Van & Jepoy; Travelers and Soulmates

Van & Jepoy; Travelers and soulmates

What is it like to find that person who you share the same passion, supports your interests and just enjoys the simplest of moments with you by just lying around the sofa watching tv?

The Travel Debugger met this awesome couple travelers years back in the Zambales’ Z-fest Surfing event. Now they are married, they are still the adventurous couple that I knew back then.

Let’s get to know them, their story, be inspired and see what’s up in our interview with them!

Kindly introduce yourself to our readers

Jepoy: Hi! I’m Jeffrey, 30++ years old from Baguio City. Married to Van for 5 years but we’ve been together for much longer than that.

Van: I’m Van, 30++ years old as well, and since this is an interview for traveling as a married couple, I guess I’ll just introduce our “love story”. Haha! We first got together in college through a common friend, and separated after about 8 months, but remained friends who see each other about 3-4 times a year. Funnily enough, because of our break-up, I discovered an adventurous side to me and kind of gave me the push to do things I wouldn’t have normally done… Our break-up was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. 🙂 We got back together after about 5 years of living our lives individually, and we’ve been together ever since. ♥

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House with videos projected (not too obvious in this photo, though) during Vivid Sydney – June 2012

Do you believe that couples must travel together to stay in love forever?

Jepoy: Yes! We all know there are a lot of things to consider and work out on with regards to relationships, but travelling together sure does help a lot. It tends to bring out little surprises about your partner that wouldn’t have otherwise come to surface while staying at home being a couch potato.

Van: Not really. I believe that couples must do things that they both love doing together… for Jep and I, it just happens to be travel.

Related: 5 Reasons to Marry A Guy Who Travels

What are the things that you like most about your partner when travelling?

Jepoy: She packs my bag. Hahah!

Van: His patience and willingness to go with whatever crazy thing I have in mind. 🙂

Related: 10 Reasons Why I Love Traveling With My Wife

Skydiving in New Zealand

We survived! Tandem skydive (not with each other, of course!) in Queenstown, NZ – May 2012

I know you share the love for several of your activities, but can you name some that the other one dislikes?

Jepoy:  I do not necessarily dislike any of the things that Van does, I make a conscious effort to take interest in them to be honest. But there’s one thing I know for sure I don’t have talent in, it’s arts. Van was a former Fine Arts Major in College, and I can’t even draw a stick figure properly!

Van: Jep isn’t really the outdoorsy type,and though he doesn’t really dislike the outdoors such as climbing mountains or basically activities that involve him getting dirty and sweaty, but sometimes I do get him to come on climbs or bike trips – probably about once a year is his quota for each activity… Haha!

Mount Pulag

Watching the sun rise over Mt. Pulag – April 2015

Travelling as a married couple is super fun, but do you get the feeling that you want to travel solo sometimes? If you did, can you tell us about your experience and how you felt about it?

Jepoy: No. My bag won’t pack itself. Hahah! Kidding aside, no, I don’t see myself doing that any time soon. It’s just more fun when you get to share the experience with your significant other.

Van: If by solo, you mean travelling without the other, then I’ve done it several times. For just this past year, by travelling with friends (Gigantes Islands last July 2015), family (Korea this January 2016 and just recently, Palawan with my parents in July 2016), and for business (Misibis Bay this May 2016). Jep and I both started working the typical 40-hour-5-day work week kind of job these past couple of years, so I guess I’ve come to accept that with work, we won’t be sharing the same travel memories that I always thought we would. It was hard to accept at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Related: To Quit or Not to Quit your Job to Travel… That is the question

But, if by solo, you mean travelling all alone, I’ve done it when I was younger – a month-long Palawan backpacking trip, several solo flights when I was working abroad – one of those with a day-long layover in Hong Kong where I availed of a tour – and a few years ago, in 2013, going to Korea to visit my then-pregnant cousin. I think solo travel is good to experience because it gives you confidence in yourself – you can’t rely on anyone else. But, for me, it also made me feel really lonely because I’m the type who enjoys sharing memories with people that I love. When I travel alone, I always look forward to the time that I can speak with someone I love to tell them all about my experiences. And as they say, shared memories are twice the fun! …or something like that. 🙂

Tokyo Japan

Tired from wandering around Tokyo with part of the Imperial Palace in the background… Jepoy not in the photo because couldn’t find someone to take it due to the wide open spaces! – June 2011

We’re a travelling couple too and sometimes during our travels, we have misunderstandings and petty fights. How do you solve these problems as a couple?

Jepoy: We fight. And then we make up after a few minutes, and then all is forgotten after a few hours, just like little kids. Hahah! Key is, fight if you must, but don’t say things that would seriously hurt your SO’s feelings, things that you can’t take back.

Van: Communication, of course. Plus a whole lot of patience! I guess, I’m lucky because Jep and I know each other so well, and he already knows that I’m the hard-headed and hot-headed one, so he’s almost always the one who remains patient with me.

Beijing China

2nd time to visit Beijing – February 2012

Van, do you do the Silent treatment or just confront Jepoy and be over it?

Van: Both! Haha! It depends on the situation, I guess. But, usually, it’s the silent treatment because when I’m angry, I don’t think before I speak. The silent treatment is better because it gives me time to think things over and cool down.

Related: 10 Practical Tips to Survive Backpacking with Your Partner

Have you been travelling extensively before you met each other?

Jepoy:  Not extensively, no.

Van: I grew up in a very strict foreign country and started travelling locally with orgmates when I was in college. Most of my travels then were to places that had mountains because I joined the UP Mountaineers in 2002. With the UPM, I was able to learn confidence and independence as well as discovered a love for travel.

Of all the places you’ve been to, what is your most favorite and why?

Jepoy: Queenstown, New Zealand. To me it was like a theme park, but with real people and real mountains and lakes.

New Zealand

Right-hand driving through the west coast of the NZ’s South Island – May 2012

Van: Hm… I don’t think that I can really pick a favorite. Each destination has a great experience associated with it that varies so much from the other… I love our trip to Harbin, China where we both first experienced -26C weather and the winter ukay-ukay that we bought for about PhP150 per jacket performed far better than the new Columbia Omni-Heat jackets we got for that trip; our trip to the South Island of New Zealand where we (along with two of our best couple travel buddies) rented a car and drove upwards for three days through the gorgeous west coast from Queenstown to Picton; our experience of entire morning nervousness on the day that we did skydiving in Queenstown and the enormous relief that we felt afterwards; accidentally discovering a trail that lead to a 30-minute hike while I was wearing my synthetic leather boots up a hill which just happened to be the center of New Zealand while we were in Nelson; visiting “Hobbiton”; incidentally having our 72-hour transit in Sydney, Australia during Vivid Sydney; walking around aimlessly when we went back to Macau for the 2nd time and Hong Kong for Jep’s 3rd time and my 4th time to celebrate my 30th birthday and discovering new places and new food because we often got lost while looking for the things we read about on the internet, getting lost in Tokyo at some of the side streets near Harajuku and discovering some really artsy places where we had so much fun taking photos… just because we were looking for Kiddy Land, experiencing snow flurries for the first time during our first visit to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, the feeling of the holidays through simple and recycled decorations when we went to Batanes in December 2013, our 4×4 breaking down on our way to the Pinatubo crater that we had to hike for 3-4 hours instead of the 15 minutes that we originally planned, experiencing the sun rise over Mt. Pulag for the first time together just last April 2015, the time that we got engaged in Bali just before the fly fish boat ride and sharing it with some of our closest friends immediately after when we got back to the beach…

I think I’ll stop now because there’s a whoooole looooot moooore of my favorite places and why. If I continue, I just might have to create a travel blog of my own. 😛

Bali Indonesia

Engaged in Bali just before the fly fish ride where Jepoy bought a GoPro from the US (it wasn’t yet sold in the Philippines) just to capture this moment. ♥ – March 2010

Now that you’re married, are there significant adjustments on budgeting for your travels? Is travelling still a top priority or something that can be set aside?

Jepoy: We still travel, but not as much as we used to anymore. We do whenever life and work permits, and each time we still fall in love with it (and each other, cheezums).

Van: Hm… I don’t think we really plan our travels too much. I guess it’s just not as often as before because of limited vacation leaves, but we do have several destinations in mind. When we encounter a really good seat sale to that destination, then we go for it.

Harbin China

Harbin, China – February 2012

Aside from the cool climate, what is it like living in Baguio? Can you share some “secret” spots or undiscovered foodie haven there? Please?

Jepoy: Van will fill you in in all the details. LOL

Van: Living in Baguio is fun! Yes, the cool climate is one part of that, but also it’s small (30 minutes is already a long time to travel from one destination to the other), and it has the perks of a city. Secret spots… Well, since it is small, I don’t think there are still some secret spots that are still secret, but for food, currently, there are so many restaurants popping up that it’s hard to keep up anymore! When I feel like trying/eating something new, I check the blog of Find Good Baguio Foods.

Related: Banaue Sagada Baguio DIY Itinerary and Travel Guide 4D3N

As we know, the steady increase of tourists flocking Baguio every year may have a negative impact to the environment especially to those who are irresponsible. Can you share some ideas on how to educate people to be responsible tourists? What’s your overall take on this as a Baguio resident?

Well, we’ve come to accept that every weekend is pretty much traffic especially with the travel time from Manila to Baguio significantly less because of TPLEx, so we usually just stay home on weekends. We’re not sure really how to educate people to be responsible tourists, but voicing out some tips through the internet would be good. Some ideas for responsible tourism would be, first and foremost, PLEASE DO NOT LITTER. Another would be if you’re a group of friends travelling, carpool to lessen traffic, or just use public transportation. And since Baguio is small and the climate is cool, walking around is actually a pretty fun way to tour Baguio. It not only helps the environment, but your health as well.

If you’ll retire in one place, where would it be?

Jepoy: I have no particular place in mind, I just have requirements: It has to have high-speed internet and it has to be somewhere cold, not winter cold, just cool and cozy.

Van: Same answer as Jep’s! 🙂

Great Wall of China

First experience of snow at the Great Wall, Mutianyu Section – December 2010

Aside from travelling, what are the things you enjoy most as a couple?

Jepoy: Surfing and eating out. We spend SO MUCH on food. It’s where our money goes.

Van: Spending time at home just on the computer, or lying around and watching movies/TV series… Basically, just being couch potatoes!

Related: 5 Life Lessons I Learned In Surfing

Do you share the same love for food? Cuisine? Or a particular dish?

Jepoy: Like I said, yes! Hahah! Lechon Baboy is my all-time favorite but sadly I only get to eat it on Christmas Days/New Year’s Eve. That’s why December Holidays are special to me.

Van: Love for food, yes. When we travel, food budget is very important. We must, must, MUST try the local cuisine. As for my favorite cuisine, Indian food!

Related: Top 10 Foods to eat in Vietnam!

I know you guys are dog lovers, do you travel with them? If yes, where’s the farthest place you have travelled with them?

Jepoy: We took Jamie (our Miniature Schnauzer) to Baler one time, another time in Zambales, and La Union.

Van: I suppose the farthest would be Isabela because that’s where Jep’s family lives. But, for a travel destination, we took Jamie to Baler, the Hundred Islands, and Zambales when he was younger. I’m not sure which among those are the farthest!

Who do you think is a better surfer, Van or Jepoy?

Jepoy: I’m no “surfer” by any means, we just love going. Hahah! But yes, I catch more (better?) waves than her.

Van: Jep


At one of the souvenir shops in Basco, Batanes – December 2013

Where are you travelling next?

Jepoy: Maldives

Van: Business – Thailand in October 2016. Solo – South Korea in November 2016. Together (along with some of our regular travel buddies) – Maldives in March 2017

New Zealand

Just arrived in Queenstown, NZ with our car for the next few days behind us – May 2012

Any awesome tips or message to all travellers and aspiring ones out there?

Jepoy: Don’t cram every single thing/activity in your travels. Pick one or two activities for a day to keep the pace relaxed and more enjoyable. Don’t be in such a hurry all the time. You wouldn’t want to look back on your vacation and the only thing you can remember was how tired you were that trip. Not good.

Van: Ditto to what Jep said. Also, travel for the love of experiencing new things and not just to cross off places in some list or to let people know that you’ve been to this place or that place, and yet, you haven’t even experienced the heart and soul of the place.
Our last travel to Macau and Hong Kong, places we’ve been to several times before, was one of my favorites because we had no itinerary and no set schedule – we woke up whenever we felt like it and went to places that we just felt like going to that day. We also pretty much just walked a lot instead of taking transportation, so we were able to discover some pretty fun things (and of course, delicious food as well!)
With no schedule and no itinerary, feel free to GET LOST! More often than not, you’ll discover something really interesting. 🙂
Hobbiton New Zealand

Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit hole – May 2012

For more of our Interviews, click here!
He is a programmer by profession but has a soul of a traveler. Aside from his ultimate dream of travelling around the world, he loves to eat, drink, listen to music, talk about aliens and the occasional secret guilty pleasure of singing love songs in videoke. His favorite superpower is to teleport from one place to another. I guess you know why.