam the area despite not having checked in yet. Mövenpick is pretty. The moment you get dropped off at the lobby, the place instantly assaults your senses with everything beach. It smells, sounds, and feels like you’re at the beach.
That’s obviously because a few steps farther, you’re already at the beach. The place is well designed to have the ocean breeze flow from the bayfront to the resort lobby. It’s open-spaced.
No such thing as fasting at breakfast
This is the only photo of food I managed to snag before inhaling it. I’m not going to apologize for being a little hangry considering I hadn’t had a meal for hours and I stayed up all night. This is Mövenpick’s poached egg breakfast. Was it good? Yes. I mean, look at it. How could it not be?
I think off the bat, that how the food tasted may have shifted a little considering I was zoning out because of the view. It’s really pretty and honestly, it testing my writing skills (if I have any) to try and find more synonyms to great, pretty, and lovely.
Dinner at the Ibiza
No, I didn’t take a pill in Ibiza. And yes I know, nobody asked. Mövenpick has this by-the-bay restaurant and bar called the Ibiza. They have live music and good food so if you’ve booked a room, this is the place to be at night. There’s food, an amazing view, and live music. Is there anything more I could have asked for? No. It was perfect.
The Ibiza is open in the morning too. If you want to have your breakfast there, you can soak in the early morning ocean breeze while eating.
Here come excuses
Alright, I didn’t take many photos while in Cebu, at least, not as many as I would like to. I wanted to savor every stunning moment there. I haven’t been back in ages and I’ve barely spent time at the beach. Not to mention, I rarely get to see my little nephew.
I guess as much as this article is about bringing the Honor 9X with me to show off how the phone is capable of capturing every lovely moment of your travels, it’s good to sometimes be in the moment. It isn’t on the Honor 9X for uncaptured moments. It’s totally on me for leaving it in my bag. Having said that, I think it was good to have eased off bringing the phone along every single second of the trip. I’m more than happy to have lived those quiet undocumented moments.
I’m not saying you should drop taking pictures altogether. It’s nice to have documented moments of a trip especially when it’s somewhere stunning. It’s nice to have something to look back on and to remind us of good times. I suppose it’s just nice to sometimes wean off of being so obsessive with what you can capture and instead, be in the moment.
All photos are taken with the Honor 9X
24 Hours in Busan
Through the lenses of Redmi Note 8 Pro
Alright, I’m not that great at writing about my adventures while travelling, so be gentle. Don’t come at me. I often journal about my day, but that’s to keep track of commissions and cookie orders.
Anyways, I went to Busan, South Korea for G-Star. If you guys don’t know, G-Star is one of Asia’s biggest video game expos. Knowing that I was pretty excited to fly to South Korea for it. There was going to be good food, lovely company, tons of skincare and video games — all the things I love. Of course, I was going to be pumped.
A warm welcome and stay
We were staying at Haeundae which is a nice chilly beach-side area in November. When we arrived, a kind soul lived in the area and was more than happy to drive us to our Airbnb. If mister Lim somehow stumbles upon this article, thank you so very much for your hospitality and kindness. You were relentlessly kind and there’s no amount of thanking I could do for what you did for us.
He drove us to our Airbnb and offered to take us all out to dinner. He took us to have some sashimi by the bay. It was amazing. I was at loss for words. One moment, we picked a fish; the next, it was skinned, deboned, and chopped up ready to eat.
Haeundae is a pretty touristy spot. Most locals rush here during the summer. Considering we were there mid-November, it was pretty windy and cold by the beach. This didn’t really change how stunningly scenic the place was though. From early morning walks by the beach to the hectic nightlife in the area, you can never go wrong by exploring the area.
When you’re close to the Haeundae beach, you need to wake up early to watch the sunrise. You cannot miss out on seeing the sunrise or sunset when you’re by any beach. That’s my rule of thumb.
If you’d like to explore the place at night, you’re in for a treat. The place is booming with lights and music. We dropped by a street market nearby that sold tons of fresh produce. If you’re daring enough, you can have fresh eel and squid. If there was ever a time I felt strangely lucky to be allergic to most kinds of seafood, it would be that day.
South Korea has amazing food
Before anything else, I just need to say: South Korea has amazing food. I don’t know where to even begin. Just an hour after landing at Busan and I had already fallen in love with the place. It may have been the Somaek talking, but still. There is a growing list of meals I’ve tried in Korea that I will forever miss until my wishful and hopeful return. I can’t even say which one was my favorite since all of them were pretty flipping good.
I already loved kimchi. I know it’s not necessarily a dish in and of itself, but I love kimchi so much I would cut someone for the last serving of kimchi. I’m kidding! Or am I?
Jokes aside, you need to try out sashimi when and if you find yourself in Haeundae. With people being so close to the sea, everything is super fresh. Have that with some soju and beer and you’ll be having the night of your life.
I didn’t get to take too many photos while I was at the convention center because it was so swamped! Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time roaming the expo. The booths were massive and everyone was so kind and approachable! I have Ywiser to thank for letting me join them on the trip.
G-Star 2019 was an intense trip. There were so many eye-catching booths everywhere. It didn’t help how every booth I passed were games I already play, games I have and haven’t played, and games I would kill to play. There were tons of people, left and right.
I would stare longingly at filled up loot bags from booths some people managed to rack up. I mean, as of writing, I’m staring at my loot bag that I didn’t get to fill to the brim with free merch from booths. As a completionist, my hands were itching to attain every achievement, but we ran out of time…
I’ll have to admit, Busan was a memorable trip. If anything, I’ve come back home seriously learning Korean. It was an unforgettable experience. I still wake up craving for some Seolleongtang and I’ve almost completely stopped drinking every night since the trip.
Most of the things I brought back were freebies from the expo, skincare, and a ton of fond memories I’d want to come back to on the next trip. I think, with the Redmi Note 8 Pro, I managed to capture some of the stunning scenery I obviously didn’t want to miss out on.
Busan was lovely and there were no brain-starving zombies. I didn’t get to take a good photo of the bridge where a scene in Black Panther was shot, but if you go, please do. Haeundae is such a scenic place. You can’t help but stop at your tracks and stare.
24 hours in Caramoan
Shot with the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
Tucked in the easternmost part of the Philippines, one can find the beautiful Caramoan Islands. Known as the setting for the hit American reality show Survivor, tourists visit this place to rekindle their Survivor dreams.
But Caramoan is more than just a Survivor destination. It’s home to white and pink sand beaches and tropical activities such as diving, swimming, snorkeling, and spelunking. To get to this paradise, you must take a sixteen-hour drive from Manila.
When we arrived, my friends and I opted to do island hopping for one day to see what Caramoan has to offer. I brought the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE — my favorite midrange smartphone this year — to capture my travels for the day.
Perfect summer weather
Caramoan, like other tropical destinations, is prone to rains and storms. Thankfully, we started with a fine, sunny morning. There were no hints of rain clouds and gloomy skies so we were permitted to roam and go on an island hopping tour.
A day won’t start without a selfie. Before we hop on a boat, we took a selfie under the sun to show-off the blue sky, and of course, us.
Tip #1: When in a tropical destination, make sure you’re wearing appropriate yet fashionable clothes. In this case, I wore a yellow tie-dye sleeveless shirt that I can easily take off should I decide to dip into the water.
Contrary to my previous island hopping tour experiences, the view we had here was kinda gloomy. The sea looked silky as it was enveloped by fog, just like a scene taken right out of Pirates of the Caribbean. While my friends were sleepy, I took advantage of taking photographs since the view will be the same for at least half an hour.
Tip #2: If you’re not exhausted, observe and soak up the surroundings. Everything is picture-worthy, only if you know when and how to.
Our first stop was Guinahoan island, where the popular lighthouse is located. You need a ten to fifteen-minute walk before you can reach the summit where a magnificent view awaits.
Tip #3: Never forget your sunblock and if possible, bring a shawl or anything to cover your skin from the harsh sunlight.
I know, I know. We all want to visit the beaches, but this scenic landscape of rolling hills and greenery is too beautiful to give a pass.
Tip #4: There are no trees or any shade so it’s a must to wear your favorite sunglasses whenever you want to have a photo-op.
Of course, there’s a high chance you’ll end up taking the same photos in the same spots with everyone. It’s important to be creative, even when you travel. While I have inspiration for the photos I want to take, it’s best to explore the area and look for a different perspective to be different. As you can see, my friends and I decided to have our photos taken in different spots so our photos wouldn’t look the same.
Tip #5: If you want a fresh take on your Instagram photos, maybe try adding foreground and forget using portrait mode. Swear, it does wonders especially when you have a scenic background.
We headed to Manlawi sandbar where we were greeted with floating cottages. This sandbar appears only when it’s low tide, hence, the water is chest-deep for those who are swimming.
Our group rented a cottage — which was part of the packaged tour — where we could eat our packed lunch. We decided to bring reusable plastic containers we have from our homes so we can clean and pack them after. While it’s hard to steer away from plastic use, we did our best to keep the place clean and bring our trash with us wherever we went.
After lunch, we’re ready for another island adventure. Being in a tight space, I wished my phone had a wide-angle selfie meant for group photos like this. Nonetheless, we still tried taking a photo or two with my short arms.
Tip #6: I know selfie sticks are so 2015, but it’s additional safety precaution when taking your photos. Imagine if you accidentally dropped your phone in the water!
While on our way to the next island, I stumbled upon beautiful limestone cliffs and rock formations. Caramoan is like a combination of El Nido and Boracay — filled with limestone cliffs, white and golden fine sand, and blue seas.
Tip #7: Use 2x zoom (or more) to find a suitable frame for a scene you want to capture. It helps especially when the boat is a little bit far for you to take a photo.
One of my favorites, Matukad Island is a heaven for beach lovers. There’s fine, white sand everywhere, where you’d rather stomp around barefooted and roll over than go back to city pavements. Since this trip is actually a birthday celebration of a friend, we brought Survivor props and played a game.
If I could go back, I’ll be sure to add this island to the itinerary again. I spent a lot of time running around, sitting, and rolling over in the sand. Life is really better at the beach.
This place is majestic, especially during the golden hour. Wherever you look, it’s instagrammable. If taking photos isn’t your thing, you can sit around and ponder about life since it’s peaceful and relaxing.
Tip #8: Wide-angle modes are your friend when it comes to scenic landscapes. Don’t hesitate to use them!
The sun is going down and we need to get back to the port before the seas get crazy. But before we arrive at the port, the boatman and our guide dropped us off at a small cove with mesmerizing rock formations.
Friendly advice, don’t climb the rocks barefoot. It’s too painful but I endured it to get the pose that I wanted. After twenty minutes, we hopped on the boat to finally go back to the port.
My friends and I were staying in Magindara Guesthouse, a beachfront resort filled with airconditioned cottages to give you that relaxed, tropical vibe. The sand where we stayed at is fine yet brown, but the foamy, bubbly waves compensate. It makes for a perfect profile photo!
Fun nights at Magindara Guesthouse
The sun has finally set and we’re down for a night of drinking and fun moments to cherish. Luckily, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE can take decent photos using its front and rear cameras. You’ll never miss a moment to capture anymore!
Tip #9: Decent night shots are still a hit or miss. To capture better photos at night, find and lean your angle towards a source of light.
And before everything went south, we asked to take a group photo in front of our boodle fight. The whole experience in Caramoan was fantastic, made even better by my companions and the memories we made.
Caramoan is for the adventurous soul, and it’s a place I would come back to if given the chance. Luckily, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE was more than enough to capture all the memories of this wonderful trip. I can look back without regrets, and I look forward to the time where I’ll be traveling to this paradise once again.
All photos are taken with the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE.
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