My Full Year Trip

2017 has been my most memorable year. Aside from growing my career and character, this year was a year full of excitements and travel.

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I would like to share all those memories in those places I been to. There are so many stories behind those adventures. I’m excited to share!

January

January is my birth month and I would like to spend it differently that time. So, I fly to Bohol with my Mom and enjoyed the places so much. Mom and I went to the Chocolate Hills, enjoyed the white sandy beach of Panglao Island, and BBQ dinner in Tagbilaran.

One of the highlights of our travel is the dolphin and tortoise watching and the massive fish feeding in the middle of the sea. I never saw such enormous fishes and sea creatures. The fishes were very healthy and seems happy to me. If I will be given a chance to travel to Bohol, definitely this activities will still be in my bucket list.

The River Cruise and Butterfly Museum is a very chill way of enjoying what Bohol can offer.

February

I am blessed to have a job that lets me travel alongside of it. I was invited several times to facilitate in a training for our new system and process. The project team invites speakers and trainers on each event from different places. Fortunately, I was chosen more often. This month, the training was held in Phonm Phen, Cambodia. It’s a good thing though because I spent Valentines Day there. Hahaha! One of the hated occasion for me is Valentines Day since I do not have a boyfriend hahaha!

Anyway, we have a chance to roam around the city for a day so we went to an old camp that offers shooting range rentals and workshops. I rented a Russian AK-47. It was kinda heavy and the recoil hit me hard. This made my right shoulder bruised.

IMG_20170212_094405_462  Cambodia has a very rich history as well. We went to the so called “Killing Fields” and the stories made me realized that violence from before existed evidently in all places of the world most especially in Asia. Millions of people were killed because of genocide killing initiated by an educated man. My heart was so broken knowing that even babies and kids were killed. My country has the same scenario and this made me unhappy for several days. I could still find my generation a bit peaceful compared to the former though many people are still dying for so many reasons. let’s forget the killings. I want to focus more of the beauty of this country. The here was very good. We tasted spring rolls, frogs, sour soups and more vegetables. My Cambodian friends recommended to visit Siem Reap next time. I’ll try to go this year for my close friend and myself had a promise to fulfill a project.

March

The SLT visited Manila and we had to host the workshops and meetings. One of the things we did during this month is to tour our remaining guests to Taal Volcano. “twas a very chill travel. I love how the directors treated us and how they value other people around them. One of the director never tried doing a selfie and he had his first during our trip. Hahaha. He’s so cool and funny as well! I hope I will have a chance to visit them too but the next time I would like it to be in their country (praying).

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April

True Life. I was reminded about the real meaning of life when I volunteered to be a facilitator in an indoor retreat at church. I met a diverse crowd. It was challenging of course. But then, the satisfaction of leading other people to Jesus is overflowing in my heart. I promised to volunteer again this new year.

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May

Summer of 2017 was indeed one of the highlights for Filipinos. The scorching heat of the sun encouraged people to travel more this season. I actually do not want to travel those time because I want to save money for my mother’s birthday. However, I said yes to a mini outreach with a side trip in Real, Quezon. The experience was fine. My newly found friends and myself went to hike wearing (all of us) rash guards. All of us complained about the decision of wearing the said during hiking. I gained more friends.

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June

Never in my mind thought of going to Africa. Perhaps the reason is because of the Media, they constructed in my mind that Africa is a very poor and hopeless place (as a whole continent). Then I had an opportunity to go to Senegal which was located at West Africa. Senegal is a good country. I was not able to roam around it but the seafood experience is unforgettable. I gained friends from this country as well and up to now, I still have communications with them.

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The photo above is the Liberty monument in Dakar. Since Senegal is a Muslim country, the monument conveys the protective man to a child and a woman. Though religion is one of the controversial topic around the world, Christians and Muslims here are different. They both respect each others views and opinions. One of my friend told me that even in a family there are Christians and Muslims as well and they do not fight about their differences.

After my trip to Senegal, days after was my trip to Taiwan. This time I had a privilege to travel with Angela. This adventure is unforgettable. I flew a Sky Lantern which I dreamed when I was a youngster. We rode an old train and was lost in the station. We met friends a Filipino and a Taiwanese who can’t speak English. It was amazing that we communicated during our stay there even though Celine only uses her mobile phone to express her words. I love the food as well in Taiwan. We had free lunch from a person we met for the first time.

One funny scene Angela and I had was when we went to Shilin Market before midnight and run as fast as we can heading back to the station for it will closes in few minutes ( like 2-3 minutes). Since we had a can of beer, this made us tipsy. Angela walked zigzag and I laugh hard at her because of that not knowing that I my face was very red. Hahaha! We enjoyed our first travel together and praying for more the coming months and years.

 

July

I took a rest in traveling last July.

August- September

I wore my travel hat again this month. This time I went to Singapore, Malaysia and Zimbabwe. I am not aware why my attitude this month is a bit unknown and surprising. I treated a brother with disrespect. Sorry I really do not know the reason behind it but it is clear to me that that was so wrong. My traveling companions decided to cross Malaysia as we landed at Singapore. The travel in Malaysia was really unplanned that we wasted sometimes hours in walking for nothing. We just had fun in Malacca and the house we stayed. It was kinda cool to cross a country though. In Singapore, my emotions was heightened because of the fact that my “ex” was there and I was thinking what if I come across him and what shall I do. That made me very sad and irritated. I spoiled the trip actually. I’m so sorry to my friends. On the last day of our stay in Singapore, we went to a dollar store and indulged ourselves to very cheap items. My male friend didn’t even resist of shopping to the max level.  This resulted to over baggage.

After my Singapore-Malaysia trip, I headed back to Africa again. This time in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Going to Zimbabwe was very very memorable and frightening experience of my entire travel life. I have a companion going to Zimbabwe n a Friday but my visa was not yet sent to me. My flight on that day is 7:00PM then my visa arrived 7:50PM. So close. Then I reooked my ticket on the next day. I arrived at the ariport earlier because there was a typhoon. My flight again was 7:00Pm but the plane arrived late. This made me worry about my transit flight from Hong Kong to Johannesburg, South Africa. I came a bit late in Hong Kong so I hurriedly go off the plane. Good thing the ground staff of my flight waited for my arrival. We run to the other gate and this made me nervous. The staffs made it clear to me that my luggage will be transferred directly to Harare Airport in Zimbabwe. So I got to the plane minutes before the take off. I sat down with an African woman whom became my friend for she too is a believer of Christ. I enjoyed my flight until I got to Johannesburg. Winter in Johannesburg that time luckily I had a thicker jacket to make me comfortable in the weather. However, my flight to Harare was cancelled. This made me nervous and I cried hard for I travel alone without my luggage. I cannot get my luggage outside the immigration because I do not have a visa. I was so worried. So I prayed. Thankfully a staff from South African Airways helped me and gave me a hotel room inside the airport. They provided for my meal as well. I called my colleague and he asked if I want to go back to Manila because of the incident. I said no. I will pursue my adventure to Harare. The real reason why all flights going to Harare were cancelled is because of the first lady of Zimabwe. She allegedly assaulted a South African model for some reasons. The country then asked for the Zimbabwe government a permit to transit people to South Africa and vice versa. This dispute made thousands of people stranded at the airport including myself. While waiting, I gained friends again in South Africa. I met these wonderful people, Benitz and Portia (with her two cute kids).

Because of flight cancellations, I told myself to be strong and wait for the right time. Then I eventually got to Harare after being trapped from Johannesburg for 34 hours. I met a friend again during my flight. This time she’s a nurse.

The sun shined that afternoon brightly as we ascended at the plane. God is with me indeed!

So I landed at Harare. I will then need to pick my luggage and go out for my car service was outside that time. Unfortunately, my luggage was lost. I cannot find it so I need to report it. My car service already gone out the airport and my roaming did not worked. I have no contact number and no phone to use as well. God used a man. This man is a companion of my friend in the plane. He searched for my hotel’s number and tried to call the manager. Then when I got the number of the manager, another man helped me to call the driver. In few more minutes, the hotel driver picked me up from the airport. I had nothing during that time but God made something incredible to make me safe.

After a day, the local office admin of our organization told me that my luggage was at the airport already which was left from Hong Kong. My colleague and I went inside to get my  bag and the staff asked me to treat him a drink. I asked if that’s a payment of getting my luggage bag; he said no. I felt that he wants money from me for he has my document and thought that he will hand it over to me in exchange of dollars. I gave him one dollar and I saw the change on his face. i was scared. Good thing I have loose dollars and gave him eight dollars. I really do not want to give money but my documents were in his hands. I sadly went out the airport and told my colleague about it. I cried actually. I deemed it as an extortion. But of course I need to move on and be happy that my luggage has returned and I have clothes. The items there in Harare were expensive including food. I remember I enjoyed drinking Zimbezi lager. It is so good!

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Anyway, after few days, we flew to Mozambique. The food here in Mozambique is good as well. Aside from local dish, there are Thai, Western, Italian and Japanese restaurants as well. The economy here is better. The establishments are modern and well lighted.

I had a chance to walk early in the morning to find a store for I run out of toothpaste. I bumped into a local who could speak English (Mozambique’s local language is Portuguese).  He accompanied me to a nearby store but most of the store were close during Sundays. We walked more and found one. I bought a toothpaste but I forgot to exchange my dollar to Meticals. So the owner gave me a free toothpaste. My friend cannot believed that I got a free tube of toothpaste. So was I.

My colleagues and myself had a chance to have a day trip in Moz. We went tot he nearby beach and ate fresh seafood. We went to a big souvenir place and museum. Moz is a safe place to travel.

October

I admit I need to save more money to travel often but because of so many travels (even though most of those were for business) my savings got affected by it. I need to save more this year. My friends Kar and Adel shortly planned out trip to Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. Since we want a chill travel, we really had a chill day in the place forgetting about the mosquitoes and muddy ground after the rain.

Filipinos are natural artists and many artists here dreamed to be discovered. I am happy that there is a kind of museum like this that promotes Filipino art and artists as well. I am proud of them all by constructing an art that is unusual and creative.

 

November

This time for Korea!!! South Korea is my favorite country so far. I am not really a fan of Kpop nor Korean bands but I enjoy being there because of its uniqueness. The feeling being in Korea is far more exciting than being in Disneyland HK. When I started to travel in 2016, I promised to devote myself of returning to this country yearly. I am in love deeply with Korea! This time is autumn and with a friend from my former work. Jessica is the real owner of Harry after she gave it to me to pet. I introduced Jessica to Rommel and Au as well for they have almost same dates of travel with us. We got to Nami Island on the first day, shop and dine at Myeongdong and of course tried soju for the first time. Food here in Korea should not be doubted because in my experience, all restaurants I have eaten are authentic and freshly cooked. Oh gosh, Korea. We shopped and eat at Insadong and had a chill stay in our hotel room because of the very cold weather outside. It was already winter. On teh last day, Jess and I rode the KTX bound for Busan to have a day trip and return to Incheon for our flight back to Manila. Busan captured my heart more. Oh I love Busan! I like the Hyeundae beach, the Jagalchi Market and the Gamcheon Village. I want to go back now even by just remembering our experience in Busan. usan is heart!

I will surely go back to Korea this year and praying that I shall go with my whole family. I want them to enjoy life and help them discover that there is life on other sides of the worlds.

December

December is the busiest month for me. Christmas parties, presentations, year end reports, and many more activities to accomplish every December of the year. I never thought of traveling during this month because this month is the most expensive month as well. But then I had a chance to have a day trip. My D12 sisters decided to celebrate our year end bonding at Manila City. we went to Binondo for a food trip and visited Fort Santiago afterwards. The trip is so tiring for we need to walk more however the experience is worth it. Traveling to old Manila is not what I expected. I expected the worse of it like unorganized and dirty place but I was wrong. The place is fine and safe. I saw many foreigners as well roaming around. They looks fine so I am not alarmed. Kudos to the government of Manila for keeping the place well. I am planning to return here with my mom and siblings in some other time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Prepare Before You Fly to Senegal

Get a pen and list those things for your first African trip!

Ever wonder where Senegal is located in the world map? I honestly do not know where in Africa this country is situated until I got an invitation to go.

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Senegal is situated in the west coast of Africa which capital city is Dakar. The population in Dakar is approximately 1 Million. Locals can speak both Wolof and French. This country has a very rich history and culture also. So, is it a good idea to explore this country next? Definitely, yes!

I had an opportunity to travel in Senegal for a business trip. Imagining the distance of my destination from my origin somehow made me nervous. Even the requirements going to Africa gave butterflies in my stomach. The requirements and procedures are not that easy for a first time traveler in the said continent.

To those residing in Asia, expect long flights and layovers going to Dakar. It was a long flight that took us 25 hours to finally land to the city including layovers.

If you wish to visit the beautiful country of Senegal, you need to prepare weeks before your scheduled trip.

Vaccine and Malaria Tablets

One of the requirements for most African countries is a yellow fever vaccine. Keep the yellow fever certificate to present in the immigration. I am residing in Manila so I went to the Bureau of Quarantine and request for the vaccine. Fill out the form and pay for it. In few minutes you’ll get the vaccine. Honestly, I am not sure what makes it painful but it made my arm numb.

The assigned doctor will hand over the yellow fever certificate after payment. It is good as well to request for Malaria tablet prescription. The doctor instructed to take one tablet every week—for 7 weeks.

Visa

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As per the consulate of Dakar in Manila, Philippine passport holders are not required to get a tourist visa for 30 days. However, I need to be sure, I still applied. Here are the requirements:

  • Accomplished Application Form (call the Embassy to send it thru your e-mail)
  • Passport (6 months validity) and has blank page for the visa
  • Copy of Confirmed ticket
  • Invitation (for business purpose)
  • 2 Passport size picture
  • No fees

Senegalese Honorary Consulate in Manila, Philippines

Edward Sy Go, Honorary Consul

Unit 16 A South Tower, Pacific Plaza Tower

Bonifacio, Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, 1634

Philippines

Telephone: (+63) 2 818-6220, (+63) 2 572-3556

There’s also a Consulate office in Malaysia and in Singapore in case you’re nearer.

Before going to the Embassy, don’t forget to call first and make an appointment. I regret to do this when I got to the office because the consul was out of the country during that time. So I need to email him and ask for his returned date. I still have 4 days to process my visa but the return of the consul is 2 days after my flight. He sent an authorized representative to process mine that’s why I was able to fly with a visa. Learn from my mistake. Give at least 3 working days to claim your passport but set at least 2 weeks buffer in applying for the visa. On my experience, the consul can give you the visa immediately as long as you have the complete requirements.

If you have additional questions, please call the consulate office.

You should Bring

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I bought a mosquito repellant but a friend told me that it is better to buy where you’ll be heading. My Senegalese friends shared that Malaria is very rampant there and one of the top cause of death among the locals. This is not to scare you. If you took Malaria tablets 2 weeks before your departure, nothing to worry about. Bringing a mosquito repellant is to save you not only from Malaria but also from mosquito bites and other diseases mosquitoes may bring.

Bring also over the counter medicines such as anti-histamine, anti-acid, paracetamol, etc. Always secure these things because not all corners of the street has Pharmacy and besides it will not cost you much if you buy them from your country. Put this always on your hand-carry bag.

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A chemical engineer friend of mine suggested to buy a special alcohol. I am not endorsing this; just giving everyone an idea. There’s an element in this alcohol that will save you from viruses which cannot be found from ordinary alcohol we see in stores. It has 5 benefits as the label indicates.

Roaming and Local Contacts

It is very important for someone travelling far to have a roaming or local number. I am not a fan of checking-ins so others could locate me. However, I learned that it is important for your safety. Not only your family needs to know where you are but you need to have the capacity to call the hotel, office or a friend living in the city. In my case, I failed to get a roaming or local number, so I relied on my co-workers’ data. That is very inconvenient and unsafe. Always roam your phone number for emergencies and get local numbers of your hotel, nearest police station, and restaurants you wish to dine. Having a data is also a good idea especially if you are a non-French speaking tourist, your phone can be a handy-dandy translator to communicate with the locals. Not all locals can speak in English.

Map

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Even if street signs are readable in every corner, you may still consider having a copy of the city’s map or a GPS. One of our experience, since most of the people are non-English speakers, misunderstanding with the place is a challenge. Once, we told the taxi driver to drop us off in a restaurant, and we thought he understood our terrible French accent. He then led us to the road going to the airport. At first I was afraid and negative thoughts rule in my mind. Good thing my friend had a picture of the Liberty Monument so he easily divert our route going there. But the restaurant which we initially requested is too far from our location. We took that opportunity to takes pictures with the enormous sculpture and conquer the steps going up.

Know How to Greet in French

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Senegalese are fun-loving and sweet people. They enjoy talking with each other. If you are a foreigner there, you’ll see how close people are with their family and friends. So when you see a local in the street, on your hotel or any place you go, always greet them Bonjour! One of my Senegalese friend shared that they find it disrespectful if foreigners do not greet them. Because locals even greet unknown person in the street. I like that tradition. If a Senegalese greet you Bonjour turn and say Comment Ca va (how are you?).  They are satisfied with a simple greeting it was like acknowledging their presence.

I hope some of these suggestions and little reminders help you on your next travel in Senegal or any place in Africa. Till next time!

Note from a Failed First Time Traveler

Learning new things about travel might came from a newbie, too.

Traveling is a new thing for most hermits like me. My first travel years back was a combination of failure and laughter. So if you are a first time explorer, these tips can help you on your way to awesome adventures.

Research, research, and research

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As a first time traveler, you don’t know what awaits you on your first travel destination. Most of us are usually accompanied by experienced people. Even though, you need to research as well. Research about the places or sites you want to see and what you should try. Know the local’s way of life, customs, culture, food, history and arts. Try to research not only for the famous sites, but also for the interesting places where you can hang out. I failed to do this before. I relied wholly on my friends so I don’t have any idea of what makes me excited about the trip.

Pack what is necessary

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Packing for the first time is like solving a calculus problem—so difficult! Packing is a foreign thing to me. On my first trip, I placed all my clothes in the luggage without considering what is important and not and I ended up having a bulky and heavy one. Don’t do that! The clothes you bring should depend on the number of days you’ll be on a trip. Consider the places you’ll go to and the weather. Know the culture; if you’re visiting conservative places, consider wearing modest but comfortable clothing. Know the seasons as well; if it is summer there, forget your winter collection. It also helps to put extra clothes in your hand carry bag for emergency purposes. Release your “scout” feels when traveling; be prepared. Be wary of your luggage capacity to avoid excess baggage which would mean additional charges.

Sleep and Relax

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Days into my first out of the country trip, I wasn’t able to sleep for nights. I was so nervous because it was my first time to ride an airplane and my first time to travel abroad. I thought of plane crash, being lost and missing my mom. There is this feeling of oddness due to lack of sleep combined with long hours of travel. It will affect your appreciation of the place. So relax and just be excited about your trip and forget the negative thoughts running in your mind.

Wear appropriate clothes

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When I met with my companions at the airport, guess what I was wearing? I was in a purple formal blouse with a big ribbon on it. My friends were in comfortable casual clothes while I was wearing clothes suited for a job interview. I forgot that I will travel for a vacation and not for a business meeting. In my embarrassment I hurriedly opened my luggage and pulled a shirt out of it and changed. Wear appropriate and comfortable clothing but not so comfortable like being in pajamas.

Don’t be a flight freak

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My first plane ride is ok. I must admit that it was scary especially during the take off. Don’t overthink. Try to sleep during the flight. It will help you gain more strength particularly if you will do a lot of walking during your trip, so charge up always.

Bring enough money

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Thank God because on my first trip I was able to buy what I wanted. Bring extra dollars or the country’s local currency always. Buy only what you need. I spent most of my money on food. One way of enjoying the place is with such good food in your mouth. As much as possible, try the local foods. Don’t be afraid of trying but be mindful of what you are eating. Does salmonella ring a bell?

Be kind and help others

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Help when needed and be kind as always. When my friends and I traveled to Korea, we are anxious of where can we have our transport back to the city because we had a failed decision in riding a taxi that cost us 18,000 KRW (the reason you need to do #1).  As we huddle, a Filipino started giving suggestions to us. He was very helpful. Same with other travelers you’ll encounter, they might be lost too and if you know the way, don’t hesitate to help. That is one way of making new friends. Be kind to all and mind your manners at all times.

Capture what is memorable and share

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Bring a camera with you when you travel. Pictures are proof of your travel especially on your first. Travel has many benefits too. One is being able to share your realizations and experiences. Sharing to others what you’ve learned is like sharing your blessings.

Save for your next travel

Start saving for your next travel. Saving is a discipline so do it as early as now. Don’t be stuck in being a first timer. Make another step and move to your next travel destination.

Don’t be afraid to explore. Remember that the now frequent travelers were once first timers, too.  Just go, discover and travel more.

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Happy travels!