24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Koh Samui

An adventure told through the GoPro Hero 7

Published

on

Having been to Thailand on multiple occasions, I always thought I knew everything that the country had to offer — but that was until I met Koh Samui.

As Thailand’s second-largest island (right after the popular Phuket), it’s home to gorgeous beaches, lovely temples, and some of the most attractive resorts and spas this side of the coast.

My stay didn’t last long enough to cover all there is to see in Koh Samui, but I did get to take part in the more adventurous aspect of island — making the choice of using a GoPro Hero 7 to document the trip all the more fitting!

A selfie right in front of the beach is in order! My group’s very first activity was snorkeling south of Koh Samui. Boats are easy enough to rent from here, the size of which depends on how large your group is.

If you’re in a rush to enter the ocean, you’re better off going for a speed boat like this. At a speed of about 50 knots (or 92kph!), you’re sure to soak up lots of sea breeze — which I wholeheartedly appreciated. 👌

Near the coast of Tean Island, we snorkeled through reefs which weren’t that deep or had dangerous corals. I’d say it’s very beginner-friendly, especially for those who can’t swim that well or fear the deep blue sea, but want to see colorful fish in their natural habitat.

Since the sun was still high and we didn’t want to turn into fried seafood ourselves, we took shelter in a nearby island called Koh Mat Sum. It’s tiny in comparison to neighboring islands, and it’s inhabited by…

… these adorable pigs! Yes, the island is filled with them, and I saw more piggies than I did other animals. Not that I mind, but I wonder what their purpose is. 🐖👀

Koh Mat Sum is also home to well-formed sand bars with some of clearest, bluest water I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see such pristine beaches even in tourist hotspots — I can’t say the same for some islands I’ve been to in other countries. Please pick up your trash, folks!

I had to prove my existence on this splendid island, so I took a photo using the Hero 7’s ten-second timer. Not-so-fun fact: This is the brand’s first action camera to have the feature! Why did this take so long, GoPro?!

All good things to come to an end, but they also lead to more fun activities, like this off-road ATV adventure I was about to go on after riding these pickup trucks. Back in Koh Samui, the dense forests are home to not only unspoiled wildlife and lots of fruit, but tracks perfect for driving through, as well.

Out ATVs were provided by the fine people of Samui Quad Motor, which provides vehicles of all colors and sizes, depending on what you need most. I obviously went for the larger model, and I’m glad I did, because the river parts needed more ground clearance to get through.

Because we had a lot of beginners in the group — myself included — we took a lot of breaks in between to let everyone catch up and brace ourselves for each leg of the trail. Having completed the most difficult part (check out that river behind me), I had to take another selfie because reasons. 🤳

The entire day was admittedly tiring and not what I’m used to — I’m just a work-at-home editor, after all — so getting back to our resort was a godsend. The Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa is a spectacular place to stay in, albeit a little pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for.

I had this little balcony outside of my room with space for two. Since I was alone, I used this outdoor spot to air-dry my clothes from the day’s escapades. But I still wish I had someone to share this with. 💔

Blue Leaf is one of the restaurants found within the resort. It’s the place to be in when you want a quick order of Pad Thai, spring rolls, fresh fruit, or Pad Thai — it’s so good it has to be mentioned twice!

Walking past the restaurant, you’ll find this vast pool facing the ocean. There are rarely any people here, because the beach right in front of it is what everyone actually wants to experience. Wait for it…

Here they are! This area is certainly the most Instagrammable part of the whole resort. This alone is worth the price of admission! So what exactly were these two models seeing in the background? Check this…

One of Koh Samui’s famous sunsets! I’ve seen tons of memorable sunsets all my life, but this definitely ranks high on my personal list. The way the light bounces off the rocks and glistens on the ocean is like no other. Makes me wish there were more than one sunset per day. 🤷‍♂️

It gets better, though. Find a good spot before night falls on the island, because the sky’s twilight is equally Instagram-worthy.

And here it is! I love how the water is shallow enough to walk on for long distances; gives the picture an even more surreal look. Blue on blue is something you rarely see unless you find a spot as serene as this.

But the night had just begun, and we found our way to a nearby night market. Like Bangkok and other cities in Thailand, Koh Samui hosts several of these with food and drinks at every corner. The one we went to was along Bophut Beach, which is on the northern tip of the island.

Dinner is… about to be served! We ate at Krua Bophut, which is — you guessed it — a Thai restaurant. I certainly didn’t mind since I have my fair share of Thai cuisine even when I’m not in their country. Actually, I’m craving some right now…

Like any trip, leaving is the hardest part. Fortunately, Koh Samui makes it a little less painful. This is the island’s sole airport, and it’s designed like an outdoor mall! Not once did I feel like I was at an actual airport. But alas, it was time to go home.

Koh Samui, despite its relatively small size, needs at least a week to truly appreciate. There are temples to be visited, more beaches to swim in, and lots more food to taste. This may be only the second-biggest island of Thailand, but it’s definitely number one in quality for me.

24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Unisan

Captured through the superb cameras of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Published

on

By

We all needed a break (or two) to wind down from all stressful work. With my last moments using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, I decided to join a trip with my high school buddies (whom I haven’t seen for more than a year) down to a farther part of the south in the Philippines’ biggest island.

Quite an unprepared trip

Our original plan back in June 2021 was to go to a beach resort in Nasugbu, Batangas — then something happened.

Heavy rains poured a week before our reservation date, but that wasn’t the main reason why we changed course. The infamous Taal Volcano seen from the popular City of Tagaytay had a phreatomagmatic eruption in the last week of June. Since then, the Alert Level quickly went from 2 to 3. It was hazardous and dangerous considering the amount of Sulfur Dioxide in the air.

Not wanting to risk ourselves being exposed to air contaminants, we decided to look for another location that isn’t that strict and is readily available. An unheard place in Quezon was the only choice. Being first-time travelers to Unisan, we didn’t know what to expect.

We weren’t fully prepared. After packing all of our stuff, we all met then let Waze (plus my map literacy) do the job to help us reach the farther part of Quezon.

It took over five hours traveling from Calamba, Laguna to our intended destination. Naturally, these included traffic, fast food, convenience store, and restroom breaks. There was also lack of internet data connection and direction confusion along the latter part of Lucena City. But we persevered and reached our destination.

Star-studded sky, literally

Touchdown, Unisan! Frankly, none of us expected that it’ll be a great place to stay. But the moment the stars showed up (including shooting stars or meteors in their scientific term), I was already astounded.

The water felt so cool to touch but it also looked clear even if it was pitch-black. The only thing that buzzed us was the series of lights seen from a distance. We just thought it was a shore-based plant/factory. After all, we’re looking at the other part of Marinduque — which is another province in a secluded island not directly connected to the part of Luzon.

A morning of cool breeze

While some of my friends had an early morning sleep after drinking all-night, I decided to just stay awake since I wasn’t feeling sleepy.

Funny thing was, some of my friends asked us to wake them up for the “sunrise” but as far as I know, the sunrise won’t be visible in this area since it’s facing west — and I was right.

While they were disappointed that there was no “sunrise” view, seeing the early morning view made my eyes and heart.

I also decided to take an early morning walk. Through the telephoto and wide lens of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, I was able to take the shots above. I didn’t fully soak the device though due to my fear of having water-resistance issues even if it has an IP68 rating. It still protected the phone while shooting an almost soaked shot of the boat to capture its reflection on the water.

…then it felt like it was a hot summer

After being awake for 36 hours straight, my mind and body decided to rest. Then, the scorching heat outside — alongside their loud noises and smell of hotdogs and grilled fish being cooked — woke me up.

To my surprise, my friends were able to visit the nearest market — which was several kilometers away — and cooked-up a feast for lunch. It felt more refreshing with a fresh Buko Juice (Coconut Juice). For dessert, there were some classic Pinipig and Cheese popsicles being sold by a vendor nearby.

But all before that, I ate some classic Pancit Canton with hard-boiled egg on top for early breakfast. My friends also gave me spoonfuls of their Tapsilog — a combination of Tapa and Itlog (sunny side-up egg). Even though I’m not a huge fan of pork, I still enjoyed it — especially because they’re free food. 😅

As obvious as it gets, I wasn’t really prepared for this set of groufies but for the sake of making memories, I had to show my face anyway.

My other three friends from the early morning shoot decided to sleep. This time, I decided to tag along since I was already energized to walk along the sandy shore again (after heavy rain poured for around 10 to 15 minutes).

Nothing’s too early for some photoshoot

I clearly know my main role in this group — to shoot lots (I mean lots) of photos. I was lazy to lug around my heavy DSLR so I decided to just shoot with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Three of my high school friends and I decided to take an early morning walk to discover what’s on the other part of the shore. This what I was talking about from the earlier section.

I was stoked upon seeing how clear the water was up close. From that point, my mind told me to take some photos of them along the sea. I was just as glad with how the Galaxy S21 Ultra performed as how my friends were with the results.

Of course, I had to ask a friend to take some photos of me, too. While I wasn’t certain about my friend’s photography skills, I just directed her to do the same style of shot I did for them. Fortunately, she managed to take a couple of Instagrammable portraits (that I never posted because I don’t have that beach-perfect body).

Let the splashing begin!

After our satisfying lunch and some walk along with two of my friends, we decided to call the rest for the shoot they all have been waiting for.

The fast AF (autofocus) and shutter speed of the Galaxy S21 Ultra was able to take these studio-grade shots. Instructing my friends to just do their thing like the camera wasn’t there, I was able to take candid shots that also perfectly captured the motion of water.

With some color adjustments, I made the shots look more dramatic. The unedited shots were a little bit on the underexposed side since they’re all facing against the bright sky. Still, I was able to adjust the exposure without ruining the shots — even if they’re just photos with a JPG file format.

Even in a group shot like this, the Galaxy S21 Ultra managed. Not only it captured all of my friends, it also managed to preserve a candid-looking shot while still keeping all of them (plus the splashing water) in focus.

Unexpected breathtaking views

As the old saying goes, don’t judge the book by its cover. Upon seeing more breathtaking views, I immediately regretted how I underestimated what Unisan, Quezon had to offer.

My favorite pair of lenses are obviously the 3x and 10x telephoto lenses of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to capture these photographs (that I casually apply as my phone’s wallpaper). The iPhone I’ve been using for quite a while only has a single camera anyway.

Even these tropical-looking shots I captured above were taken from the zoom cameras of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If you’re still not amazed, scroll below to see more.

Sunset straight out of a dream

It was this time of day when Unisan, Quezon truly looked magical. I tried color-grading it to depict how it really looked like in real life.

The color balance and saturation of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s cameras were kind of inaccurate to begin with due to the environment.

The shots — taken using different lenses — perfectly preserved my memory of the sunset at Unisan. It looked surreal; as if I was dreaming. I almost cried since couldn’t believe I was there the whole time. Surely, no matter what type of lens you use, you can never go wrong with them.

I managed to take some transitioning shots too. From the pre-sunset phase to where the sun has fully set, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera superiority still reigned all throughout. The last shot was taken with Night Mode on. Using regular mode already displayed bits of grain all around.

As the day came to an end, I quickly set up my tripod and mounted the Galaxy S21 Ultra. We made sure to preserve the memories of our quick beach getaway with silhouette shots along with the sunset.

All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and were post-processed using Adobe Lightroom and VSCO.

Quick note

Before our trip, we made sure all of us were safe and  COVID-19 negative. We submitted all of the required documents needed. Some of us were already vaccinated prior to the travel date, which was held last July 2021. Face masks during the trip were only removed for the sake of the photoshoot. Social distancing protocols were still followed.


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.

Continue Reading

24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Tagaytay

With the ASUS Zenfone 8

Published

on

Think and speak of Tagaytay, and a bunch of memories will spark a conversation between friends and strangers alike. The holiday town down south of Metro Manila has been a getaway from the hustle-bustle of the city.

Tagaytay speaks of wonders — the classic Bulalô, overlooking sceneries, karaoke nights, and the sight of the majestic Taal Volcano. A heartwarming reminder that there’s always a place for you in this getaway town, regardless of your emotions.

A trip down south

In the midst of the government’s poor response to the pandemic, many industries were forced to adapt to continue their business operations. When I got a call from a friend to help with their social enterprise’s initiatives in Tagaytay, I said yes without hesitation.

After several signed permits, we took a trip down south. We took the Santa Rosa exit in Laguna and we were greeted by a gloomy sky warning us of an upcoming rainstorm.

Before the skies sent a downpour, I took a selfie on my latest daily driver — the ASUS Zenfone 8. After all, cloudy skies make for the perfect diffuser. Without the sun’s harsh lighting, your selfies will look balanced.

Moments later, a rainstorm occurred and it was my cue to take a nap.

I fell asleep the whole time we were in transit. When I woke up, we were already in Hollywood Subdivision where we’ll leave our bags.

It was a quiet neighborhood, although there are a few hotels and establishments around the area in case you need to grab a quick bite.

An overlooking, late lunch

After getting our bags settled in our place, we went to Green ATS restaurant along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. Because when in Tagaytay, you must get a Bulalô.

Due to pandemic restrictions, a space that was formerly good for five is now limited to two people. We ordered Bulalô or Beef Marrow Stew — a beef dish with clear broth, leafy vegetables, and corn on the cob.

Apologies but there are no photos included. I’m not that millennial anymore: the one that takes a lot of time to snap a photo of food or even style it to look glamorous for his followers to see, even if he’s really hungry.

But I did take a selfie while waiting for the food. Hashtag priorities.

The spot we have has an overlooking view, although still at a distance. I used the maximum 8x digital zoom capability of the ASUS Zenfone 8 to try to capture the barren, exhausted state of Taal Volcano after its sudden phreatomagmatic eruption back in January 2020.

After we were done eating, we went to the balcony to bask in awe of a majestic scene. I used the wide-angle mode to capture its glory.

I also captured the scenery using the wide-angle mode in Panorama, as if I was an old uncle who suddenly learned how to use smartphones. Afterward, we proceeded to our friend’s program — wherein we weren’t allowed to take photos.

Another drive for dinner

It was already dusk when we got back to our place. I charged my phone since I was using the Zenfone 8 since the morning — mobile data, messaging, maps, and all.

It was around 7:30 in the evening when we went out for a drive to look for an open café so I can write and do a bit of my work. Since most establishments are closed, especially all Starbucks branches, my friend insisted to visit Breakfast at Antonio’s.

I was averse to the idea of having my dinner here. But I was convinced when we realized I can bring out my laptop and type peacefully here.

The pastries are to die for, at least for my friend who was an avid fan of this restaurant.

Shot on ASUS Zenfone 8 | Auto Mode

They serve appetizing ice cream as well, which is a trip to the bathroom in my case. Lactose intolerant kids don’t get to enjoy the fine things in life unless we have our pills.

Three things about Breakfast at Antonio’s: First, the service is really slow. We had to call the waiters three times before they get our orders. Second, the food is bland and average except for the cup of hot chocolate. I think that was really remarkable.

Last but not the least, the pricing is insane. The waffle and pancake cost nearly US$ 10 (almost PhP 500) each, and it didn’t make me feel full. Not even a bit. Although my rich friend — who always calls himself comfortable as if he was Nick Young from Crazy Rich Asians — was delighted with the servings. To each his own, I guess.

We capped the night drinking with our friends from the army, who are about to be dispatched to different outposts in the Philippines. It was kind of a despedida since they will be stuck in their posts for two years or more.

Quiet mornings

The next morning, I found myself puffy and bloated after possessing the spirits of Jose Cuervo and Alfonso. I haven’t got myself drunk in a long time, so I took a much-needed hangover meal and shower that helped me come back to my senses.

Mornings are peaceful here. You can give your soul a break whether it’s through drinking a cup of coffee in silence while you read a new novel, or staring into space.

I went to the rooftop to get some sun. The overlooking view is the perfect sight to capture using a wide-angle mode, and I was glad I have that handy feature. It was breathtaking; as if there were endless possibilities unraveling before me.

The cat enjoyed getting some sun, too. I didn’t want to cause disturbance by getting close, so I used 2x zoom to capture it from a distance.

To a patch of greenery

We’re headed on a new adventure and a 30-minute drive to Mendez to visit an organic farm called L&J Country Estate. As part of my friend’s assignment, we’re helping her explore and learn about the place to see if the tour can be part of her next segment.

Upon entering L&J Country Estate, the first hallmark you’ll encounter is its fabulous fountain.

The place hosted an event the weekend before, so the café, swimming pool, and other amenities were off-limits for the timebeing.

Masks were removed only during photo-ops.

Noela Amparo, a rising pop-rock sensation, didn’t pass an opportunity to have her photos taken while we’re on the tour.

The first part we explored is their farm designed to look like gardens.

There was a bird sanctuary as well, for those who love birds.

The place doesn’t welcome smokers with their unapologetic signage. I pretend I didn’t see that and moved on. (I am guilty as charged.)

The open space where kids are welcome is also a space for witchcraft. Just kidding. There was a bonfire for late-night roasting sessions, or when you just want to chill and hang around.

For adventurous kids and kids-at-heart, there are several obstacle courses to enjoy as well.

And there were a lot of swings for those who want to live in the moment and sit in peace.

Flowers bloom almost everywhere, making it the perfect foreground for your Instagram photos.

Garden trellises produce dappled sunlight, so take advantage of them to create a hopeful yet dramatic appeal in your shots.

Masks were removed only during photo-ops.

Halfway, we got tired of walking around that we decided to lounge on a bench and catch up with life. Sometimes, we need to fill our time with laughter and conversations.

Remember: taking care of your relationships and spending time with people you love are also a form of self-care. Find ways to sit down and be present. We shouldn’t be consumed by the worries of the future all the time.

Masks were removed only during photo-ops.

And don’t forget to take selfies with the people you love.

Right after our tour, we passed by this youthful Volkswagen Beetle on our way out.

Masks were removed only during photo-ops. Everyone in the photo tested negative and got official documents to conduct business.

Of course, we didn’t forget to take a group selfie to commemorate the tour and to appreciate everyone who made the tour happen.

Twin Lakes

Before heading back to Manila, we took a quick drive to Twin Lakes to grab our lunch.

The place is eerily quiet with only a handful of people roaming around.

Before leaving, I stood at the balcony and took another look, and marveled at a breathtaking and refreshing view, before going back to the gloomy and busy Metro. The trip was quite short, but it was eventful.

All photos were taken using the ASUS Zenfone 8.


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.

Continue Reading

24 Hours Series

A 24-Hour soundtrip with the Huawei FreeBuds 4i

From waking up to sleeping soundly at night

Published

on

Huawei Freebuds 4i

For about a year or so now, I’ve considered my Huawei FreeBuds Lite as my go-to wireless earphones for day-to-day activities. I mean, I could basically just tone everyone out while I proceed to go about my day — whether it’s the weekday or weekend. Plus, I mean I own a Huawei phone so I guess I’d like to keep things a bit consistent.

Until one day, I was lucky enough to test out the new Huawei FreeBuds 4i, which was something quite surprising considering I was looking for another pair anyway. So I told myself, “why not, let’s use this entire thing for a whole day and see what happens.”

Wake up in the morning, feelin’ like…

Huawei Freebuds 4i

I’m pretty sure you know what comes after, so let’s get the morning started. That particular Friday morning, I woke up at around 6:30 to 7:00 AM despite only getting 6 hours of sleep. Before starting the day, I did a bit of stretching to some music that powers me right up. So, I popped in the Huawei FreeBuds 4i and instantly, I just heard nothing but the music.

To be honest, being disturbed early in the morning isn’t fun and the FreeBuds 4i’s Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) does wonders for that. In essence, it eliminates every possible noise you can hear and just lets you enjoy your ad-free music on Spotify. Yes, even the sound of loud cars and whirring fans disappear from your ears.

After my morning routine, I grabbed myself some breakfast matched with a nice cup of coffee. Even when there’s still work to do, you can’t really skip a good breakfast! To help me get myself ready for the work day, I tuned up some podcasts about my favorite topics and issues to discuss. With the FreeBuds 4i’s ANC, it was nice to properly hear and focus on the discussion points.

Work hard, play hard

Huawei Freebuds 4i

With breakfast out of the way, I had some work to do — mostly on the creative side of things and some writing. For the most part, I just stayed in my room and opened my Macbook to get things started. Luckily, the Huawei FreeBuds 4i was compatible with my Apple device, and connects quite fast.

Part of my work includes having voice and video calls with some colleagues and friends through my Huawei phone. With the FreeBuds 4i, I had a pleasant experience with the noise cancellation technologies that my friends could hear my voice clearly. Also, I turned on Awareness mode either through the Huawei AI Life app or a long press on the right earbud. You know, just in case somebody in the family needed my help and they were calling me.

During my breaks, I find myself playing some nice, good ‘ol fashioned League of Legends: Wild Rift on my phone. I teamed up with some friends through the Discord app, and turned up the game’s volume to a tolerable amount. While using the FreeBuds 4i, I heard all the game’s sounds deeply while finding a way to make team comms be a little better.

The night is still young, and so are we

Huawei Freebuds 4i

After my eight and a half hours of work and play, it was time for a little bit of relaxation before dinner time. I usually spend this time watching some YouTube videos or a series/movie on Netflix. For this particular Friday afternoon, I watched some VODs from the VALORANT Masters regional qualifiers for that week.

Of course, I had to quickly charge the FreeBuds 4i since it was running non-stop for eight or so hours. By quickly charging it, I mean all I needed was to give it a 10-minute recharge in the case and it’s all good to go. Essentially, this set of wireless earphones gives you about 4 hours of use in just a short amount of charging time.

Within those 4 hours, I reviewed three different sets of VODs of qualifying matches while having a smooth audio experience. With a dynamic 10mm audio driver and low latency audio algorithms, I could take in all the intense action between the best teams in VALORANT plus some commentary. After watching, I put down the earphones and gave it some more time to charge while having dinner.

Sweet lullaby, I want it more everyday

Huawei Freebuds 4i

After a hearty dinner, it was finally time to get some sleep and recharge for the next day. Of course, I made it a point to watch a Netflix series and have late night calls with my girl beforehand. Then, I prepared for bed and fired up my playlist to doze off into the night.

Before I began, I popped in the FreeBuds 4i and allowed the case to just charge in the background. For the next 8-10 hours, it would be my companion through the calls and the soundtrip to sleep. Furthermore, I didn’t have to worry too much if the songs stop playing when one of the earphones falls off my ear.

With 10 hours of continuous playback and a comfortable fit in my ear, the FreeBuds 4i allowed me to just close my eyes and recharge in peace. Also, I would sometimes check the battery percentage through the Huawei AI Life app to gauge how long my soundtrip would be. By the time I woke up the next day, it would be prime and ready for another recharge like me.

The Huawei FreeBuds 4i comes in at PhP 3,599, and in three colorways: Ceramic White, Carbon Black, and Red. 


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

Continue Reading

Trending