Atom Araullo Wants You to Try The Fermented Shark

IMAGE Esquire Philippines

Atom Araullo has been to some of the most interesting destinations, and has a sharp eye for capturing the best details of his travels. The broadcast journalist’s Instagram reveals as much. Whether it's to travel to Arctic Norway to film his New York Festivals-nominated documentary, Warmer, or to capture stunning images of African wildlife in Kenya, the man simply knows how to satisfy his sense of adventure and share it with his audience.

We talked to him about what fuels his wanderlust and his most memorable travels.

On discovering his interest in traveling:

I think my interest in discovering new destinations started as a boy, browsing old copies of National Geographic and Life magazines. Photos from storied cities and exotic locations fascinated me. I was lucky to travel around the Philippines as one of the hosts of a kiddie program called 5 and Up back in the day. That sharpened my thirst for adventure even more. When I could finally afford to travel on my own as an adult, I realized how vast the world really is and how little time we have to explore it.

4095.2 meters above sea level! #MtKinabalu #Sabah #TestedTough

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On why it’s important for him to take some time off:

I have to travel around a bit for work, especially in the Philippines. But for vacation, I’d like to get out there at least once a year. There’s nothing profound about traveling, it’s just a great way to escape from it all. Without having to worry about our everyday trials and tribulations, everything seems brighter and sweeter, and it becomes easier to reflect on what we want out of life. I’m very fortunate to have that privilege.


On picking a destination and planning the itinerary:

I prefer staying away from the tourist circuit, although there are popular places that you have to see at least once in your life. I don’t try to pack too much into the itinerary, I want to have time to soak it all in. I usually schedule a visit to museums, parks, and places where people live. I also love exploring the outdoors. 

On his top 5 destinations:

Iceland: Absolutely breathtaking scenery, and you could go for miles without crossing paths with another soul. Just rent a car and drive. Every place is postcard perfect. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the fermented shark (spoiler: it tastes horrible).

Svalbard, Norway: Okay, let’s get these cold countries out of the way. Svalbard is an icy archipelago in the Arctic Circle. Getting there is a bit difficult, but it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You could go out for weeklong expeditions on vast glaciers, just make sure to pack warm clothes. Oh, and watch out for polar bears.

Varanasi, India: Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, built around the holy Ganges River. Watching the sun rise and set along the banks of the river will move the hardest of hearts. Indian food is fantastic, but the easiest treat to enjoy is gulab jamun. The sugary goodness will pump you up instantly.

Kyoto, Japan: The country has become a very popular destination for Filipinos nowadays, and for good reason. The history is rich and fascinating, the sights are beautiful and staggering, the people are friendly and polite. And the food, oh the food. Just eat your way through Japan and the trip will already be worth it. 

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Batanes, Philippines: I don’t want to romanticize life for the locals in Batanes, but something about isolation makes the place so much more alluring. The striking land and seascape, harsh weather, and the warm people make these islands some of my favorite in the Philippines. The best way to go around is by motorcycle. Coconut crabs are a delicacy here, but perhaps you should skip it. I believe their population is already under threat.

Holy water. A chapel lies in ruins at the #Artex compound in #Malabon. Sony #A7M2K

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On his most memorable trip:

One of my most memorable trips was to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. It’s a place shrouded in mystery, thanks in no small part to a rather one-dimensional portrayal in the media and popular culture. While I was not able to see enough of the country to get a complete picture of what life is like there, I did meet some warm and friendly people who share a lot of the dreams and aspirations the rest of us have. I wish the window into North Korea would grow larger to foster better understanding among people.

On taking great travel photos:

My main tip is just to take a lot of photos, and mix up your subjects. Don’t stop at taking pictures of famous landmarks, walk around and try looking for things that make the place unique. Don’t just photograph things that are beautiful, photograph subjects that stir other emotions in you: sadness, fear, anger, and so on. And don’t forget to take photos of people. I am painfully shy at doing this myself, but it doesn’t hurt to ask permission. The worst thing they can do is say no. If they say yes, then you get a nice photo and maybe gain a friend.


On ticking off another destination from his bucket list:

I might be going to Russia soon, fingers crossed. Why is it a dream destination? Russian art, music, literature, and culture are enough reasons to go.

On making travel dreams a reality:

I wish I could say that one should pack their bags and go. However, the reality is, we need to save up a little bit to be able to travel, so do that. Perhaps you are spending too much on non-essentials. Perhaps you are blowing your savings on frivolities. If that’s the case, then make a budget and try to set aside a little money each month to build a travel fund. There are many ways of maximizing resources while traveling. Sometimes, it makes the experience even richer.

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