10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.

Penang Hill

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Dani, how did your life change since you lived abroad?

 

A Facebook private message read. 

 

Me: I became a minimalist, more tolerant, more patient, more flexible, more open minded, faster to learn a language, frugal, good citizen, lesser judgmental, culture sensitive, appreciate silence more, complain lesser and lesser, more creative and most of all, wide reader and a budding writer. 🙂 The list goes on and on and it’s easier to say that the old me that I know died. Even the name Dani that I coined just to sound cooler changed. I’m now Danica.

 

This was the shortest response that I could give her because I got scared that I have turned to a madwoman too after moving abroad twice. I could have given her a revised and expounded reply but I don’t know if she will be interested to read a memoir.

 

Shortly after I sent her that brief answer, there were nearly a thousand words that started bouncing up and down in my head. The blabber in me was triggered. I know I will be able to come up with more than a thousand words that will pass as a blog post entry. I can not not elaborate on this. I can not not justify it. Freak alert!

 

  1. I have turned to a frugal minimalist

In 2014 I moved to Malaysia and the only thing that I got sad about was not being able to fit my exaggerated shoe, dress, bag, book, magazine and other trinket collection inside my 24 kilo allowed luggage. I remember my carry on almost bursting. I was tempted to wear 5 dresses just to save space and be able to bring more. I wasn’t sad because I will not see my family so often anymore. I was sadder that I will leave the wardrobe that I built and looked forward to building a new and bigger one which started not even a month after I settled in. I was shopping like I have shootings and tapings to attend to. I forgot that I am not a celebrity who was paid to look good and must avoid being seen wearing an outfit twice in such a short span of time. Moving again made me live like a nomad everyday. I no longer need buy things I will not use. I am no longer being affected by the demands the biggest brands are creating. I have what I need to live the simple life that I want. I don’t need more stuff that give me headache and anxiety. Having less is the answer to having a peaceful life.

 

 

2. I became more patient.

I learned how to live slowly. I understand the “power of now” better and it makes sense. There is no need to rush everything like my meal. Being fully present in every single task that I do made me see more beauty and learn more profound lessons. From paperwork to doing my weekly grocery to cleaning my space to learning basic Coding for my website. Living abroad has made me complain lesser and lesser. I used to be the brat who bitched about every single thing in my life and cried for help at the very first sign of discomfort. I learned to be patient with myself and realize that I am a big work under progress. I never saw how blessed I was until I traded my little comfort zone to the real big world where people try to make ends meet and/or save their lives by seeking refuge in another country. Patience came with compassion.

 

3. I realized that school is not everything.

Everything that I have learned from all the schools I have been to didn’t teach me what I needed to know to survive in this life. Okay, I learned how to read and write but they are not everything. I wish they also taught me to love myself and gave a friendly reminder that I am not just born to pay bills and die. I wish they taught Happiness 101 or Introduction to Self-Care.

 

4. I read like a maniac.

Whatever I am not confident to ask, I read. Whatever I can’t afford to learn, I read and then teach myself. Now I have more books than clothes and I find them more useful. I now see the benefits of freeing time to read. It has opened my mind more than I have expected it to. I never thought that there are still unexplored part of my brain. Every book that I have read has become a part of me. Little by little, I am able to name emotions I couldn’t name before and amazed that other people have experienced it too. Reading alone gave me an assurance that I am not alone and that what I am going through is not unusual. Someone somewhere felt it too and put it to words. I just needed to pick up the right books.

 

5. I became flexible

I still can’t pass to be a record- breaking gymnast but I’m surprised to know how fast I can adapt to a new environment. I thought I am a mermaid but I was wrong. I am a chameleon who can blend anywhere easily. Living abroad has deleted all my preset expectations of how I want my life to look like and really take each day as it comes. I no longer beat myself for not preparing as early as now for my future because I know that I am working very hard each day for the one that I will love living more. A second from now is the future. Every second that I spend hating the situation where I am (e.g. job I hate) is every second of my present and future already wasted. I thought travel has trained to me to be flexible but it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. Living abroad is like a form of yoga. There are so many poses I needed to practice first before I can truly be flexible.

 

living abroad

 

6. I became more creative

Being in a new place, with different seasons, different culture, different smell and people with different perspectives inspired me to start embracing my inner artist of life. I’m no artist whose expertise in some sort of art will make tons of cash but I am an artist of life. It took me so long and so many failed attempts to find out who I really am and what I want to be but now I know why I took Communication Arts. Communication is my art. I might have only lasted one painting class session but that doesn’t mean that it is the only form of art I can be good be at. Life is an art and I am the artist in mine.

 

7. My love for languages

I used to imitate not just Indian accent but also all the others different than mine that I can hear. My friends thought it was hilarious and their wild roar of laughter stroked my ego and boosted my confidence. I thought I was a clown. But Germans actually have a term for that. Sprachgefuehl or the feel of language which actually means ones ability to learn a language fast. (See my favorite German words here.) Sure my German is still like of a toddler’s but I am trying to learn as much as I can every single chance I get. I am not a native English speaker neither but I am making a conscious effort to improve and use it like how the natives would. I fell in love with the thought of learning new languages.

 

8. I became an Introvert

It’s the biggest shocker for me. I used to drag my friends to the loo because I loved having them around. Because I mean, I can not not speak my head out alone, can I? I need to always talk, to always look good, to stand out, have more and be obnoxiously funny to be liked, right? But when I moved out of my country, I realized what an introvert I really am. I never thought that I would enjoy my time alone so much that I looked forward to coming home as fast as I can to be able to curl up and read. The only fear left  is not being able to read enough books.

9. I became less judgmental.

As I started hanging out with people outside my own race, all my preconceived notions and stereotypes started melting away. Not all Muslims are bad. Not all Chinese are racists. Not all Americans are stupid. Not all South East Asians are ignorant. Not all Filipinos are gold diggers. The list can go on but I don’t have them anymore. In fact, people I keep on meeting people on the road who have shown me kindness, understanding and compassion that I never experienced in the safe premises of our village or even my own country. At the end of the day, I came to realize that we are just all the same. We are all fighting for survival but being disrespectful and judgmental are things we never really needed.

Living abroad

 

10. I became an ambassadress of Self-love.

 

I am no longer apologetic for being who I truly am and what I will still become. I no longer look at my thighs and inspect them for possible cellulite. I would see physically challenged people really trying to do their stuff with so much gusto and there I was silently cursing my thighs for not shrinking no matter which diet I try. I heard their voices in my head saying “I will do whatever it takes to have thighs on which I can walk like a normal person.” I forgot to thank my body for allowing me to do all the things I want to. I never celebrated the power of my mind in trying to understand things it does. I forgot to thank my heart for still working no matter how many times it got broken. Of all the love I was giving away, I never gave myself some. My anxiety, insecurity, depression and the need to have more and be liked faded away. Living abroad and away from all the things familiar has made me a child trying to learn how to crawl, walk and speak again. Living abroad made me fall in love with myself and all the flaws it came with. Not only that. I am getting better in directly expressing what I want. I grew up in a culture that sugarcoats everything because we are trained not to upset other people. I have learned to say “no” more often. I have become selective of who I allow in my life too. I have learned to prioritize myself and do what makes my heart swell with joy.

 

 

Have you lived abroad? How did your life change?

 

 

 

Please share if you like. =)


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Learning German: A love-hate relationship.

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You’re already almost a year in Germany and all you can say is “Ach so??”

 

Thank you soooo much! Please rub it in! 

 

Dear Diary,

 

I am going crazy. The first two weeks of learning this language is the most horrible phase of my life. My headache never stops. I feel hungry all the time. At the end of the day I want to eat something really crunchy and/or punch someone in the throat. I’m going ballistic. I joined the classes when some of them are in the middle of the book already and I can’t be proud that all I know was just “good morning, thank you and bye” at all! I needed to do a lot of catching up.

Diary, I don’t really see why I need to learn the language to begin with. I am an aspiring English teacher and where will I use German after here? I don’t plan to stay for long anyway. I just need to learn Teaching and that’s it. I will be gone. Okay? Thanks! Bye! And that is very very soon!


Dear Diary,

 

I don’t know where the f*ck these Germans got their words from! And I don’t know why they have different Articles for “The” and genders! They don’t effin make sense AT ALL! “der, die and das??” Seriously? Who has the time? Life is too short to focus on learning German. Besides, how can they expect me to pronounce f*cking things right when Tagalog alphabet only has 20 letters? (Wikipedia says Modern Tagalog Alphabet has now 28 letters)

We don’t have C, F, Z, Q, V and X. English is already challenging at 26 letters. F, V and Z already gave my tongue a good workout then German Language has umlaute??* How am I supposed to pronounce “schwarz” and how will I remember “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” ?? (law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling)

 

That is not even the longest German word. I am losing it, Diary. I’m losing it!

 

*umlaute* source wikipedia
Ä (ä) // Long ä pronounced similar to ‘ae’ in ‘aero’
Ö (ö) // No English equivalent sound. somewhat similar to vowel in ‘jerk’, ‘turn’, or ‘third’, but it is critical to note that there is no “r” sound that is pronounced in conjunction with the ö.
Ü (ü) // No English equivalent sound

The ss-Ligature, ß
ß (es-zet or scharfes es) // Pronounced like ‘s’ in ‘set’ or ‘c’ in ‘nice’

*Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. Currently this is the longest German word meaning “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.”

 

Dear Diary,

 

Today, I almost fought with my classmates who will be my future students. They are bullying me for not trying (to learn at least). Duh?! I’m just an Intern. I am not here to learn the language. I am here to learn teaching and please! I’ve gone so far with my English. It’s enough! If there should be learning German, should be them not me. Besides, almost every German speaks English and they always say they love practicing it so please, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

4-5 months later…

 

Excuse me. Why is the shop closed?” An old lady asked me in German.


“Because of the flood.” Unglaublich! (Unbelieveable!) I replied in German and I needed to stop a bit though the lady has walked away. I had a small talk in this language I started having a love-hate relationship. I mean, my German can’t still save my life and once Germans felt that I am abusing their language, they immediately switch back to English. No one should put the language into shame. Nationalism. They teach that in school too. They didn’t realize that doing this makes me so happy more than Bratwurst.

 

Dear Diary,

 

I can’t believe I will at least be able to somehow pick up the language I was so skeptical about learning. I might not need it professional wise but to be able to make a small talk with the locals and especially to be able to buy something using their language feels so good. I suck at languages and I am well aware of that already. I stayed in Malaysia for nearly two years and I can’t even say a complete sentence in Malay, Tamil or Mandarin. I have convinced myself that I don’t need anything aside from English. How full of myself have I become? Looking back Diary it was just an excuse I kept on saying and telling myself because I was too lazy and too close-minded for learning.

 

No matter how much I deny it, I was just in Malaysia to earn a living and not what I was claiming that I was there for culture when I didn’t even made an effort to integrate. Though I fell in love with it, Bahasa was like a flaw I didn’t fully embrace. I want to regret it and if I will live there again, I will surely try to learn it. Languages have this beauty that I was only able to see at 30.

 

Currently “Mein Deutsch ist noch peinlich.” (my German is still embarrassing) as how I would normally start a conversation with Germans to warn them I am about to murder their beloved language but they reply with their eyes almost popping out of their sockets and the more that they will encourage you to speak. “At least you’re trying and that will get better in time” is how they console me. Germans aren’t so German after all and I can’t believe I will admit to watching German TV and movies now and read local papers, books and magazines. The headache started to subside. Even my host family stopped using English with me and I know in few more months, everything will be better like the weather.

 

 

After two years, my German is still not as good as I want to be but I can now have simple conversations. (Click here for the list of my favorite German travel words)  I wasn’t able to use what I have learned in the German course like all the things I did in school. Real life is just the best teacher. Learning a new language at 30 might not be easy but I would never have it the other way. Otherwise, I will never be able to appreciate its beauty like how I do now in my adult years.

 

It would have been easier if Filipinos aren’t so harsh about laughing at mistakes as if we are so prone from it and I wish we don’t make fun of everything. My self-esteem has been so affected and I have zero confidence. A German friend said that I shouldn’t be worried because Germans, knowing how difficult their language is, will not laugh at me trying to speak and learn their language and that whatever fear I have for speaking it is also the fear they have for speaking a second language. The perfectionist in me may never be able to master it but at least, I still learned. I still won. 

 

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#TravelForPencil: Traveling One Step Away From Ignorance

 

 

There’s one question I failed to ask myself when I started testing the waves outside our Philippine shores. Why am I doing it? To find myself? Sure! But I have not really thought of traveling with a cause. After one place after the other, there is something else that I still wanted but couldn’t put a name on until I bumped into the Facebook post of my University friend’s little sister.

 

I can only remember how young she was when I would do sleepover in their house. Their mother’s cooking is still one of the bests my battered taste buds have ever tasted. Though now a grown up lady, my memory of her was still of a little girl. It is just like every parent even when their kids grow up. It will always be little fragile kids in their eyes. At some point, they just stopped counting the age no matter how many birthdays come. That’s how she is to me: a little girl who is doing something very impressive that makes me feel so ashamed of myself given my old age. Her parents must be so proud of her. Prouder than I am.

 

 

 

As I stare at the photos, I couldn’t help but stalk her profile where I would see even more of what will further touch my heart. She is doing it right. She is doing it like how I myself want to do it. Being outside our own country and coming across with all the stereotypes other nationalities throw at Filipinos for being poor, ignorant and uneducated, I would want to start doing something that will somehow put an end to it and prove them otherwise. I am such an ambassadress for the limitless powers that come from knowledge and some sort of nerdy things. Travel for Pencil. What an amazing idea! I got so inspired and I just couldn’t help myself but bug her with tons of questions.

 

 

Tell us something about you. (What you do. Your age.)

 

My name is Nikhail Grace Gonzales. I am 27 years old and still single. I work for one of the biggest telecommunications company in the Philippines for five years now. I love traveling and adventures. I balance my life through service and traveling. Aside from working 5 times a week, I see to it that I balance my time for my family, service and travel.

 

 

 

#Travelforpencil. I know that the idea is already there but how did your project start? What inspired you to do it? Are you doing it alone? Are you getting suggestions?

 

I had this trilogy climb at Nasugbu, Batangas with my friend last January 2017. We were able to climb three mountains for a day- Mt. Batulao/Mt. Talamitam/Mt. Apayang. It was indeed one of my greatest achievements when it comes to hiking. I wasn’t expecting to finish three mountains just for a day. It was so tiring but with God’s grace, we were able to conquer it. After that climb, I felt that something was missing, I began to ask myself, “Bakit parang my kulang?:” (why does is feel that something is missing?). After reaching the peak, posting the pictures on social media and sharing the experience, I felt that there was a piece missing, “Ano na? Ano ngayon kung nakaakyat ka ng bundok? Nakatulong ka na ba?” (what now? So what if you’re able to climb a mountain? Were you abel to help?) These questions lingered my mind, I was inspired by many kids along the way, along the trail, as they chose to help their parents earn a living on a weekend instead if just playing. Some kids help their parents sell and some earn by offering their services as a tour guide. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, (I told myself) How can I be of help to these kids in my own simple way?? I was led to move and do my part. And so I thought of this pencil to give out to kids wherever they are whenever I travel with my friends since pencils are lightweight and easy to carry.

 

 

 

On my next climb at Mt. Gulugod-Baboy in Mabini last March 19, 2017, I brought with me 15 pieces of pencils just to start. The day when Travel for Pencil was born. Honestly, I do not know what I was doing. I even doubted myself. Tama ba tong ginagawa ko? (Is what I\m doing right) Along the way, I cannot forget the look and the smile the kids have given me. I knew that was it! That’s the answer! And so I shared my experience in social media. People began asking why I give pencils and admittedly, I do not know what to say (at first). Hindi pa rin clear. (It is not clear) Little did I know, they were also moved by simple act. And from then on, pencil donations just came on pouring from my relatives and friends and even from people I do not know.

 

 

 

How do you find the kids or the places where you;ll do your next project? Do you have contacts there? How often do you do it? How may times have you done it?

 

I hand over pencils to random kids who I met along the way anywhere. No specific community. I target to have a trip at least once a month. We just think of any place to go. Sometimes, I got invites from groups to join their trip and bring pencils with me. As of to date, we were able to give 473 pieces of pencils to 11 locations in the Philippines.

 

 

 

Do you get support (financially and morally) from your friend and family? Did you get any negative comment or discouragement from anyone? (like me for example when my family told me to stop helping the refugees) if yes, how do you deal with it? What are your challenges if have any?

 

I didn’t expect to receive so much love from the people around me through this advocacy. People support me through pencil donations. Some even sent money for me to buy pencils on their behalf. I am so touched with every gesture showing their love and care for the kids. I also get more inspired when people send me private messages telling me about how they were moved and called to act accordingly. Amazing! I really do not know how will be able to sustain this advocacy, but with God’s grace, He continuously send me people who will help me out. From donations, connections and suppliers.

 

Talagang matinding kalaban ang sarili. (Oneself is really the toughest enemy.) There were times I doubt and lose the sense of pursuing this. But every time I feel this, God sends people for me to realize that there’s sense and that many people are being blessed by TFP. I really thank God for guiding me on this journey. For being my strength and my guide.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any unforgettable experience whilst doing your project? Did you cry or got so emotionally overwhelmed?

 

Ate*, here po yung some stories sa blog ko. (|Here are some stories in my blog.) Http://nikhsplorer.wordpress.com *In the Philippines, we call older sister Ate.*

 

 

 

This Village Girl: How did your life change since starting the project? Where do you draw inspiration?

 

I won’t forget the day I made my decision to get out of my way to serve others in ways I can. I began to think of others more. I appreciate every little help that is coming because I know it is from the heart that wants to reach out and love and that it comes from God.

 

 

 

I get so inspired how a piece of pencil brings a smile not only to child’s face but also to their parents who have witnessed the simple act. I didn’t expect how a piece can delight one’s life. Na parang sa isip ko lapis lang naman yun eh pero sa kanila parang napakalaking bagay na. (It’s like in my mind, it was just a pencil but for them it’s such a big deal.) Yun pala kasi yung simpleng lapis na yun pahirapan pa bumili. (Turns out that it is so hard to buy a penicl.) Dahil nga naman sa hirap ng buhay nila sa probinsya, sa bundo, sa bukid at liblib n alugar, mas uunahin ang pambili ng pagkain kaysa lapis. (Because instead of buying pencil first, they will of course prioritize buying food because life in the village, in the boondocks and in remote places is hard.)

I have witnessed poverty but I see hope. Yes, I have cried a lot of times most especially when I felt so helpless. TFP has thought me to be more loving and giving because I am so blessed. At wala akong dapat irekalmo sa buhay. (There is nothing in my life that I must complain about.) Dahil yung iba (Because the others) despite their situation, they still manage to smile, live simply and go on with their lives. Sobrang nakakainspire. (It is so inspiring.) Kung meron mas natutulungan dito sa advocacy na ito, ako yun. (If there’s someone that this advocacy is helping, it’s me. )

 

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe in God’s promise that all we are going through is all part of His plans for our lives. No matter how difficult our situation is, no matter how poor or rich one is, nothing can stop God’s great plans for our lives. God will pout us to where He wants to be, where we should be.

 

 

 

Do you have dreams for TFP? Like thinking of opening it for sponsorship and help more? Do you promote it? Please share us your dreams for it. Who knows there are like-minded people who’d be interested to help. =)

 

Some people were asking if bakit lapis lang? (why just a pencil?)I told them that little by little. I believe in the power of small. I am not closing doors for TFP. I am very much open for opportunities and collaborations. This isn’t for me. This is for the kids who I believe to be the hope of every family in our county. Ang edukasyon and tanging kayamanan na hinding hindi mananakaw. (Education is the only wealth that nobody can steal.) Gaya ng pangarap ng bawat magulang na makapagtapos ang kanilang mga anak para matamasa ang maganda at masaganag buhay. (Like every parent’s dream of their kids finishing school and have a better life. )I believe in their dreams also that one day they will be the one serve our children and for the generations to come.

 

 

And so just recently, I have ordered the string bags and add some notebook, crayons, eraser, sharpener, and pencil case. I look forward to giving a complete set of school supplies to every child. I’ve got a lot of plans to reach out to more people and help more kids. Narealize ko, maraming tao pala ang gusto tumulong pero hindi nila alam paano. (I realized that there are a lot of people who want to help but they just don;t know how.) I praise and thank God that through TFP, people were able to touch other people’s lives ways. Walang imposible! (Nothing is impossible!)

Today, I have been receiving messages from different people on how they will be of help. And I look forward to have more for TFP so that we could help more people too. One or two years from now, I can see TFP collaborating with schools, groups, communities and other programs and organizations.

 

Hesitant pa ako gumawa ng Facebook page. Hahaha. (I was so hesitant to create a Facebook page) Nahiya kasi ako. (I was ashamed. ) But I don’t know, pinush ako ni Lord na gumawa. (I don’t know, the Lord pushed me to make one.) And so now, mas madali na nga naman idirect yung mga tao na nagtatanong about sa TFP because I just have to direct them to the page mismo. (So now, it is easier to direct people who are interested about TFP because I just have to direct them to the actual page.)

 

I am very open naman kahit kanino who extends their help for TFP. I receive private messages from TFP’s page and my own account too. Nakakatuwa how people extends their help. (It feels so good how people extends their help.) Para saken walang maliit na tulong basta bukal sa pusong nagbibigay. (For me there is no little or big help as long as it comes from the heart.)

 

 

 

 

*One pencil costs 7 Philippine Peso (0.13 USD/ 0.11 Euros) and it’s a step away from ignorance.

 

If you’re interested to help us educate more young people who will be taking over the world someday, you can send Nikhail a message by visiting Travel for Pencil Facebook Page. 

You can also visit her blog for more inspiring Travel for Pencil stories. 

 

Thank you so much!

 

Over to you!

 

Have you asked the purpose of your existence too?

 

If you’re traveling, why are you traveling?

 

I’d love to hear and learn from you. Let’s exchange stories. =)

10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.

 

Okay. I am not a native English speaker but breathing English since birth makes me feel like one. Sure, moving to Germany and learning this awful language according to Mark Twain, I can now agree that whoever didn’t study it doesn’t have any idea how difficult it is to acquire it. As I eavesdropped my way to somehow understand it, I found myself developing a love-hate relationship with it. Most of the words actually don’t make sense when translated to English but diving deeper into it gave me more reasons to be fond of it especially these travel words that don’t have English counterpart.

With these words, I cornered my German boyfriend one Sunday morning after breakfast. I don’t know if he is just like a typical guy who doesn’t want to discuss nerdy, stupid things like this or it was too early to think in second language. Sure, I was able to force some answers from him but being a bonafide German speaker who uses it as verb and adjective, I felt that it will make more sense to ask my Filipino cousin who grew up in Germany who can easily switch to Tagalog, English and German seamlessly.

 

Wanderlust [vandɐˈlʊst]

Fact: did you know that our favorite travel word came from German words, wander which means to hike and lust which means desire. So wanderlust is actually the desire to be with nature through hiking that is now a very popular term to describe endless desire to travel.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

 

Reisefieber [raɪzəˈfi:bɐ]

I guess this should really be the English equivalent of Wanderlust. Reise means travel and Fieber is fever the sickness. My sources said Reisefieber is stronger. This isn’t just that kind of sickness you feel after your last trip and the pain of excitement for the next but emphasizes a stronger desire for not wanting to stop traveling.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

 

Fernweh [fɛrnve]

Fern means faraway and weh means sore or painful. This is the antonym of “homesickness” but this is that aching feeling of wanting to be somewhere far from home. “Farsickness” could be the more fitting word if that ever exist.

 

German Travel Words

 

Sehnsucht [zeːnzʊxt]

Sehn is to see and sucht is addiction or obsession and when put together, doesn’t just mean craving but also a longing, an unanswered question or the desire to have other experiences or deeper meaning.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Kopfkino [kɔpfˈki:no]

Kopf means head and Kino is cinema or movies. I would say that this doesn’t have a lot to do with traveling but to have “movies” in your “head” simply suggests daydreaming. Your thoughts are flying somewhere far from reality.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Zeitgeist [zʌɪtɡʌɪst]

From Zeit ‘time’ and Geist ‘spirit’. German Philosophy rooted from the 18th to 19th century that translates to “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. This is that feeling of being in a different era and traveling through times.

 

German Travel Words

 

 

Torschlusspanik [tɔɹ.ʃlʊsˌpæn.ɪk]

Tor is gate, schluss is closed and panik is panic. Etymology says to close the city gates at night for safety and whoever comes late has no choice but to stay outside to be exposed to dangers. When translated to English, this means that fear of not having enough time to achieve your goals.

I will be BS-ing you if I will say that chasing my out-of-this-world dreams doesn’t scare the hell out of me even a little. In my country, the Philippines, I am already considered an old maid but here I am, still pushing myself out of my little comfort zone to grow and get more out of this life. Sure, in some part of the world, the gates might have closed for me but I am determined to open the ones that I like. No panic here. =)

 

German Travel Words

 

Sprachgefühl [ʃpraːxɡəˌfʏːl]

Though not really a travel word, this means the talent to quickly learn a language. Sprach is to speak and Gefühl is feeling or simply the feeling of a language. While the Germans who witness how I murder their language say I have talent with languages, I still disagree. I push myself so hard to learn because I realized that just to travel is not what I am after but culture. And to understand culture, knowing the language is essential.

 

German Travel Words

 

Schnapsidee [ʃnapsʔiˌde]

Schnaps is a shot of Vodka or any alcoholic beverage. Idee is idea. Literally a crazy idea.

How many stupid things have I done just because I got drunk? Sure alcohol has made my English and German way better but Schnapsidee is not a travel word. Who knows, the next best Schnapsidee will bring me to where I really belong.

 

German Travel Words

 

Gemütlichkeit [ɡəˈmuːtlɪxkʌɪt]

I asked a German what will he do if he was told to prepare something gemütlich and he said he will prepare the sofa with nice pillows, light some candles and watch some movies. He said he will wear sweat pants and get ready to just relax and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Gemütlich is synonymous to the Danish word Hygge which means coziness. Wikipedia said that Gemütlichkeit was derived from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means “heart, mind, temper, feeling” expressed by (and cognate with) English “mood”. Though not a travel word, gemütlich is now one of my favorite beautiful German words.

German Travel Words

 

I’d love to learn from you. What are your favorite beautiful foreign travel words?

 

10 Things I Love about Germany

There’s more to Germany than bratwurst, beer, Berlin and Munich. It wasn’t just its fairy tale-like castles and amazing cars but its people and culture that made its way to my heart. Though learning the language almost got me packing my bags and running as far away as I can but it’s the richness in history in contrast with the German’s simplicity that made me stay to learn more. 

 

  1. Orderliness

Germans often say “Ordnung muss sein!” (Order must be) and will often get headache when some things are not planned and not in order. Their discipline when it comes to separating and taking the trash out and having everything in schedule is just awesome. It’s one of the things that I have learned to adapt whether be it in my personal space or in the things that I should be doing. Not all Germans are spontaneous. A meeting or a get together should at least be arranged two weeks prior.

  1. Football is not just a game. It’s a Religion.

I once went out one afternoon only to find the streets and the public transport almost empty. Everyone is at the pubs or at home watching if they are not able to secure tickets to watch it live. It is like when our famous Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has a boxing match. There’s almost zero crime rates because even the burglars, rapists and other criminals are also watching.

  1. Bread

There’s one store in Malaysia I loved so much and despite the long line, I always find myself queuing to get my fix. It’s not healthy but I didn’t really care. I thought I will never fall in love with other bread after that but I was wrong. Here in Germany, I am crazy not just over their Broetchen and Brezel. I am crazy about almost all of their breads that comes with different textures and toppings like seeds. The quality, the taste and the options are just amazingly good. They have wide array to choose from and for someone who has hard time digesting Gluten, they have a solution for it too. Just looking at every store’s wide selection, it makes me feel so happy that I have almost forgotten the ones from home.

  1. 4 pm means 3:55 pm.

Or else you’ll find yourself being scrutinized by your German friends or worse, being told to go back to your country. This is not just limited to business meetings but also when getting together with friends, families or even with your date. They take being on time seriously like how they take other aspects of their lives. Maybe meeting friends, it’s okay to arrive at exactly 4 pm but never like in the Philippines where 4 pm is actually 5 pm or worse, later. 4 pm ish doesn’t exist. I have learned to value not just my time but everyone else’s.

 

  1. Sunday is Ghost Town day.

Supermarket and almost everything is closed on Sundays. You’ll even be fined when you recycle or throw your glasses and they make so much noise. So Sundays here is literally a lazy day where you can have coffee and cake in the afternoon with friends or family. Big shopping malls with cinemas, cafes and restaurant are not so common so a relaxing activity is in order.

  1. Germans actually have humor.

I was wrong when I first declared that Germans don’t have humor. They are actually one of the craziest breeds I have ever met. They are just really reserved but once you get pass that, expect to have the loudest laughter and crazy banters with them. Their sarcasm, dim wit, dry humor and straightforwardness is going to make you fall off your seat. Bonus, they are also one of the most open-minded and well traveled people I’ve known. They coined the word “wanderlust”.  Once they have started loving you and told you that you are their friend, you are their friend. They will love you more than how you gave love definition and for whatever kind of love it is.

  1. Germans and the Naked truth.

I was once shocked to find out that everyone in the gym’s locker room was naked. Living in a Muslim country, Malaysia, before moving here didn’t help. I grabbed my towel and held it tighter around me to stop my heart from an anticipated heart attack caused by so much nakedness. Few months after, I stopped thinking about how horrible my cellulites might look like and just walk around the gym like how everyone is doing it. Imagine my jaw dropping and knees wobbling when a friend brought me to a sauna and everyone was just on their birth suit. I didn’t know where to look nor what to do. And some Germans actually go hiking sans clothing. I guess an entire article dedicated to this interesting topic is indeed in order.

  1. Banking is few years behind.

Working for banks for few years in Asia got me a little confused when I got here. They’ve got to be sh*tting me when I am knowledgeable with almost every banking policy. A lot of establishments refuse to accept debit or credit cards and Germans do pay using cold cash. Sure there are enough machines to take your cash from but whenever you’ll do a trip to the supermarket, better make sure you have enough cash and coins because otherwise, first, you can’t assume that the store has a terminal for your card and second, you’ll have to carry your stuff all around the store because you can’t get a cart without coins and then be prepared to pay for plastic or shopping bags in case you have forgotten to bring one. Also, there’s no bagger by the end of the line to pack your goods. You’ll have to do it by yourself.

  1. Germany: The land of Pfand

Whenever you’ll buy drinks, be it a plastic or glass bottle, be ready to pay a bit more for it because it has a deposit of sometimes 25 cents which Germans call as Pfand. You’ll be able to get a refund for this when you bring back the bottles to the store which has machines that will take all those bottles. You’ll then get a receipt which says how much you got in return on which you can use to pay for your what you’ll shop or just simply en-cash. This is also why there are people who actually pick up bottles from the trash and collect them because they simply mean additional budget for the next supermarket trip.

  1. Germans aren’t small talkers

Germans don’t take “how are you?” question lightly. This is the reason why I learned to stick to just “Hello” and pretend that I don’t speak nor understand German at all especially on days that I need to run tons of errands and want to come home quickly. I would often spend at least 15 minutes per person I will bump into if I made a mistake of asking them how are they. I once bumped into seven or eight fitness classmates and I asked each of them how they were only to find myself late for the class I wanted to attend and it wasn’t just one time. Only when I have a little more time to spare I dare to ask that question.

 

 

In Malaysia, it’s never too late to dream a new dream.

I once belonged to Manila where everything cool seemed to happen on a daily basis. Atleast from the eyes of This Village Girl. Tall buildings, nice big shopping malls, cozy cafes, awesome nightlife and  busy streets. Dreams for this village girl. Then  my life started to become a reflection of this fun. I already have them all.  I was renting a place in congested Makati, doing sports after work and getting drunk with friends and colleagues every weekend before heading back to Batangas where I want to spend quality time with my brothers. Our parents are away to earn a living and to be able to send us all three in good schools. Education in Philippines is a luxury. Not everyone can afford it. We must bear the distance.

This life went on for nearly four years and I felt the pain of having something new but I can’t tell exactly. I gave the place in Makati up and chose to brave the traffic and endure the daily two to three hour commute from Batangas to Makati. I will wake up at 4:30 in the morning and leave the house at 5:30. I will sleep in the bus all the way to Makati and will feel energized to work when I reach the office. I will eat in between daily tasks and will nap during my lunch break. I will head to the bus stop right after shift to avoid the rush hour. I will nap in the bus on my way home again and will do sports before bed. This went on for few months until I decided I want change. I was bursting with so much energy.

I took advantage of my ten-day mandatory annual leaves to look for other jobs. A job offer in Malaysia came and though I wasn’t so interested, I accepted it anyway. For a breath of fresh air. A desperate act to start something new I reckon.

I didn’t expect so much change to be honest since Malaysia is just a four hour flight from Manila so it felt like I’m still in Philippines. I continued living the same life in a different country for the first few months. I felt nothing new ever took place. I’m just working, working and always working. That can’t be. I started looking for other activities and this lead me to meet new people.

I have started hanging out with people who don’t speak my language. I have heard beautiful stories that tickled my imagination. I ate dishes I will not normally eat. Later on, I will crave for flavours I can’t even put a name on. In a way, I have started having this voice in my head to see them for myself but I always had the fear to start. How and where will I start? I will excitedly gush about this to my friends and we have promised to try it together sooner but our schedules never allowed it. I can’t wait forever. I just can’t. Anymore. I suddenly have new dreams and these dreams can’t wait.
I explored Malaysia like a maniac that I can even walk around it with my eyes closed. Needless to say I fell in love with it. Everything felt cheaper allowing me to enjoy  life here more. Public transportation system was so good it made me to always be on the move. Like Manila, it started feeling like a comfort zone that even I have almost seen the entire continent, it’s not enough. I wanted more and I felt unstoppable.

I packed my bags, booked the flight and left.

Yes. I didn’t say goodbye.

Because…

How do we say goodbye to places we called home?
How do we move on?
How do we start embracing new cities where everything spells uncomfortable?
How can we say we are homesick when we don’t know (yet) where home is?
How bad do we want our dreams to come true and what are we willing to sacrifice to get them?
How many bridges are we willing to burn? How many bridges are we willing to cross?

Honestly, I don’t know how to write about Malaysia without shedding tears; without this heavy feeling in my heart that every time I will feel discomfort, I want to fly back.

Malaysia, I haven’t thanked you yet for true friends that turned to family outside our home, for introducing new and different tastes to my taste buds and new-found love for learning about languages and cultures.

I didn’t say goodbye because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how.

You made me realize that there’s a completely and magical world outside your equally beautiful self. You made me think of not wasting anymore time. Now is the perfect time. You made me leave all the judgments I have before I entered your door. You made me feel more alive. You made me ready for the world. You made me dream a new dream I never thought I will at this age. I miss you more than I miss home. But where is home?  You made me feel that I can be home anywhere. You made me even stronger than I thought I already was.

The best days of my life started happening when I welcomed you in my life. I am not the same girl who cried a river when she can’t fit the mountainous clothes and the nearly hundred pairs of shoes into her allowed 30 kilogram- luggage.

Malaysia, how dare you change me but thank you so much! I’m so glad I plunged into your unknown world.
I didn’t say goodbye not because you didn’t matter. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t know how to. I didn’t say goodbye because I know it is not goodbye. I am just not sure when I will see you again. All I know is that you are my comfort zone but I need to grow more. After all, you’re my home. I will come back for sure and who knows, might stay for good.

 

 

An Island Called Perhentian: A Malaysia’s Hidden Gem

I am closing my eyes as I write this one. How can my brain, no matter how much I plead, can not properly recall all the details of this trip. It was 2015, Holy Week, me and Cabs agreed on going on this trip. Still, this is one of those secluded islands that I treasure in my heart. An island where, no matter how advanced Malaysia is, no facility to withdraw cash. An island so simple and beautiful that now I am scared that after three years, might be now crowded, dirty and music blaring loudly, killing the zen I once found there. I have no news. I can only share the beauty I once experienced there. It was one of those good times that didn’t require my old definition of a party.

 

 

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Perhentian Island. I forgot to ask Cabs how we ended up there. My memory is not to be trusted. All I know is that me and Cabs share so many things in common that passed the test of becoming a true soul sisters. I know him since 2012; since our Citibank days. I went to Malaysia to work, he came to visit, we submitted his CV and he ended up working for the bank where I worked too. Oh good old days.

 

 

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It was a night bus we took from KL (Kuala Lumpur) that brought us to Kuala Terengganu. It took us nearly seven hours to reach the terminal where we needed to wait for the bus that will bring us to Kuala Besut where we needed to ride a small boat to reach the beautiful Perhentian Besar. It was a long, tiring yet relaxing ride. Our tandem never runs out of hearty giggles. Our laughs became louder when we found out that there’s actually a bus that goes directly to the port to ride the jetty to the island. There were actually flights to go there too but we were not that good of a researcher before. It was 2015. Travel was not as mainstream as these days.

 

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We reached the port and we waited a bit to ride the boat. By this time, my fear of the open water is still there but I can now ride boats without so much fuss unlike earlier. It was time to ride the waves and ride the waves, we mean it literally. The wave was the kind that the boat felt as if it goes up a bit in the air and lands on the concrete street. I was holding to the rail as if that will save me in case the boat lands on a little crooked wave and everything breaks apart. If I will die, I will die with a smile. I was in the middle of the ocean going somewhere I want to see and doing what I love. Of course I never voiced any of this out to Cabs.

 

 

 

 

We reached the island and all I could see was endless blue skies, serene white sand and turquoise water. It was so quiet. I can sell Nasi Lemak here and live a slow life. It was that moment that my mind was changing so much. Maybe I am not the corporate woman I have dreamed of becoming. I was a mermaid who’s terrified of the water in my past life and now it is slowly coming back. I just want to be out there, anywhere actually, where I don’t have to be suffocated inside the corporate box nodding to anyone. I will figure out how to live like that. Will not be easy but I will for sure. Like how I have always did.

 

 

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We reached our bungalow, dumped our stuff and went out to start enjoying the beach. I took the book I intended to read in the bus but failed miserably. I lost the will to read over sleep and chit chats with Cabs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first day was spent where we first landed. For dinner, we went to the other side of the island. It was quieter. If I close my eyes and try harder to remember, we were just eating, sleeping, laughing and sunbathing in Perhentian. The other side of the island hides Perhentian Cecil (the smaller island) where literally nothing was happening which is perfect for those who just wanted to relax or meditate or to those who are traveling as a family with kids. There were restaurants but not as much as Perhentian Besar (the bigger island).

 

 

 

 

 

At night, a bar sets up low lying table on the sand and the island was just filled low murmurs of friends enjoying and respecting the serenity of the place. It was not the first time that I saw a firedancer but the amusement and the happiness was different. It was dependent to the mood of the island if I will look for other more fitting word. This island is the total opposite of the life that I have come to love KL for where a lot of different things happen everyday that makes it highly impossible to run out of things to do and to try. Perhentian Island and Kuala Lumpur are at on the other end of spectrum but garnered the same spot in my heart. Sounds confusing but that is how much soft spot Malaysia has in my heart and if I will be biased, Perhentian Island is an island that will always be an island that will bring a soft, warm and lazy smile on my lips. I will always have Perhentian Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Michael Caberic

Tanjung Pinang: Indonesia’s Hidden Paradise.

2015

 

 

The travel bug which bit me gave me a wanderlust that will kill me if I don’t feed it at least once a month until I figure out how to feel like on a holiday every single day for the rest of my life. It’s a curse I love having and I will be forever miserable if I will not give in.

 

 

 

And for the first time I am writing halfheartedly. It took me some time to decide that yes, I will share this soul finding experience. I know I have to be fair because the place is amazing and it deserves to be made known.

I am currently at Bintan Laguna Resort and Restaurant, Trikora Beach, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan Island, Indonesia. How I got here? I am not sure. Only Wikipedia knows the place and no blogger has ever written about this. (Well, I am assuming as there was no further information about the place unlike Bali or Jakarta.) Off the beaten path places, I love.

 

 

Cristy, my American travel buddy, and I originally planned on trying Batam Island. Online images looked good but reviews weren’t.  And my friends said nothing much to do nor see, and it’s Singapore expensive. We were still willing to try though. Plans only changed one day before the day we left KL when we were booking hotels online and checking routes. I saw Tanjung Pinang on the map and the backpacker in me felt that everything will be better there since it was far and I haven’t heard nor read anything about it.

 

 

How we got here:

 

 

Travel time and cost: (Take advantage of the free hotel brekkie and the food in Indonesia is cheap. This was split to two.)
Bus Fair to and from Johor: 68MYR (15USD)
Ferry to and from Tanjung Pinang: 202MYR (45USD)
Cab fare to and from the pier 20MYR (4USD)
Groceries (beer, bread, chips, etc) 259,000 IDR (19.44USD)
Lunch at Bintan Spa 200,000 IDR  (15.02USD)
Bill from the hotel (another night stay, food and beer for 5 days) 705,900 IDR (53USD)
Hotel (4 days) 180 MYR (40USD)

 

We took the bus from TBS bus terminal in KL to Johor Barhu for about 4 and half hours at 34 MYR. We hailed a cab to bring us to Berjaya Waterfront Pier at 10 MYR. (Please haggle with the driver as they will not hesitate to rip you off and some will not use their meter). We were after the last ferry trip at 5PM that will bring us to Tanjung Pinang. There are only three ferry schedules to here (9am, 1pm and 3pm) and takes about three hours and costs 101 MYR one-way; 159 MYR two-way.

 

 

 

 

 

We reached Tanjung Pinang Pier at around 8PM and hailed a cab at 50,000 Indonesian Rupiah to bring us to the hotel in Tanjung Pinang town proper. This driver also offered to bring us to Trikora beach for 250,000 Indonesian Rupiah or 25 SGD and gave me his calling card when I declined.

 

 

 

Our mistake: No need to book a hotel and stay in the town proper. There’s nothing to see. Everything closes at 8PM. No nightlife, no one speaks English and nowhere to eat. Wiki said there is a bar named Dope so we went to try but it was closed.

 

 

 

 

This was a total waste. We suggest head straight to Trikora Beach instead. Cabbies will of course try to rip you off offering to bring there at 25SGD. But I have read in WikiTravel that it shouldn’t be more than 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for one way trip. Haggle, haggle, haggle and negotiate.
We were then brought to the hostel we booked via Agoda. 45MYR. This never failed to crack me up because I just checked out of The Hilton Hotel in KL then checked in to Shangrila Hotel, the budget traveler version. They didn’t charge me for calling a mobile number and extra black coffee so I love them. These little things are big thing for me because I remember the hotel I stayed at in Ho Chi Minh City, they charged me for calling the hotel landline I booked in Hanoi. For a budget hotel, I will still give them a good review in Agoda. The receptionist, even struggling to speak English, was extra helpful, friendly and has this genuine sweet smile plastered on her face the entire time we were talking.

 

Our check out time was nearing and I haven’t figured out how to go to Trikora Beach the local way. I’ve consulted Wikitravel again but he said there are buses however, driver don’t speak nor understand English. But since there are two of us traveling now and we can just split the cab fare, we thought that it will be okay to take the cab.

After breakfast and whilst having coffee, I asked the café manager how to get to Trikora Beach. He then told me to call the resort and asked if they provide transfers from the city. I called and I was told that they do but 250,000 IDR. I told him what I’ve read and he said 150,000 IDR is fine. I didn’t give him any confirmation yet hoping I will still be able to find a cheaper alternative. Check out time came and I haven’t figured it out yet and I was a little stressed out because I still need to use the hotel’s WIFI as there is no WIFI on this island. Few minutes later, a smashing new car arrived and there came out a limping man by the name of Akwang. He was the guy I have spoken with over the phone and turned out as the owner too. Men I was so happy and thankful. What did I do to be this lucky? It is really the little things that matter. He is really cool. We talked on our way to his resort and when I told him I need beer and some stuff, he happily drove us to a grocery store because the resort is really far from the town thus more expensive.

Then we reached the resort. OH MY GOD! Just OH MY GOD! Paradise is an understatement. To be honest, 45MYR (10 USD) per night is so little price to pay for a place like this. This is priceless. To be honest, at 45MYR, I am not expecting anything at all that is why we only booked 2 nights. I was even hesitant because the room doesn’t have airconditioner which is the only thing I want for my accommodation when I am traveling. I don’t mind bringing my own toiletries. I don’t travel light anyway.

 

 

As I scan the entire place, it took quite a few moments for everything to sink in. I was in awe. I am in awe. The place is so peaceful and beautiful. Far from the overly commercialized Bali I have seen.

 

 

Akwang told us it is low season so not a lot of guests are here. We have the resort to ourselves.

 

 

We met a local couple who checked in for the day. We enjoyed chit chatting over chips and Bintang, their local beer. They are a lovely and nice couple who even if they were here to spend quality time together, took time to walk with us by the beach and do some crazy jump shots. We exchanged contact details, said goodbye with a promise that when they visit KL, we will show them around.

 

 

 

 

Day 2:

I think I am catching a flu. So this is how it feels to sleep in cabana by the sea with cool sea breeze blowing 24/7 non-stop. I remember asking for extra blanket before I slept but it wasn’t enough. It was really cold and nothing beats natural air cooler. Shame I only have bikinis and sundresses. Good job girl!

 

 

 

Today, we will just beach bum. No WIFI. No distraction. Social media detox. Goodbye harsh real world. At least for few days.

 

 

 

I said I will run but thanks to the default bed weather, I was only able to manage to run in my dreams. I have packed my trainers and running clothes too. Looks like I will bring them back home unscathed.

So after breakfast, we changed to our bikinis, slathered on some sunblock, put on our sunglasses and prepared to take tons of selfies as promised and sunbathe the entire day. #certifiedbeachbums

 

 

 

 

True enough. We have the beach and the resort to ourselves.

But before the day ends, we met a Chinese solo traveler. I know I will like her that instant. No more further explanation needed because she is just like me: low maintenance, crazy, fun and brave woman not to mention, loves beer too. =)

 

 

So we had beer over dinner, exchange cool solo travel adventures and we free-loaded her data. Damn! We were like vampires with such blood thirst. I tried to control not sucking all her data but I almost wasn’t able to fight it. I just reminded myself, detox girl, detox! Social media detox. Real world detox. You have to be ready when you face the real world you’re always running away from. Be patient until the time comes that you have created a world no need to escape from. Dreams do come true. Just work hard and stay focused. Yeah, I am talking to myself again. I am playing my cheerleader again. No one else will.

 

 

 

Day 3:

 

Okay. I am losing it. I have lost track of the day, date and time. This is the best holiday I ever have. Well, so far. (I have left my heart in Laos and will still write about it) and by now, my body has well-adjusted to the cool weather.

 

 

Today is beach bumming and selfie day 2. If I can only make a living out of it. lol

 

 

 

 

 

So Cristy, Rice and I, AKA The Three Blonde girls, after taking breakkie, went to start the day at the beach. We walked far north under the sweltering harmful rays of the sun, took selfies, picked up shells for presents, took more selfies and decided to walk to the next beach which took about an hour and a half. We were so hungry and thirsty when we arrived at the resort’s pricey restaurant. We ordered food and beer and enjoyed the wifi before the server got problem. (It’s only now that I realized that we just had breakfast when we left our resort.) After lunch, we decided to rest for almost an hour then head back to our resort. It was already low tide so the walking time was only cut to 15 minutes to our surprise.

This is our last night. We all will check out tomorrow. I am out here with a badly sunburnt, red and itchy skin, trying to enjoy what is remaining before we head back to reality. I now know that no internet connection works well for me. I feel at ease, so connected to nature and in tuned with myself. I hear my tummy growl when it’s hungry, I sleep when I feel like it, no stress; nothing at all. The peaceful sound of ocean wave is more than enough. (Did I just see two rats kissing? I know. This place is perfect for honeymooners.) I don’t mind doing this again. I don’t mind doing this every month at all. Even though the lack of internet connection will make Cristy run out of her wits in no time, we decided to extend for another night. We both love this place so much. Even Rice, the Chinese girl, would love to cancel her Singapore trip to stay longer. I can’t blame her. We all agreed on coming back here and that made me feel the need to figure out how to buy that parcel of land across this resort. I will work hard for it and for now, one thing is for sure, I have found a hiding place I was hesitant to share. So if This Village Girl just vanished into thin air one day,  check Tanjung Pinang. =)

 

 

 

 

Singapore, nothing personal. You’re awesome but you just deserve one day.

This might be the craziest thing I’ve ever done (okay. One of the many crazy things) and probably the hardest one to beat. 
So one off day and I was left with nothing in mind to do,  I hopped on a train, crossed the Malaysian boarders then spent the entire day in a different country. Unplanned. Alone. Well, let’s say that a friend, okay, two friends wanted to come but one changed her mind and then wired me the money since I already bought return tickets for her too then decided to back out last minute. The other, I wasn’t really sure if he really wanted to tag along. I just couldn’t wait. I hope he has forgiven me by now. 

 

 

I’m no pro in traveling but this is one of the things that I love about Malaysia. Its nearness to almost every South East Asian country, affordability of traveling and almost everything. I can’t say that my sense of direction is remarkable either. Maps give me eye sore. For unknown reasons, the lines are swaying to a catchy beat that makes me want to cry.

 

I will never also dare to say that I am a good planner. I don’t even know what I want in my life. I just know I always have my sails ready where the strongest wind will take me. *just go*
Only thing I know I am good at; mischief. I know I will always end up humiliating myself for being so clumsy and stupid. And directions will never ever be easy.
And so back to my one day Singapore adventure and why I didn’t contact friends, booked a hotel and stayed for even a night.

 

I was of course questioned by the immigration officer because I don’t have any booked hotel or contact person where I will be staying. I can easily give a friend’s name and contact number since I have few friends working there but I found the officer’s reaction fascinating. He probably thinks I will be trying my luck to look for a job there.  When I felt that I will be bugged further and the queue was getting longer,  I showed my return ticket and the stressed officer calmed down. He let me go with a knowing smile.  He now thinks I’m crazy. I was thinking it’s fun.

 

 

 

  1. I am a village girl
    Despite my highest heels, skimpiest skirts and reddest rouge, the tallest and grandest buildings intimidate me. I was never a fan. I feel depressed when I don’t feel I am one with nature. Even the beach is man-made. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. Though I know, modern cities will kill me, I am in awe by how an Asian city can be so efficient and I am using the words of a lady I met whilst in the bus from Vietnam to Laos. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Expensive

 

No matter how I avoided converting, my brain was on autopilot. It was as if they were specifically programmed to do it. I had abacus in my head that made even the smallest cell in my body cringe when it gave me an amount I will not even think of spending for some things. I am a recovering shopaholic and traveling made me value money.  I still can’t believe I spent $100 SGD (70.32 USD) in one day on top of the 80 Malaysian Ringgits (18 USD) I shelled out for return train tickets. According to the blogs I have read, I should only spend 50 dollars in Singapore a day. Oh well, somehow I relied on other’s experience though I’ve said I will just go and see for myself. I know I ate too much and their Pub Street was also inviting. Who am I to say no to a happy hour offer of buy 1 get 1 cocktails? 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. It’s touristic.
    I spend so much time with people so when I go somewhere, I want to veer away from the crowd. Away from the hassle and bustle of the city. Away from it all. I am looking for peace, for off the beaten paths, for a place where my soul can find peace; for a place where my heart can heal and for a place my mind can think freely. Where my train of thoughts will go uninterrupted. I tried so I can see the place with own eyes. I can’t say I don’t like if I haven’t tried. I loved it but an entire day and a night is enough.

 

 

 

  1. It’s a small country.
    I almost saw the entire Singapore in just half a day. I felt well connected and the effective train system allowed me to go and see all the places I need and want to go to without requiring me stay longer. It gave me ample time to move on to the next destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will I still come back to Singapore? Definitely. Because it’s a lovely country where people show so much discipline and extended help to the direction impaired ADHD. The cleanliness of the country is unbelievable and it is a proof that I need not go out of Asia to see a country with such charm, beauty and efficiency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will I recommend a day tour to fellow travelers? Hell no! I literally walked the entire day under the scorching heat of the sun and even if I slept in the train, I had to request for time off from work the following day due to exhaustion. I slept on the upper bank of the train and I was surprised i couldn’t come down when we need to go to the Immigration. Every little crevices of my feet felt and my legs felt sore. Yes. Even a hyperactive kid gets smashed.

 

 

 

 

P.S.

 

Being a Filipino, Jolibee has become a huge part of me not just my childhood. It is our local version of Mcdonalds.  I just kept on thinking that I went to Singapore because I crave for crispy fried chicken and Pancit Palabok.

 

 

 

 

Thailand: Where It All Began (Part 2)

Day 4:

I am right. Patong will not offer that much to me because I don’t want to have more of night life. KL gives me that every single time so I am right about escaping my Phuket escape. I took the Songthaew, a public transport that look a lot like our local Philippine jeepney, to Phuket Town. From there, I hitchhiked my way to the terminal where I will be taking the minivan which will bring me to Koh Lanta in Krabi. I ended up giving the driver 100 Baht because my bag, like me, was very heavy too. I was able to see the entire town that way. Instead of taking the three and a half hour speed boat (3500 Baht or 120 USD) to Krabi I opted for the minivan (280 Baht or 8.97 USD). This is how the locals travel from Phuket to Krabi. Though it ate up almost twelve hours of my time, I didn’t regret doing it. I took naps in between sightseeing. Each time, I’d wake up surrounded by so much green. I don’t know how I was able to tolerate it, but I don’t mind doing it again.

 

 

 

I was smashed when I reached my hotel. I was greeted by the staff with orange juice and wet face towels to freshen up. I can’t help but smile at them in my shitty glory. It was like I reached heaven and they definitely seemed like the angels.

 

I knew it was what I wanted when I heard the crickets singing. It has been so long since I last heard that familiar music; it felt home. That long trip was worth it. The internet connection was weak but I didn’t mind. I need social media detox anyway. The beach was less than two-minute walk from the hotel and there was a bar near the pool too.

 

I showered quickly and changed to a comfortable dress. I wanted to walk around a bit and to have dinner too. Not so far from the hotel was a nice restaurant. I immediately ordered Thai fired err fried rice.

 

You eat spicy ah?” The waiter asked smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah! I love spicy soooo much!” I replied smiling wider than I wanted to to emphasize that I am no baby when it comes to spicy food. Even before moving to Malaysia where it is normal to see chopped chili as food toppings.

 

My order came and it tasted like it was delivered from heaven. On my second spoon of fried rice, I felt a hot line going up my nostrils and my mouth and tongue were feeling as if I bit a burning charcoal before they turned a bit numb. I tasted danger but I can’t act silly. I declared my love for chili aloud and reacting obnoxiously is a shame. I chose to panic like a winner but I know my face was red and my eyes were starting to water. I saw cucumbers slices on the side of my plate, grabbed two pieces and shoved them inside my mouth. Wrong move! As I quickly chewed the cucumbers, the watery extract immediately spread the burning inside my mouth. I wanted to cry. The waiter came to ask if everything was alright. Of course I can’t say that I might need to be rushed to the nearest hospital. So with a slightly flared nostrils and teary eyes, I said everything is alright. I asked if they have dessert but he didn’t understand.

 

Sugar? You have?” I asked in desperation and he went away. After split second he was back holding a dessert menu. I didn’t know where my point finger landed and he left. I was wondering how long he will be able to bring my order but I continued to eat my chili rice until my mouth adjusted to the spiciness which took longer than I have anticipated. This was even spicier than the ones I had in Phuket. The French owner of the first Thai restaurant where I ate was right. Phuket isn’t so Thailand anymore due to the influx of tourists it receives every single day and most of these tourists can’t eat that spicy so flavor needs to be adjusted accordingly. But here in Koh Lanta, it is a different story. I wasn’t prepared for their definition of spicy. I know I needed to rest after the long trip after the meal, but it felt like I just warmed up for a 10k marathon.

 

My dessert came and I swear I slurped it like a maniac. It was a coconut flavored ice cream. Now my mouth felt more confused. Hot and spicy then cold. Normally I complain about being brainfreezed, but this time, my brain wouldn’t be able to detect the coldness of the dessert. The waiter was looking at me and I just smiled a little. I know what he was thinking. I signalled for the bill. He came back with the bill and I gave him a thumbs up for the food then started walking back to the hotel. It was a little bit dark when I reached the hotel and the silence was a bit eerie. I was just not yet ready for all of this. I was in paradise. The Bangladeshi hotel receptionist told me that I am the first Filipino customer and that their chef is a Filipino too. This came as a surprise for me given how remote the place was. I went back to my room to nap. It was already dark when I got up from the bed. I went out of the room intending to go for a walk in the reception was the Bangladeshi receptionist and the Filipino Chef. They both looked and smiled at me. Brief introductions were made and he volunteered to show me around. I had a tour guide. He even taught me how to ride the motorbike which was a massive failure. I was more scared of wrecking his eardrums. I was just screaming and laughing the entire time as if I was being tickled. We bought beers from a local store and he told me where to get cheaper meals. He said the hotel is looking for a female receptionist and he can tell the owner to hire me if I want. I just was floored when I heard the salary. I can’t. Yet. Had I not been so greedy for a higher paying job I would have accepted the offer. Heaven was an understatement for that place. I spent my Krabi days running by the beach in the morning to catch the sunrise, basking under the sun, swimming, and drinking Singha and Chang any time of the day. Oh! and eat, eat and eat some more! This time, I had adjusted to the spiciness of everything. I would sometimes wonder how I ended up on the sand when I know I was on the lounger. On my second to the last day, I booked a four-island tour and was amazed buy how beautiful and untouched those islands are.

 

 

“If you want photos, just ask.” A French traveler told me. To be honest, I was a bit shy to take tons of selfies because other tourists weren’t doing it so I decided to just do it like how they are doing it. Enjoy the moment. Live a little.

 

I met a couple from London on my last night. They were also staying in the hotel where I was staying. We decided to go for dinner and had beers together. It was also their last night and they will head to Phuket and will fly back to London after four days. They have been traveling for nearly two months now. I know how they feel. I didn’t want to leave the place neither. Few beers and cocktails later, we called it a night, walked back to the hotel together and wished each other safe travels.

 

 

 

I drifted to a dreamless sleep. How I was able to sleep when I was just napping by the beach, drinking beers and eating the whole time I was there, I honestly have no idea because in real life, even if I have worked all day and worked out at night, sleep was still stingy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next morning I woke up and I can’t believe that it was my last day on this island. I packed my stuff and went out for a last swim and last feel of the sea. I took tuktuk to bring me to the terminal. I took the same route back to Phuket. My flight was the next morning. I booked another hotel nearer the airport. I spent my last night enjoying more of Patong and Bangla Road. My flight was at 6 am and I hired hotel car to take me to the airport. It was so lonely to pack. By 5 am, I was surprised to see a dark blue limo driven by a lady. I nearly jumped when she told me to get in. Just 800 Baht (25 USD) for a posh hotel transfer. What did I do to be this lucky? This lady owns the hotel and since it was too early, no driver was available. She drove me to the airport instead.

 

 

I came back to Malaysia feeling like a different person. Something that I can’t put a name on changed. I am braver than what I gave myself credit for. I had fun alone and it was totally okay. I was again ready to face Singaporeans’ wrath (Malaysians’, Indians’, Europeans’, Americans’ or whoever was living in Singapore) again. I’m calmer than I’ve ever been. As of the moment that is.

 

Now, every time I mention Koh Lanta, I feel my heart warming up and my lips forming a relaxed and blissful smile. ahh! No words are enough to describe how happy and content I was during my stay there. Memorable is a mild term for it.

 

Koh Lanta made me lost track of the days and I didn’t realize any sooner. I just wanted to freeze time. Ahh! if I don’t need to pay rent nor have to have money for food, I will just lay on the sand forever. It’s really hard to accept the fact that I have to return to the real world this soon. It’s okay. This is not the last.

 

Why did I start doing this late? Why was I so scared to do things alone? Why did I have to spend on material things rather than save them for more of this? What took me so long to do this? This is just the beginning and I will make sure of that.

 

About Us

 

Dani is a plus sized Filipina ADHD kid, recovering shopaholic, alcoholic and workaholic. She doesn’t take herself seriously. She has an insatiable wanderlust, out of this world food cravings and goof addiction. If she is not busy planning her next adventure, she will be spotted taking OOTDs and OOTNs. She took a break from the crazy corporate world to see the real one. This is not another travel blog. This is her journey to self discovery, embracing flaws and feeding her soul of what sets it on fire. She is out to prove that life begins at the end of the comfort zone.

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