How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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Working On A Cruise Ship

I somehow managed to get myself a job working at a Cruise Ship. This post is an inside look on what it's really like to live and work below deck. You never know... You might be enticed to work for one too, and travel the whole world like me! Read on to find out more...

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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My Ayahuasca Experience

Ayahuasca, is by far, the most INTENSE thing I have ever experienced in my life. I died and was reborn. It is both horrific and beautiful at the same time... I can't explain it in a few words. You HAVE to read my story to believe... I promise it will be worth your while...

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

White Christmas: A Dream Realized

"Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you if you're young at heart".

In my last post, I mentioned that having a white Christmas was on the top of my grown up Christmas list. Well, I must have been on the top of the nice list this year because I got my wish! This year, for the first time ever, I celebrated a white Christmas, snowboarding in Mt. High with my sister!

It's not exactly how I imagined my white Christmas though... I've had this fantasy of going to bed on Christmas eve and waking up to find snow outside. Then I'd run out and throw snowballs at random strangers, make snow angels, make little snowmen, and open my mouth to taste fresh snowfall! You know? Something along the lines of this commercial:

It's hard to make this a reality when you live in LA which is practically a tropical country. That's why when I found out that my sister (who always works odd hours) had Christmas day off, we jumped on the opportunity to go snowboarding together! It wouldn't be as dramatic as the Emirates commercial, but there was going to be snow - and that's all that mattered!

And so, after a very gastronomically satisfying Christmas Eve with the family, my sister, Kat and I headed out to the mountains bright and early, got there ready to rumble at 8am.

We practically opened the resort. Look at that!

Early birds!

Beautiful... :)

Snowboarding Lesson! My sister needed a little help from a pro. :)

Eventually, she got exhausted from too much of her teacher's awesomeness!!!

There's always time to play with snow...

and play with snow some more...

I wanted to make a snowman, but the snow wasn't fresh... and it doesn't stick when you try to make a ball out of it, so I couldn't make a head or anything circular. So I ended up making this!

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And when life doesn't give you enough snow for a snowman, you make a snow ghost. I'm pretty happy with that! :)

I had a great Christmas day spent rolling around in white fairy dust with my sister. I love snowboarding and I love snow! I'm still hoping to be able to experience my White Christmas fantasy eventually... Who knows? Maybe next year when I spend Christmas in the UK, I get to finally wake up to snow falling outside my window!

All I know that in 2013... Possibilities are endless.

Have a great New Year, everyone!!!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Los Angeles Christmas

Coming from a country that celebrates the longest Christmas in the world (as verified by CNN in this article), celebrating the Christmas holidays anywhere else is, well, a challenge. Ever since moving to the states, I’ve felt the most homesick during Christmas… which is why for the past 3 years, I’ve found a way to go home to the Philippines every December. I had to get my yearly dose of Filipino Christmas carolers, early morning mass and the smell of bibingka and puto bumbong, and most especially the warmth and hospitality of the people who make you feel at home, safe, and incredibly well-fed. :)

This year though, I decided to stay in LA. I figured, I was leaving soon anyway, might as well make the most out of my remaining few months living here. Now, 5 days before Christmas, I’m glad I did.
The temperature has dropped, and it’s been really cold the past few weeks – which I love. I like wearing the coats, and being bundled up in blankets, and the smell of the cold air. We don’t really experience temperatures below 80 degrees in the Philippines, so Fall and Winter are definitely two of my favorite seasons.

I’m all about making the most out of any holiday… and I do what I can to feel the Christmas spirit! This is how I celebrate my Los Angeles Christmas...


First there was Chill. It seriously was the best way to kickstart the holidays... being blasted with frozen winter wonderland joy! From an ice skating rink, to snow tubing, to carolers, and an ice kingdom... Chill definitely makes for a great Christmassy experience! (For my full post and more photos - click here)


Then I went and saw the movie, Rise of The Guardians (at the constant urging of my youngest sister). What an awesome movie!!! I LOVE Rise of the Guardians. Absolutely love it... I had no idea who Jack Frost was before this (apart from him being responsible for the nipping at your nose). Now, I think I'm in love with him. If you guys want a proper dose of Christmas spirit - go and see this movie NOW.


The Grove is an outdoor entertainment complex in LA - right next to the Farmer's Market and CBS studios.
This is where I spot most of my celebrities :)

This is my favorite place in LA. It’s beautiful regardless of the season, but they really deck it out during Christmas!

One of the great things about this place – apart from the way it looks – is that in December, at 7 and 8pm every night, they have snow! They schedule these snow machines to go off every night for a fun fake-snow experience! It may sound silly – especially to those in the East Coast and Midwest who probably curse the inconvenience the snow brings, but for us mere folk in sunny SoCal, snow is like magic. It is to me, anyways.

Santa flying with his reindeers!

That's Santa's house!


I also made sure I made my way down to Long Beach to visit my friends and my former home… Downtown Long Beach is so pretty at night, especially with all these Christmas lights!


I've only really ever experienced an Ugly Christmas Sweater party here. I suppose it's an American tradition? We definitely don't do this in the Philippines because it's too hot to be wearing any sweater, let alone a thick Christmas one! This year my office Christmas party had a "Tacky Christmas Sweater" theme and whoever had the tackiest/ugliest wins a hundred bucks. I tried my best, but unfortunately the other contenders had way more experience than I did in creating these awful yet awesome sweaters. We had a great time though, and the photos turned out great!

My coworkers and I at our Tacky Christmas Sweater party


I like to hold my hair for balance when I'm snowboarding
California is one of the only places in the world where you could go surfing and snowboarding on the same day. For those of you who didn't think it snowed in SoCal, you are mistaken, my friend! The most popular skiing/snowboarding spots close to LA are either Big Bear Mountain or Mammoth... both of which are anywhere from 3 to 5 hours away. I've been to Big Bear. In fact, that's where I learned how to ski. A friend of mine introduced me to Mount High - even closer than the others at an estimated travel time of 1.5 hours from Los Angeles. That's where I learned how to snowboard, and I've been going there every year since! I love snowboarding, and I LOVE SNOW!

My cousin and I goofing around fresh powder at Mt. High

I'm going up to the mountains this weekend for my snow fix... I purposely scheduled it like that because I've been itching to have a White Christmas since forever... And since it doesn't look like it's going to happen ON Christmas day, I'm settling for snow a few days before Christmas. :) I do what I can... I'm still hoping for a miracle though! A White Christmas is on the top of my grown up Christmas list.

I think I've done a pretty good job making sure I make the most out of my December in LA... and I still have a week till the 25th! I may be far away from my real home in the Philippines, but on Christmas eve, my family and I will be stuffing ourselves with home cooked meals and exchanging presents just like we normally would if we were home. Thanks to technology, we'll be able to Skype our friends and family to wish everyone a merry and safe holiday, and do virtual toasts with them on the computer screen. It won't be the same - but it will be enough :)

And as for you guys ---

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, for it's the most wonderful time of the year! Even if the weather outside is frightful, the fire inside is so delightful! Everyone's dancing merrily in a new old fashioned way, so deck the halls with boughs of holly! And although it's been said many times many ways, Merry Christmas to all, and to all good night! <3

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nessie and I: How I Uncovered The Truth About The Loch Ness Monster

“If you look to yerr left,” said the Marine Biologist with a heavy Scottish accent, “you will be able to take a picture of Nessie emerrrging out of the waterrr.”

And on cue, everyone in the boat dashed to where I was (on the left) and blinded me with their flashing. But one by one just as quickly as they came, they fell back into their chairs, uttering annoyed groans like, “Ugh,” or “Ahhh,” or “Hmphh”. I on the other hand, was giggling. Being seated next to the window in the lower deck of the boat, I already knew which “Nessie” he was talking about. There was a sticker on the window that looked like a shadow of the Loch Ness Monster, very similar to the black and white photos that have been circulating around the globe for years. It was strategically placed so that when you take a photo of it, it looks like there’s a long monster’s neck peeking out of the dark waters of the loch.

Click on the image to enlarge. That shadow of the Loch Ness Monster is a sticker strategically placed on the window of our boat. It looks pretty legit. :)

The Scotland Highlands Tour

I had already been to Scotland once before and instantly fell in love with it. I stayed mostly in Edinburgh with a friend of mine. I thought the city was picturesque and disarmingly beautiful that I vowed to go back the next chance I got – and I did. The second visit was a little longer so I had time to do a few excursions. Being the mystical fangirl that I am, obviously my first choice was the Scottish Highlands Tour including the Loch Ness Boat Cruise. They had the word, “Nessie” in their brochure and I really didn’t need any more convincing after that.

A carcass found in Japan in 1977. Photo Credit -
I love legends and folklore. Talk to me about Nessie, Big Foot or anything of that sort and you’ll have my full attention. Which is why on that sunny day in September, on the Loch Ness Boat Cruise, I was glued to the Marine Biologist, Richard MacDonald, who was talking about how him and his team found a carcass of this mysterious creature underwater a few years ago. Mr. MacDonald has been working as a marine biologist and researcher in Loch Ness for more than 20 years, and he claims to have encountered Nessie on several occasions. 

“So you’re telling me the Loch Ness Monster is real?” said a skeptic next to me. “Nessie, from all those stories, from TV, from those photos… It’s alive?”

“You’re asking the wrrrong questions,” Mr. MacDonald said plainly. “Nessie is not just one animal that’s survived all these years. Nessie is a whole species!”
There was silence in the boat. My mouth was open the whole time. This was starting to make a whole lotta sense to me.


What a Plesiosaur would look like.
Photo credit -
“They are called Plesiosaurs,” he said. I Googled it. Plesiosaurs are water dwelling reptiles from the Mesozoic era. They are believed to only to inhabit dark waters, which incidentally, what the Loch is. The waters honestly looked like molasses to me. He also explained that Plesiosaurs are not only limited to Loch Ness in Scotland, but are spread out all over the world. He even mentioned, Lake Tahoe in California as one of their homes! Eee! So close to LA!

Mr. MacDonald whipped out his phone, and after asking each and everyone of us to put our cameras away, showed us photos of the carcass they found. I have to say – they really looked legit. Apparently he's been offered $20 million for those photographs at one point.
He then pointed to a little TV screen on the right side of the boat. It was a sonar camera that helps them detect creatures in the Loch. There were little dots of different colors spread across the screen, and he explained that those were fish and other marine life. The sizes varied, depending on the fish. Every now and then, he said, the sonar detects something considerably bigger than the usual dots. He says that’s when he knows the Plesiosaurs are there. 
“Have you ever encountered them yourself? A live one?” I asked, bravely.
“About 8 or 9 times in the past 20 yearrs,” he said with a sly, mischievous grin. “One time, I was just on my little canoe taking a nap when I saw it emerge from the water. It almost tipped my boat over! I barely had time to get my camera, so all I got was this,” and he showed us a photo of what looked like a huge tail sinking back down to the loch, making a big splash.
“My theory on why they don’t show themselves much is that they’re photosensitive. That’s why they dwell in dark waters,” he continued.
I gulped. That sealed it for me. Whatever reservations I had (and I didn’t have a lot) about Nessie were out the window after that.
I heard people behind me saying stuff like, “That photo was bull. I’m sure that was Photoshopped and they use it as a gimick for tourism or something.”
The others sounded like they wanted to believe, but still unconvinced. One of them asked – “But if you had all this evidence, then why isn’t this information out in the open? Why is it all still such a big mystery? Shouldn’t the news be covering this?”
That was a good point.

Why it's all so Mysterious

He explained that all the work and research that they do in the Loch is protected, and will not be released to the public for the next 20 years. The reason behind that is for the own safety and fortification of Loch Ness itself. Apparently, if proof of the Plesiosaur becomes public knowledge, the media will blow it out of proportion, and the government of Scotland has the option and the power to drain the Loch to get a hold of the creatures and study them. There's actually even a rich European that wants to hunt it for sport. Jeez. "I'm here... we're here because we all believe the Loch, and the Plesiosaurs need to be protected." Aww. I felt a surge of respect for Mr. MacDonald. He was serious... and I believed him.

Needless to say – I was pretty hooked on the story. I can understand why the others were doubtful. I guess to a certain extent, some of the stories were far fetched (to them, not to me!). They were realists. Read: No imagination.

I, on the other hand, am a complete devotee of anything mystical or magical or legendary. And no, that does not make me gullible. I just think that anything is possible. Why can’t a dinosaur have survived all these years? What’s so wrong about believing that Nessie, or a Plesiosaur or a Waterhorse exists? Are we so smug that we know and can identify ALL the living creatures of this Earth? What if they just don’t like sunlight, like Mr. MacDonald suggested?

I've seen this movie too many times...
The drive back to Edinburgh from Loch Ness was uneventful compared to what I learned from the cruise. I kept pondering about the Plesiosaurs. How many of them have survived? Are they really photosensitive? Do they have nightvision? What do they eat? I wonder if they’re friendly enough to ride.

When I got back to my friends house, I talked animatedly about what I had learned about Nessie! I was so excited in sharing my knowledge about the truth! That the monster exists! I went on and on about the sonar equipment, and the carcass, and MB… It felt great to reveal all the facts! And when I was done, I said, “Ahhh! Isn’t that wonderful? The Loch Ness Monster is real!”

My friends looked at each other, amused, and said, “Darling, that was a tour. Of course they’re going to sell you the idea that Nessie is real. It’s for tourism.”

“But… I saw the photos!!!” I protested.

“Mm-hmm. Photoshop.”

“But… but…”

They just looked at me condescendingly and went to clear the dishes.

Pfff. Realists.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fare-Thee-Well, Long Beach

It has been almost 3 months since that fateful day I decided to take charge of my own life and pursue my personal legend like Santiago from The Alchemist! Since then, I have moved out of my apartment in LA and couchsurfed at my friends place in Long Beach to save some money on rent. The problem is that I work in Beverly Hills, and I have to commute 30 miles to and from work everyday (60 miles total) in LA traffic. I know that might not sound so bad, and I’m sure other people have it a lot worse… but not everyone is trying to save every penny for a Round The World trip like me… and with the gas prices as high as they were the past couple months, I was forced to reevaluate my expenses AND lodging options.

It’s been tough because I have grown to LOVE Long Beach so much that I was really trying to make it work… I was ignoring my fatigue, refused to take a look at my gas bills and neglected the fact that I lose so much time just driving everyday. 

One of my favorite authors, Andrew Matthews says the Universe is always nudging us with gentle signals. When we ignore the signals – we get a sledgehammer!

I got my sledgehammer alright. Last week I got into a stupid car accident involving a motionless pole. (Yes, a pole, and I'd rather not talk about it... Hmph.) Thank goodness for insurance, but I still have a $500 dollar deductible I have to pay. $500 dollars I could have used on a plane ticket, a backpack, or food on the road, now has to go towards an unnecessary bill I could have avoided by being more careful!


Anyway, the point is… I feel like that crash literally knocked some sense into me. This added expense which forced me to dig deep into my pockets made me realize I haven’t really been saving much at all. I’ve spent almost $500 on gas alone last month, and from someone who only used to spend less than $150, that’s A LOT.

Luckily, a room opened up for me in LA, only 2 miles further than my old apartment from my office. My co-worker lives close by and she has agreed to let me carpool with her too! So by this time next week, I will be an LA resident once again.

I write this with a heavy heart, for I have grown to love Long Beach in the short time I’ve lived here. It seriously is one of the cutest most fun little beach towns in SoCal. In fact, let me enumerate some of the reasons why I’m going to miss this place so much…


I love LA, but one of my main grievances about it is that you can’t ever walk anywhere. I always thought that London and NYC had this advantage over LA because walking and public transportation in those places are ideal. Living in Long Beach made me feel like my legs have found a new sense of purpose! Our apartment is centrally located in downtown Long Beach so that adds to the charm as well! My grocery store is across the street, coffee shop a couple blocks down, numerous restaurants all around me, and a movie theater half a mile down the road! It’s awesome, I tell you.

I’m Close to the Water

Oh and did I mention I was walking distance to the beach too? And to the marina? Yeah I am! It’s really weird because all of a sudden, I’ve become sort of addicted to walking/running – and I used to hate it! But because I’m just a hop skip and a jump away from the water, it’s like my body craves it now… Like I’d feel ashamed if I didn’t take advantage of the scenery and nature or something. And so even if I itch, I run anyway! Or… walkrun… Um… Fastwalk? 

Free Yoga

During the weekends, my friend, Nelson, takes me to free yoga at the park (by Ocean and Junipero)! We do it on the grass under these big trees overlooking the ocean. You seriously could not get any more naturalist than that! Again, just like running – I don’t really do yoga. I tried Birkam once and I threw up. I tried Anti-Gravity Yoga once and I threw up. But for some reason, yoga at the park works for me! First of all it’s free (you just give whatever donation you can, if you like) and second of all, the surroundings are so conducive that I don’t really mind the exercise with the sun beaming down on me and the ocean breeze blowing on my face. Even if my flexibility (or lack of it) is tested and I end up with jelly legs the next day, I’d do it!

Local boutiques and Café’s

I am typing this at a local café called Berlin, a couple blocks away from our apartment. The coffee is good and cheap, they serve beer, and the cute barista’s know your name. It is connected to an Empire Records-esque record store called Fingerprints, where they feature local bands a few times a week. Thanks to my roommate, this place has become my spot… a place where I could spend hours on my laptop just working on the grand master travel plan, or play my ukulele and no one would mind.

On the 5 minute walk from my parking lot to our apartment, I pass a row of very cute boutiques that sell their own stuff, whether it be bags or jewelry or clothes. It’s just really refreshing not seeing a Forever 21 in every corner, and being greeted by the people who actually make the things they sell. They’re friendlier and they actually know what they’re talking about.

Ceviche Night

Wriss and I are joined by our friend, Ben, for ceviche night. A night with the three of us, and ceviche. Yummy homemade ceviche. There’s really nothing else to say apart from that. :’)