Archive | Random Thoughts

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Traveling alone is hard (but not too hard)

Posted on 29 November 2015 by Dreidel Regala

Travel alone is hard

There I said it. Because it’s true, traveling alone can be a step tricky compared to traveling with somebody. But I’m not going to trump those “Go travel alone” listicles out there because I love reading them too. But there is another side to it.

1. You constantly have to look out for your luggage. For girls this could mean peeing with your huge backpack on. Why? Because who knows what could happen to your stuff if you let them out of sight so not a chance there.

2. You don’t have a different angle when tackling a decision. Okay to be honest this does sound liberating because you don’t have anyone to counter your point but then again that other angle could have been a new adventure or a cheaper route.

3. You have to finish that tall can of whatever by yourself. Because tomorrow it wouldn’t taste good anymore or you already have a new recipe in mind.

4. Or master cooking for one. You don’t want to overdo it or you’ll have to store/throw it.

5. You have to make space for the stranger sitting next to you. Yes it’s a small space but it’s all you got for your stuff and your body.

6. You have to pay taxi all by yourself. Taking an early morning flight? Well you could be the only person in your hostel that’s leaving so no choice but to pay it all up.

7. You have to take care of yourself when sick. I don’t like getting sick but it could definitely happen and when it does I have to take care of myself.

8. You will have plenty of unknowns. You only have one brain so no matter how smart you are there’ll still be things you have no clue of.

9. You don’t have a backup alarm clock. You set your alarm but for some reason it didn’t wake you and now you’re running because your bus or flight is about to leave.

10. You sleep with strangers in the room. Most likely you have gotten to know them already in the day and they’re nice but when your only roommate decides to comeback at night wasted and starts punching cabinets, yeah that’s a totally scary alone moment.

11. You cannot take a ‘scene’ shot of yourself. If you love selfies then just extend your arm or buy a stick. But if you want to do something more then you have to bother a stranger. And may have to do this several more times.

12. You have to lie in a creative way and fast. You love meeting locals and all but when that nice unassuming guy you asked directions with on the bus to the beach (whom eventually decided he’ll join you) insists that you freshen up and have tea in his place across the street, you’re suddenly – oh sorry my boyfriend is waiting for me.

13. You have to endure goodbyes a lot. You will definitely meet lots of great people but at some point you’ll have to say goodbye or they will say goodbye. It’s repetitive but you do it all over again.

It is hard to travel alone in some sense and while most travel articles will say you have to do it at least once, I still think – to each his own. Do it if you really want to. Don’t do it if you think you’ll be miserable. That said I’ve met tons of people traveling alone so it’s just a matter of getting used to. Besides you’re a better person each day.

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In Focus: Clouds

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In Focus: Clouds

Posted on 22 May 2014 by Dreidel Regala

Clouds

When I first see an outdoor photo or landscape, the first thing I look at are the clouds. It makes any dull scene feel like summer.

Deep blue sky peeking over fluffy formations.

Cloud 9

Or sometimes hovering over the bright sun.

Clouds over the setting sun

And then there were days when it magically appears like the sea.

Mt Pulag

I think I look at the skies more than the earth.

How about you, what do you see?

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17 signs you are addicted to travel

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Dreidel Regala

I remember when I was a kid my lola would make this super delicious sweet carbonara. She’d make it really sweet by adding condensed milk. Imagine that, pasta with condensed milk! Boy I loved it so much that I’d eat it for breakfast, lunch, up to dinner the whole week! Crazy sweet tooth didn’t even stop there. On random days I’d sneak behind the adults to have those round orange Dequadins. Yes it’s that thing you take when your throat is sore. It tastes like candy and I love it so much that I’ll have one or two of those secretly haha. But I guess my aunt got a hint so they never stock up on Dequadins after that tsk.

I think man’s addiction to food is manageable. Give it a week or month nonstop eating then later on you might just forget how good it was on the first try. Well except for ice cream. And bacon.

There is however this one thing that I’m constantly craving. Traveling. I thought it was just seasonal like it’s the summer so definitely a great time to go away. But then summer ended and I’m still craving. I took trips, several of them. In the mountains, in the beaches, in the cities. But every time I came home, I couldn’t recover from road hangover.

Hmm I think I’ve got it. I’m addicted to travel.

You think you’re hit by the bug too? Look at these signs you are addicted to travel.

  • At some point, you purchase promo flights you end up not using because some other plan came up
  • Your weekends are mostly about reading endless articles on traveling, actually make that everyday
  • You think Fox Nomad, Wandering EarlPaul Theroux, and Arthur Frommer are celebrities
  • Your favorite internet destinations are BootsnAll and Lonely Planet
  • You get excited talking to travelers about their plans or prospective destinations
  • You get anxious in your hometown, it just feels too common
  • Your night dreams are mostly in a setting far off
  • You start talking travels to people on twitter like they’re your long time friends even though you never met them
  • You start monitoring holidays like you’re on a mission
  • You’re beginning to like geography and constantly scan the world map for future travels
  • You kinda get when someone speaks airport codes
  • One of your dreams is to “quit job and travel the world”
  • Your entire savings plan goes to travel expenses
  • You’re more interested in buying air, bus or train tickets rather than a house, car, or gadgets
  • You start planning your next trip while on a trip
  • You mastered the art of packing up to the last drop of shampoo
  • Your favorite letters are R-T-W
© Photo taken by Kenneth Lu

© Photo taken by Kenneth Lu

Well I guess I just have to keep moving! What about you? What are your symptoms?

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Image by Calvin Teo.

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I bailed on my first couchsurfing and decided to sleep in 7-Eleven

Posted on 13 September 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Ever spent the wee hours sleeping in a foreign 7-Eleven? Well, I did.

It all started when I decided to get out of a bed I was so scared to sleep in.

I packed my things, went downstairs while asking myself “Is this really a good idea?”. I saw the cats still widely awake, I guess they couldn’t sleep as well because of this stranger in their house. They’re cats. Some would battle it out with me about how cute and sweet they are. But not to me! I was so scared of those two cats in the house. And they were following me to the door and that’s not good. My contact told me to keep the doors closed so the cats won’t get out but one of the cats was tailing me. So I lured him upstairs, into a room which turns out to be – the balcony ughh. He’s out and I couldn’t get him inside again so I just left the balcony door open then went out of the house.

I didn’t even know where I was going. I just kept walking in the direction I took the night before. The street didn’t look scary at all. I grew up in Manila and I think I already got the eye for what looks like a “mob prone area”, and this was not. The road was quiet with only a few people walking but nothing that looks like a public transportation was passing by, after all it’s already 2 am. If I could just find a way to get to Ruifang Rail Station then I should be okay. But nothing. Nothing came like a bus.

The only thing that was alive at that time was a convenience store so I got inside and dropped my bags on a seat. I went to the boy in front of the counter. He was a bit preoccupied but asked him anyway. He didn’t get me though. Or was it I who didn’t get him. I don’t really know but he said something like 6 am. So I went back to my seat in retreat.

Suddenly, a guy went to me and was speaking in English! Normally I would tell him to bug off, I know my business. But not this time. I was hungry for information. And as it turns out, the boy in the counter told him my commute issue and he was translating the boy’s advise for me. “You have to wait ’til 6 am for the bus”.

Then he offered me a ride if I want to go already.

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A few weeks ago I was looking for a place to stay in Keelung. I didn’t find any hostels so couchsurfing was my only option. It took me a while before I found one. I messaged her, she replied back. Told me she can show me around too which was really great. But some days prior to my arrival she suggested I stay at her friend’s place instead cause it will be nearer to the rail station and her friend is on vacation anyway. I thought the idea is not so bad and she sounded honest too so I agreed.

It was raining when I arrived in Keelung. Very cold and the rain made it even colder. She came at our meet really late so we didn’t get to go around anymore but at least she still came. When we got to her friend’s place, who actually is her expat ex-boyfriend, I was welcomed by the two cats who will be my housemates for the night. The place wasn’t really tidy, no actually it was messy. There were hair everywhere! Cat hair! When I said cats were fine to me I didn’t realize they were going to dominate the house. In the bathroom and even the upstairs bedroom! But I managed to keep them out of the bedroom on my watch. Phew.

Despite all that, I still tried to sleep in the corner of the bed with my raincoat on (just to keep the cat hair out ugh). Turned on the heater even though that thing is everything foreign to me (in my country we turn on the a/c instead). And then I heard something downstairs. Ignored it. Thought it’s the cats. Sometime later I heard something again. Hmm is the owner really on vacation???

************************

I discreetly declined. As both courtesy and security. What if he steals from me! What if he kills me! What if! Why would he offer a ride to a total stranger at 2 am. Why?

We continued discussing what’s the best thing for me to do. And when he learned that I was traveling alone he looked shocked. I think Keelung rarely gets visitors and especially those going on their own. As he was about to go, he again hinted on giving me a ride. I came across several locals on that trip and all of them were really nice to me. “Don’t worry I will not do anything bad to you, they know me” pointing to the people in the counter.

Okay.

Whoa did I just agree. Well it’s a free ride so I guess that should count to something. It took about 20 minutes through a quiet highway and a sleeping Ruifang town with the photographer good samaritan giving me a ride. We got to the rail station. But it’s closed. He went ahead of me to the open convenience store in front of the rail station. “Yeah we have to go to the other one in the next block, that guy isn’t friendly”.

Image by Calvin Teo.

Image by Calvin Teo.

We got to the other one, a 7-Eleven store. And the table inside was going to be my bed for the rest of the dark hours. I said my thank you to my new friend then dropped my head onto the table.

************************

Couchsurfing is actually a very useful travel system. When I got home I still thanked my contact. My issue with the house is actually not her fault. I agreed to her without really checking on the house conditions. So lesson learned. After that I couchsurfed in Bali and Jogjakarta and I had a good time.

And the cats are fine too. Sweet!

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How to battle solo travel nerves and start making friends

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Solo travel is all hit recently. Travelers are talking about it and encouraging others to do the same. But for the unconventional ones it’s a major step not to be taken any time soon. “It would be scary to get lost on my own”, “It’s embarrassing to eat alone”. If we look at it closely though we can see the root of this nervous feeling.

Remember the first time you entered your new school? I’m guessing it felt really awkward. Awkward in the sense that you didn’t know where to sit or with who are you going to eat your lunch. You’re in the edge, you have to approach someone and make friends. He or she will be your entry point to your new world.

If getting acquainted with strangers was easy for everybody then maybe being on a foreign land on our own won’t be bad at all too. But do we really have to be nervous about it? No. From what I learned about traveling alone, local people are actually friendly to travelers. They have this excited-enthusiastic aura that they want to hear the stories of this traveler in front of them and in turn brag about their home town too. It’s a nice exchange that could very well take any travelers whole afternoon.

There is no formula to it just like there is no formula to meeting your future best friend. It just takes a small talk. I remember being in Taiwan on my own and didn’t know how to get out of the town. I went inside 7eleven and asked a crew for bus directions. The query took long because of the language barrier but good thing somebody overheard us and helped. I was just excited to be talking to someone in English so we talked for some time and ended with him taking me to the train station in the next town.

Hostels are great way for conversations too. Since there are different types of travelers in there you are bound to meet someone who’s probably on his own too! Starters like “Where are you from?” or “Til when are you in town?” are a good way to begin with. You can even go further and ask to go eat dinner out together.

They say if you travel in big numbers it will be much harder to meet someone. So maybe we have better footing when we travel solo. But bear in mind also that being a traveler doesn’t always mean you will be the one in help. Sometimes you have to be the one showing concern. It’s raining and you are waiting for a ride, you see someone beside you struggling a bit because she doesn’t have umbrella. Share yours and you just might have the greatest conversation for the day.

People are just like you so don’t be afraid to approach and make conversations. Of course being careful is still important. Never give too much information cause the person is after all still a stranger to you. Different people, different personalities, so if someone didn’t respond the way you would expect just move on.

Happy conversations everyone!

An Indonesian solo traveler

A fellow Indonesian traveler (middle) we met while going around Borobudur

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How do you decide your travel?

Posted on 22 June 2013 by Dreidel Regala

How do you decide where or when to travel? Are you the kind who base it on capability? Or are you more like the “I will just go” kind of guy? If your answer is the second then I really envy you. It may sound careless or unpractical but there is that sense of freedom when I look at it. A freedom that you are not bound on conformity but leave you bearing sense and a little extra to your life.

If you ask me that question though I don’t really know what answer I’ll give but more often it boils down to capability. I think most of us do too. In one way or another money matters, availability matters, our present commitment matters. We cannot leap out of everything and chase the world’s offerings. Or can we?

Some people did. We’ve read about their stepping out and how they braved the worries they once had. But can everyone really follow suit? Maybe. Maybe not. Everybody has got their own circumstance. Each one is on a situation different from the others. And more fitting, everyone’s skill and personality is different. So while the fairytale ending we dream may be the same, thinking it through is still important.

Recently though my way of deciding about travel has changed. Maybe not entirely but it changed somehow. I think I’ve become more of a spontaneous decider in terms of pinning my travels. I book flights thinking of only two things: (1) I want to go to that place and (2) it will fall on at least one non working holiday. I am still bounded by work situation (thus the need to be on a holiday) but the other thing that I usually consider when planning my travel seems to move in the background – budget. Of course it will still matter but I guess I just decided that it will not be my travel stimulus and it felt good. Whatever the need for it I will just deal with it later. I decide on my dreamy destination now then face the budgetting later.

How about you, how do you guys decide your travels? :)

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We are your favorite band!

Posted on 08 November 2012 by Dreidel Regala

Music is an art of life. Everybody loves their own cult genres. We sing out songs, hum to tunes, bob our heads, and dance to party. But what’s more exciting is having the creator of it sing right in front of you.

Remember that twitter account @concertweirdos? Ackk it’s like everything he says speaks to me! I cringe when my favorite bands are playing nearby. Although I’m not super crazy groupie or something like that, I always find myself screaming in excitement with my friends or cry in agony when they disband.

Up Dharma Down

Up Dharma Down

Wolfgang

Wolfgang

Urbandub

Urbandub

Franco

Franco

Pedicab

Pedicab

Photos taken during Surf and Music Festival 2012

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To take a photo, or not?

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Dreidel Regala

When it comes to the world of photography, spontaneity is one of the most beautiful art. The scene is authentic, drama is captured, and it gets people to think of the story behind. I have my fair share of contribution to this –  a couple holding hands while walking down the paths of Angkor complex, a vendor shouting her hearts out to passers by, children playing in sandy beaches of Krabi.

For most of us, these shots are no easy task though. You have to hide your presence from your subject by either (1) purchasing those long zooming lenses or (2) being extra creative when aiming those cameras – climb trees or aim waist low (ask the experts to know other techniques).

But as I woke up the other day, it suddenly occurred to me… is there no ethical issues I’m violating when I take shot of others without them knowing it? In some places or countries, the guidebooks explicitly advise about asking permission before taking photos. But I’d suspect most people would still do otherwise elsewhere to get a more real action, or maybe cause it’s just plain faster. What do you guys think? Am I just thinking too much here?

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I’m scared of stares!

Posted on 30 July 2012 by Dreidel Regala

Don’t you just hate it when you get stared at. When my friends give me the eye I quickly mutter WHAT?! When a passenger in a jeep stares at me I return the favor. And in both cases they’re quick to retreat. But I wonder what’s the reasoning behind.

Panda

Panda

In Taiwan, as being in a Chinese nation, I’d look so much different from the citizens. I got several stares to which others followed with a “You Filipino?” or “Filipino! Manny Pacquiao!”. It’s a common thing that a foreign looking individual gets the look on. And I think I’m guilty of it too but I rarely get caught. So what was I thinking then??? Let me cite some: (1) I can’t help but stare and admire the uncommon/foreign face in front of me, (2) I’m starstruck! They look like the people I see on movies, and (3) I wonder what are they thinking/saying about my country. It is true that some stares are dangerous but others are just your typical curiosity. So yeah foreign people in foreign land can indeed feel like rockstars! 😀

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Baler Surf & Music Festival

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Long Story – it’s Short!

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Dreidel Regala

When I went to Taiwan some weeks back I knew I had to go back. It was only a week long trip and I was busy running around a couple of cities, jumping on buses, and catching trains. I knew very much it’s considered a big no-no for travelers to do it this way – I mean there’s just no way experiences will be deep more so it ain’t relaxing at all. But for a corporate worker like me, this is the only way I know I can. I know that already, accepted it, and tossed all my complaining at the back… after all I still need to work it so I can make the dreaming into reality even for just a tiny sip of the cup.

In these short trips we are bound to miss some things. Just like me missing Taipei Zoo and seeing the cute Panda bears when I was in Taiwan. Pandas are not native to Taiwan, they came in from China but even so these huggable creatures are definitely an interesting sight.

Another I consider a “miss” are Yehliu and Jiufen Old Street, technically I did not miss these two because I did pay a visit to these places but due to the awful weather the stop was not fun. Rain and cloud hampered my view but these two are a definite must. Yehliu’s unique rock formation is remarkable and picture perfect so next time I’ll make sure the sun is high and winds are kept to a minimum.

Yehliu on upper right corner

Yehliu on upper right corner

While I was able to get a few snapshots of Yehliu, Jiufen on the other hand had none when I was there. I wasn’t aware of the impending Taiwan holiday when I planned my trip to which resulted in an overcrowded Jiufen. It was awful that I could barely enjoy the food because every stall was busy. On other news the overlooking view of Jiufen was caught M.I.A. too due to the heavy cloud… yeah I thought the cool February is perfect but I guess not. My timing was not right but Jiufen’s Old Street looked really nice. Sometimes though it’s the itinerary that’s too busy…. ahhh I remember going to Kamotes Island in Cebu wherein I never got to try the beach when I was there!

Kamotes Island, Cebu

Kamotes Island, Cebu

On a different angle missing out is not all about the not so good first time. Sometimes when something so nice happened you just want to prolong it… well that’s the case when I was in Krabi Thailand. Known for its great beaches (yes “beaches” not just one).

Maya Bay, Krabi

Maya Bay, Krabi

We were able to see the beautiful islands under the good sun but time flies so fast on the good ones. Just like my stay in Bantayan, Cebu where quiet beautiful white beach lies.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Or when you are in a music festival that you never want to stop!

Baler Surf & Music Festival

Baler Surf & Music Festival

So if we can’t have those long trips we’ll just have to keep coming back.

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