Alabang Town Center

Exploring Bangkok Part 1

When I was a child I used to let time pass by perusing photo books and travel diaries, and researching about the places that struck me. It was my way of escaping from my then-reality. I used to fantasize entering the ancient castles of England or the fairy-tale-like villages in Germany. I still dream of them today, but the main difference is back then I didn’t have the means to actually travel to those places. Europe is still unattainable at the moment, but as long as I get to pack my bags and hop on a bus or plane to a faraway place, I consider it a blessing already.

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So when Chad asked me to go to Thailand with him, I was more than excited. It won’t just be the normal out-of-town trip that we usually do when he’s in the Philippines–it would be my first time to fly outside the country, the first stamp on my passport. For someone who grew up surrounded by rice fields and hills, it was such a momentous time. I can finally tell people what it’s like to be unfairly treated by a NAIA immigration officer and how ugly our airports look when compared to another developing country’s. Haha! Nonetheless, I still love the Philippines no matter how crooked our government officials can be.

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Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chad and I queued to the Immigration area. I was nervous as hell, having read so many horror stories about immigration officials. The officer who interviewed me, however, was nice and smiling. He welcomed and wished me a pleasant visit–that was when I was to able to breathe properly. We didn’t plan for this trip at all. When we got out of the gates, we were both clueless as to where we were gonna stay. I must say, though, it’s quite a fun experience. Thankfully I had this app called AirBnb on my phone, I managed to save there the address of this cute hostel in Bangkok, otherwise we would have to rely on suggestions from taxi drivers. So off we went!

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It took us a while to find the hostel. The cab driver dropped us off on an unfamiliar street. The maps we had were no use at all. The street names were spelled differently than what was written on the maps so we had to ask a number of people. What’s surprising was even the Thais were unable to decipher the spelling. After asking for directions from five people and walking a kilometer or two, we successfully found the hostel. At that point we were unsure if they accept walk-ins, but we asked anyway. The staff at Baan Nampetch were really pleasant and accommodating. Fortunately they still had one available room. Hurray! We booked the room with two beds for three days and two nights, which cost us around 1400 Baht (approx Php 1900). Not bad, I think, considering they offer free breakfast and WiFi. On that same day we explored Khaosan Road (I’ll show the pictures later).

Below are just some snapshots I took on our second day. Chad is a Buddhist, and one of the reasons he chose Thailand is he wanted to visit the temples. With the help of the staff at Baan Nampetch, we found our way to The Grand Palace on Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, where the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is located.

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Beautiful, colorful things welcomed us before entering the temple. Prior to our trip I was on a portion control diet, but when we arrived in Thailand I could no longer control my appetite. Everything is delicious in that place, I can’t even!

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The Grand Palace was built in 1782 after King Rama I ascended to the throne. Currently, the whole 218,000 square meter-complex houses 35 temples, offices, shops, restaurants, throne halls, and the royal residence itself. I’ve seen some temples in the Philippines, but they’re not as crowded and big as this one.

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Outside the palace, tens of thousands of people were going in and out. We didn’t know this was a favorite tourist destination until……

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Island Girl

Recently I’ve been really busy juggling my time among work, school, and blogger duties, I barely have any time for myself. Other than food, my usual destressors are sleep, quality time with loved ones, and traveling. Would you believe that I actually have to schedule all of them just to get that much-needed break? Yes, even sleep. This trip to La Union with my housemates and friends was scheduled a month prior to our actual trip. You can imagine my excitement when the day finally came.

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When asked about my favorite travel destination, the beach always tops the list. The idea of a man-made resort (aka swimming pool) has never really appealed to me since childhood. When my relatives would decide upon spending our family reunions in pools, I would daydream about spending my days in the beach instead. I just don’t get it. Who doesn’t like seeing the sea and the great blue sky? I think they’re the most wonderful things on earth, I will never trade the beach for any other travel destination.

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Oh to travel and see the rest of the world! It has always been my dream but it was only in 2011 that I got around to doing it. That year was when Chad and I became a couple. After being friends for more than a decade, fate finally nodded in our direction and permitted us to be together. (Wow, that sounded so cheesy but I can’t help but be all mushy when I think about our history together haha!) I didn’t expect that this guy who I loved since I was 13 is the same person who would eventually help me begin fulfilling some of my dreams. I learned to be more spontaneous because of him. During our first two weeks as a couple we embarked on our first trip to Zambales without much planning. It was scary for me because before, I avoid uncertain situations. I always had to know what’s coming so I can prepare. That attitude of mine often snuffed the fun out of things, it became a bit tiresome. Things changed when Chad came into my life. After Zambales, we visited a number of surfing spots in Luzon such as Daet, La Union, Baler, and Ilocos.

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He taught me how to ride a surf board and skim board. I got some bruises in return, but the pain was no match for all the amazing stuff I experienced. And then I realized, we cannot learn if we don’t unlearn a few things. My fear of the unknown, that sense of wanting to be in control all the time has always prevented me from experiencing wonderful things. So I’m extremely grateful for the people who’ve encouraged me to just relax and go with the flow. It’s kinda surprising how I, Chad, and my friends have developed similar temperaments, especially when it comes to traveling. I am still fighting the urge to plan everything, but I think I’m getting there.

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Terranova swimsuit | Sunnies by Charlie sunglasses
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Sometimes I wonder why we castigate people so much for changing. For me, change is fine as long as it makes you a better person. I would rather be different, in a positive way, than get stuck to the same immature, self-destructive person that I was. Coming to Manila in 2010 made me discover things about myself, career, and life in general. Since I’m far away from my family, I needed to develop a thick skin but at the same time be more open to my loved ones. I used to keep all my problems to myself when I was still in Naga, which only worsened every situation.

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Decided to ditch makeup, so here’s my bare face. 🙂

And then one day four years ago, after a horrible breakup, I decided I will be better. Change takes a lot of courage and determination. We sometimes get too comfortable with the person that we are now, but I’ve learned that if I want to make my life worthwhile I have to improve myself. That attitude has helped me and my loved ones in so many ways, and that’s enough reason for me to keep on developing as person. What other people say about me is irrelevant.

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So go live your life to what you think is best. If you’re not stepping on anyone while on your journey to a better you, then by all means continue. 🙂

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