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, August 29, 2013

Work Hard, Play Hard - Italian Style

I've been at the Shanti House for 16 days exactly. Like I mentioned in the past couple posts, the B&B is located up in the mountains, so the people who visit, mainly stay here and don't leave. For the helpers, or volunteer workers like me, it's pretty much the same because the nearest town is 22 km away and we don't have a car.

This is the view from one of the windows we are cleaning. Reminds me of the Philippines :)

One of the great things about our hosts is that they make an effort to make sure we are entertained. I wouldn't have minded staying cooped up in the Shanti, but they've been taking us out to dinner, to concerts, to festivals, to the beach... It's been pretty amazing, actually.

I *did* mention how lucky I am to be here, right? :)

Anyway, here are some of the things that I got to do since I arrived at The Shanti.


Ferragosto, August 15th is an Italian Holiday. If I'm not mistaken, this is the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Although the Italians don't really celebrate it for the religious reasons, it is a festival all the same. We walked to the nearest town where the villagers were having a mini fiesta with food, music and booze. I had only arrived the day before, so this was a pretty great welcome!

La Festival De La Musica

We went to a small music festival because our host's son had a band that was performing. It wasn't Glastonbury or anything - definitely smaller, but again, food, booze and some good music! It was a lot of fun and really cool to be one of the people who "knew the band". I was even roommates with the drummer! Sick! :)

Beach Day At La Secca

Almost the entire group went to La Secca one day for a nice beach hang. I believe La Secca was the closest nice beach they had. I have to admit - it made me miss the beaches in California a little, but the temperature of the water was a lot warmer, and I got to do a few laps ---- my first exercise in weeks! It felt amazing!

Donega Day

Our host, Franco, has been playing the song called, "Donega" by a local band called I Russenenti, ever since I got here. It's a catchy little silly song (in Italian, of course) about the little town of Donega. He plays it several times a day, and it's become sort of an anthem for all the guests of the Shanti. Everyone goes nuts when he puts the song on, they've made a home video of everyone dancing, etc... You get the picture, right?
Well, I Russenenti had a gig last night in... you guessed it... Donega... and we went on a mini road trip to watch them play! Even the other guests who have left the Shanti showed up to Donega for the show! It was amazing! :)

I still have about 10 days left at the Shanti. And so far, I still have a few things to look forward to! One in particular that is worth mentioning is ---- Apparently, on Saturday, 3 Polish Documentary Film Makers are going to The Shanti to shoot myself, and the other two workers, for a documentary ABOUT Workaway/Help Exchange.

How I end up in situations like these, I will never know! But if you'll excuse me, I have to go and put my make up on. I have a toilet to clean.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Week At The Shanti


And so it has been a week since I landed in Italy. To be totally and completely honest, I don't really know where to begin to explain the situation I'm in. The Shanti House is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I slap myself everyday to make sure I'm not dreaming... because dude -- I feel like I'm in a movie! Think: Wanderlust.

Let me break it down for you...


I am in the Shanti House, a B&B, in Borzonasca, Italy, because of Help Exchange. An organization that helps travelers get free accommodations in exchange for a few hours of labor. I've mentioned this as part of my big plan to save money while traveling the world, on one of my earlier posts. The Shanti House is my first experience as a helper. Basically, what I do, along with 2 other helpers, is change and wash the sheets, wash dishes, tidy up, clean the bathroom, plus a few other odd jobs here and there. The way I see it is - it's like I'm just taking care of my own house.


... is owned and operated by Martina and Franco... cutest and coolest couple you'll ever meet. This place is very rustic, very homely, and *so not your typical B&B. Since The Shanti is located 22km away from the city, and hundreds of meters above sea level, the guests basically vacation at the Shanti to STAY at the Shanti. It has a very "family-like" atmosphere... everyone eats together and drinks together and smokes together.... We are in each other's faces all the time, that it's hard not to become familiar with one another, and become friends.


The Shanti House has a resident cook called Pippo. He doesn't speak a lick of English and you wouldn't see him without a cigarette in his mouth or his hand, but he is probably one of the best authentic Italian cooks in Italy. He cooks everyday, using ingredients from The Shanti's own garden --- and they are the freshest, most delicious vegetables EVER. Sometimes the guests provide lunch or dinner for everyone too, but mostly it's Pippo's meals we enjoy. The food here is SO good. Sooooo good.
I am ruined for life.


Majority of the guests of Shanti are Italians from Milan. In fact, a lot of them are friends, and have been going to Shanti for 10 years. Every now and then, you'll get a random French guy, Spanish girl, German couple... One of my fellow helpers is from Holland, another from Indonesia. Apart from that, all Italians.
I find Italians very beautiful. The women, especially, in my opinion have gorgeous faces and amazing bodies. Which is sooo unfair because they practically eat pasta, bread and cheese everyday! They're all incredibly nice too. Always trying to speak in English as best as they could, complimenting me on the 0.2% Italian that I know... They are amazing!


OK. This is what makes Shanti extra special for me. The music. For some reason, the Shanti House is a hub for incredibly talented musicians. Famous percussionists, guitarists, drummers, singers, you name it, can all be found hanging out at the Shanti House.  Every single day is like a free concert, with each of the musicians sharing their love and passion for their music. I'm so glad I brought my ukulele, because playing with these guys is my favorite part of my day! They even have a music room, complete with a drum set, keyboards and amplifiers, and some of the guys use it for band practice.
I cannot express the joy I feel hearing the beautiful melodies of an acoustic guitar as I sweep the bedroom floors... It is pure bliss. :)


I hit the jackpot. For my first ever Help Exchange experience, this is going to be almost impossible to beat. For really good and reasonable work, I get fed, and I sleep here for free... but not once have I ever felt like a worker here... I feel more like one of the guests. I eat like a queen everyday... sampling the BEST of Italian cuisine... sure I've basically gained the weight of a 5 year old child, but it's totally worth it. I'm in Italy! I'm allowed to eat pasta everyday!
I've had the pleasure of getting to know, and jamming, with some of the best musicians in the world -- and that is something I will treasure forever...
But most of all, I've had the privilege of being in the company of the most beautiful, fun, and amazing Italians... whom in the short period of time I've been here, have taught me so much about the beauty of their country, language, and culture. I know it's only been a week, but I'm in love with all of them.
What can I say? I'm easy... ;)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greetings From Italia!


Greetings from Italia! Let me just say right off the bat that --- Oh my god, I'm so glad I'm here. I've only ever been to Venice, Florence and Pisa, and spent like - a day in each city... I knew it wasn't enough time to really experience Italy, so I've been itching to go back ever since.

Fast forward 5 years later, and here I am, back with a vengeance!

I landed yesterday morning in Genoa, which is in the North Western part of Italy. My jaw dropped when I saw the breathtaking views from my airplane window. I wish I had half a mind to take a photo, but I was too awed to move and too tired to be bothered. This is sort of what it looked like from the airport though...

Borrowed this photo from

From Genoa, I took the bus to the Brignole train station, and from Brignole, took the train to Chiavari. My Help Exchange host, Martina, picked me up from Chiavari, and drove me up to the Shanti House, which will be my home for the next 3 weeks.

From outside the house, before even entering, I heard guitar strings being masterfully played... I had no idea who it was, but I knew right then and there that I was going to like staying here.

Photo from

The Shanti House is basically a B&B that offers guests some form of escape and peace away from the big city. It's located 700m above sea level and 22km away from coastal resorts like Chiavari and Lavagna. The place is really rustic, has really great surroundings, and quite peaceful. All the guests are so at home, I had such a hard time distinguishing guests and volunteers from the owners. Everyone's just so relaxed and sort chilled out!

Photo from

I met two of the other volunteers Janaca and Shanti, and I was keen to get started helping them out as well but Martina shoved some cheese, alcohol and bread in my face and said I should just relax for the day. Thank goodness for that because I really wasn't feeling very well. Tired from the journey, I think.

So I spent the day just hanging out with the guests, eating cheese and salami. My favorite bit though was jamming along with the musicians playing in the lounge area. Brilliant musicians! I could have spent all day there, honestly... I LOVE musicians. I was so glad I brought my ukulele with me.

Photo from

However, my enjoyment got cut short because I felt sick. I had a migraine and was bed ridden from 6pm onward. I get these really bad migraines every now and then which usually gets suppressed by meds. On very special occasions though, meds won't work, and I wouldn't be able to even move my head or open my eyes from the pain. And that's what happened to me yesterday which SUCKED BALLS because I couldn't even eat dinner!

What's worse is I could hear everyone downstairs yelling "BUON APPETITO" with a round of applause... AND I could smell the aroma of the beautiful food that the resident cook, Pippo, created... AND I could hear the clinking of the wine glasses they were having with dinner.

OH and they had a mini concert after that. All the musicians banded together to play and sing and I missed it. I missed ALL of it because of my stupid STUPID migraine. WAAAAH!

My fave photo of a crying child because it captures exactly how I feel

It sucks - but I wasn't too depressed. I was actually smiling the whole time I was hearing everything that was going on because I had a "glimpse" of what's in store for me for the next 3 weeks! :)

I woke up really early today. Took more meds, had a shower, and I am thankfully feeling better. It's 8am right now, and the whole household is still asleep. Apparently nothing starts here till about 10am. Haha! I really am going to like it here!

It was a rough start, but there's no where to go but up! Today is an Italian holiday - Ferragosta. I have no idea what they do or what it's about... but they said we were going to town for some fun and celebration, so... I'm outta here and I'll talk to you guys soon with more action.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

My RTW Update: On To The Next Adventure

Let's start off with some numbers, shall we?

153  – Number of days I have been away from Los Angeles
127  – Number of days since I quit my job
98    – Number of days I have been traveling (not counting my bumming around days in The Philippines)
96    – Number of days since I last wore high heels

Have I been gone that long already? Or rather… have I only been gone that long? Jeez, sometimes I feel like I’ve been traveling for years. My back definitely feels the strain of my backpack, that’s for sure. J But hey… who am I to complain? As far as life goes, this sure beats sitting on a cubicle all day.

So here I am, still in The UK, jumping from England to Scotland and to Wales, taking my time, and having a lot of fun with my friends. I’ve attended birthdays, helped friends move, stalked an actor on a film set outside my friend’s apartment, did weekend getaway trips, explored Scotland, did a full circle on my Harry Potter obsession and visited everything Harry Potter related in the UK, attended a music festival… Seriously, I’ve done more than a Brit could ever do in his own country, I feel like I live here already! It’s been an AMAZING couple of months (not counting the time I got annihilated by bed bugs, but that’s another story all together)


And so the first leg of the tour has finally come to a close, as this time next week, I will be in ITALIA, kicking off the second leg!
Just to give you a refresher – the second leg I’m referring to is the HELPXBackpacking Europe Experience!

Helpx or Help Exchange is an organization where you get to work for a few hours a day in exchange for free board and lodging, and sometimes food too! The work that you do varies, depending on the needs of your hosts. You could work for an organic farm, helping with various tasks from harvesting fruit and vegetables to feeding the donkeys. You could also work for a B&B, helping with housekeeping and bar work… OR you could just help a family with some chores around their house. Possibilities are endless!
I have been able to secure two volunteer opportunities in Italy, both of them at a small, family owned B&B. So starting next week, I will be making use of my strong built and customer service skills, working in – I guess, housekeeping! Italian style! Earth2Eartha – at your service!

For more details, check out my post on Help Exchange HERE.


Well, for one thing – it sure saves a lot of money. These past couple months, I’ve been hounding on my siblings to sponsor various things for me, like excursions, a musical, a bottle of perfume…
Seeing my savings take a huge dip really isn’t doing anything for my nerves.  It keeps me up at night!
6 weeks of “working”, although doesn’t necessarily give me any money, at least prevents me from having to spend too much. All I need is the money to get me there, and a few Euro’s here and there for basic necessities and I’m golden!

Mainly though – I want to do Help Exchange because it’s the best way to get myself immersed in the culture. I get to meet, spend time and interact with locals everyday, and I *know* I’m going to learn *so* much about their lives and their lifestyle. You can’t buy that, can you? J

It’s exciting… plus I’m really looking forward to working again. I know it’s manual labor, and it’s nothing like what I used to do – but that’s why it’s exciting! I get to work with my hands and sweat a little for a change!
While I’m over there, I’m hoping to be able to take day trips to Cinque Terre and Rome, and maybe explore the Amalfi Coast for a few days too. After that, the tentative plan is to head over to Croatia, then Greece, for hopefully another HelpX opportunity.


"Una ragazza e un cavallo" the first Italian sentence I learned on my Rosetta Stone Language Tutorial. I have no idea how "a girl and a horse" will ever come into conversation while I'm there, but I’m hoping to be able to learn enough Italian to ask for directions to the toilet at least. I’d also want to impress my hosts. I *am* working in their country after all… it’s always good to show them a little respect, nowatimsayin’?

Wish me luck, everyone! Or should I say – una donna e un automobile! 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Harry Potter Evolution

It is no secret (to those people who know me) that I am a big Harry Potter fan. In honor of Harry's and JK Rowling's birthday - which was yesterday, I'd like to dedicate this week's post to both of them, and how they have affected me as a fan, and how my Potterhead geekiness has evolved over the years.

Let's start with....

1999 - My dearest friend, Maj, gave one the greatest gifts she could ever bestow upon me... She introduced me to Harry Potter and The Socerer's Stone. I was intrigued, so I bought the book as a present to my youngest sister. I ended up reading it before she did and I was hooked! I bought the other two books the next day and eagerly anticipated the release of The Goblet of Fire.

2001 - My University held a Harry Potter Quiz Bee based on the 4 books that have been released.
I entered.
I won.
I was featured in a local magazine.
The nerd status has been sealed for life!

2007 - On the midnight release of the last book, The Deathly Hallows, the Borders Bookstore near my apartment held a release party for the fans. The kids turned up in costume. There was a Snape Debate (is he a friend or a foe). And there was a Spelling Bee.
I entered.
I was the oldest who entered.

I won.
My winning word: Bouillabaisse. 
My prize: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans!

2008 - I visited London for the very first time, and Lea took me to Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4 :)

2010 - I visited London for the second time, and I went on a Harry Potter London and Oxford Movie Tour! I went to different locations where they filmed the movie, and did a duel with my tour guide (watch my duel video here)! I won.

In front of Lily and James' house

2011 - I went to Orlando for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! I tasted Butterbeer for the first time, bought my wand, dined at The Three Broomsticks, went aboard the Hogwarts Express... I basically went NUTS. I had SO MUCH fun!

March 2013 - My friend, Jackie, took me to her gym to see Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) work out. (Random, but significant!)

June 2013 - I went to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London. Had Butterbeer again, saw the set, costumes, learned about the effects, spent a couple hours there just geeking out.

July 2013 - This is a jam-packed month.

Went to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct - Where the Hogwarts Express travels to get to Hogwarts.

Went to see the REAL Hogwarts Express that they used to film the movies.

Went to see Alnwick Castle - which is what they used as HOGWARTS... and saw a Broomstick Flying Lesson being held in the same spot where they shot the learning to fly scene at the first movie with Madame Hooch.

Had coffee at The Elephant House - which is the place where JK Rowling hung out to write the first few drafts of the Harry Potter books.

And finally... Went to see Tom Riddle's Grave at the Greyfriars Cemetery. Well, it's spelled "Riddell", but I'm assuming this is where JK Rowling got the inspiration of the name from.

And there you have it! My Evolution of Potter, ladies and gentlemen.

It's a little sad, knowing there are no more of those books to look forward to. The Harry Potter world has been a huge part of my life for more than 10 years. I guess you could say I grew up with it, and with it being over... and me practically doing and visiting anything and everything there is that is Harry Potter related, sort of brings a finality to it somehow.

But then again, I guess this is why I love books in the first place. Nothing is really over. All you need to do is pick up that book again... turn the page... and start over...
And just like that, you're back on Number 4 Privet Drive, at the Dursley's... where everything begins.