Why I Bought an Infrared Sauna

When I traveled around Asia, specifically in South Korea, one of the things that fascinated me were their saunas. I’ve never been inside one, even back home. I regularly went to the gym but I never tried going into the sauna. At this moment, I’m regretting the days that I never went because after trying it out when I was in Korea, it was eye-opening.

I’ve never felt more relaxed and carefree when I’m inside the sauna/steam room. It was such a pleasant experience that I decided then and there that when I get home, I’m gonna get one installed in my house asap.

That’s when I got exposed to the different types of saunas and all the research that I need to do if I plan on buying one. There are so many factors that I need to consider but ultimately, I decided on infrared due to various reasons which I will list below.

  • My Budget

I knew that a home sauna kit will be expensive and I was prepared to whip out my wallet for it but I was surprised at how expensive they can be. I wanted a more “traditional” sauna experience but my budget just won’t allow it. I decided that an infrared sauna is my best bet because for one, it is one of the cheaper options without sacrificing quality and second, the 1 person models are priced just right for what I’m willing to spend.

  • Benefits of Infrared Saunas

There are many benefits to an infrared sauna and with some research, I found that there are benefits that can only be enjoyed with infrared saunas. You can refer to choicesaunas for the complete list and details about these health benefits.

As for what I found to be important for me, there are a few such as weight loss, detoxification, enhancing the immune system and maintaining good skin. I won’t lie, I can be a vain person and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I just want to look the best as I can because I think this plays a huge role in how people see me and to maintain good relationships.

  • Convenience

Buying an infrared sauna kit is very convenient. I can order online, have it delivered and assemble it myself or pay someone to assemble it for me. I chose to do it myself because I like these kinds of stuff, building, assembling and whatnot. Another reason why it’s convenient is because everything comes in one package. With other types of saunas, I had to order different parts from different manufacturers and that was a very time consuming endeavor. Not to mention, I had to do all the research so that everything is compatible with each other. After sticking with it for some time, I just gave up and decided to go with an all-in-one sauna kit to make things easier.

It also helps that all parts are under warranty from the same manufacturer so if anything goes wrong, my purchase is protected.

Well, those are my reasons why I went and got my own personal infrared sauna. It has been one of the best purchases in my life and I don’t regret anything about it, not even the price tag, which I admit, made a significant dent in my budget. However, with the convenience of taking a sauna bath anytime I want, I would say the it has been very much worth it.

Thailand Cuisine – My Favorites!

When I was still a kid, I despised spicy foods. Even during my early 20s, I would only eat spicy foods if there were no other choices. Now, I’m still quite picky but I can appreciate spicy foods more.

I heard from friends that when you go to Thailand, you should be prepared because everything is spicy. I thought they were just exaggerating but boy, they were right. A lot of the foods here are so spicy that sometimes I get the feeling that when I get back home, I don’t ever want to eat another spicy food ever again.

That is not to say that their food is bad, in fact, they’re great. It’s just that spicy food is not my forte. Anyway, here are my favorite foods in Thailand.

  • Tom Kha Gai

Tom kha gai or chicken galangal soup is one of the first ones that I tried here in Thailand. It’s very delicious and I love the aroma. The coconut based broth is so rich and creamy that it’s so filling. Galangal tastes a little like ginger and as I said in my post about Filipino food, I love ginger!

  • Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong or Spicy Thai Shrimp Soup is another galangal based dish that I truly enjoyed. I’ve always had this at Thai restaurants back home and they pale in comparison to the real thing.

  • Soup Neua

Beef is not as widely used here in the area that I’m staying at as pork so when I saw soup neua in the menu, I immediately ordered one. It’s one of the best noodle dishes that I’ve tried to date. The beef is so tender and the broth so rich with a great aroma.

  • Gaeng Hanglay

This dish is not as famous as some of the well known Thai foods but man it’s so good. As I love ginger, this was already on my list of foods to eat when I was still in the planning stages for my trip. It doesn’t disappoint.

  • Gai Tod

Who doesn’t like fried chicken? If you don’t, I will fight you! Just kidding, This Thai version of fried chicken is very different than what I’m used to and the taste is something that I can’t forget.

  • Khao Ka Moo

This braised pork leg is very easy to make as the procedure for cooking is simple but man, it tastes so good. Paired with rice, this is a delicious and filling meal.

These are my favorites so far, out of all that I’ve tasted. There are still so many more to eat here and sometimes, I’m overwhelmed as to what should I order. The food here is so good that when it’s time to eat, I get excited. I’m thinking that there will be a part 2 for this post as there are so much good food here and I want to eat as much of them as I can!

My Apologies, but now I’m Back!

I would like to apologize for my lack of updates regarding this blog. I’ve had to cancel my trip back in early February due to an emergency situation back home. It’s kind of personal but nothing overly serious. Anyway, that’s over with and I can finally resume my planned vacation.

You can expect some new posts about my travels in the next few days and my next destination is Thailand. When you think of Southeast Asia, Thailand is the first country that you think of. It should have been my first destination back in late December/early January but since I had so many Filipino friends and I don’t know any Thai, I decided that the Philippines should be my first.

Stay tuned!

7 Safety Tips while Traveling

Traveling is fun and it can be very fulfilling but one of the things that would be travelers should prioritize is their safety. Being prepared will make a world of difference in having a good trip as opposed to one full of troubles.

Here are 7 tips on how to be prepared and avoid trouble as much as possible.

  • Learn where your country’s embassy is and how to contact them

Knowing where your country’s embassy is can be very helpful especially if you find yourself in a sticky situation. You should know how to locate it and how to contact them by phone so if you ever need some assistance, you know what to do.

  • Try not to stand out too much

Keeping a low profile will make traveling so much easier and safer. If you don’t stand out, you are less likely to be targeted by lowlife robbers/muggers/pickpockets/scammers and the likes. Granted, not standing out is very hard to if you are the only foreigner in the specific area but there are things that you can do to keep a low profile. An example would be your outfit. If your outfit is very loud, it will attract attention, both wanted and unwanted. If you are obnoxious or rude, you are asking for trouble.

Basically, you just want to mind your own business but if you want/need to interact with people, be very courteous and respectful because remember, you are a foreigner and you are in their turf so act accordingly.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get easily distracted

It should go without saying that being in a foreign land requires attentiveness and being aware of what’s happening around you so that you won’t be a victim of theft crimes or encounter other problems. If you are used to walking around without a care in the world back home, you should know that that won’t fly when you are abroad. You should always be mindful of your surroundings and if there are unusual events happening when you are around, it’s fine to be curious but you should always be guarded.

  • Budgeting

Carrying just enough cash when going out is the way to go. Don’t go out with all your cash and always stash emergency funds in obscure places such as your socks, a hidden pocket in your jeans etc. so that you won’t have trouble if you should ever need it. Credit cards are also recommended instead of debit cards or cash due to the fact that if it ever gets lost or stolen, you can always report it and prevent problems and headaches.

  • Keep backups of important papers

A simple trick that I always employ whenever I’m going out of the country is that I email all the necessary papers to myself so that if I ever lose or misplace them, I always have backups. Of course, the best thing is to not lose or misplace them in the first place but just in case, it is always good to be prepared and have backups.

  • Keep in touch with family/friends back home

Keeping in touch with family or friends back home is necessary so that they will know that you are safe and it also gives them peace of mind. It is also helpful to you because if ever you are in trouble and you can’t contact them, they will know that something is up and they can get help or assistance for you.

  • Travel light

Traveling light is what I always do. I don’t bring unnecessary things/gadgets that I don’t really need so that moving is easier and the potential of losing something valuable is lessened.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep While on the Road

I love traveling! However, one thing that I always dreaded when I am away from home is sleeping. Yes, I have difficulty sleeping whenever I travel but lately, I have been practicing some tips that I read online that helps me sleep.

Lack of sleep can be very problematic when all you want to do is enjoy the limited time you have. It can make you feel tired and irritated and it can result in an unsatisfying trip. Worse, it can even lead to health problems so forget about enjoying your trip and to add insult to injury, you will have to pay for medical bills. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to at least manage this problem.

Here are some tips that I have learned and I hope that it can help you if you are like me.

Try to replicate what you do at home when you are about to sleep.

This is a very simple thing that you can try to do. Of course, it’s not possible to replicate everything but do so with things that you can. For example, if you take a shower or bath before sleeping, do so as well when you are traveling as it can help your body recognize the patterns that you do before sleeping.

Make sure you are sleeping in a comfortable mattress.

If you are going to stay in a hotel, ask them before you check in what type of mattress they have and if you know the mattress type that you are comfortable with, you can request that particular mattress for your room. I have done this in the past and some hotels will gladly cater to your request but some will not. If you are in the latter situation, you can solve the problem by bringing a mattress pad with the materials that you like with you. This may not be very convenient but trust me, it will pay off big time as you will be able to sleep properly and enjoy your travels.

Mattress pads or toppers are very helpful especially if you have “needs” such as cooling, extra support, a particular firmness preference and so on.

I have a spring type mattress at home and I have difficulty sleeping on other types of mattresses because my body is used to that particular mattress.

Be prepared and bring your “sleeping essentials” with you.

Things such as ear plugs or ear muffs, sleeping mouthpiece or your favorite sleep attire. This will help in lessening the distractions as you are trying to sleep. Remember, you are in a different place so the environment will be very different from your home. There might be barking dogs or cats in heat outside if you are staying in a bnb house or if you are in a hotel, the walls may be thinner than optimal and you might hear noisy children, arguing adults or couples that are having rough sex.

As for your sleepwear, it is very helpful if your body is very comfortable as you try to sleep as this will help you relax even more.

Reduce distractions.

When you are about to sleep, just close your eyes and relax. Don’t turn on the TV in hopes of watching a boring show to help you go to sleep, don’t continuously check your phone, don’t read books or travel brochures that may get you excited for tomorrow’s activity. Basically, don’t do anything that will deter you from sleeping.

Having difficulty sleeping while you are traveling is a very common problem. If you are experiencing it, it can really lead to lack of enjoyment and hopefully these tips will help you as it did me. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential in having a fun and fulfilling trip.

Philippine Cuisine – Foods you have to try

As I have written in my very first post, I am in love with the foods that the Filipinos have to offer. Of course, there are some that I wouldn’t dare to try, even with a gun to my head, well, you get the idea. Most of the foods that I have eaten here so far have been great but there are some misses as well.

So far, I have been doing an all Filipino food diet and I have to say, if I don’t control myself, I’ll be even more overweight than I currently am. Having said that, it really is hard to control my appetite, especially when it comes to the rice. What I found is that the foods are so flavorful so you really need to pair it with rice to lessen the flavor somewhat and this makes me eat more than I would want.

I don’t know why but I just don’t get full at the same rate as I do when I am at home in Cali. Anyway, it’s not really a big deal for me as I can lose weight fairly easily due to an active lifestyle but if you are planning on visiting the Philippines and you don’t control your appetite, be prepared to gain weight and work hard to shed those pounds when you go home.

Foods that you should try

  • Kare Kare

This is one of my favorites whenever I am visiting my friends’ house back home. Kare kare is a stew with peanut flavored sauce, ox tail, tripe, lots of veggies and it is served with shrimp paste on the side. The shrimp paste makes a lot of difference because the stew is kind of bland on its own. I have friends in the US that don’t like this particular dish but I really love it, an acquired taste perhaps?

  • Bulalo

The perfect meal when it’s cold outside. I just loved this one when I was in Tagaytay. The weather there is cold and this is just perfect, in fact, I think I ate one everyday I was there, enough said. This is basically a beef soup using beef shanks and when they cook it, they let it simmer until the bone marrow dissolves into the soup. The result is a melt in your mouth beef with a soup that is full of beef flavor. Pair it with rice and I’m pretty sure you will ask for seconds.

  • Tinolang Manok

A chicken soup that has a gingery flavor. I love ginger!

  • Lechon

When I was in Cebu, the first thing that I wanted to do was to eat lechon. It is a roast pig with crispy skin and tender meat. It did not disappoint. In fact, I wanted to hate it because it is so unhealthy for you but I just can’t.

  • Crispy Pata

Another roasted pork dish that I wanted to hate due to its unhealthiness but I just can’t. I loved it and it is very similar to the Lechon but with subtle differences. The skin is super crispy and flavorful.

  • Tapsilog

This is my go-to breakfast everyday. It’s basically a full meal that has marinated beef, eggs and garlic rice. They call the beef “tapa”, the rice “sinangag” and the tagalog word for eggs is “itlog”. The taste of the marinated beef differs from one restaurant to another, fortunately, they all taste good.

  • Sinigang

Who doesn’t know about sinigang? I don’t think I need to describe this dish as most people will have already known about it by now. It’s best when the weather is cold but even when the weather is hot, I still had it. My favorite is the shrimp version.

  • Dried Fish and Squid

Another breakfast food that I had regularly is the the dried fish or dried squid. They serve it with garlic rice and egg and it’s very filling. It might be too salty for some but for me, I didn’t mind the saltiness.

  • Longganisa

There are many variations of longganisa in the Philippines. It’s their version of a sausage and I won’t even try defining each and every one of the versions that I had. One version that I really loved was the “vigan” one.

That’s all that I can think of right now and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of delicious foods off this list. I’ll be back after trying other dishes.

Being Prepared

Traveling to a different country is very exciting but it can also lead to a lot of anxiety, especially if you are traveling alone or if it is your first time. Being excited and anxious at the same time can lead to being improperly prepared for your journey and this can cause a whole lot of problems.

The best thing you could do is be prepared and if it helps, create a list of things that you need to do, things you need to bring and research ahead of time regarding the place you are visiting. Having fun is important but being aware of your surroundings and being safe in a foreign country trumps that.

Tips Before Departing

Research ahead of time

As stated above, you should definitely learn about the country you are visiting and take note of places that you should not visit alone. Be aware of the weather situation in advance so you won’t have trouble with transportation. For example, go to the tourist site for the country you are visiting, in my case, the Philippines. Of course, these sites will not list all the places that are dangerous, in this case, it’s up to you to do some web research of your own.

Don’t bring unnecessary things

Traveling light is very important, at least to me. I don’t want to bring things that are unnecessary because the more you bring, the higher the chances of losing them, especially the valuable ones. The less you have on you, the easier your movement and you won’t be a target for potential theft.

Prepare all the necessary paperwork ASAP

Get all your paperwork done as soon as you can and make sure that it is accessible. Also, you can scan them and send them to your e-mail or take a picture so that you have a backup if ever you will need it.

Tips When You are There

Credit cards are recommended

When you carry loads of cash or even a debit card, you are just asking for trouble. Thus, my recommended way to access your money is via credit card and having a little emergency cash on hand. If you lose your money or debit card, it’s pretty much gone but with a credit card, you can alert your bank.

When withdrawing cash, choose ATMs that have security guards

This means that you shouldn’t use ATMs that are in remote areas and you should always go for ATMs in the banks, malls or other stores. This way, you can withdraw your cash without having to look over both your shoulders for potential robbers. Also, when you withdraw, count your money as fast as possible and put it away immediately.

Be aware when in crowds

A crowded area is very dangerous especially if you stick out like a sore thumb. Be aware and be wary of pickpockets. A good idea is to put your money in your front pocket as opposed to the back.

Ask the staff in your hotel for help with transportation

Don’t hail a taxi by yourself, chances are, you will be ripped off. Ask the staff to call you a cab instead as they can ensure that you will be paying a reasonable fare. Also, ask them ahead of time if there are areas that you should avoid.

That’s it for now. I hope that these tips will be helpful when you are out and about. Remember, common sense is a powerful thing, make sure to exercise it.

First Stop, the Philippines

One of the things that made me curious about Southeast Asia is realizing how much I don’t know about it. I’ve been living in California my whole life and I’ve had my share of encounters with people from this corner of the world and I didn’t really bother looking into their culture, until now.

Filipinos are everywhere!

My first stop is the Philippines in my tour of Southeast Asia. There are countless Filipinos where I live and I encounter them on a daily basis. I’ve managed to strike friendships with a lot of them and I must say, they are very “westernized”. Since I haven’t been to the Southeast Asian region, I thought that maybe the Filipinos in their country are “westernized” too and this would be very helpful in helping me get acclimated to the region.

Boy, was I wrong!

Filipinos are not as westernized as I thought they would be, especially in the provinces where I planned to spend most of my time in. They are very different from those that I encountered back home in LA and it is actually quite nice, surprisingly. I thought that I would be uncomfortable here but I was wrong, they are very welcoming and friendly despite the difference in culture and some communication problems.

In Metro Manila, yes, there are people that act all westernized and I found it kind of annoying to be honest. After a while, I wanted a genuine Philippine experience and I thought that I would not be getting it in the city. That’s when I decided to go to the provinces where I thought I could get the whole genuine Philippine experience.

The Food is…. Different

Another reason why I wanted to go to the Philippines is their cuisine. I loved eating adobo, sinigang and kare-kare whenever I would visit my Filipino friends home. However, they told me that their recipes are not really authentic and they are adjusted to the taste of Americans. If I really wanted to have an authentic Filipino dish, I should visit their country, they say.

And here I am, so far, the food is exceptional. I haven’t tasted it all but one of the recipes that I loved was the Bulalo I had in Tagaytay. It was almost a perfect food that can warm you and fill you up at the same time. I also loved the dipping sauce that had a funky smell, I think it was called “patis” or fish sauce as it is more commonly known.

I am loving it so far here in the Philippines and right now, I am in Cebu, making my way to Mindanao.