TRAVEL: Keeping Your Memories Alive (Philippines/Bali Recap Video)

Traveling is truly one of the most transformational things people can do for themselves. Whether you travel near or far, there’s a guarantee you won’t feel the same or be the same. It’s been two months since I left Bali, and I still think and dream about it every day.

Thanks to technology, I have all my memories saved as a constant reminder every day to keep my transformation alive. Combined, the boys and I have thousands of photos from our trip and hours of footage recorded on Alvin’s GoPro. In addition, I have a day-to-day diary of my trip that I’ve documented via this blog, with very detailed (sometimes redundant) descriptions of what went on and how we were feeling.

So coming home, I made sure to do two things. First, make a photo album with all my favorite photos from our trip (which was really hard because I had so many pictures of monkeys and bowls of curry that I wanted to include). 200 photos definitely didn’t feel like enough to capture 6-weeks worth of travel, but my album turned out absolutely perfect. Second, make a travel video. I hadn’t dabbled in any video editing in years, but I was ready to tackle the project. I sifted through hours worth of footage and Alvin selfies, and was able to condense our trip into twelve minutes. Watching the video was like reliving a dream. I wasn’t sure it really happened or of the places we visited were real.

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Back to transformation… I’ll admit, it’s really easy to forget. I wanted to travel because I intended to find myself and recreate purpose within me. A month after being back home, I found myself already lost in my own confusion and self-doubt. Luckily, I took the time to put all the things I’ve learned and all the memories I’ve made into an album and a video. Every time I find myself in my own pit of negative thoughts, I come back to the great memories I made, not dwelling on the past, but using it as a reminder of how great my future can be.

For anyone traveling or planning on traveling, I highly recommend taking the time to put together an album with your favorite photos, or recording footage for you to show your friends and family when you get back home. And don’t procrastinate! The longer you wait, the more likely you’re never going to do it. So this should be the first thing you do when you get back from traveling. I promise it’ll be worth your time.

 

TRAVEL: Taraw Cliff, Crazy Rocks, and an Epic View (7/25/16)

On Monday morning, boys and I woke up at 5:15AM to book a tour guide to Taraw Cliff. We had to wait a bit, but we finally started our journey around 7:30AM. During the first 5-seconds of our hike, I was already thinking, “This is definitely not what I was expecting.” I read reviews about the hike being difficult, but I way underestimated the strenuousness of this trek! Strenuous is the one word I would use to describe this hike, but definitely, definitely worth it as well.

The hike up to Taraw Cliff was about an hour long. The entire trek is rock climbing through the mountain. What was a bit scary at first was that the rocks were almost all sharp and jagged, which made it easier to grip, but was something you definitely wanted to avoid falling on. Lucky for us, our guide was great at explaining how to get through the rocks safely and efficiently. He let me take breaks whenever I needed it, and checked up on us frequently to make sure we were okay.

One-hour later, we finally made it to the top of the mountain. The view was breathtaking. In one glance, we could see the island that has been home to us for the past five days in full. To the left was the mountainside, the middle was vast oceans and more islands, and to the right was more lush mountainside. It made everything feel so small and attainable for just those moments.

Going down the mountain was more difficult for me and the boys than going up. A lot of balance was required. Unlike our super professional tour guide who was able to swift through it, I found it safest for me to walk through like a monkey the entire way back. I felt a lot safer knowing my butt and face was closer to the ground. We finally made it to the end, and I couldn’t have been more relieved that we all made it back in one piece!

My tips on prepping for Taraw Cliff:

Practice climbing at your local rock climbing gym. A few weeks ago, Josh took me rock climbing for the first time. It helped immensely during my hike, because I was used to using my leg strength and a little bit of arm strength as I was climbing the rocks. I highly recommend dabbling in some rock climbing at your local rock climbing gym if you plan on tackling Taraw Cliff.

Bring lots of water. It seems like a no-brainer, but the boys and I failed to do this. By the time we got half way, we were already parched because almost all of our water was gone. Hydrate!!

Wear shoes with good grip. The boys and I all wore our Chaco water shoes, and we’re all glad that we did. The grip made climbing so much easier. We saw people along the way wearing flip flops, and I don’t know how they managed to make it to the top, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy! Be safe and wear good shoes.

Be fearless. Trust me, you’ll be so proud of yourself by the end of this hike. Trust in yourself and your capabilities. Don’t look back, and keep moving forward!

TRAVEL: Puerto Princesa and an Underground River (7/21/16)

I’m currently writing this as I leave Puerto Princesa and head over to El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. I’m on the bumpiest, most windy bus ride I’ve ever been on – but more about that later.

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We landed in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on 719/16 and took a tricycle from the airport to our hostel, which was Alvin and Josh’s first time taking the Philippine’s infamous mode of transportation. During the ride, something compelled me to look back, and I saw that my backpack was LITERALLY about to fly off the tricycle! I managed to catch my backpack mid-fall whilst the tricycle was still moving. Even the tricycles and cars in the back of us saw it falling and started to slow down traffic in case it did fall.

We checked into Sheebang hostel and were quickly greeted by other foreign travelers who were drunk and playing ping-pong in the middle of the day. After we got settled in, we went downstairs to grab a bite at the restaurant/bar downstairs. I coincidentally ended up sitting next to a very drunk older man, whom Josh and I agreed was very drunk and was probably drinking all day. The night continued with a concoction of EDM and Hispanic dance music in the bartenders’ playlist.

We started the next morning waking up around 4-5AM to the sound of about 30 roosters all chanting loudly. We found a spot in front of Sheebang to do yoga, and quickly got sweaty doing about 15 sun salutations. I hope every morning of the rest of this trip starts out this way. We were the last to get picked up by our tour van that arrived about 35 minutes early at 7:25AM. We quickly got ready and were eager to start our day.

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During the first 10 minutes of our ride, our tour guide gave us the history of Puerto Princesa and Palawan. We learned stuff like how the Vietnamese use to have a village with a few thousand families living by where the airport currently is, and why and who named the nearby bays and landmarks. The car ride to the Underground River was about 1-2 hours. We passed through the lush mountains, and passed beautiful limestone formations. We then took a 15-minute banka (boat) ride to the island where the Undregrond River was. That in itself was beautiful enough for this entire trip to be worth it.

img_2083Elephant Cave & “We out here” pt. I.

img_2103Banka ride on the way to the cave.

With our orange helmets and life jackets, we were ready to start being construction workers. Just kidding.- but we really did look like construction workers. We were given an ear piece for the tour since talking is supposed to be kept at a minimum during the tour. Upon entering the cave, we were greeted by hundreds of bats flying at us and nearly hitting us. We learned that these bats heavily rely on echo navigation to get around the cave, so we definitely don’t want to disrupt that.

We out here pt. II.

It took me a while to comprehend that this cave or underground river was actually real. The tour guide said that some people view the tour a a “holy experience”. I honestly didn’t believe it until I saw rock formations in the cave that literally looked like Jesus and the Last Supper. It was almost unreal knowing that this cave formed organically on it own for the past couple thousand years. It made me super appreciative of that geology class I took in college years ago. The tour is about 45-minutes long and doesn’t go through the entire cave because a permit to go deeper in hasn’t been granted yet. But when it does, I’m definitely going to be back to discover what more the cave has in store.


The entrance of the Underground River. 

We finished up our day visiting local palengkes for some light shopping, and eating at Kalui restaurant with our new friend Jake. There was by far the best sisig I’ve ever had, and I even got to try Kalawi which they called Filipino ceviche. I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture, so I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

And that leads me back to this bus ride I’m still currently on. We picked up breakfast before we left and Josh learned that if I you ask for egg and rice to-go from a street vendor at the palengke, I means that they will give it to you in a plastic bag.  20-minutes into the ride I was car sick from all the bumps and turns and getting thrown into the air. This is by far the most uncomfortable ride I have ever taken, but I’m sure our destination in El Nido will be more than worth it. Now excuse me while I try to hold my breakfast in for the next two hours.

I absolutely loved my first hostel experience! Said g’bye to Sheebang Hostel in Puerto Princesa.