TBT – Phi Phi Island

Have you ever booked a trip 2 days before leaving?  I never really had the chance to be that spontaneous since I’ve worked a lot since my first job at 14, but I did book a trip 2 days before departure when I first went to Singapore!

I arrived in Singapore 2-3 weeks before orientation which was only a day or weekend prior to the first day of classes; I wanted to settle in and know my living area before starting classes and work.  I lived in a flat with other mates but when I arrived no one was there!  A day or two later, someone moved in and funny enough his name is Pablo!  Anyways, for students who were studying in Singapore for a full year, this was their winter break and so naturally they were on a trip!  A couple days later our other flatmates came back from Thailand with great stories!  I was shocked by the prices they mentioned and had to look into it, yeah when you first hear about the attractive prices of Southeast Asia, it’s pretty shocking; if you never thought about it before.  So I looked into the prices, checked various sources, and convinced myself to book the next cheapest flight and hostels!  Next thing you know, I was on a plane to Thailand within a week of arriving in Singapore!

So in order to get to Phi Phi Island, you have to take a ferry and one of the ports leading to Phi Phi Island is Krabi so that’s where I headed.  Unfortunately when I got there I missed the last ferry of the day and was forced to stay the night in Krabi; that’s why that flight was the cheapest!  One of the people at the pier helped me find a place to stay for cheap and the following is what I got, not bad.

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By this time I was a bit stressed because I missed the ferry and had to stay the rest of the day and night in Krabi instead of my hostel/hotel on Phi Phi Island that I already paid for… so naturally I was hungry and went for some Thai 🙂 The following is what I had down the block from my accommodation and it wasn’t the best but it was what you could expect from a small individually owned shack, pretty good.

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Here’s 2 pictures just to show you how the area looked like by the pier, that’s a night food stand market by the way.  My day ride is also shown below, you can rent one by depositing your passport and paying the cheap fees at the end.  The ferry to Phi Phi Island is also below.

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Finally, pictures of Phi Phi Island!  Of course this includes the journey and everything included!

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Yeah, I decided to not use sunscreen one morning because I wanted a nice tan but I got this instead; mind you, this was from head to toe…of course with the exception of where my trunks were!

I apologize now for any terrible photos and the annoying date/time stamp!  I selected the best in my opinion from the load that I took during my stay.  This was the start of my wanderlust, the need to travel.

Hope you enjoyed this post!  Feel free to leave comments/questions and subscribe/follow!

TBT – Philippines (1)

My trip to the Philippines is unforgettable and not because it’s very beautiful, fun and scenic, but also because of the tragic event of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan; yes, I was in the Philippines in March 2011.  I remember it quite clearly probably because of the even;, on top of the excitement of being in the Philippines for the first time.

I was studying in Singapore for a semester that started in January 2011 and my flat mates and I became close so we started to plan a vacation together for reading week / spring break.  I brought up the idea of Japan because that would be freaking amazing; was always a dream (funny that I’m writing this post in Japan now, yay one dream completed).  After some initial research, we all agreed that it was out of our budget at the time so we brainstormed and came up with the Philippines.  After researching the cheapest route and accommodation, we booked it; fly from Singapore to Manila and Manila to Boracay (the airport outside).  2/4 of us had to go home early so the other 2 decided to check out El Nido in another part of the Philippines too.  We had a layover at Manila so we booked a hotel for that night and partied; luckily we made it to the airport the next morning.

One thing you should know about the Philippine airports is that you have to pay taxes/fees at the airport rather than it being included in the ticket; at least that’s how it was in 2011 for budget flights.  Once it was time to board, we all got up and went to the gate.  We had to board a shuttle bus that brought us out further outside of the airport to a secluded area where a tiny plane that sat less than 50 people waited.  If you’ve ever been to Asia, then you already know how they have smaller versions of things compared to America; for example, construction equipment, transport trucks, etc.  Think of this plane as an Asian plane in that regard and you’ll get the idea, unfortunately I do not have a photo.  Surprisingly the flight wasn’t bad, of course you felt a bit more turbulence but it wasn’t worth much of a concern, for me at least some others may disagree.  This is where it gets interesting though.

Everyone has to take a boat a short distance away from the airport to the Boracay island so naturally we did.  On the boat, we were instructed to put life vests on and the radio was turned on to a news station reporting a possible tsunami.  My Spaniard flat mate started to freak out, and initially I was too but more so just shocked by the news.  But once you took a look at the locals on the boat, they were calm with no care in the world; this calmed me down because of course they know best!  This did not happen for my friend, he could not take it and this lasted till the next afternoon when the warning dissipated.  It was just too surprising though, we just got off a plane to get on a boat to get to an island only to have a tsunami alert…
207169_10150213480357053_510507052_8553364_2263394_nATV ride in Boracay

208035_10150213485152053_510507052_8553437_6957336_nSnorkeling on a very cloudy and choppy day in Boracay, not advised for those who can’t swim well like me…

206792_10150213484732053_510507052_8553428_944491_nManny Pacquiao’s poster above his hotel in Boracay

IMG_0750Jeepney in Manila, cheap rides but if you’re worried about your safety don’t take them

IMG_0774This is how our night went in Manila, a couple random bars and nightclubs

IMG_0848Shooting a movie or music video in the park in Manila

IMG_0878Radio announcing the tsunami…see the date stamp

IMG_0889Boracay’s White Beach

IMG_0894Another view of White Beach

IMG_0940Nice stroll along White Beach

IMG_0982These vehicles are so popular in the Philippines, the ghetto kind of solutions

IMG_1021View of Boracay after ATV trip further up the island

IMG_1061Couldn’t leave out this cutie

IMG_1109Sunset on Boracay’s White Beach

IMG_1111Insert Palm trees

IMG_1147The nightlife on Boracay is actually on the beach!

IMG_1210Typical average Filipino boat

Again I must apologize for the date stamps, they are so annoying; I can’t believe I liked them at some point.  I will simply blame my parents for getting into it!  Or maybe I was already at the age where I can’t blame anything on them anymore 😦

Regardless, hope you enjoyed this week’s throwback!  Please follow/subscribe and like/comment!

TBT – Singapore is my NYC (1)

Singapore and English?!
Chinatown preparing for the Lunar New YearIMG_0251 I’ll admit it, when my friend first suggested Singapore as a study abroad location I was like, “But I don’t speak Chinese.”  And boy was I wrong.  I knew absolutely nothing about Singapore; unfortunately like most Americans about any foreign country.  Singapore is its own country, a city-state island, the only one in the world.  You’ll be surprised that Singapore’s government actually recognizes 4 languages, English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil.  See, I wasn’t really wrong about Singapore being a Chinese speaking country; but my implication was completely incorrect as I thought I couldn’t study there because of the language barrier.  Although studying in a foreign country whose language you do not know can be a great issue, my real issue was working in the country as well.  Upon graduating high school, I was luckily chosen to be part of a group of 20 students receiving a competitive full-tuition paid scholarship by a Fortune 500 company and the one requirement in particular to this study abroad story is that I must work part-time at the firm all year round (full-time during the summers).  Therefore, how can I work at a foreign branch of a financial Fortune 500 company when I can’t speak the language?!  My friend, much smarter than me, was quick to correct my ‘American’ assumptions and said they actually English there; obviously I was in a little bit of disbelief but started my research from there on out.  At this point it is safe to say that I did not travel that much; I went to some places within the States but not really outside.  In other words, my dream of seeing the world was only a dream; it’s becoming more of a reality with each passing day though.

Singapore is NYC
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I like to think of Singapore as the SE Asia NYC.  There are so many various cultures, religions, people, and languages everywhere that it felt like home in its own special way!  I’m no stranger to variety and different faces since I grew up in NYC, but it was thrilling and exciting to see everyone together; it was like being in America.  You wouldn’t expect this from a country in Asia; you can’t name another country with such variety like America does in Asia, not Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Hong Kong, China, or Burma/Myanmar just to name a few.  Well at least I can’t think of one, but please let me know if you know of one so I can check it out in the future!  It’s always nice to see people of different backgrounds go to school, go out/hang out, and even date one another.  Singapore really is my NYC in Asia.

Singaporean Food
Chili Crabs, Buns and Fried Rice (think I got this on my last day in SG)
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 One great way to reflect the unity of the various people of Singapore is through their cuisine; you’ll notice some Chinese and Malaysian influences, maybe some Indonesian too!  It’s absolutely fantastic; think the traditional Chinese foods but with a tremendous impact of spices and flavor!  Not to say that Chinese food isn’t flavorful, it’s just good in it’s own way.  Highly recommend eating the Singaporean cuisine, especially if you haven’t before!  Now, Singapore doesn’t only have their own cuisine, or Chinese or Malaysian, Singapore has just about every other major cuisine there is.  Singapore is the financial Asian hub in SE Asia and thereby tons of different people and cuisines.  I in particular need my variety so this was perfect!  I had American, Italian, Indian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines during my stay there; I also gained about 15 pounds too… Anyways, other than Singapore having a great cuisine, and many others, you can find very cheap food and not have to cook one day in your life; I mean it.  My flat didn’t even have a full kitchen, we had the space and designated area but we didn’t have a stove or oven!  Food courts are very popular in Singapore, along with Malaysia and other SE Asian countries.  At these food courts, prices are low and competitive.  I remember getting an American feast with chicken, beef, sausage, eggs, and some veggies for only S$11 which is <$10; yes, I got it quite often, I think until one day it gave me the runs…

Wasn’t kidding about having no stove or oven
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Anyone know this place?  I bet you’ve seen pictures!  This is mine, it’s crappy; plus it’s got the annoying date stamp, I got out of that phase I think unfortunately after my study abroad.

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Here’s something to lighten up your day, to those of you in America at least!
197332_10150112471071582_621561581_6922566_4698085_nCheck out this double rainbow that was taken from our balcony near Lakeside station.

That’s all for now!  Subscribe/follow for more!  Leave comments/questions below 🙂

TBT – WB Making of Harry Potter Studios (1)

After graduating college, I went on a short vacation to London to fulfill my wanderlust; also to get away before starting reality, AKA a full-time position.  My favorite part of the trip was without a doubt the “Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter“!  High five if you’re also a muggle fan of this series!  Anyways, TRUST me that you really have to be here to see this studio in person; it makes all the difference.

Put on your cloak, grab a mug of Butterbeer, and sit back on your broomstick as I take you on a journey to and through the studio:

After some research, you decide to get there by rail as it is the most convenient and budget-friendly option.  As you get off the train and exit the Watford Junction station, you see a crowd of people awaiting a bus.  When you approach the crowd, a woman at the front is talking to others about the studio; you take this as confirmation and queue.  After a few anxious minutes of waiting around, a shuttle bus approaches the queue; you don’t actually realize the bus, but the exterior decor.

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Hop onto the bus and find a comfortable seat at the top-front of the double decker bus with glee.  A short while later the bus pulls into a large parking lot and in the distance you see a huge sign, “Warner Bros. Studio Tour”!  This is it!!

Making of HP Front Sign

You had to snag a picture to relieve some excitement then rush to find the window to get a ticket and get inside.  You can feel your heart pounding with anticipation; your mind zipping with thoughts as if you were on a caffeine high.

As you walk in you see a banner along the ceiling of various pictures of the cast from the beginning to the end.  “Ooh, aah, aww, HERMIONE!, nice, cool, EMMA WATSON!” ❤

Inside Banner 1 Inside Banner 2 Inside Banner 3 Insider Banner 4 DSC00745 Inside Banner 6

Oh no, the start of the tour is about to begin; run!  Heading to the tour entrance, what’s that at the entrance?!  It’s the cupboard!

Tour Entrance

DSC00759 DSC00760 Inside glimpse of the cupboard

Past the cupboard is a dark room filled with monitors displaying various movie posters from around the world.

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The door closes as the room is filled.  A video fills you in on the production and setup of the whole film series; admiration for all the crew and staff.  When you come to a wall at the other end opens, the light blinds as rises.  A split second later, you see the astonishing sight of the entrance to the Great Hall!

Great Hall Entrance

Immediately scenes from the series pop into mind;  especially when McGonnagall uses the Piertotum Locomotor charm.  After a moment, the doors creak open leading to the Great Hall!  You see the room filled with chaos and livelihood of the Hogwart days, however you come to realize that it’s empty.

Great Hall Door Opens

By now I hope you’re craving more as this is only the beginning!