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, November 28, 2013

The Dead Sea: Floating Bodies And Mud Baths

One of the many perks of working at a hostel is that you'll always be informed of the best places to visit, and you'll always have company wherever you might want to go!

Since there isn't really much of Tel Aviv to visit as a tourist, most of the time, the guests venture out to visit Jerusalem, The Dead Sea, or cross the border to Jordan for Petra.

I was lucky enough to have been able to do all three of these... Last week, I posted about my Trip to Jerusalem. This week, I'll take you through my Dead Sea experience with The Danish Invasion! :)

I met these 4 great ladies from Denmark at the hostel, who were all nice enough to let me tag along on their day trip to Masada and The Dead Sea. I personally didn't know squat about Masada... but I didn't mind, as long as I got my dose of sea salt!


So, Masada, as it turns out, is an ancient fortification located in the South of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea. King Herod built palaces here where you can still see remains of... And to this day, is considered one of Israel's most popular attractions. 

I can see the appeal. It has a spectacular view, and the ruins are pretty amazing. It's a bummer we had to pay to get in though... Luckily I was with a group of students - and I got a Student Discount along with them! Thank you, Asian genes!!!


After a long and winding drive through the desert, we made it to the salty waters of the Dead Sea! Yay!
OK a few fun facts about the Dead Sea.

1. It's surface and shores are 427 meters below sea level -- Earth's  lowest  elevation on land
2. It is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water. I tasted it. My tongue burned.
3. You float. It is literally impossible to sink.
4. No fish or sea life here, folks. Too salty. Hence the name.
5. The Dead Sea has mineral-rich mud that you can smear all over your body, and is scientifically proven to improve your skin's natural processes

We got there just before sunset, and the colors were amazing! When we finally managed to get into the water, it was such a funny sensation, bobbing up and down like a cork! You really float! It's so funny! I remember trying my best to swim down and pull all my weight underwater... But it won't let me! The water just plops you back up the surface and raises your legs... It made us look like we were sitting on a floating device!


We weren't going to let the opportunity to lather ourselves up with the famous mud from the Dead Sea... so as soon as we saw someone walking around like he fell into a tar pit, we tracked down where he got his mud from, and we scrambled over to that part of the beach to cover ourselves up with the magic gooey stuff!

OK - we found it, and it wasn't pretty. The mud wasn't very clean, there was trash around it, and it was a little rocky. Luckily, this lady came up to us and showed us where to extract our mud from! She pointed to a tiny hole in the ground and said - "Reach into that hole right there. That's where the good mud is!" 

And so that's what we did! She was right! The mud inside was warm, soft, and oddly satisfying!

We may look cute and funny... but that mud smelled like rotten eggs. Reminded me of how it smelled in Rotorua because of the sulphur. I was surprised at how it didn't really bother any of us though... We just kept going until we were completely covered!

We kept it on for 20 minutes or so before washing it off in the sea again. I have to say though that what everyone says about that mud is true. My skin felt like a baby's bottom afterwards... I couldn't stop feeling my skin! And when I got back to the hostel, people who didn't even know I went to the Dead Sea said I looked like I was glowing!


And so that concludes the Dead Sea experience. We did both Masada and the Dead Sea in one day, it was exhausting, but really worth the day trip! If you're in Israel, you really can't pass up this experience.
The drive from Tel Aviv to Masada took a couple hours, Masada to the Dead Sea was another hour, and the drive back to Tel Aviv was another 2 hours give or take.

Next Stop: Petra, Jordan.

In other news... Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trip To Jerusalem

Random thought: I have no idea why the game, "Musical Chairs" is called, "Trip to Jerusalem" in my country.

Now that that's out of the way... YES I made it to Jerusalem! :)

After working/volunteering at the Overstay Hostel for a full week, I decided to spend my day off in Jerusalem with my new friend, Fernando. Jerusalem is about an hour away from Tel Aviv by bus - not too bad!

I was looking forward to finally visiting that place for a few reasons... First, is because my father really wanted me to see it. When I spoke to him about my plans to travel the world, he specifically said to me - "Go to Israel and visit the Holy Land". My dad is probably the most traveled person I know... and if out of all the countries he's visited in his lifetime, The Holy Land is what he chooses to recommend to me, then it must be good. I was raised Catholic, and my dad is quite religious... so it's nice to see this trip as a way to honor him and his wish for me to see it.

Second is because of the Western (Wailing) Wall. Someone once told me that the wall is "magic" - and I completely understood what he meant. For thousands of years, people pray on that wall... The energy that surrounds it must be so powerful, I wanted to feel what it's like to be enveloped by that power.

And lastly... I guess because the stories about Jesus was such a big part of my childhood and the way I was raised... I was really curious and eager to walk the same footsteps as the Greatest Man Who's Ever Lived.... If that.


My first impression was that it was completely different from Tel Aviv, and that it was beautiful. The views were spectacular, the walls of the Old City made it look like a fortress or a castle... and we all know how I love castles... :) So I was pleasantly surprised...

The Market is quite colorful as well... The stalls were adorned with jewelry, clothes and Middle Eastern merchandise, which made going through those little cobble stone alleys all the more interesting!


Everything they say about The Wall is true. The energy over there is different. I don't know why I thought it was going to be happy energy though... I guess I assumed people went there more with thoughts of hope, which is a positive energy. I assumed wrong... because as soon as I stepped foot in the vicinity of the wall, the feeling I felt wasn't happiness but heaviness. Like there was a weight that pulled on my chest all of a sudden.

Phewww it was a little rough... But I managed to get close enough to the actual wall to say my own petitions, and observe the women who were praying there.
It was a little disappointing to see people with their IPads and Iphones, some even chatting on their phones - right next to the women "wailing" at the wall. I guess I just thought the place would be a little more solemn... you know, "holier" than what I saw. Then again, Jerusalem has become such a touristy city, I really shouldn't have been surprised. I couldn't help it though...
Nevertheless, I said my petition, walked backwards (as a sign of respect) the way I saw the other women do, and went on my way.


This was one of the highlights of Jerusalem for me. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is defined as the place where Jesus was crucified, and where his tomb was. It's a beautiful and huge church... probably one of the best ones I've ever visited in any country. Not necessarily for its beauty -- more for it's authenticity. There were hallways and several floors of stone that made the church seem more like an underground city... It was pretty eerie, actually... Priests were chanting around every few minutes... Nuns were following them around as they bless different corners... It felt like we had no business being there at some point.
We did get to see all the things we needed to see though... It took us nearly an hour, but it was an hour well spent.

Underneath the altar is the exact location, and supposedly the remaining rock that was left
from where Jesus was crucified. 
This is supposedly where Jesus' body was laid when he died from the cross

Getting in on the action


The Yad Vashem is the world's largest repository of information regarding the holocaust. That is not an exaggeration... It is huge, and it is borderline information overload... BUT you get in for free, and it is amazing. You can spend an entire day going through that museum... I spent a couple hours and I was exhausted. It had incredible information though, and I managed to sneak a few photos (they said no pictures but everyone had their cameras!)

These are the shoes of the Jews who were killed during the holocaust

Holocaust Memorial

Jerusalem was amazing... It's a great city and I'm really glad I went. It's probably the one city in Israel that stands out to me - and I didn't even have enough time to explore it all.
Maybe next time - I'll go back, do another round of Jerusalem... then head over to Bethlehem and Nazareth too.

I DID manage to swim in the Dead Sea though... watch out for details and photos on my next post. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#BangonPilipinas : Weathering The Storm

Last week, a disastrous hurricane hit The Philippines, my motherland and my home. They say it is the strongest, most powerful storm ever recorded in history... and the most affected island just happens to be my mother's province, Tacloban, Leyte.

I'm sure most (if not all) of you have seen numerous footage on the news or online showing how hopeless and miserable the place is at the moment. Our dirty politicians don't make it any easier either...

The last time there was a super storm (Ondoy in 2009), I was home. I was there when it happened, and I was there to help when people were trying to rebuild and get back on their feet.

Now, on a similar yet worse situation, I feel so helpless being so far away. All I can really do now is bring light into the situation, and use my blog as a tool to allow people to get informed and help with whatever they can.


These are detailed ways to help taken from Huffington Post:

World Food Programme 
The UN's hunger-fighting organization has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.
Red Cross
The humanitarian and disaster relief organization has sent emergency responders and volunteers to provide meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter. Learn more here.
The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts. Learn more here.
The emergency response and global health organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies. Learn more here.
World Vision
The Christian humanitarian organization that specifically supports families living in poverty is providing food, water and hygiene kits at the evacuation centers. World Vision was also still actively responding to last month's earthquake in Bohol, which fortunately was not struck by the eye of the storm.Learn more here.
ShelterBox, an emergency relief organization, provides families with a survival kit that includes a tent and other essential items while they are displaced or homeless. Learn more here.
Anticipating that children will likely be among the worst affected by the typhoon, UNICEF is working on getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families in the area. Learn more here.
Salvation Army
The Christian hunger and poverty-fighting organization is allocating 100 percent of all disaster donations for relief efforts "to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors." Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online.Learn more here.
Save The Children
The organization, which prioritizes kids' needs, has sent relief kits for children and families, including household cleaning items, temporary school tents and learning materials. Learn more here.
Doctors Without Borders
The international medical humanitarian organization is sending 200 tons of medical and relief items, including vaccines, tents and hygiene kits. Learn more here.
Operation USA 
The Los Angeles-based nonprofit is sending much-needed water purification supplies to victims and seeking corporate partners to help with delivery. Donate $10 by texting AID to 50555 or give online. Learn more here.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
The humanitarian assistance organization, which fights global poverty in 70 different countries, is sending disaster and relief development experts to aid in recovery. The organization is also empowering local partners in their efforts.Learn more here.
The Lutheran World Relief 
LWR, which fights poverty by improving global health and ensuring basic human rights are met, is working with local partners to provide water, shelter, financial resources and recovery efforts. LWR is appealing for $2.5 million for its typhoon relief fund. Learn more here.
Catholic Relief Services
CRS will provide shelter, water, toilets and more. The charitable arm aims to provide temporary housing for 32,000 families in three areas. Learn more here.
Team Rubicon
The nonprofit, which galvanizes first responders and veterans to help in times of crises, has sent a group of specialists to aid in search-and rescue, medical triage and medical relief. A second team will be deployed Nov. 12 to create a supply chain for field work. Learn more here.
International Medical Corps
The emergency response team is providing infection control, clean water and food to families in the hardest hit areas. Learn more here.
The International Rescue Committee
The organization, which specializes in humanitarian crises, is sending a relief team to help provide water and sanitation systems. Learn more here.
Action Against Hunger
The international poverty-fighting nonprofit, which provides sustainable global food and water solutions, is distributing drinking water, buckets, soap and chlorine tablets. It's also providing sanitation equipment to help prevent waterborne diseases. Learn more here.


Some of my friends have taken it upon themselves to be proactive...

This is a Facebook Status Update of my friend, Simon Cowper:

Sorry to keep clogging up your timelines with appeals etc but I had an idea (I know, I was as shocked as you, good job I was sitting down!)...

I'm asking as many people as possible to do one small and easy thing to help the victims of typhoon haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines....

All I'm asking you to do is to give up one thing worth £3 this week and instead text UNICEF to 70 123 and donate the money to those who really need it.

When you think about it, it's a really small thing to do. For example, I usually buy a newspaper on a Sunday which costs around £2.50. This week instead of buying a paper I'll send a £3 donation to UNICEF - this really won't affect me but could make a huge difference to a person or a family affected by the typhoon.

So there it is, something really simple to do - just give up one thing for one week (a Starbucks coffee, one pint, whatever) and instead text UNICEF to 70 123... You get to have your treat back next week, and you get that warm fuzzy feeling that you've done a good thing this week 

Last thing (I promise!) - instead of liking this post please re-post it to your wall so that the idea can be spread to as many people as possible.

Maraming Salamat po!

My old roommate, Wrissa Claire, set up this fund raising page through Crowdrise... You can check out her page through this link here

This simple image has been circulating around Facebook... A good reminder that a little bit goes a long way...

To those of you who live in the Philippines and want to know where and how to help, my friend, Iya Santiago posted this useful link:


The Filipino Spirit is Waterproof. This is the understatement of the millennium. No matter how disastrous the calamity... we Filipinos always manage to get back up with a smile. Always. 
I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone who's helped my country out... The Brits, the Australians, the Americans... EVERYONE who's offered a donation or a prayer... Thank you. Acts of kindness like these restores one's faith in humanity... and really reinforces one's belief that people are innately good.

If you want to help out, and don't know where to start... I hope this blog post points you towards the right direction... Please continue to think good thoughts about my country, and send your best positive energy towards the victims of this awful tragedy. 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Google As A Second Language

I am sitting beside my new friend, Fernando from Uruguay, at the hostel I’m currently working for in Tel Aviv. He barely speaks English, and I barely speak Spanish, and yet we are talking our ears off, having some of the most enlightening conversations each of us have ever had.

It completely blows my mind how technology and the Internet have revolutionized our means of communication. 15 years ago, the language barrier would have made it almost impossible for us to have a decent conversation. Sure, there would have been a dictionary available… but flipping through the pages would have been painful, and the momentum of the exchange would have been lost.

Now, there are tons of Apps on our mobile phones to aid us in this dilemma. For instance, Fernando and I started off using I-translate to talk. Eventually, we moved on to having our laptops open and typed away using Google Translate. It was completely bizarre because we were chatting online, but we were right next to each other.

The words were typed, but the interaction was live. No need for “LOL’s” because when we laughed, we really did!

It’s amazing what the world has come to, isn’t it? A lot of people I know resist change, especially the ones of technological nature… But I have learned to embrace these changes and I enjoy going with the flow of it.

A New Goal

Those of you who have been following my posts will effectively deduce that I am in love with Italy. And this is mostly because of the people I’ve met there. Being there, surrounded by the passionate Italians inspired me to learn the language. Now, having met so many people from Spain and South America, I am inspired to learn Spanish. My first language love also happens to be French (and I have a tattoo on my wrist to prove it), so I am in a predicament. I don’t know which language I should learn first! 

One thing is for sure though… Because of the experience with Fernando, and all the other travelers from Italy and South America I have connected with, I am motivated to take up and master these languages to break the barriers of communication. 

Did you guys ever see the movie, Spanglish? One scene in particular stands out to me... It was when Adam Sandler's character was confronted by Paz Vega's character about her child being sent to a private school. They had a really inspiring and poignant conversation... and even if she's been working for him for a few months, this was the first time that they really talked because she had just learned how to speak in English. Before Paz left, Adam says to her - "You... speaking English... It's nice to meet you."
I thought that was a great moment, because it just shows you how crucial language is in human relationships.

If the goal a few years ago was to travel the world, the new goal is to be multi-lingual... to be able to connect with more people on a deeper level as I travel the world. :)


It has become even more evident to me now why I have been given the gift of a musical ear.  Apart from being able to pick up musical cues and melodies really easily, I have a good ear for accents as well. Now, having spent time in other countries speaking different languages, I have discovered that learning foreign languages comes pretty naturally to me too. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier… But that’s neither here nor there. The point is – this is what I want to do now, and I’m going to work at it for as long as it takes. 

This strong desire to be multi-lingual came as a surprise to me... only because I didn't realize I was capable of feeling excitement and motivation for something new again so soon. It feels great having a new aspiration though. To be able to take off and travel the world - and survive it - has taken up most of the past two years... And now that I'm doing it... that I'm 7 months in and still going strong, it's such a great realization that we, as humans, never stop evolving.  That there's always something new that you can do or learn or experience. I should be exhausted, really, but I'm glad that I have an insatiable appetite for learning, and for life in general. 

At the moment, I would have to settle for the basic capabilities of Google Translate (and my impeccable enunciation) to carry on with my new friendship with Fernando.  It can get frustrating sometimes, with Google losing out on the context... but I'll take it any day if it means being able to connect with a kindred spirit on a deeper level than basic words, hand gestures, and smiles.

Hablo con tigo la semana que viene!
Je te parle la semaine prochaine!
Ti parlo la setimana prossima!