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, May 30, 2013

Exploring Weta Cave in Wellington

While we're on the Lord of the Rings bandwagon, let's get into my visit to the Weta Cave in Wellington, New Zealand!

The Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company that produces set, costumes, armour, weapons, miniatures and creatures for movies like the LOTR Trilogy, The Hobbit, Avatar, District 9 and The Chronicles of Narnia to name a few.

Now - The Weta Cave is Weta's mini museum, theaterette and shop on the corner of the workshop itself. That's where I went!

The mini museum is free... It's really tiny - it looks more like a shop than anything else, really... but you get to watch a 20 minute video of some of the coolest things Weta has produced (which I really enjoyed), AND most importantly, you are allowed to take photos.

So I went nuts!!!

These trolls are right outside Weta Cave

Having a little fun with them...

Holding hands with Lurtz, the leader of the Uruk-hai's!

Apart from Lord of The Rings fun stuff, they've got a few other cool displays from other movies like District 9, The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, plus a whole bunch of other New Zealand local TV shows and movies I'm not familiar with.
THE WATER HORSE!!! I love this movie!
They do offer a "behind the scenes look" on the Weta Workshop itself where they take you on a tour of the prop room and see a little bit of the workshop (through a glass). It costs 20 bucks to do it, and you are not allowed to take photos, sadly.

I thought about it for a good 20 minutes, going back and forth, thinking about whether or not I should do it... In the end, my good senses overruled my "need" for photographic proof and I went for it.

I was SO glad I did the second I stepped foot in that workshop. For a movie geek like me, it was like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in there... I wanted to touch and EAT everything, even if most of them really didn't look that appetizing (like Elijah Wood's face mold for example).

We saw guns, we saw chainmailles, face molds, swords, monsters, a 10 foot tall Navi, a miniature Rohan (or was it Isengard?)... And a GIANT Treefolk (you know, like Treebeard?) sitting in the middle of the room.

That "shirt" Aragorn is wearing is chainmaille. Like a body armor shirt thing made of chains.
No photos, no touching. I was going crazy... Did I ever tell you guys that I failed The Marshmallow Test?

Anyway... We spent almost an hour in there with our guide (who was an actual prop maker/set designer) explaining how meticulous their staff was when it came to their work. It takes tremendous amounts of time, blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish even the tiniest little prop or costume. For instance, one of the guys assigned to chain each chain of the chainmailles actually lost his fingerprints from all the manual chain linking that he did! Insane!

This "Contract of Bilbo Baggins" for example, a prop used in the movie, The Hobbit, was
written by hand... and this is about 6 feet long! 
Oooh, and as a bonus, we actually also got to see a few guys in the process of making actual props for movies! I heard that they were doing final edits for the new Superman movie in the next room (or building) too! Eeee! Henry Cavil!

I had a great time... It would have been so much better if we were allowed photography, but I understand the privacy.

The next time you guys visit Wellington, YES, visit the Weta Cave for sure!
Should you go and do the backstage tour? I'd say, if you can spare 20 bucks, Why Not? If you are as big a movie geek as I am, it will be worth it. :)

Actual Feet used by Bilbo Baggins

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hobbiton: An Expected Journey

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.

He lived a cool life full of awesome adventure and they made a few movies about it! Now all the movies have been filmed, everyone is happy, and the hole... in the ground... still remains. Yay!

As an obvious Lord of the Rings and Tolkien fan with a Rivendel Elf as one of my good friends, paying a visit to the Hobbiton Set Tours as I traveled through New Zealand was a no brainer!
In fact, I could even go as far as saying, Hobbiton was probably one of the main reasons why New Zealand was in my itinerary in the first place! Just like The Sound of Music tour was my main reason for visiting Salzburg, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was my reason for visiting Orlando.

I'm a movie nerd. Loud and proud.

The beauty of Hobbiton is that one doesn't necessarily have to be a LOTR fan to enjoy it. I mean, if you are, then you'll absolutely go nuts! If not, you'll think it's an amazing place anyway!

The Hobbiton set is located on a real New Zealand farm in Mata Mata. It's huuuuuge (1250 acre) and really well kept! I remember commenting on how many sheep there were as I was driving towards the location, not realizing I was actually already in the farm's property!

Hobbiton Set Tours Sign
Do you see the sheep?
So basically a few minutes before my tour departure time, our tour guide, Jack,  gathered us around in front of The Shires Rest, a quaint little cafe for visitors, to wait for the bus that takes us all to the set. It was a very quick ride with spectacular views of the farm. And just a couple minutes before we arrived... there was a collective gasp, and there it was.

Hobbiton Panoramic View
Click on the images to enlarge. They look better!
All of a sudden, I was magically transported to Middle Earth, and all that matters in the world was the one ring of power I held in my hand, and how I needed to help my fellow hobbitssess to destroy it by throwing it into the fires of Mordor!!!

The One Ring of Power

Before I did that, I figured it didn't hurt to roam around The Shire and visit Bag End. :)

The tour set up was quite easy. Jack gathers the group around on one location, usually a hobbit hole, to talk briefly about a little history. How the Hobbiton Set Tours started, how they maintain the farm, which hobbit hole belongs to which character, etc... then he leaves us to take photos and go nuts for 10 minutes or so, before he moves us on to another spot. It was great! Very informative, yet not too hectic.

Wandering Down the Hobbit Hole

A few of the fun things I learned about the set is that almost all the holes are just fake prop doors... meaning there's nothing to open, because there wouldn't be anything inside. Only 2 doors actually open where you can step inside...

This one...

A Red Hobbit Hole

And of course - Bag End. Bilbo's and Frodo's residence :)

Bag End
No Admittance, Except On Party Business

But it's not like there's an actual set inside... there's nothing in there either. Just space. I know. Hollywood, eh? It doesn't make it any less cool though, in my humble opinion. In fact, every single thing about this place is spectacular!

View from Bag End
View of The Shire from Bag End

Bag End Oak Tree
Bag End with the big Oak Tree on top
My eyes couldn't get enough of everything... the views, the hobbit holes, the land... I wanted to be left alone for a few hours to just be there. To absorb Hobbiton... The Shire... Middle Earth.

Unfortunately, we had to stick to our schedule and head over to The Green Dragon Inn for our free refreshments. It was just as well because as we started to walk towards it, it started to drizzle.

The Green Dragon Inn
View of The Green Dragon Inn

The Green Dragon Inn Bridge
The Green Dragon Inn Bridge

Even inside The Green Dragon Inn, it felt like the tour still continued. It looked just like inside Frodo and Bilbo's house...

Inside The Green Dragon Inn

Apart from these extra tables and chairs... ;)

Drinks at the Green Dragon Inn

Having a nice ginger ale with my new tour friends, warming ourselves up by Frodo's fireplace was a great way to end the two hour journey through The Shire.

My chest was heavy on the bus ride back to The Shire's Rest... Probably because of The One Ring bearing more and more weight on my neck...

But probably also because I didn't want to leave at all. I guess it must have been what Frodo and Sam felt, leaving the Shire for the first time to head to Bree.

They say the whole of New Zealand is Middle Earth, and Mata Mata is Hobbiton. Lucky for me I still have a couple weeks to explore the country, so the tour technically doesn't end yet. I do still have the task of taking the ring to Mordor (Tongariro National Park) after all!

The Hobbiton Set Tours is definitely worth going to New Zealand for. If the photos haven't already made it obvious, I had the time of my life!

First thing I did when I had the chance was to re-watch the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Part of the fun is the excitement that comes with seeing certain scenes, and knowing that you've been there, and in my case, lived it... even just for a couple hours. I know I JUST did the tour, but seeing the movies and reviewing my photos made me want to go - there and back again.

And back again...

And back again...

Yellow Hobbit Hole

**Check out Hobbiton Set Tour's Website HERE to find out more about their tours. It's definitely worth it! I swear on the precious!

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!
  • Subscribe to my blog and get updated every time I post here!
  • Add me to your feed reader here!
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  • Or if you want to leave me a message or a limerick, email me here!

Come and visit me again soon! :)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Zealand So Far: My North Island Adventures

Te Mata Peak View

Kia Ora! 

A big hello from New Zealand... A country so beautiful, it makes me want to throw up. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Having been able to spend some time up here in the North Island, I find myself in a predicament. I have been enchanted by the beauty of this country, so much so that I feel like I'm cheating on Scotland - the country that holds the number 1 spot in my heart.

Too dramatic?

It really is just so magnificent here... As my new Spanish acquaintance, Dulce, says (in her Sofia Vergara accent), "How you say this... Is too perrfect, no?" -- And she used that to describe the SOUTH Island, which I hear is even MORE beautiful! I honestly cannot even imagine, because I already feel that way about the North!

A Cow in New Zealand
I think the cow may be looking straight at me..

Everything is just so green... and it's the kind of green you've never seen too. It's luscious! No wonder their dairy products taste so good over here.. their cows have the best and healthiest diet! There are sheep and cow and horses and goats everywhere, scattered across rolling fields and mountains! The views are so breathtaking that I constantly curse my camera for not being able to capture what my eyes can see! 

A sheep in New Zealand
OMG... The sheep is staring at me too!
OK. Let me walk you through a brief summary of my journey through the North Island of New Zealand so far...

I arrived in Auckland and stayed with Kuya Andre, an old church friend of mine from the Philippines, and his family. Spent about 3 days wandering around, took ferries to the neighboring islands, the usual touristy stuff.

Auckland The City of Sails
Auckland, The City of Sails
Auckland is a pretty city - sort of like a mini Sydney, but honestly it just felt like a city like any other. It wasn't the New Zealand I was expecting, nor was it what everyone made it out to be. I was starting to get a little disappointed until I started my journey towards Mata Mata.

But first - Meet Sparky... my car.

A Small Black Holden Barina Spark. The smallest car I've ever driven
Sparky is a tiny Right Hand Drive Manual Transition automobile that I rented for a few days. Did you get that? A RIGHT HAND DRIVE STICK SHIFT. It's bad enough that my brain had to suffer an imbalance from having to switch to driving on the left side of the road... On top of that, I chose to endure the stress of maneuvering a car from the other side of the seat, shifting with my left hand. Unfortunately, these are the woes of traveling on a budget sometimes... You tend to make stupid decisions based on cost, not realizing spending a few extra dollars (on an automatic) could end up saving your life.
Oh well, that's neither here nor there! For the record -- I apologize for the mayhem that I caused on your roads, New Zealand!!!

Driving in New Zealand
Sparky and I went through a lot together...

The Road Map

This is a map I made of my journey through the North Island. 

My North Island Road Map

Mata Mata

After Auckland, I drove down to Mata Mata to experience Hobbiton! Soooo much to say about this place! For now - just a photo of me helping out a few of the hobbitses will have to do. (Full article on the Hobbiton experience to be posted on Sunday!)

Having Fun in Hobbiton


Right after The Shire, I went straight down to Rotorua for my first Couchsurfing experience! (More on that in the next few weeks too!)

I learned about the Maori culture, ate some of their food (Maori Hangi) and learned the Haka from a willing local!
Doing a Haka Face
I did it wrong. I was supposed to make my eyes bigger, like his!
Afterwards, I zigzagged through a huge mountain and got caught in the middle of a lightning storm where it HAILED for a good 20 minutes! I swear - at this point, I thought it was the end of me.


Good ol' Sparky pulled through, and I lived to tell the tale! And just at the bottom of the mountain after the storm, I was greeted by a full double rainbow!

Rainbow in New Zealand
I only managed to take a photo of one of them :( Stupid zoom lens.

I screamed - "OMG It's a Double Rainbow!!! It's so INTENSE!" almost crashed Sparky into a herd of cows trying to find a place to pull over to take a picture! The rain clouds moved swiftly across the sky and I only managed to take this photo (I had my zoom lens on and didn't have time to switch!). You can't see the second one because it was fainter, AND because I was on my zoom lens. :(

You have to believe me though - it really was a full on double rainbow... It only lasted for a couple minutes or so, but it was beautiful. I took it as a good omen... especially after having to go through a near death experience.

I was in high spirits after that, and drove to Gisborne, staying at another Couchsurfing host (again, more on this on a separate post) to spend the night, and wake up to the First Sunrise!

First Sunlight in Gisborne New Zealand
First Light :)
Gisborne, NZ experiences the "first light" of the world... The first place to see the sunrise! I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to experience that.

#Bucketlist :)


After a day of exploring, I drove over to Napier - The land of Art Deco. I honestly didn't care much for it - Art Deco isn't really my style, but just a few minutes south of town was Te Mata Peak, where I got to see this.

Beautiful View from Te Mata Peak NZ

And this...

Top of the world in New Zealand

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.


Afterwards, it was off to Wellington I went, taking a pit stop at Palmerston North first to crash for the night. My good friend, Jackie, hooked me up with a friend of hers who took me in. :)

When I arrived in Wellington, I went straight to Weta Cave for the full behind the scenes experience of movies like LOTR, Narnia, District 9 and Avatar. (Watch out for a separate post on this as well!)

Gollum and I
I've got his precious...
I am staying at my old college bud, Mikey's house for the duration of my trip (Hi Federico!!). I arrived last night, will be here for a few more days, and on Sunday I fly to Japan.

And that... ladies and gentlemen, is what I have been up to for the past 10 days.


I would like to point out that this is just a summary post. I fully intend to go into intimate details regarding my different journeys and destinations throughout the next few months! This is merely a preview of what's coming. :)

In case you guys haven't noticed, I post once a week, every Thursday... but because I am bursting with so many stories, I'm going to start doing a bonus post every Sunday as well, temporarily, just so I can catch you guys up on the stuff that's been happening. Too many photos (of cows), too little time.

Obviously, based on my constant raves above, I am completely loving New Zealand. I feel really sad that I couldn't stay any longer, but I'm definitely coming back. The next time I do, I'm staying longer, AND I'm going down South... see what everyone is raving about.

All that's left for me to do now is try to enjoy my last couple days in Wellington as much as I can. Let's cross our fingers I bump into a celebrity here in Wellywood... :)

E noho ra for now, New Zealand! I'll be back!

Japan -- Konnichiwaaaa to you soon!!!

Beautiful New Zealand Landscape

** Watch out for a special post on Sunday about Hobbiton: My Expected Journey :)

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!
  • Subscribe to my blog and get updated every time I post here!
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  • Do you have cool photos on Instagram? Check mine out too @earth2eartha
  • Or if you want to leave me a message or a limerick, email me here!

Come and visit me again soon! :)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Melbourne: The Most Livable City?

Melbourne! Where do I even begin....

OK. Let's start with --- People around me have hyped Melbourne up to be the Australian version of New York City... and I'm here to confirm that - NO. It is not. And that's neither a good nor a bad thing.

Melbourne, just like Sydney, is its own city. It's beautiful, incredibly clean, and easy - public transport wise. I guess the main similarity with New York is the grid system - and in my opinion, it just about ends there. NYC is crazy. Melbourne isn't. In fact, it's completely the opposite. It's so laid back and very chill.

My travel partner, Karen and I spent about 6 days in Melbourne so we saw quite a lot of it, many thanks to our Filipino hosts, Tita Bess and Tito Bogie. :) Here are the highlights of the trip in photos...

WHOOP! Downtown Melbourne. Jumpshot. Boom. It's so nice and sunny and clean!

Ahhhh Autumn... My faaavorite season... Makes everything beautiful.

Saw an Australian Football League game at Melbourne Cricket Grounds. I had no idea what was going on in the field. They were running around in short shorts and it was nuts... but I had fun! It was definitely an experience!

Before the game, we had some time to goof around at the National Sports Museum at MCG :)

Went to see some Street Art at Hosier Lane!

Ate some fish and chips at the Docklands.

Got annoyed by lazy and sleepy Koala Bears! WAKE UP!!! I want to cuddle!

This is quite the leery owl! I think he's my favorite animal in the Healsvile Sanctuary!

OK don't even get me started on this Kangaroo. Yeah - like I'd have space in my backpack for your joey!

A big cow stuck in a tree. Hmm...

Went to Luna Park - which is a hundred years old. Literally... they celebrated their hundredth this year!

Checked out the night scene in the city... not too shabby!

Voila! I wish I could post more of the photos I took --- I have plenty!! I just don't have the time... Blogging while I'm on the road is pretty rough... I feel like I'm so tired all the time and super on the go! I should have a lot of down time coming up this June - and I can elaborate more on my trips then.

In the meantime... a final thought.

Melbourne is a beautiful city. It's easy to get around, and I think I understand why it has been named one of the most livable cities in the world year after year...

But if I'm being honest --- I have to say I liked Sydney more.

I may be a little biased... You see, I love Los Angeles. And Sydney reminds me so much of Los Angeles. Therefore, I love Sydney.  :)

To be fair - I think I would have liked Melbourne better if I had more money to spend... but being a poor backpacker in a really expensive city... things can get a little difficult... I couldn't enjoy the "culture" everyone keeps talking about, because the culture involves spending money on shopping and food.

Maybe one day when I've made my first million, I can go back to Melbs and give it another shot...

For now...

Next Stop: AUCKLAND, NZ!

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!
  • Subscribe to my blog and get updated every time I post here!
  • Add me to your feed reader here!
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  • Are you as epigramatic as I am? Tweet me @earth2eartha
  • Do you have cool photos on Instagram? Check mine out too @earth2eartha
  • Or if you want to leave me a message or a limerick, email me here!

Come and visit me again soon! :)