Same Ocean, Different Boat

I recently came across this poem that became viral in Facebook over summer. It’s about how we are all on the same ocean riding in different boats and it made me think and reflect on the events that occurred in the past six months.

I think about our government’s response to the situation and what comes to mind first are these— foreign loans and debts and how the divide between our government supporters and leftists has become more pronounced.

I think about the 4Ps beneficiaries who are supposed to be the poorest of the poor and yet the people lined up on the 4Ps lane don’t at all look like the poorest of the poor and I know I shouldn’t judge based on their appearance or their clothing but I see homeless people in sidewalks and wonder why they weren’t the ones lining up. The government must be hiring selectively blind officials. Otherwise, they would see that most of the people they have lined up as beneficiaries aren’t supposed to be there. This is a matter of life and death and yet some of us choose to turn a blind eye for the sake of formalities or kinship.

And then I see members of the middle class crying foul because they get nothing yet they are the most burdened among the social castes.

Indeed, we are on different boats.

Six months back, I wasn’t concerned at all about the Covid19 virus. I had several out-of-country and local trips planned and there was no way this virus was stopping me. It did though. I thought it would disappear by summer the same way SARS did. It didn’t. I thought it was nowhere near as scary as drug-resistant tuberculosis. Now we know that in most cases, it is pretty much like the common cold but more evasive and contagious. In some, no, and much worse. I thought the economy would start bouncing back fast but the PSE is nowhere near the pace it left off before the pandemic. It would pick up for sure as soon as a vaccine becomes available globally but we can’t discount the fact that, globally, many giant businesses had declared bankruptcy and several industries are not coming out of the woods anytime soon.

We are on different boats.

But we don’t blame the government or our parents or God. That is not the way forward.

We think about how our society have come a long way so we channel our energy to acts that could alleviate, or at least, not complicate the problem. We step out of our homes only when necessary.

We learn to appreciate our jobs more and continue to work as efficiently as we can to keep the supply and demand cycle — the economy — running. We keep ourselves up to date on current events and we watch out for those ones that could make matters worse. We remain vigilant and not let our guards down because not even our leaders have no idea how much longer this will last.

We don’t let a virus change our very being. So we try and do good. Whatever excesses we have we share to those most in need. We throw a lifeline to anyone whose boat is sinking while keeping ours afloat..

It is hard, yes. We may not be in the same boat, but our boats are all tied together traversing through the same ocean. What each and every one choose to do makes a difference. I think that’s what matters the most.

*Link to the poem —>

Of Empty Cups

Of late, it feels as though I have been living my life for the sake of living. Don’t we all? For some of us anyway. Every single day has become routine and repressive, what with the limited movements and interactions that can be had.

I tell a couple of friends about this and I get told that it’s the extrovert in me forcing its way out and, pardon my French, I think that’s bullshit. How can others slide into this new normal with so much ease? These past few months seemed unending but with July gone, it hits me how in the expanse of time, anything can be transient and yet each succeeding month has become some sort of a repeat of the previous one like a time loop. Don’t you feel trapped, too?

I’ve read somewhere that contentment leads to the road to happiness. Right, and here I am, lying on my bed, inside my home where I spent most of my growing up years, thinking about how I’d rather be somewhere else but here, doing something else but this. Recently, this has been the pill that I have to swallow everyday. A couple months back, I have developed a routine — working out 3-5x a week, playing my ukulele almost everyday, reading up on investment and self-development literature every now and then— I thought I had been settling quite nicely in this new normalcy. I had it, but as the days turned into weeks and then months.. If these turn into years, I just don’t know anymore.

I have no idea what I’m getting at, writing this. All I know is that for me to feel better, I have to let this train of thoughts go. My mind, it feels like it is brimming on the sides. I have so much thoughts unwritten and I’m not brave enough to write them all down. But I’m taking this slow. One way or another, I have to empty my cup.

Late 2017

It’s been a while.

I am thinking, “This is stupid, writing about my heartbreak of late 2017.”

I badly want to free him from my narrative because he hasn’t been in my life for more than a year now, nearly two years actually, but that’s not possible because he will always be a character in my story.

As Anne Lamott would say in her Instructions on Writing and Life,

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

So. You will always be a part of my narrative. It can’t be helped.

I know this sounds silly but the cat was the final straw. I just got back from an out-of-country trip and was already making a big issue out of him changing his profile picture in Facebook to that of our male cat. We’ve always had the same profile pictures. I know, the cat picture was stupid and us always sharing the same profile picture was too teenager-y. But the breakup had to happen one way or another, I was desperate to make a mess out of something stupid. Even before my trip, I felt something in our relationship had just fundamentally shifted. It was different that time. I had tried to break us up a couple of times before and it always ended with us hugging each other like neither of us would ever let go. But that last time was different because he just walked out and played basketball and I was left staring at the wall.

I easily got bored. I still easily get bored and I will always need to be doing something. Anything that would make me feel more alive.

Herson was content with watching movies and eating at RUB every f*cking weekend. There were the rare out-of-town trips and, the ones on beaches, he hated because of the heat and humidity.

I lived with this man for nearly three years and I realized that I was living my life only through his. Most of the things we did together were the things he wanted to do and I was okay with that. I was supportive until it was too much. It was never going to work out because that was not the life I wanted. It was not exciting. It didn’t make me feel alive.

There was also the issue about the way he behaved as an adult. He didn’t have a proper job — he wrote on demand as a freelancer for a living— and I was okay with that but he started neglecting his clients and playing too much basketball and buying too many shoes. I didn’t need his money, and he didn’t need mine but I wanted him to be practical. So at my urging, he took a job in the same company where I work— where we are both working now. And, thanks to me, he found himself a new girlfriend.

It was the same girl who consistently liked and would occasionally leave smart comments on his Instagram posts and not once, not even once did I ever suspect that there was something going on. Perhaps I was naive or just damn too complacent. He was a guy who was still friendly with his exes and I was okay with that.. I wasn’t a girl who easily got jealous. Not even once did he ever show the slightest tendency to cheat. But he did anyway.

I thought she was a smart girl because the way she wrote was.. kind of the way he wrote. She was smart, that I know for sure. She outsmarted another girl after all.

I can’t imagine doing the same thing to another girl. Woman to woman, she ‘stole’ something from me. That’s what it felt like. To me. Perhaps they never did anything intimate while we were still together. But if you are a woman, and you are aware that this man has a girlfriend, it doesn’t matter how rock bottom their relationship are at the point you start innocently flirting with him. You just don’t do that to another woman. Woman to woman, you will avoid him. You will not allow him to pour his heart out to you because he has a girlfriend. Having issues with your own boyfriend doesn’t also justify your need to pour your heart out to a man who happens to be there just because you share the same workspace.

But that’s her story. Her own discretion and infidelity, and although I know parts of it, it will not be a part of my narrative. I felt bad for her then-boyfriend.

Nobody deserves to be cheated on. I don’t understand people who can start another relationship without properly ending their previous one. It is cowardly. It is barbaric. It is not something I can imagine ever doing in this lifetime. It is just unthinkable to break another person that way. To make them feel that it was somehow their fault. To make them not believe in love again. To make them feel afraid to love again. To transform them into these paranoid, jealous individuals who couldn’t hold their next relationships down.

A couple of months after the breakup, I started dating this guy who also liked to travel. I broke things off nearly a year after we got together because apart from traveling, there’s little else in the relationship. I easily got jealous at all of his female friends, maybe I was being unreasonable or maybe there really was something to my suspicions and at that point, I didn’t like my behavior, I didn’t like that I had turned into this jealous, control-freak. Soon after, I realized that I never loved Mark and up to now I suspect that he was a rebound.

A few days after, I jumped into another relationship which I identified immediately as a rebound so I had to end it again. It was very not me and I didn’t like that part about myself.

Rebound after another. We do stupid things in the name of love, or the lack of it thereof. But it is not something to be ashamed of. We are after all more than just sentient beings. We feel too much and think too much, and we love other people too much even when sometimes, they don’t even deserve the love we give them.

Had it ever crossed my mind to give us another chance if the circumstances would allow? No.

The cheating is enough. It doesn’t make sense to trust someone not to cheat on you again. He did it and he could do it again. Maybe he won’t, but it will always be at the back of my mind. The trust will never be restored.

But, looking back, I would say that the cheating was merely the tip of the iceberg. We were just incompatible. I am too much of an extrovert, I thirst for adventures. He’s the exact opposite. We clearly weren’t meant for each other and we would never work out and he hurt me more than anyone had ever hurt me before.

Being able to write this truthfully, in my own version of the truth, I guess I have moved on. Yes. Maybe. I am not even mad at him anymore. I was mad at him because he didn’t even have the decency to tell me about his discretion/infidelity before we broke things off or even after. I had to learn about it weeks after and from someone else. I was angry at myself because he bounced back much faster than I did. That was a hard punch to my ego.

When I thought I was finally free, it felt like waking up after a very long hibernation.

I started to travel more. At first, it felt like running away. I was going to so many places.. Visited several countries and numerous cities in and out of the country within one year. At first, there was emptiness after running to these new, far off places. I ran in so many different ways, did so many things I’ve never done before. But the truth is, time is the distance that I needed to navigate. I could never run far enough away. I realized I had to stop and wait.

So I began the process of stopping and waiting.. stop being so afraid of giving my heart and my all again.. stop deciding a timeline of when I can move on.. stop running away from dealing with my emotions, from love.. stopped being ashamed of love and the vulnerability that comes with it. That’s when I knew that I have begun to let go.

I have forgiven him although he never apologized, and, really it is no longer necessary. I want him to find real happiness, or if he is on his way there, I want him to keep going towards it, with my forgiveness. I mean it. There’s a part of me that can’t believe it, but I do. I know I will always care about his well-being. He will always be a part of me. He wasn’t a monster just because of one big mistake. In another time, Herson loved me, took care of me, wished the best for me. I loved him, or I guess I will always love him a bit or the person he was or, maybe, just maybe, I love just the idea of him.

I suck at writing endings so I will leave this with something I have read somewhere: the glass is neither half-empty nor half-full. It is refillable.

Allusion Vs Reality

He looks at her profile quite stealthily, the way a thief would barge into someone’s abode in the middle of the night, searching for something that he can take for his own. Perhaps, he wanted those lips grazing on his, matte red lipstick or not, it doesn’t matter. A flash of white directed at his general direction would suffice but she smiles the way a girl would who is aware that she is beautiful and blatantly proud of it and can’t even be bothered to grace him an icy stare. Frankly, just a glimpse would be enough to trigger that tingling somewhere on his nether regions. He feels cheated yet it doesn’t feel right because where he is is not where he is supposed to be. What he feels is not in the right place. So, overriden with guilt, he ended what he had with the other girl, who is really not the other girl. Just one of them, or so he prefers to believe. After all, someone can be willingly turned into no one or just about anyone depending on someone’s preference at a given point in time. The lesser she knows, the lesser the pain perhaps. But she knows that he knows that she somehow knows and he doesn’t care and she knows that. Or he does but what difference does that make? We are all born not to give a shit. Or at least that’s what he prefers to believe.

So the main girl, who isn’t really the main girl, unbeknownst to him (or perhaps he knows) can’t get enough of anyone and an imagination she quite has. She feeds his with a myriad of possibilities, sometimes with that knowing smile pretending to not know about his predicament, or for most of the time, that aloof stare, those wet lips slightly parted, pretending to be a virgin in this game of subtle seduction. There is a hint of excitement running through her flesh everytime she sees him, talks to him, but it’s the same with another, and then another, and yet another. Insatiable, she is like no other hot-blooded female—  quite averse to what she is trying to portray, which is a cross between a stoic and a domineer. Or perhaps a sweet thing, just a sweet, pretty little innocent thing she could be. He is drawn, almost blinded, but such is a man overcome by desires as powerful as the groin of Eros, rendering him incapable of reason. She holds that power and she intends to use it like an armour, pretending to be a shield, disguised as an armour, I guess one would suppose that it’s the other way around, but it can be however one prefers it to be.

She intrigues him, and he, her. Pretty soon, someone is making the first move and it’s not her, though she is beyond tempted to do so. Maybe she will. Or he will. Then the waiting game will be over.

And then reality sinks in. Life is just a game, he would say. So on to the next because such is how it is— just a game. He almost always wins.

Well, almost.

You know what they say. No one in this life gets away with anything.

My South Korea Visa Application Experience

Hello there! Last night I received the good news that my South Korea visa application was approved and I am beyond elated. I mean, it’s the first piece of good news I’ve ever had this week. Work this week was tough and there’s an uncle who was hospitalised and I missed my cats’ vaccination schedule so I really needed just one piece of good news 😩.

First off, let me tell you that this is not a comprehensive guide on how to apply for a South Korea visitor visa. I’m too lazy for that and anyways, so many bloggers already did that. Instead, I want you to visit a few of these blogs because they helped me a lot when I was preparing my documents 🙂

I’m just gonna tell you about my experience in applying for one now that the ever evasive Company Alphalist is now part of the requirements.

***UPDATE: The Embassy of South Korea has removed the Company Alphalist on the list of requirements. Which is really good because I don’t think there’s an employer who would provide one to their employee for security reasons.

I was given a claim stub dated April 23rd. I applied only recently– April 16, 2018– and checked my visa status online last night. Yes, it is already available and yes you can check your status online by visiting the Korea Visa Portal. I found out about this from the website Click the link for the step-by-step guide on how to proceed. 🙂

For a step-by-step guide on how to accomplish the requirements, you can check out Not only did the author provide detailed information, but this blog is also very interactive. I learned helpful tips especially from the people commenting on their blog sharing their experiences, good or bad, when they applied for their visas.

For instance, that’s where I found out that the lines outside the embassy are really long especially during peak season and that not everyone gets accommodated so my friends and I came prepared. The Embassy didn’t entertain people until 8 in the morning but we went at around 4 in the morning and there was already a long queue. When I filled up the log sheet, I was visitor # 135. I heard the guard say that they are letting in 250 people. Visa application time is from 8:00-11:30 am only. We were safe! Haha. BTW, this is in Taguig, BGC, Metro Manila.

And here’s another helpful website — laagankaayo — detailing how to fill up the application form. But before following this guide or any other helpful website, please make sure to visit the embassy’s official site for the up-to-date list of requirements and application form.

When I was preparing the requirements, I made sure that there will be no loopholes as much as possible. I even submitted a cover letter explaining why I am travelling to South Korea. I gave my all, made sure that no more information will be needed from me by the Embassy. They do call applicants if they require more information.

One of my friends joining me on this trip received a call from the Embassy. She was asked why she declared on her application form that she’ll be staying in Seoul for 7 days but on her Certificate of Employment (COE), she had 9 days of vacation leave approved. She was also asked whether she’s travelling alone or not, where she works and how long she’s been working on her present job. Also, this is going to be her first out-of-country trip. She answered all questions truthfully and guess what, her visa got approved! 🙂

BTW, on the COE, it is not a requirement to include your approved leaves at work but as there is such option to include in our COE (we work for the same company), we asked for our approved leaves to be included for an extra boost! We’ve both been working for the same company for over three years now. 🙂

The most challenging part is obtaining a copy of the Company Alphalist. Our employer doesn’t issue one due to confidentiality — we have over 41,000 employees in Metro Manila alone and we’re big on information security so I can totally understand.

I logged another request to our HR Dept that they provide a letter explaining why they can’t issue me an Alphalist. It took two follow up requests to get an answer, which I understand because I bet I am the first (or one of the firsts) employees to request such document. They issued not only a letter but also a copy of the stamped BIR Transmittal Form and a copy of a notarized Sworn Declaration form. Aww.. Very supportive, right? I so love my employer! 💞

I immediately gave my travel buddies a heads up to send a follow up on their requests. They got theirs only a couple of days after I did. Sweet life.

As for the Bank Certificate and Statement, I got mine from BPI using my payroll account since it is more active. The amount, to be safe (or so I have read), make sure you have at least P10,000 for each day of your stay plus extra amount as some sort of an emergency fund and to assure the officer that you still have enough to live by after your trip and that you are not planning to exceed your time there. Prolly it’s safe to have at least twice the amount of your budget. I am not sure how much the ADB matters but I have read that it is safe for it to be P10,000 and above.

Anything to satisfy the officer-in-charge that you are financially capable to fund your travel. I don’t know if the process is different if you have a sponsor.

If you have a PRC card, do submit a copy, too. I have one (I’m a Registered Nurse). I think it’s a boost on my application.

Oh well papel. That’s all I could think of right now. But one thing’s for sure.. Someone’s excited to claim her passport on the 23rd!

And that’s me! 😉

TRAVEL Malaysia: Container Hotel Penang Review

I stayed in this avant-garde place called Container Hotel. As I am working in the export industry, I guess the name of the hotel drew me in. Yes, my job has definitely rubbed off on me.

I think only a small portion of it was made out of intermodal containers but, whatever, I’d highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Penang Island. Not only is the hotel located in the heart of the heritage site (and near the other landmarks such as Clan Jetties) but it’s also very affordable. I only paid 76.50 RM for two nights. That’s about only 10 USD per night. I booked direct on their website where they offer the best rates. Click here to book.

Here’s what the inside looks like. Guy on the first photo, that’s Timothy. Such a nice fellow who greeted me when I reached at past ten in the evening.

And I call this my tiny cat box. Haha. There’s nothing quite like it! It was so cozy and comfortable! There’s fan inside and a dropdown desk/mirror. It’s got a roll up curtain for privacy.

The shared washroom was okay, very clean plus their were hair dryers. I can’t live without one you know. Whenever I book a place to stay, I always check first if there’s at least one hair dryer in that place. 😂

The location of this hotel couldn’t be more perfect as it is strategically located within the heritage site. With street arts everywhere, George Town is like this big open-air museum. There’s always art hiding in a corner on little back alleys and side paths. I didn’t have to go far from the hotel to find one. Below were hidden in a narrow street just across my hotel.

And this one right here was on the hotel’s right wall!

And this was just a few steps away.

Another reason why you should book with Container Hotel is that it’s near the Weld Quay bus station, about ten minutes walk away. It’s also in the route of the free Rapid Central Area Transit (CAT) shuttle hop on bus. If you’re visiting Penang, don’t miss this free ride as it will take you around the city including Komtar area and 18 other points of interests.

That’s it, for now! I’ll write about my Hop on Hop Off experience with both CAT and Penang HOHO on my next blog.

TRAVEL Malaysia: Exploring Penang Island

I remember feeling so excited when I boarded my plane in Singapore at eight in the evening back in September. I had prepared quite an itinerary and intended to follow it no matter what. I recall thinking to myself after the trip that I was glad I chose Penang Island for my first ever solo out of town trip.

I reached Penang International Airport a little past nine. The airport was okay, it was small, similar to the one in Clark or Naga. It was a little deserted I guess because it was a little late already.

My first purchase was a SIM card pack. If I remember correctly, it costed me 10 MYR and it came with 1GB data, which was more than enough for my 2-day stay as I only needed the mobile data for navigation. It was a good investment, really, as I was able to visit so many attractions without me getting lost.

After buying the SIM card, I went outside the airport and waited for Bus No. 401E which would take me to Weld Quay. I paid only 2.70 MYR for the ride which took me to my destination in 45 minutes.

If you’re not as cheap as I am, you can flag a cab. Grab is also thriving. But if I were you, I’d choose the bus not only because it’s whole lot cheaper but it’s also safe and the seats are comfortable and spacious.

I reached Weld Quay at around 10:15 pm and walked for ten minutes and, voila, there’s my hotel! I’m going to write about my Container Hotel experience on my next blog post.

I went to sleep after taking a shower to prepare for my Day 1 in Penang Island!

I woke up at five in the morning haha Iknowriiight I was so excited and couldn’t wait for the day to start only to find out that it was still dark outside. Not wanting to go back to sleep, I explored the inside of the hotel and found this cozy library on the 2nd floor of the building. Definitely my thing though I dint have the time to explore the books..

Finally, the sun came out at 7 am but first things first.. I saw this street art just across the hotel and you know what happened next. I remember it was drizzling that morning but it didn’t dampen my spirit. I can’t recall why I was laughing in this photo but I know for sure that I was happy and contented though very much alone. Alone but happy. 🙂

After the nth shot, the drizzle stopped and I took off to Weld Quay and boarded the CAT bus.

This is a free hop on shuttle bus which takes you to 19 points of interests within the city. It weaves thru the heritage site and to the Komtar commercial district.

After exploring Komtar and taking photos of the Hindu temples and Times Square, I waited for the Penang Hop On Hop Off double decker bus at Stop 6.

I will write about my HOHO experience on one of my next blogs.

I reached Stop # 13 Kelawei in 30 minutes. I chose this as my first stop because of the temples. There are two attractions in Kelawei– the Burmese Buddhist Temple and Wat Chaiyamangalaram (Thai Buddhist Temple).

Both had enormous Buddha statues inside their main temples, one was standing, the other reclined.

Here are the photos I took of the Burmese Temple.

I thought the lady looked so elegant so I took her photo with the enormous Buddha.

The Thai temple was so much bigger. I think there were like three temples inside the complex.

Not to be outdone, the temple’s got it’s own version of a ginormous Buddha– and a reclining one at that!

Please bear with me as I am in the temple-hopping stage at this point in my life. 😂

Next stop was Kek Lok Si. It’s this huge temple complex perched on top of a hill and is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia.

Rows and rows of buddhas around the temple..

Turtle pond at the base of the temple..

After Kek Lok Si, I skipped the rest of the stops on the city route and moved on to the beach route. When switching to the beach route, one will need to drop at the intersecting stop in Gurney Drive. From Gurney Drive, I asked to be dropped off at Holiday Inn to visit Batu Ferringhi beach. From there, I had to ask a local on how to get to the beach without passing through the luxury hotels.

Batu Ferringhi is charming in its own way. It’s not as lovely as the white sand beaches that we got here in the Philippines well firstly because the sand wasn’t white. It would be fairer to compare it to Laiya beach in Batangas.

But like all other beaches, the view was great and there were all sorts of water activities such as jet skiing and parasailing. I would’ve had a go but I brought no spare clothes and I also thought it’d be a little awkward if I went parasailing alone.

So I whiled away my time under a tree near the beach and found company on this cute little fellow.

I know he looks annoyed on the photos but isn’t he a cutie? 😍 I remember feeling so lonely but Mr. Grey made me forget about my loneliness. Yep, he’s the legit Mr. Grey (not that psycho in the movies haha) This kitty is the reason why I missed the 5pm HOHO bus and it was worth it. He was like any other kitty, he purred a lot when I stroked his neck and chain. He also kept on rubbing his soft body against mine. How I badly wanted to take him back home with me 😢.

Every time I look at these photos, I feel a pang of pain huhu I badly miss him! (I know right, crazy cat lady alert 🚨 )

I will surely visit Batu Ferringhi again in the near future and I’d be sure to give Mr. Grey more than just a pat. Yes, I’ma hug him like crazy!

I almost didn’t want to say goodbye but it was time for me to leave to catch the 5pm bus so I had to let Mr. Grey go with a heavy heart. 😭

I headed back to the direction of the road only to watch the HOHO bus pass me by. On my way to the bus stop, I saw these tiny monkeys walking/clinging on the cables. It was such a wow moment. I mean, how often do you get to see stray monkeys on inhabited places? The one which crossed the road thru the cable even stared me in the eye probably realizing that I was lurking.🙊

The next bus won’t be until 6pm so I decided to walk a little farther to kill time until I reached the next stop, Hard Rock hotel.

I discovered that there was a nearby dirt road leading to the beach so I decided to check it out and I’m glad I did because I got to ride on a horse by the beach! Just my luck! Haha.

The owner of this horse told me that his horse liked me because he was nuzzling me on my neck! I bet that’s how the horse gets to convince tourists like me to ride his back! Kidding!

Here’s the view I got while riding on the horse:

I wished I didn’t have to leave sooner but I also couldn’t wait to reach my next destination before nightfall. You’ll see why on the next photos.

So from Hard Rock, I asked to be dropped at Straits Quay. From there, I walked for about 15 minutes and stopped by this place where streetfood were sold and I meet these two lovely Amirah’s! I forgot the name of the third girl, silly me.

They fed me an assortment of goodies, i forgot what they were called but they’re really good!

Afterwards, I had to bid them farewell and headed on to my next stop– the Penang Secret Avatar Garden! Before I got to see the garden, I had to pass by the Thai Pak Koong temple. Near the temple was a topiary garden. There were also lots of animal stone sculptures surrounding the topiaries.

This was past seven in the evening and it was nearing sunset so I rushed to the shore and was just in time to capture this moment!

And what better way to cap off all of my adventures for the day than to behold the beauty of the Avatar Garden!

So that’s how I spent my Day One at Penang Island! Day Two was exploring the heritage site in George Town, which I wrote about on my previous blog post.

I will talk about my Container Hotel Penang experience on the next blog. Ciao!

TRAVEL Malaysia: Exploring George Town

After seven months of procrastinating, here I am, writing about my Malaysia trip back in September 2017. I’ve been meaning to write for so long but I got caught up juggling my time between work (ugh, iknowriiiight), reading books, giving warm baths to my cats, eco-volunteering, hanging out with friends and traveling some more.

George Town, Penang. How can I forget about this place? It is so lovely in a rustic way — old British colonial buildings, street arts everywhere, mosques, ornate temples, clan houses and rows of Chinese shops — yet it boasts modern structures, skyscrapers, swanky shopping malls and artsy cafés and boutiques. It has several app-ready bikes for rent in its old streets. With its well-preserved heritage buildings, the city of George Town has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What makes this place memorable for me are the numerous street arts featuring cats. Hah! If you are following me on instagram, you’d already know how batshit crazy I get when around cats. You’d also know that these street arts are the reason why I decided to visit Penang in the first place. Below are just a few of the numerous cat arts I saw in George Town.

And of course I had to take selfies with one of the cute stray cats. I mean, what good are cat murals without the real-life inspirations? Seriously this cutie is so adorable I had to stop the urge to take her back home with me.

All of the cats I saw looked well-fed and with thick fur — a possible indication that they are healthy stray cats. 🙂 Which is not at all surprising because the food in George Town was really good. I didn’t get to take a lot of food photos because I was always so hungry after my adventures around the island I just devoured everything on my plate without taking photos first like I always do when dining at some place new. To give you an idea, their food is mostly a hodgepodge of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine.

I always had my breakfast at this place just behind my hotel. The food was the best and really cheap! I spent less than two dollars for every decent meal– that includes 2-3 viands plus rice and rose tea. I particularly loved this really spicy lamb dish. It was so good I forgot to note down what it’s called. The chicken was also yummy. Whatever sauce they added did the magic.

Secondly, it was my first time traveling out of the country alone and I’m telling you now, going solo is very liberating. There’s nothing quite like waking up in a foreign place all by yourself. No one to depend on but yourself. No other decisions to consider except yours. And it had me thinking about doing this solo traveling thing over and again.

That is, until I get tired taking my own photos! That’s the downside when traveling solo. Thank god for my trusty iPhone 7 and its’ camera timer, I was able to take decent shots without having to beg passers-by to take my photos. Haha.

Here are a few more street art photos..

But seriously I am just so glad I ticked this solo travel thing in beautiful Penang Island!

Ciao for now! I will write about the whole of my Penang Island trip on my next blog!

Oh, Singapore!

Two weeks just ain’t enough if you are planning to visit the Lion City but if you only have limited time like I had then you just have to make the most out of it.

Singapore is my first ever out-of-country travel experience and I’m glad it was! Let me provide a trivia.. Did you know that the Singapore passport is the most powerful passport in the world right now? Yes. You’re welcome!

It is an expensive country for a third-world fellow like me but I chose it because, first off, it’s so glam and the people there looked like they just came out of fashion shows. Yes, in the plural.

Seriously. I love the way Singaporeans dress and I think their sense of style just rubs off on everyone who visits because everyone just looks so sleek and á la mode! Well, almost.

During my visit, I felt so underdressed in my favorite wraparound floral dress and running shoes just looking at this lady sporting a blond bobcut wearing a loose, wrinkled white shirt and black slacks and heels (heavily, dramatic sigh). I can never pull off a wrinkled shirt! Kill me now.😫

Before we continue, let me warn you. This is not strictly a travel blog. So don’t expect me to provide itineraries and DSLR-quality photos. I write in a story-telling kind of way. I like whiling away every moment so I don’t really keep track of my time and the places I visit. And I suck in photography as you can see. Quite content with my iPhone, I’ve no plans at all buying heavy contraptions with so many appendages that I think are so hard to figure out!

But please don’t leave my page just yet. So far, you’ve already invested a minute reading so what harm will it do if you stay for a couple more? 😅

Allow me to proceed by telling you that this city is so clean. God, you must be wondering how dirty my home city is and I don’t really wanna talk about that, ha-ha. In Singapore, there were no cigarette butts, chewing gums stuck under public benches, candy wrappers on the streets. Heck, there was even no speck of dust you could practically lay down everywhere without ruining your outfit. There were no stray dogs. I saw a couple of cats and they were all sooo black and humongous the cat lady in me wanted to take them home!

Third, it is an expensive city alright but there were so many attractions you don’t have to spend a single dime apart from the food, souvenirs (bought mine at Bugis Street) and bus/metro rides. I visited Merlion Park, Gardens By the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa Island, and roamed the streets of Singapore without coughing up extra cash. Okay, except for the bars of chocolates I bought at VivoCity. 😂

Also, Changi Airport in itself is a major attraction you can spend a day just touring between the terminals! It’s got everything– designer brand stores, lounge rooms, movie theatres, a lap pool, game rooms– you name it! In Terminal 2 alone, there are indoor gardens, a Koi Pond and a Sunflower Garden on the rooftop. No wonder this airport is named as the best in the world!

Captured these cute couple on a video I made of the Sunflower Garden. Aren’t they sweet??!! 😋

I didn’t pay for my accommodation as I stayed at my friend’s place. Okay, that’s my second tip to anyone planning travels anywhere: connections. It’s always a bonus to have friends who live in the area you are visiting.

I want to highlight the light shows at the Gardens By the Bay and Marina Bay Sands. They happen every.single.night. If I recall correctly, the show at GBB starts at around 7:30pm Singapore time. Afterwards, the lights and water show at MBS is at 9:00pm. Seriously, if you’re staying even for just one night in Singapore, you must not miss these light shows! MBS is only a short walk from GBB so come on now don’t be a lazy bum and watch both shows! I tell you, it’s worth it!

Last but not the least: pandas! It’s always been my dream to see a panda for real and it came true when I went to Singapore and saw not one but two pandas– Kaikai and Jiajia. 😻 The male one, Kaikai, put on quite a show when he seemingly struck a pose on his wooden throne. He’s so kawaii!!!

The female, Jiajia, was the quintessential panda. All it did was sit and eat carrots the whole time we were watching her. So adorable!

The pandas are at the River Safari in Mandai Lake Road, btw. It’s a twenty-minute ride via cab from Simei Street. My friend and I booked via Grabcar. I believe it will take more than an hour via MRT from the airport. For the River Safari tickets, I paid USD 31.30 for two via Klook. (Seriously, it’s a great booking app. Lots of discounts!)

River Safari is not your regular zoo as it has a river theme featuring about ten rivers of the world and their menagerie. You might think the price is a bit steep but, for me, it’s a steal as it came with a boat ride– the Amazon River Quest– which I immensely enjoyed I had a second go on it! I loved the pink flamingoes!

And, of course, the pandas, are the must-see attractions, as well as the tiny, perky red panda.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of wildlife parks. I’d rather these animals are left alone in the wild but then I can’t help feeling a bit partial about the whole thing as I also want to experience them as I know it would be nearly impossible for me to see them in the wild. I can only hope that they are well-taken cared of in these zoos. 😊

That’s it for now! I will write about my Penang trip on my next post. (Best solo trip ever!)

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on IG: kjatorralba 😁


What’s Three* Years Compared to the Rest of Your Life?

Recently, I had one of those in-depth conversations with a very inspiring lady. One question that really got me going was this, “What’s [three] years compared to the rest of your life?” Yes, indeed.

This is one of those questions that are not even intended to be answered in a spur of a second. It has all sorts of answers depending on your state of mind at the time that it was fired at you. When my friend posed that question to me, she spoke it like a prayer. Like some kind of an advice but a whole lot more than that and so I didn’t even bother answering because I knew that she wasn’t expecting an answer. She meant for me to take it with me after our conversation.. to ruminate upon, poke at it in different ways, see all sides of it from different angles. But I answered anyway silently inside my mind. I like to keep things simple. One word. Yes, at that moment, that was what was inside of me, waiting to be uttered but the word was like a shy kid. It refused to come out.

We have so much time in this world. So much time we can swim in it, who knows, for one thousand, one million laps, or more, so much time it cannot be swam through. It cannot be contained. (This sounds like some movie I watched a few months back.) Who knows right? What will be coming is waiting to be spent, waiting like the moon waits for the skies to get dark every night in this part of the world, like the days that couldn’t wait for the sun to rise for new beginnings. The rest of my life is waiting, it can’t wait to show me what could still be. What I could be. It can’t wait to show how there are so much more to explore, not just physical places, but places that don’t require the senses..

If something is no longer as fulfilling as it was before, if it’s stifling you, if it is stopping your growth.. If you feel like a plant with a Tupperware protectively hovering over it, sheltering it from the sun, the wind and the rain.. if it’s something that’s holding you off from venturing out of your comfort zone.. if it’s something that’s hurting you, makes you want to lock yourself up and cry.. If it’s something that no longer fulfills your needs and wants.. then it’s got to stop. If it’s something that will make you change the essence of who you are.. that will make you forget what makes you tick.. Erase the codes that you’ve carefully built in within yourself for twenty-something years.. Auto-delete what’s been programmed in your mind to make you laugh without inhibitions.. what makes you do all the quirky things that you do.. what makes you you.. If it’s something that makes you fake your laughters and smiles.. then it’s got to stop.

Alright, so let me ask you now. What’s three years compared to the rest of your life? What’s four, seven, ten years compared to the rest of your life? Nothing. They’ve all gone. Three beautiful and sad and tragic years and now this sounds like a Taylor Swift song. Three years was everything with a list that goes on and on so long it could span the entire length of this island, so long it could break records but that’s not my purpose in writing this. 

I guess whoever’s reading this now, I want you to think about it. What’s three years, five, seven, ten years? These are just numbers.. There shouldn’t be regrets or perhaps just a little, but definitely no turning back. 

What’s to come is like a promise, you can almost touch it now if you let go and let be. It can hardly wait and YOU ARE worth the long wait.

*could be three or less or more depending on the reader’s personal experience 🙃