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!

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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!

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Glastonbury Festival 2013

Hands down - Best Music Festival I have ever experienced!

When my friends first brought up the idea of attending the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, a 5 day music festival and camping trip in a huge farm in Somerset, England, my first question was - "What about the bathroom situation?"

The last time I went camping, I was 11, and I remember desperately trying to hold my pee for 2 days because I was unwilling to go by the bushes.

Well, the festival had actual toilets, but sharing them with thousands of people in the farm? Um... they were as bad as I had imagined... but just as my friends have explained - it really is just something you have to deal and get over with because in hindsight, it is only a tiny price you have to pay for one of the most amazing musical (and gastronomical) experiences of your life. And they were right! (The trick is to put some vaporub by your nose, close your eyes and just go! And always have baby wipes!)

All 135 thousand tickets for this year's festival were sold out in an hour and 40 minutes in October of last year. We have been planning this for over 9 months (in fact, I planned my whole Round The World Trip around this festival), and finally arriving at the gates of the farm was pretty surreal!
Glastonbury 2013 Queue
The queue to get into the farm. It took us more than 2 hours to get in!
Glastonbury 2013 View from Sign
Totally worth the wait though :)


Glastonbury 2013 Tents

We got there on Wednesday morning, bright and early to set up our tents and explore the area. The musicians don't actually start performing till the third day of the festival (Friday). The first two days are just a "warm up", to get everyone acclimatized to the grounds and the "way of life" in Glastonbury-ton-field-ville!

Glastonbury 2013 One Man Tent
Presenting: My One Man Tent! It's a little tight, but cozy :)
The farm is a whopping 900 acres, so there definitely was a lot of room to explore. The Glastonbury Festival is notorious for rains and floods, which is why their app symbol is a pair of wellies (rain boots)! We were extremely lucky that this year it only rained on one of the 5 days (Thursday), and the rest of the time we were basked in sunshine, and I've got a very heavy tan to prove it!

Glastonbury 2013 Tipi Huts
Bright and Sunny Worthy Farm

Rainy Day in Glastonbury 2013
On the one day that it rained...
Everyday we'd wake up, brave the toilets, heat some water from a portable stove for tea and coffee, then set off for the day. We walk for miles everyday, so much so that I am aching in muscles I never knew I had in my legs! I thought it was really interesting, being cooped up in the farm with 135,000 other people. All of us living in tents (some nicer than others), all of us having to use the same facilities, eating from the same array of street food, walking the same ground under the same sun.

Beautiful View of Glastonbury 2013
Surprisingly, there was a lot to do and a lot to see! There was a cinema (where they held the world premiere of Monster's University), a Kidz Field (where I spent most of my time, obviously ;) ) a Greenfields area where all the peace and earth loving people were, a Stone Circle, a Tipi Village, a Shangri La (where Mick Jagger and Prince Harry were spotted), and a big Glasto sign very much like the Hollywood sign that made me feel right at home!

Glastonbury Sign 2013

They had everything anyone in the world could enjoy! We were a big little community, all there for the same reasons... A little bit of nature, good food, a zest for adventure, and a big love for music!

Glastonbury 2013 Food Shop
In Glasto... we were ALL Hippies! :)

Glastonbury 2013 Ukulele Lessons
Having Fun at the Kidz Tent with Trinity! Uke Lessons by Eartha :)

Glastonbury 2013 Tipi Hut Area
The Tipi Huts!


Now, on to the good stuff! The festival had several music stages (Pyramid Stage for the biggest acts, Acoustic Stage for acoustic acts, etc..), and you can choose which act to see at a given time. It can get a little overwhelming because two artists you might like could be playing in different stages at the same time (which happened to me on one occasion).
Glen Hansard Glastonbury 2013
Glen Hansard at the Acoustic Tent
I was really excited to see Glen Hansard perform at the Acoustic Stage, especially since I have just seen Once, The Musical in the West End, and I am still on a high about how great a show it was! Glen is such a passionate musician, and plays so much better live! 

Gabrielle Aplin Glastonbury 2013
Gabrielle Aplin
Gabrielle Aplin was someone I was so looking forward to see as well. I love her songs, and she has such a beautiful and soothing voice... She looks a little bit like Nora Jones, but sounds like a better version of Birdy and Ellie Goulding.

Lianne La Havas Glastonbury 2013
Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas was a big pleasant surprise. My friends were big fans of hers and I tagged along. She was amazing! Sounds like Alicia Keys!

The Lumineers Glastonbury 2013
The Lumineers! Hey! Ho!

I managed to see a little bit of The Lumineers. I didn't realize they were so big in the UK - they performed in one of the bigger stages and there were thousands of people!

There were several other artists that I managed to see a little bit of, like Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, Rita Ora, Ben Howard, and Beady Eye (Liam Gallagher).
Beady Eye Glastonbury 2013
Liam Gallagher
I also spotted a British celebrity - Dominic West, a brilliant actor who was nice enough to oblige to a photo. :) I did also see Chris Martin from Coldplay but he was with his kid... My cardinal rule for Celebrity stalking is - if they are with their families, then they are off limits. I do have my boundaries. Sometimes.

Dominic West Glastonbury 2013
Celebrity Alert! Dominic West from The Wire, Chicago, A Midsummer Night's Dream, etc  :)


The Rolling Stones Glastonbury 2013

The big headliner of the festival were The Rolling Stones. Apparently, Michael Eavis, the farm owner and Glastonbury organizer, has been asking The Stones to play this gig for over 50 years, and this is the first time they've finally agreed to do it! More than 100 thousand people turned up at the Pyramid Stage to see them, and the energy of the crowd was electric!

Mick Jagger Glastonbury 2013
Mick Jagger is a BEAST
All I can say is that Mick Jagger still has the 'Moves Like Jagger'! (Too corny? Haha...) I honestly do not know how that man could still prance around the stage like that -- he had the energy of a toddler high on chocolate, and his voice is as steady and powerful as it has ever been!
Dude - The Rolling Stones were amazing. Being there felt like I was a part of music history...

Keith Richards Glastonbury 2013
Keith Richards NAILING IT!


Mumford and Sons Glastonbury 2013

Now these guys were the ones I was looking forward to seeing the most! Mumford and Sons closed out the festival despite one of their members having a scare with a blood clot in the brain! Thank goodness he's alright... you wouldn't have thought anything was wrong seeing them play the way they did. They were incredible!
Mumford at Glastonbury 2013

I was actually in the middle of seeing Gabrielle Aplin perform at the Acoustic Stage when I heard the familiar chords of, "I Will Wait" blaring from outside her tent. I feel slightly bad about this, but I ran out of her tent and dashed onto the Pyramid Stage where I knew Mumford were 'waiting for me'.

Mumford and Sons at Glastonbury 2013

Mumford's unique stringy sound and beautiful catchy melodies have made them a regular in Glastonbury, making this their 5th time performing there, working their way up from the smaller stages up to the closing act in the Pyramid Stage. Seeing them perform was a really great end to an amazing and legendary 5 days.

The complete gang (plus a couple extras) all together for Mumford on our last night 

The Glastonbury Festival costs 205 GBP, and tickets for next year's event will go on sale sometime on October this year. So if you guys ever want to experience music in an epic, absolutely legendary way, I'd recommend keeping tabs on the Glastonbury website to secure tickets. I guarantee you will have a blast, and it will change you forever. :)

At least that's how it was for me. <3

Peace and Love from The Fam.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Tokyo Drift

When I first arrived in Tokyo, I had the complete Lost in Translation experience.
Imagine having to encounter signs like these everywhere...

Well, to be honest, one of the great things about Japan is that they are resilient about maintaining their culture and traditions... and that includes their language. All their signs are in Kanji, and barely anything is written in alpha numeric. It's great for Japan and I mean that with all my heart. It's just a little challenging for tourists like me to get around, not knowing a lick of Japanese language apart from the basic "Ohayou Gozaimasu" and "Arigato!"

I was very lucky to be staying with my best friend from high school who has been there for 10 years and speaks the language quite fluently. As long as I was with her, I was okay. :)

The first thing I wanted to do was EAT. I love Japanese food, and I wasn't going to waste a minute in Tokyo without eating Sushi and Ramen. 

 Their Ramen was so good, it literally hurts to eat it. I inhaled most of the things I ate there!

Whenever I visit new places, I usually explore their local grocery stores. You can find out a lot about a country's culture by what they eat... and based on this photo below, you can tell the Japanese like sweets :) So do I! :) Yum!

I also pay attention to "signs". Figuratively, and in Japan, LITERALLY. :) Their "Engrish" signs are so cute! :)

After I've had my bit of fun with food and signs, I went over to one of the main things that drew me to Japan in the first place: The Hachiko Statue at the Shibuya Station. :)

The Hachiko Statue was built in honor of a faithful Akita called Hachiko, who is remembered due to his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even after death. Yes, I've seen both movies: The Japanese and American versons. :) If you haven't, you should! Both are really good... they brought me to Japan, didn't they? :)

And being the true celebrity magnet that I am, I found myself in the middle of the Japanese Paparazzi - who were waiting for this guy...

This is Lee Byung Hun... a Korean superstar who's been in several American films, like GI Joe! :) I didn't really know who he was, but all the ladies around me were going nuts over him!

I didn't care much for him... but I DID get super excited when I bumped into this guy!

A Sumo Wrestler!!! Isn't that amazing? He looks a little skinny for a Sumo, but I was all too happy he obliged for a fan photo! :)

I also bumped into a bunch of ladies wearing Kimono's. I was surprised there were still a LOT of women wearing Kimonos all over Japan. I thought it was brilliant! They look so beautiful in them! We all know I love those things, right? Especially when you get served some tea afterwards? :)

I tried my luck in meeting the Emperor too, but I wasn't as fortunate. I did manage to snag a photo of the Imperial Palace though... Even from afar, it looked really beautiful. 

Other things that kept me occupied were...

Jump Shots in busy Tokyo Streets...

Adoring little Japanese school girls - in a non creepy way. (Look how cute they are though!!!)

Adoring cute and fashionable Japanese girls in Shibuya (and wishing I were as sassy as them)...

Exploring and getting lost in Japanese Gardens...

And lastly, admiring the beautiful city of Tokyo at night...

Tokyo really is a magnificent city. It reminds me so much of Manhattan... the lights, the people, and the manic energy! The food is amazing, the transportation is very efficient... and even if there is a language barrier (no matter how much I've been told that people in Tokyo speaks a lot of English, I have discovered, that no, they do not) the Japanese are *soooo* nice and helpful, that they will do their best in assisting you, even if it means standing with you for 10 minutes making up a new kind of sign language, just to be able to help. I love the Japanese.. they are amazing people!

So that is my Tokyo Drift in a nutshell... I did spend time in Kyoto as well, and that place deserves a post all on its own. Kyoto is *so* different from Tokyo - in a good way!

I spent about 8 days total in Japan, and I had such a great time. My advice for people who are planning to visit --- try to learn a little Nihongo before you go. The basics like - hello, how much, where is the toilet, how do I get to this station, can you help me find this temple, - will go a loooong way. That, and go on a diet before your trip. You'll want to eat as much of their food as possible. ;)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gisborne NZ: The First Light Of The World

It was because of a random acquaintance that I decided at the last minute, to change my New Zealand route and head to Gisborne.

I had every intention of driving down the middle of the island after staying in Rotorua, to visit Lake Taupo, as well as see Tongariro National Park before heading down to Wellington.

However, during one of my networking events in Manila, I got acquainted with a Kiwi doing business in the Philippines... and upon learning about my trip, he boldly suggested that I drive down the Eastern Coast of the North Island (instead of down the middle like I planned), to visit Gisborne, where I could catch the first sunrise of the world.

I have to admit - I was intrigued. The idea of visiting the first city in the world to see the light of the new day sounded like something worth changing my itinerary for. This guy, who was practically a stranger, spoke so confidently about the beauty of the East Coast, that I was compelled to at least check it out!

And so I did some research, checked if it was feasible for me to change my route, and took a shot at emailing Couchsurfing hosts in Gisborne, just to see if someone was even available to take me in. No one in Taupo had responded to my Couchsurfing requests at that point yet, so I left it up to fate.

It just so happened that a family in Gisborne responded almost instantly to my request to stay at their house. There it was... the sign I was looking for. I took one look at the tattoo on my wrist, took a deep breath, and just like that, my plans took a different turn and off to Gisborne I went!

The Detour

Coming from Rotorua, it was going to take me about 4 hours to drive to Gisborne. 4 hours? Not bad! It'd be easier and quicker than driving from LA to San Francisco, which I have done several times. What I didn't expect was the level of difficulty of the drive.

I've mentioned in my other posts that I had rented a small right hand drive manual transition car I called, Sparky. At this point, I was still having such a hard time adjusting to driving on the other side of the road... plus Sparky wasn't an easy car to drive. The clutch was a little deeper than I've been used to so I fumbled most of the time. Take all those issues I've been having with the car and add the incredible feat of driving 80 kilometers an hour in and around a HUGE mountain. You can imagine how petrified I was.

The Near-Death Experience

And as if THAT wasn't scary enough... About an hour into the drive, I found myself in the middle of a lightning storm! AND - It started to HAIL. It was SO BAD, I actually thought someone was shooting a machine gun at me and Sparky!

I kid you not --- I was SCREAMING inside my car.
I thought I was going to die. I swear - I thought it was the end of me.

Throughout the entire hailstorm that lasted for 20 minutes or so, I kept thinking about the saying, "If you're going through hell, keep going." There really was no choice but to keep moving forward, and so I just kept driving... until finally, after what felt like an eternity, it stopped raining.

I had survived the deathly mountain unscathed! I was just in the process of thanking the Universe for keeping me alive when I saw---

There is always a rainbow after the storm
A rainbow!
Actually, it was a DOUBLE RAINBOW, you just don't see the other one in this photo because I didn't have time to switch my zoom lens out.

It was such a great omen... And in that moment (and pardon my Stephen Chbosky quote), I swear I was infinite. 

Nothing could ever phase me from that moment on... And even if Gisborne turned out to be a crappy place (which it didn't), I probably would have thought it was the most beautiful place on Earth.

I met my Couchsurfing hosts that night who turned out to be such amazing people - probably my favorite travel acquaintances so far, but more on that story another time. They cooked dinner, had a few people over, and we had a great evening.

First to see the light

The next morning, I rose really early to catch the first light of the world...

Gisborne is a city so close to the edge, that it is the "birthplace of the sun". I can't even describe what it was like being able to witness that.
Another Infinite moment, I have to say.

I took as many photos as I could... and afterwards, I just sat there... I waited and watched the sun rise higher and higher until the light spread throughout the entire beach.
It was a very spiritual experience, watching the sun that day. It was special... and I knew at that moment...I was blessed. :)

I drove off in high spirits, and I spent the rest of the day seeing the city and taking photos. (click on photos to enlarge)

Dumb luck and Hapenstance

This is probably one of the best, most unexpected detours I've ever experienced. Gisborne wasn't even part of the plan... but because of a random stranger, some faith and a little luck, I ended up having the experience of a lifetime!

How many of us could say we have driven through a lightning HAILSTORM to find a double rainbow waiting for us in the end? Or say we have seen the first sunrise before everyone else?

It just goes to show that life really doesn't always turn out the way you plan.
And if you're lucky like I am, unexpected things just fall into place, and you get dealt a hand that's even better than you've ever imagined. :)