There Are No Strangers
The Circle Hostel
La Union, Philippines
A few weeks ago, when my friend Marcos mentioned that he and his friends Rai and Kookai were heading over to La Union for a few days and that they were going to stay at The Circle Hostel, I (almost) jumped at the chance to join them.
On NOT surfing in La Union
Our 3-day stay, while scored with offers for surf lessons, and further aided by visuals like below:
…involved no surfing at all. :P
Liquid Dumaguete v 2.0: My Advanced Open Water Diver Course
Having completed my Open Water Diver (OWD) Course at Liquid Dumaguete in Dauin just last October, I was more than eager to come back this month to take my Advanced Open Water Diver Course, revisit my diving “home base”, and most importantly, be part of Liquid Dumaguete’s Sunday Funday, a great initiative that the team began last December and will continue to do every first Sunday of the month.
Getting to Dauin
I’d been traveling through Iloilo and Bacolod the days before, and preferring land vs. air travel, I took a 6-hour bus ride from Bacolod to Dumaguete (I’d been on a 31-hour road trip before, so 6 hours is not a big deal), but given that I had only left Bacolod a little past 4pm, on account of my visit to Rapha Valley, this meant that I’d arrive at roughly 10:30. Upon my arrival at Dumaguete, it turned out that I’d have to wait for the 11:30 bus leaving Dumaguete for Dauin (since I arrived at a less than ideal time — it’s usually a worry-free 20-minute trip from Dumaguete to Dauin).
I cram myself into the bus departing for Dauin at 11:30pm, and get dropped off at the Petron station near Liquid, take a flashlight-guided 10-minute walk to the resort, and at around 12:00 midnight, feel grateful for arriving unscathed.
Again, by no means do I advise solo female travelers to do what I did at the time that I did it. Traveling solo at night isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do. But anyway.
Touchdown: Liquid Dumaguete
Baan Chang Elephant Park Part 2: How To Train An Elephant (Or Try At Least)
After an awesome first day at Baan Chang, it was time for the “main event”!
Time to train, trek and bathe with the elephaaaaants!! Gaaahh!
Now, I was wary about joining just any mahout training course because the last thing I wanted to do was help fund the inhumane treatment of elephants (similar to Mali’s case).
So, I tried to research as much as I could online, and I also wanted to talk to the Baan Chang tour coordinator in person to express my concern for the elephants’ well-being, and well, my power as a blogger (albeit not a super popular one, but still) to expose malicious acts to my readers. But you’ll never really know what they will be like until you get there.
The Humble Yet Unexpectedly Smile-inducing Offerings of Battambang, Cambodia
Prior to my intended visit to Battambang, all I really knew was that it was an old town, with old buildings, and really, if that’s all it had to offer, I was okay with that. I have no problem at all with idle towns, and I love walking through bruised and battered streets. Little did I know that I would be delighted by other simple attractions this town had to offer.
Hariharalaya Retreat Centre: Getting Comfortable Outside My Comfort Zone
It’s not my proudest moment when I say that I’m a city girl.
I don’t like dirt, but it’s something you can’t avoid forever (something you can’t avoid ever, actually) at Hariharalaya. Dirt is omnipresent, on the soles of my feet - people walk barefoot indoors and outdoors, underneath my fingernails, and the constant film of soil or sand or clay on my skin.
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of bugs either. Let me rephrase. I hate bugs, and the mere thought of some of them is enough to give me goose bumps.
Although I’ve explored yoga more in the Philippines 3 months before I left for my trip, and had 1 meditation session at White Space, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being surrounded by what in my head would be hardcore hippie yogis, compounded by being away from home, and not knowing anyone, and not really having internet access.
Surprise Pinoy Travel Bloggers Meetup @ Subspace Coffee :D
Last week, after my Passion Test Workshop (PTW) with Lois Yasay (I will post about it this week! Haha. Unexpected happy life occurrences or “synchronicities” just compel me to write about them sooner, and the PTW entry warrants deeper thought and introspection. Disclaimering my procrastination, but anyway), we agreed to meet up this week, at Subspace Coffee (where we first met last March and talked about our passions for 3 hours), to basically just chat about our upcoming travels.
This July, I’m leaving for my 2.5-month solo trip to Cambodia-Thailand-Laos/Myanmar-Sri Lanka, while Lois is leaving for a month-long trip to Spain to run with the bulls!
I’m down to less than a month, and I don’t feel very ready at all, but then again, is anyone ever really ready for all the surprises travel brings? Granted,
some a lot of people could be readier than me though.
What I wasn’t “prepared” for yesterday was meeting and hanging out with a whole bunch of shiny and new awesome people. Had I known, I’d have made a bit more of an effort and not come in yoga wear.
Lois and I had agreed to meet from 1-4pm because she had another 4pm meeting. One of the people she was meeting at 4pm came early though (an hour early at 3pm), and I was surprised to find it was Eileen Campos of Possibly Pinay, our most entertaining blogger from Punchdrunk Panda’s first-ever blogger hangout — also at Subspace!)
I would later find out that one of the other people they were meeting was Edcel Suyo of soloflighted.com, whom I had corresponded with recently for his familiarity with Siem Reap, which is my first stop for my 2.5-month trip. Incidentally, he’s supposed to be there when I arrive as well, and I didn’t think I’d be meeting him until July. Small world!
I also got to meet Lois’ previously Chiang Mai-based Filipino Couchsurfing friend, Raf. He shared tips with Lois on her trip to Spain, and I’ll probably be asking him more about Chiang Mai soon. Haha.
What was supposed to be a 1-4 meetup lasted until 6pm, with me learning about their travel scares, traveling on a budget, or for free, monetizing their blog and blogging tools (which I would later find weren’t Mac-friendly).
I had planned on doing yoga in the evening (to maximize the last few days of my deal grocer coupon), but when Lois invited me to join them for dinner, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out with them some more.
We wound up at Shakey’s, and got this crazy monster meal for 10-12 people upon Raf’s insistence that any less would be inadequate :P (I didn’t want to be difficult with my going vegetarian diet, so I just removed the meat from my pizza and pasta, and steered clear of the chicken -> disclaimering my non-violation). Josiah Sicad of Lakas and Lauren Gaile of Epic Potato arrived later and we closed the place at 9:30pm.
It was a very good day/night. :) And I certainly hope it’s only the beginning of more highly educational hangouts with these like-minded individuals who are always hungry for travel.
I’m Jen, and I’m a stamp collector / word weaver / brain washer here at Nomad Manager, where I chronicle my steps towards extended solo travel / location independence by 2013 while discovering the things I really want to pursue in life.
The rest of 2012 will be a year of broke-ness and a lot of uncertainty for me since I booked a whole bunch of flights and will be away from my business for long periods of time, without any other means of income (active or passive). But I’ll worry about that in 2013. Right now, I am at peace with living uncomfortably.
Some Things I Love
- I love travel for learning and discovery about the world, its various inhabitants, myself included.
- I love eating plants because they help me poop better, literally and figuratively (it lessens the non-bowel type of waste a.k.a. carbon footprint I make in the world).
- I love how having the right frame of mind, possibly aided by yoga and meditation, can help create stillness and focus in one’s life.
- I love writing about brands/companies/individuals that have something to say, or a voice waiting to be heard, especially so if they’re Filipino.
- I love indigenous textiles and how weaving traditions help preserve culture.
- I love productivity and finding ways to turn ideas into action.
- I love great design. And great design is never just “pretty”.
- I love (not forcibly) brainwashing you into rethinking your perceptions and unfounded assumptions, and maybe induce a change in your way of thinking that will effect change in your way of doing.
And I guess that’s me in a nutshell, for now. If you’re interested in learning more about me and my story, and reading what I have to write, then by all means, join my journey!