My Overlanding Experience

Posted on October 12, 2021 Posted in: 0 417 views

I’m an urban traveler. I love to travel as long as there’s arts, culture, museums and er, pavements - count me in. 20 years ago, I can still remember the thrill of riding an airplane for the very first time. This love and thirst for travel had me working in Primer Group’s travel category for a period of 9+ years. Fast forward to today. Pandemic era. We’ve been put on standby hoping that the pandemic will end so that we can take out our passports again and experience new things again. After all, that’s the point in traveling, isn’t it? To learn new things, experience new things and be amazed and grateful to be able to explore. 

Camping and roughing it out in the outdoors sadly has never interested me. While I love nature (green is actually my favorite color) - it never occurred to me to explore this. I’m content in visiting gardens and national parks but going on a hike? Muddy trails, getting my feet wet, being exposed to bugs - I’ll pass. Not sleeping in a comfortable bed and to not have access to a hot shower and restroom is unthinkable. I also thought about the things I’ll be bringing and chugging along all day. Man, no thanks. 

This pandemic however made me think otherwise. It seemed like a great option rather than being cooped up indoors. Sleeping in a comfortable bed, decent restroom and shower stalls is still non-negotiable for me but maybe breathing in fresh air, getting out of the house for a while seemed to me are happy thoughts I’ll entertain. 

And then I met Joel Pedro, the owner of Overland Kings and got introduced to overlanding travel. According to Wikipedia, overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. It’s a combination of remote travel, off-road and camping. The operative word though is comfort. To get you geared up for overlanding, Overland Kings is the place to rig your vehicles to accommodate comfortable tents, running water, a freezer for your meats, a kitchen system where you pull it out in just seconds and even a veranda on your roof! When an opportunity to tag along an overlanding adventure happened, I took the opportunity with one hand - yes, just one hand as I still opted for a day trip just to understand and see what overlanding is all about. 

Armed with negative antigen results, a water-repellent backpack from JanSport, a Poler shirt, DFNS hand cream and sanitizing spray, a rain jacket from Montbell, Reef Sandals and most importantly, company - we were off. Our meeting place, just like other road trips, was at a gas station. It was drizzling that morning. When we arrived, we found Joel in his Lexus and about to open the awning shade attached to his vehicle. It opened so easily and we found ourselves underneath the shade, comfortable and social distancing from each other despite the rain. We were joined by JP Anglo, chef and founder of Sarsa, and his wife Camille and a cute dog named Txuleta. We started off with greetings and reminders by Joel. Each car was given a radio to communicate easily. I love how they thought of little details like this. There was going to be a lead car and a sweeper. I also loved the idea that convoy does not mean you need to tail the car in front of you. Safety was still number one priority. The lead car’s role is to pave the way to the destination and the sweeper’s role is to be the last car on the road to make sure there will be no one left behind.

And so the road trip begins. A Lexus, Maserati, 2 Land Cruisers, Jimny, Porsche, a Honda and our van rolled out to SLEX.  With occasional banters on the radio, listening to music, we found ourselves heading to Silent Sanctuary Reserve Campgrounds in Cavinti, Laguna. The travel time took us less than 4 hours with some stops along the way. When we got to the camping grounds, I was struck by the lake. It was so beautiful and serene. Then the real work began. Outdoor kitchen was set up, the vehicles were set up. The most amazing thing is how the cars were rigged for comfort. Within seconds, we found ourselves under an awning. We saw literally in 6 seconds how a sturdy tent opened up from the roof of a Jimny. How in seconds, a freezer was pulled out from the trunk and served us cold drinks. Imagine the ease of packing up if the set up is literally done in seconds. It was also so fascinating to see how outdoor furniture from Poler, DOD Camp were such a match to the overall set up and our surroundings. 

Joel’s Lexus, rigged by Overland Kings to have a pull out system containing the freezer where we were served with cold drinks. 

No detail too small. From the convoy to setting up the cars in camp, everything was discussed and planned. 

The Silent Sanctuary Reserve Campgrounds. The serene lake greeting us as soon as we arrived. The campgrounds is being managed by the nearby deaf school. The campgrounds not only have this wonderful view, but their amenities were a relief to this city girl. Hot shower, decent restroom, shower stalls and changing rooms were such a welcome sight!

Rain won’t stop the team of Chef JP in preparing a feast for the team. This was the kitchen setup for the duration of the stay.

Chef JP and Joel discussing what are the essentials when it comes to preparing food while outdoors. 

Joel, starstrucked with Jimmy Thai, the President and CEO and one of the founders of Primer Group of companies behind concept stores such as The Travel Club, R.O.X., Bratpack, Res|Toe|Run and the exclusive distributor of well loved brands such as Poler, Sledgers, Montbell, The North Face among others. 

Overlanding will not be complete without the fellowship of company and sharing of great food, specially prepared for us by Chef Jp Anglo. Mud Crabs and River Prawns for the win! This was definitely an epic spread.

Poler String Lights beside the Maserati, perfect way to end the day. 

While Joel, Chef JP stayed behind to experience the real overlanding experience, the sun setting down was our cue to head back to the city. A huge part of me wanted to stay, but we weren’t prepared to spend the night. 

You may ask - so is this urban traveler converted to life outdoors? What I can say is that I’ve got one foot in. The next overlanding adventure, I’ll definitely put my two feet forward, stay behind and experience it fully. After all, traveling is all about exploration and discovery... and this taste of overlanding adventure definitely had me inspired. 

Arlene Thay Siongco, October 8, 2021

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