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!

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.

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.