Monday, April 25


There are over 35 countries in the world we can go to and stay there between 14 – 180 days, without needing to secure a visa before leaving our homeland.

ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Non-ASEAN: Hong Kong, Macau, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka
South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
North America: Costa Rica, Dominica, Haiti, Turks & Caicos Islands
Europe; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Middle East: Iran, Israel
Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

No worries of being mysteriously rejected when the others you’re going with had been approved. No extra expenses, which means, you can use that money for buying items and artifacts of interests.

masks from left to right: Korea, Vietnam, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia

I myself, by standard, always get a mask in every destination I go to, where one is available – I have a line of them populating my wall at home. I also like textile, so a bed sheet/cover or blanket would be in my checklist. And last, a blank book for a journal – I have kept up with one since I was thirteen years old, and I am now a quarter through my 20th book. Aside from what I buy for myself, I have also recently started buying one for my niece, to encourage her to write and document the time she shares with people around her.

Most of the time, my friends think I spend heaps of money in my trips. I usually just get to spend half of what they imagine it costs. The trick is to plan ahead. By that, I mean buying your plane tickets ahead of time. Luckily now, we have very good seat sales from various budget airlines (as low as PhP1+taxes one way). For a trip that’s only 4-hours long at the most, there’s really no need to get the business class; and I must say, these budget airlines – with the exception of Jetstar -- had been commendable in all my trips so far.

sleeping off a migraine after a day of walking @ Angkor Park
As for accommodation, research is the key. Check the feedback and rating online. Compare all of them if possible in the area of your choosing. I mostly go for inns, hostels, guesthouses, backpacker’s lodge, bed&breakfast because my logic is: I’m not staying in the room. I’m just sleeping in it . . . so all I really need is a decent bed and toilet/bath.  This doesn’t necessarily translate to poor service and horrid hygiene. The Golden Mango Inn at Siem Reap, Cambodia has a Deluxe Twin A/C Room with 2 large Single Beds, Cable TV, Mini Bar, Hot&Cold Shower, inclusive of breakfast for only $20. You’ve got your welcome drink and heaps more free stuff such as Pick up and Transfer, Use of Bicycles, Tuk Tuk to Old Market & Pub Street, 24-hr High-Speed Internet Access and Wi-Fi in all rooms, with your Tea & Coffee all day -- that’s less than P500 per night for each of you & your friend!

I spend most of my money on transpo and sightseeing. Here, nothing beats Vietnam in affordability. $5 for a single destination half-day trip, and $7 for a 2 destination day-trip – talk about cost efficient !That’s the equivalent of going around Camiguin where you get to pay only about PhP20 for the natural attractions in the island.

This brings me to the food. In the Philippines, don’t be afraid/shy to eat at the local carinderia, especially in the provinces. I remember eating ‘ginataang page’ once, some 8years ago, in an eatery in Camiguin for about PhP50. I even had an amazing PhP16 meal in Dumaguete just last year – rice & veggie viand. Now that’s epic! I love trying food I don’t recognize. I’ll eat anything within the friendly food group of a Pescetarian diet. I don’t even mind if somebody had handled it with their hands, before & as it is served, to me. On this point, I love Indian food (tika nahi) and Vietnamese street food. 

eating Chickoo ice cream from Natural (India)
enjoying a yummy meal @ BenThan Market HCMC

My desire to travel had taken over my functions but I am unable to stop myself. I dream of that South American leg (ala Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries), or a partial African trip (Morocco & Madagascar), both of which could be considered as my most ambitious projection yet to date. I want to see more, know more, be more. I DESIRE.

Sunday, April 10

“Annyong haseyo!” (한국에서 인사)

Back in November of last year when we were initially making plans for South Korea, we carefully considered the seasons to set the month of our trip. They say October would be the best time to go, when it’s fall. Second best is spring – that’s between March and May. We chose the latter, for the Cherry Blossoms.

Although they were already in bloom in Vietnam a month ago, we found that they won’t be in bloom in Korea until May. Spring was late (thanks to Global Warming!) and it was still 1 degree C when we landed in Incheon International Airport (there was snow melting in the shadows from the flurries the night before) on that last week of March.

City Circulation Course (Seoul downtown area)

I recommend reserving 3-days to leisurely explore via the Seoul City Tour Bus for about 35,000won pass. Take your time downtown (from 9AM to 10PM, or until you’re sore) at museums, sifting through streets lined with antique stores and vintage shops, be awed at temples with their century old tree/s, famous palaces, sightseeing bridges, and of course the markets at night. I learned from this trip that I should have reserved expenses for the 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites instead – I have seen so little in a country that has a lot to show! This basically translates to a return trip to South Korea for me in the future.

There are 5 palaces in Seoul. I went to 3 (they all basically look alike with their standard architecture, color scheme and central lay out) and I found the 2nd to be the most historically colorful. Changdeokgung Palace is from the 15th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the only palace with silk-fringed golden chandeliers in the royal reception hall (which supposedly modernizes it); and the only palace where both the king and queen slept in the same roof – although still in opposite rooms to maintain the yin-yang balance. Korea’s last emperor Sunjong passed away in this room, and because he did not have an heir to the throne, the royal lineage died with him (the crown-prince at the time had married a Japanese, and because his children were not of pure blood anymore, they could not ascend to the throne).
10-inches painted wood with cotton hood

After a week in Seoul, I finally understood Korean fashion. I love how their men are never limited to the boring stuff! I bought heaps of stuff that’s not in my usual plan of journal and mask – from pencils and pin buttons at the National Museum of Korea, to a vintage wall clock! I bought 3 cardigans and 2 lace dresses too just for myself. This is coming from someone who doesn’t do clothes shopping offshore mind you – it was insane!!!