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Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013: When Money Ain't a Thing

Sparse. That was my 2013 in terms of travel.

Back in 2012, I traveled like there was no tomorrow. I was on the road every single month heading to different directions that my Mom started to quit asking me about where the hell I was going. 2013 on the other hand was more laid back. Gone were the days when I’ll flashpack 3 countries in just 9 days. Now, I spend several days in each destination without a care if I see all the tourist attractions or not. I traveled mostly out of the country. The world is so big, why don't we start exploring it now?

My Solo Adventures

Star-crossed in Myanmar

It was a change of heart. I already had a ticket booked to Laos at that time but there’s something about Myanmar that I couldn’t resist. I gave in and booked new flights.

The moment I laid eyes on Yangon, I knew I made the right decision. The quirkiness of the city was fascinating. Old cars, under-developed infrastructures, colonial buildings, golden pagodas and people still looking very traditional are all around you. It was just so surreal.

Bagan was another story. Instead of old cars, I hopped into a horse cart. This ancient capital also has thousands of temples scattered all over the old city. I am very much into archaic structures and temples, so you can imagine how delighted I was. Serendipity kept following me around Bagan to the point that I was perplexed.

Take me Back to Indonesia

I was supposed to do a one whole month of backpacking in some parts of Southeast Asia on November 2013 but I changed my mind. I did a separate 10-day trip to Indonesia 2 months earlier covering Yogyakarta and Bali.

I loved Jogja. Everything about it. The artsy environment, the folklores, the food, the happy vibe, their simple living and the very nice people. It was also here where I mastered riding in a motorbike. I mean just riding, okay? Haha. It was hard leaving Jogjakarta after some days. I almost jumped out of my plane bound for Bali. ;)

Blissful Bali. At one point I thought it was overrated, but I was wrong. It is indeed the Island of Gods. It has a way of getting in to you. Though it is flooded by tourists, it still retains its mystic lure. It offers party-packed to serene beaches. It caters to everyone. If you want to drench yourself to its otherworldly arts and culture, head to Ubud (like I did). I fell in love with Bali and I am coming back for sure.

Traveling with the S.O.

He infected me with his wanderlust. It’s always been him and me since the beginning. When he started his career offshore, I was left to explore on my own. Beau finally finished his contract last quarter of 2013 so at last, I got my travel buddy back. One of the setbacks of traveling as a couple is you always had to compromise. He doesn’t care about my dream of seeing those beautiful lanterns in Thailand. I am not in any way interested in visiting Singapore. At the end, we agreed to visit both places.

Thailand: It was love the second time around

My Rapunzel Moment

One of the highlights of 2013 for me was the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai. It was worth all the hassle and the long wait. That scene in the Disney movie Tangled was magical in real life. I was teary-eyed (tears of joy) when the lanterns started to soar up in the sky. I will never ever forget that moment.

A Day with the Gentle Giants

I love animals. I have a tender spot for them. That makes my idea of happiness not riding an elephant but seeing them free and being taken care of. We spent a day in the Elephant Nature Park where we fed them, bathed them and watched them play. It may be expensive but it’s worth seeing them happy and free.

Indonesia: Beating the Off the Beaten Path

From Sea to Summit of South Sulawesi

It wasn’t included in the original itinerary but a friend convinced me to come and visit. I was in Java when he invited me so I promised to just include his place on my next trip. I like places where not so many people go to. It’s so easy to like Sulawesi. The pristine beaches near Makassar, the bizaare culture of Tana Toraja and my favorite – the food! There are so many yummy eats here! Again, another huge factor for me is the nice and friendly people. I see myself returning here to explore more!

Singapore: Wealthy but Empty

If you’re connected with me in any of my social media accounts, you already probably know that I didn’t feel an ounce of fondness for SG. I appreciate the state-of-the-art structures, the very efficient transport system, the fantabulous airport and the world class theme park. But there’s something lacking in it. It is a very “cold” city for me.

Local Escape

Pico de Loro Hamilo Coast: Family Summer Fun 

Summer time for me is family time. It is when we do our annual getaway. We decided to try Pico de Loro last summer. It is quite expensive but being secluded and with its great amenities, I would say it's worth it.

Zambales Escapade: My Birthday/Year-end Getaway

My birthday happens to be a few days before the year ends. I’m lucky to have a chance to escape for a while, head to a far away island and live the life I wanted for a short period of time. The island may not be spectacular but it gave me the tranquility that I was seeking for on my birthday. Waking up to this is already a special gift for me. So happy to be alive!


It was my year of spiritual awakening. Realizations came during my solo travels. My faith in humanity got stronger too. We traveled a week after typhoon Haiyan’s (Yolanda) devastation. People we met showed deep sympathy and real concern for us Filipinos. We witnessed raising of funds and collecting of donations even at the airplane. It touched me to the core. Traveling alone plus the kindness of people also made me fearless. I learned to trust people (even with my life) just because. Their kindness made me kinder too and I want to pay it forward. It was also the year when I stared death in the face. It was my first time to be in an accident in my years of traveling. I did not blink a second. Thankfully, I'm still alive. The scars and bruises slowly faded but it will always remind me of how intense my life is. Will it discourage me to keep on traveling? Certainly not.

It was also 2013 when I used up all my 30-day leave credits for the entire year. For the first time. All of them I used on a trip. I did not save any for sick leave cash encashment. So while my colleagues are happily planning where to spend their moolah when the pay-out comes, I am just smiling, reminiscing where I spent those days. Those were wonderful memories I would never trade for money or anything else. For I know, I am richer within. :)

"How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever." ~David Norris

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer."


  1. Liz!! So touching how you write about Indonesia :) Please do come back to Jogja when I am there next time so we can explore my hometown together haha.. And I want to visit you in Manila too!

    1. Fina?! But that's how I really felt ;) You see, I even visited the places you hadn't yet haha! Now I got a lot of people waiting for me to come back in Jogja! How can I not go back? Can't wait to welcome you here in Manila ;)

    2. Yep, it's me! Ahh Liz, reading your other posts make me want to travel with you!! Let's go somewhere hahaha.. Ahhh

    3. I knew it! Haha! Let's go! Sent you a PM in Facebook. ;)