Travel

Mini-Trips: Hong Kong

I really traveled this year. Like, really. I went to places I didn’t think I would, and even though most of them were cut short by responsibilities at work, I still managed to make the most of my time. Whether I was solo or with the boyfriend, I truly enjoyed myself.

Front.JPG

I got a room at Shangri-La Hotel since I always feel most at home there. If the country I’m at doesn’t have a Shangri-La, we go for something similar in pricing and feel. That usually helps us discover places to crash when we’re next there. Fun stuff, and often surprises us.

lobby.JPG

My boyfriend followed me the day after and we had drinks at the bar. One thing to note is that when you’re in an Asian country gallivanting with a tall Australian, you’re bound to get looks no matter what. He laughs off the attention every time though, but I always feel uncomfortable.

Lobster Bar HK.JPG
Suite Breakfast.JPG

We then got to have breakfast with a stunning view. It’s moments like it that make me want to keep on traveling as often as I can. You wake up with a sense of adventure, a sense of not knowing what lies ahead that day or what places you can explore.

What I especially loved about this year’s travels was an app. If you’ve never heard of Blay, I suggest you head right over to the App Store and download it because it’ll save you time, remind you of your flights, give you a checklist of what to bring, and give you information on the place you’re visiting.

BlayApp1.PNG
Blay App 2.PNG
Blay App 3.JPG

When you land, it also directs you to where your aircraft’s baggage can be claimed! I’ve been using it for all my flights since after Paris, and it’s been a great addition to my travel essentials.

If you’re prepping for a travel, add this to your list!

thecocktailmenu.JPG

Hong Kong was amazing. I stayed for a few days while my guy stayed overnight (he had more master classes to take), and I didn’t feel alone when he left. I met two couples who were newly married and one who were celebrating their 5th year. I even met a lady at the Lobster Bar who said her dream was to become a famous pianist and was in Hong Kong to get trained by an expert there. Definitely my crowd.

poolside.JPG

You ever been to Hong Kong? Share your stories in the comments!

Mini-Trips: Singapore

This year was huge for me in terms of traveling. Since August, it seemed like I had suddenly won the lottery, threw all my cares out the window, and just decided to see more of the world.

I guess I had reached a point where I just didn’t want to be stressed out by the reality of how hard life can be. Maybe I just didn’t want to care about what other people would think about me anymore. Whichever the reason, I did what I had always wanted to do.

(I had meant to vlog these little trips but got caught up with work.)

This was also the first time I traveled overseas alone. This was definitely a nod to my goal of becoming more independent and self-aware by the end of the year.

Rasa - Entrance.jpg
More Sg.jpg
 
Rasa Sentosa - Day.jpg
Beach view.jpg

While spending some time alone, I was able to reflect a little on life, my situation, where I expect to be in the next few months, and what the hell I did wrong. You see, when I graduated college three years ago, I had grand dreams of getting employment at Pixar or Laika as either an animator or character designer. I had a need to prove myself worthy of the Cum Laude honors I received. It got to my head. I was so full of it.

Beach Poolside.jpg
Rasa - Pool.jpg
Beach.jpg

The time I spent in Singapore allowed me to do a little reflection of my situation. Whether or not I was willing to make more wrong decisions for the sake of comfort or just give it all up for my dreams. Here are some of my reflections.

  1. At 26, I no longer have the luxury of time. What I thought I could do in small waves should now be done as quickly (and as soon) as possible.

  2. Am I still willing to sacrifice my career growth for the purpose of seeing the company I’ve grown to love take-off and fly?

  3. I have a lot of regrets, but if I leave where I am… will I regret that too?

  4. What would I be doing right now if I chose a different talent to hone? Would I be in Singapore still, or would I be living permanently somewhere else?

Bungy.jpg

5. Passion… or pay? As much as I hate to bring those two apart, I have yet to experience a period where they are both favorable.

6. I need a financial advisor. And someone to actually manage my money for me.

7. I really need a different job. I need a place where I am given the freedom to grow and devote time to improving my skills.

8. Maybe getting married will solve most of my problems.

Universal.jpg
palm tree room view.jpg

Sigh.

Too bad I only spent like 2-3 days in SIngapore. I think the fiancé would’ve loved to come with me, but he had classes for his Master’s. At least I got some alone time.

I guess that’s all for this post. I’ll try to be more active here and post more energetic things (though it might take a while).

Discovering Paris

It’s always a surreal feeling when, after months of endless work, you splurge and get yourself a ticket to one of your dream destinations. For me, that place was Paris. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a desire to explore the place and spend a few nights there with a special someone - so we made it happen.

Last August, my fiancé and I went to the city of love. Here’s a storybook vlog I made, months after. (I started missing Paris really badly and couldn’t look at the photos on my phone after going back home.)

That’s all for this post!

Photos are also up on my Instagram account, so pay me a visit there!

Until the next one. Au revoir!

5-6/366: T is for Throwback and Tattoo

(Before you reprimand me for skipping a day, let me tell you - it was

intentional [cough, cough]

. We good? Thanks.)

There are two reasons I unified days five and six today, the first being this day marks my 6th month at Nueca (hooray) and second, I have a number of things to share with you that deserve to be crammed into one post (though this last reason was probably invalid to begin with).

But yes, SIX MONTHS, baby!

I feel like I deserve to go to Starbucks tonight and order a latte or something. Or maybe just buy something online (like a skull-shaped shot glass or a Baymax Bobblehead). Six months may not be much, but it marks something special. It marks an "almost-there-but-not-yet" checkpoint in my career and I'm just so happy to have found work near home.

To give you a little history (or if you'd rather read my post about it, click

here

), I spent a month in Manila, rented a condo, spent too much money, got slapped in the face by life, and still came out jobless at the end of 30 days. The only reason I came back to Naga was because I had applied at Nueca and got an email with my interview date. That

only

 reason turned out to be

everything

.

I'm loving work, it's nothing short of a miracle that I ended up at Nueca. On that fateful day in the first week of July 2015, I knew this had to be it. My first job. My first step to the career I've always imagined myself having. Six months and I still like it. One can argue that the salary isn't the strongest point for my choice in workplace (I could be at Gameloft right now if I went through with it, haha), but it's a great feeling to be designing without a stuck-up boss hovering over your shoulder and demanding I meet unrealistic deadlines. I'd prefer that over a huge paycheck any day.

So yes, I'm officially 6 months old with a lot more months ahead. :)

T is for Throwback

While taking a break today, I found myself searching random places on Google maps (Street view). One of those places was Australia. Throwback on a Wednesday? Sure.

I'll be doing a video, talking through the places I went to while I lived in Berala, Sydney, Australia later in the week (perhaps earlier), but for now, here are some shots with a short description of each.

Jack and Jill Park (I think it was called that), the place that got me frustrated with my parents. Eight-year-old me had been wanting to play here after school and was always being promised that the next day or next week, I would. I got to play here though, so that was the end of an almost-fit.

Whenever mom had to stay late at work, me and my dad would buy Fish 'n' Chips (basically, one whole grilled chicken with potato fries on the side, wrapped in foil, fresh from the oven) for dinner. It makes me quite sad that the place is now only a memory, albeit a good one.

Finally, here is a photo of the flat we stayed at for two of the three years we stayed in Australia. We lived at the top floor, and that window was my room's. It was also where I would look out and sing like the Disney princess I always wanted to be, haha! I miss this place so much.

T is for Tattoo

Okay, beloved family and incredibly strict aunts, uncles, and grandparents - by tattoo, I meant

temporary

 ones. I'm too much of a 'good girl' to actually get one, and it would make my O-Positive blood "un-donatable". So chill, family.

I've been looking at tattoo shops online which sell tattoos that would last from 1-2 weeks, and I'm fast falling in-love with a few of them. I've been debating with myself (for at least two months now) about which design and from what company, but the one I really want is too pricey. That's without shipping too.

I don't know, I'm not being selfish in wanting to get temporary tattoos, right? Right? I don't know. I already ordered a nose ring a few weeks back anyway. Why not?

You see, there

was

 a purpose for the skipped day. Having too many good things in one post makes me feel really great inside. Although I'm sort of missing these places and experiences, it was worth the early throwback.

Is there a place you would want to revisit, even through Google maps? I promised beyond Google - I'm going back to this place, and I'm bringing my family back with me.

Adios!

DML: The (Unplanned) Trip to Manila

April 17 was the most unexpected event in my life - ever.

That morning was the first day of my driving lessons and I had my mom with me for that. I was given a small owner-type jeep to master, and though I was scared at first since it wasn't an automatic, I eventually got the hang of it. My instructor told me I was an incredibly fast learner compared to the other three students there with us. Flattered, I did my best to live up to that statement.

This was my 'playground' for the morning. Those upright bamboo sticks served as my guides when driving forward, reversing, and parking. Of course, my first try wasn't perfect, and if I had counted, I'm sure it was a little under 10 minutes before I eventually got to start the car. Under the heat and glare of the sun, I'm pretty certain my instructor thought it was a twenty.

Before anything else, here's a little background. The evening before (16th), my aunt who had arrived just days before from Germany chatted me on Facebook and talked about the possibility of me and/or my brother travelling to Manila the next day for my cousin's wedding. Thrilled at the thought of travelling without 'adult supervision' for the first time, I told her that it was a shame we couldn't make it because we had no budget for it. There were five of us if ever we decided to go and 10,000 would be just a cut above the reasonable spending money in total. A few exchanges later, my aunt sent a screenshot of a flight schedule for the next day. It was a blur afterwards, but I ended up assuring my aunt I'd ask mom if she'd go with this sudden plan or not.

The following morning (the 17th), I told my mom about our conversation and after a few calls and texts between her and folks in Manila, I thought we had finally settled for a 'no'. So, it was business as usual for us and we travelled to Goa Central School (photos above) for my driving lesson. It was around that time that my mom started receiving calls and texts from my aunts persuading her to allow even just me to represent our family at the wedding. My mom ended up agreeing with them and as I continued my lesson, she left to go to the other side of town to get me a plane ticket for that afternoon. Using her 'powers' (haha) and contacts in Lagonoy, she secured a seat. It must've been a 'go' sign from God because I learned that my seat was the last one available on the last flight that day.

Around 11:30, we got a ride home and since my flight was still for 3pm, I figured I had heaps more time to prepare. It was a problem that I couldn't drop by our apartment in Naga to get clothes and toiletries, but my aunt had assured us she would buy me what I needed when I arrived in Manila. It didn't help that I was on my cycle and that I was already feeling weak from the heat and stress of the situation. After a quick shower, I grabbed my laptop bag, stuffed what I could in there and said my goodbye to everybody. A cousin would be accompanying me on the ride to Pili Airport, a solid one hour from San Jose.

The agonizing wait

We weren't able to find a ride to Goa as soon as I thought. We spent 20 minutes by the side of the road waiting for a van or a quality bus to travel by and at 1 pm, my chances of getting to the airport on time were becoming thinner every minute. Thankfully, at around 1:15, a bus arrived and we boarded, planning to get off at the terminal and switch to a van which would take us to our destination much faster. When we got there though, the van was less than 2/3 full and we knew it would take longer to wait for other passengers. My cousin suggested we get on an air-conditioned bus instead and at that moment, one arrived. We eagerly boarded and sat on the second row. Thus started my hour-long agony.

Every 10 or so minutes, I'd check my phone for the time. My stress worsened when I got a whiff of something fishy near our seats. I investigated and found that the smell was coming from one of the windows nearby. All I could do was cover my nose and close my eyes.

It was a little past two when we finally got to the airport. It was very hot and I was surprised to find out my cousin couldn't enter the facilities and wait for the flight with me. I'm telling you, I never thought my first time would go as smooth as it did. The guard was kind enough and the helpers were just as accommodating. I paid the terminal fee of Php 75 (another surprise I wasn't informed of) and went through the scanner. It was safe to say I didn't look like a total idiot during the process and once I found my seat in the waiting area, I calmed down.

Unfortunately, my seat was beside a girl and her mom. That wasn't really a bad thing, but this girl had no manners at all. Her elbow always got on my side of the seat and her feet kept grazing my jeans. It was immature of me, but I actually gave the kid a few cold stares (oops). That seemed to keep her in check for a few minutes before it started all over again. *Sigh. She looked 12 with the manners of a 6 year old brat.

The airport had free Wi-fi so I took the opportunity to go online and chat with friends and my mom. I eventually called them through Messenger too but avoided using my phone too much since its power was already below 50% (iPhone batteries are

not

 great). It was then that I observed the partition for each waiting area. It turned out I was sitting in the Cebu Pacific waiting area. Mentally, I slapped my hand against my forehead. I was a dunce. It took me another 15 minutes to transfer to the PAL waiting area, mostly because I felt like standing up and sitting on another seat would make me look like a fool. It also took me another hit from the girl's elbow before I realized I had every right to get away from her to a better seat.

As if that experience wasn't enough, someone from PAL announced that our flight was going to be delayed. A few minutes before, I had been checking my ticket repeatedly just to make sure I hadn't missed my flight by accident. The boarding time was supposed to be at 2:40 pm, but it was already 3 pm and there was still no updates. I sort of relaxed when my flight was announced late, knowing that I hadn't missed it at all. It turned out that the plane still hadn't left Manila due to a runway problem. The plane eventually came at 4:30 pm. I'm telling you, my bum was more than sore from sitting that there's no word to describe it.

Flying solo

As we walked towards the small plane, I wondered how its inventors came to estimate that 40 people (excluding the pilots and cabin crew) could fit into such a tiny thing. It was a full plane, and I can tell you that because I was at the second to the last seat and was very close to the exit door. I was seated beside a man with a bag made from straw (really fascinating) and thankfully, I got a window seat. That meant I could take photos (which I did) and shoot a video (yes, that too). I only wish I was able to take a video of the actual lift off, but we were instructed to do otherwise (I'm such an obedient citizen, haha).

It was a purely magical experience. I watched as the ground became smaller and smaller and the clouds got bigger and less out of reach. The Philippine islands were indeed something to look at from above. The skies were open and the sea was very blue. I even saw small boats out on the sea a couple times too. Here's a short video of the flight (it's quite shaky, but watch-able).

During the flight, the man beside me continually kept dozing off and there was a point where I though he had fainted. At lift off, he was clutching the sides of the chair with his life and as soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, he yanked his off and closed his eyes. He even missed the stewardess as she handed out biscuits and water to the passengers. I didn't really want to eat it, but I realized I hadn't eaten anything for four hours already and I didn't want to complain about being hungry once I landed. I took my time eating and drinking and before I knew it, we were less than ten minutes from NAIA.

It was a bumpy landing (based on my experience riding other planes) but we arrived around 5:15 pm. We got onto a transporter bus and I followed the other passengers to the exit (I told you, I didn't want to look like a first-timer). There were a few minutes of waiting time and trying-to-find-each-other-moment, but eventually, I saw my aunt and uncle in the crowd. I remember thinking:

No turning back now. Be a mature, responsible woman during your stay and try not to make things complicated for everyone.

 I've always been aware of my awkward tendencies around relatives who I haven't seen in a long time (and strangers too, of course), so I made a mental note to not screw things up. Now that I think about it, I might have tried a bit too hard.

The longest route

We ate dinner at Shakey's inside the airport and had small talk while eating. I got updated and my uncle (the father of the groom) seemed really excited and happy for his son. I was just really thankful to God that I had arrived safely. (My dad's always been afraid of riding small planes because due to its size, you can really 'feel the wind' from the inside. I wanted to prove that I could travel solo in small and big planes alike, so if I ever needed to travel alone to another country, they wouldn't have a hard time letting me go.)

After dinner, my aunt and uncle began talking about the quickest way to get to Trinoma, a mall near my cousins' place and also our shopping location (hee hee). It was smart of them not to bring a car since we'd have definitely been stuck in traffic for hours. It was fortunate that I brought just one bag.

We first decided to get into a taxi just so we could get out of the airport area. The line was incredibly, horribly long, and it was already dark. I think it was a little over 7 pm that we managed to get into a taxi, but we didn't have to get in line. Thankfully, I didn't look like I had just arrived from a flight given my minimal luggage and when we saw a taxi parked by a small group of policemen (they were holding inspections for vehicle registration and license validation), my uncle asked if we could get a ride out. It paid off that my uncle was a senior citizen, I'll give you that.

It was heavy traffic, and we got off a little way from the MRT fly-over. Ascending a long flight of stairs wasn't really a problem since I was used to those, but going on an MRT car with heaps and heaps of people squeezing themselves in was going to be a problem. Again, my uncle's senior citizenship worked like a charm. We got our tickets quicker than the others and we got to ride on the first car meant for disabled, pregnant, and old people. I don't remember the number of stops before we got to ours, but it was more or less seven stations we passed. Remember, I already had an aching bottom from the long wait at Pili earlier.

The first order of business at the mall was to get some heels. It had to be wearable, fashionable, classical and can transition from formal to casual with the right clothes. We found one after 30 minutes or so and we proceeded to find clothes. I'm not a dress person, so it had to be dark pants and a formal blouse. At just 8:40 pm, we finished the haul. The mall closes at 9 pm, so we had no time to get some contacts for me. I had to deal with the fact that I was going to look older than I was in the wedding. But then again, I won't be the center of attention. I'm not sure of the time, but it was pretty late when we got to my cousin's house in Frisco.

The evening drags to a close

I wanted to go online immediately after washing up and preparing for bed so I took out my mac and settled in the living room where my cousins, aunts, and grandmother were applying polish on one another's nails. I wasn't digging getting my nails done, so I left them to it. A little while later, I went to bed. One of my cousins and I had to share a bed and admittedly, I couldn't sleep properly. I was charging my phone on the batteries of my mac so it was settled at the foot of the bed. My other cousins who were on a mattress on the floor were busy with their phone and tablet. It was well past 3 am that I got a fair amount of sleep. Around 6 am, I woke up. The day had come to put on my best self.

This post is already long enough as it is. Thanks for reading through! I hope I didn't bore you too much. See you tomorrow!

DML: The Oriental

In my previous post, I talked about our trip to Donsol during the weekend (last January 11-13), and how it was one of the craziest, most insane weekends I've had (so far).

Let's get on with it, then.

After breakfast at Vitton Beach Resort, we left at 8am back to Naga city. Of course, we couldn't not eat lunch so we had to stop over. What was funny was the fact that we went to those resorts to find my brother some steak (he'd been craving for it since that morning) and came out empty. Nada steaks. We took our chance at The Oriental Hotel in Legazpi.

Gosh, that awkward, brace-splattered face. Just admire the view, okay? We were really high up a mountain, so the hotel overlooked the city. Must be prettier during the night. (The first time we went here was in the evening a few months back, but I was so busy admiring the inside to realize the view. :/)

We got settled down at this point and looked at the menu - still no steak available. They had a steak dish, but the Australian steak meant for it was not available. Sad. My brother and I had to choose another meal, which, in the end, we couldn't finish. Say hello.

My aunt was still full from breakfast (how was that possible with a few slices of toast, eggs, and a hotdog?) so she ordered a salad instead. While we had fish and chips before our main course - Lasagna and cheese pizza.

When we realized we couldn't finish what we ordered, we gave them to mom and to whoever wanted a bite. I was sooo full at that time. Just,

full

While mom and my aunt talked about business things, we walked around the hotel. We were sort of restless though.

Other random photos.

Gaaahhh I miss having nothing to worry about! I miss those times when I could do anything I thought of at that exact moment. Like, if I wanted to go swimming right now or go to a park, I could. It's part of growing up I guess. 

I never wanted to grow up. I wanted to stay 16 when I turned 16 and I wanted to still be 18 when I turned 18. I'm in my early twenties right now, and I can't tell you how happy I am to be at this age. You see, though I never wanted to grow up, I didn't want to die young either.

Here's to another weekend!