Alex De Leon can very much be considered a citizen of the world. The young gentleman has his dream job at Facebook (as Southeast Asia’s Regional Product Marketing Manager), which affords him the opportunity to scratch his “itchy feet”—to travel to exotic locations and immerse himself in other cultures. As this month’s Lifestyle Asia Travel Issue cover star, we asked Alex to give us a few travel tips that has proven to be useful on his adventures abroad. Take note: we proclaim Alex a travel expert. He’s ran with the bulls in Spain, has gotten drunk with the military at North Korea, learned how to Salsa in Cuba, and has eaten a guinea pig at Machu Picchu. It’s quite impressive, considering this citizen of the world had done it all—and before his 30th birthday to boot.
You can read Alex De Leon’s full story at this month’s Lifestyle Asia. Run to your nearest bookstores on February for the print edition or download the FLIP100 app for a digital copy.
TIP 1: PHOTOS SHOULD ONLY BE AN EXTENSION OF A TRIP
“I’m such a fan of documenting adventures but I think these days we’re a bit obsessed with capturing the perfect moment. If your food gets cold because you’re spending too much time framing the picture, then you’re probably doing it wrong. I’ve also become very fond of bringing a journal with me and writing short notes to recap a trip. A photo can help record a snapshot of your experience, but writing can capture how a place actually made you feel. And that makes all the difference.”
TIP 2: DRAW THE LINE AT GUINEA PIGS
“I’m not picky by any measure. I can handle spicy foods with the best of them. If someone invites me into their home to share a meal, I will eat absolutely anything no matter how peculiar or unappealing. I’ll do all of it with a smile on my face and without the slightest hesitation. With that said, I won’t eat things just because they’re obscure and I definitely don’t like gimmicks. You won’t find me looking for snake blood in Thailand just because too many eager tourists saw The Beach. Nobody actually eats that. Also, I try to avoid cute animals. I draw the line at guinea pig, which I unfortunately ate in Peru.”
TIP 3: NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT NOISE CANCELING HEADPHONES
“Before I had my first pair, I used to dread the prospect that I’d be seated next to a crying baby on a long haul flight. That must be what purgatory feels like.”
TIP 4: LEAVE YOUR EGO AT HOME
“One should always travel without an ego. Whenever I travel to a new place, it’s easy for everything to feel strange. However, I always try to keep in mind that I’m the foreigner and I’m the one that is strange. It helps manage frustrations whenever you encounter the inevitable language barrier or cultural nuance.”
TIP 5: ASK THE LOCALS ABOUT THEIR FOOD
“Never leave the country without asking the locals what their most popular dish is and then trying to find the most famous establishment that serves it. Every place in every part of the world has one and it helps you move beyond the stereotypical foods. Think about the Philippines. At the surface, our most famous dishes might be adobo or sinigang. Now imagine going to Ilocos and only eating adobo instead of chorizo or empanadas or Bacolod and not having chicken inasal. That would be a shame.”
By Chino R. Hernandez
Featured image by Yukie Sarto
Styling by Roko Arceo
Additional travel photos courtesy of Alex de Leon