TRAVEL VLOG: Iceland 2016

I’ve realised that the best way for people to join me on my travels, is by showing how it really was for me there. What better way than through a video – so I have decided to start travel vlogging! Much easier to show than to describe through writing 🙂

This is a glimpse of our trip to Iceland July 18-22, 2016. Iceland, you have been amazing but we haven’t had enough of you. Until next time! For now, thank you for the adventure 🙂

Here are the places included in the video in order of appearance:
Harpa, Reykjavik harbour, the Sun voyager, Þufa, Perlan, Hallgrimskirkja, Fridheimar farm, Geysir, Gullfoss, Thingvellir national park (where we snorkeled in Silfra!), the Bridge Between Two Continents in Sandvik and last but not least, Blue Lagoon.

All footage taken by me or my mom/sister, edited in iMovie by me and background music produced in GrageBand by me. Cameras used: Nikon D3100, iPhone 6s, iCreation action camera and Nikon AW 110.

Well look at me – I’m 23!

Life is too short to not celebrate birthdays. Even such a meaningless number like 23. Or well, now I can get inside Ugglan, woo! 😛

I have the most beautiful friends ❤️ #toomuchwatermeloncocktail

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As I rarely am in Stockholm/Sweden during my birthday as it’s in the summer, I usually celebrate my birthday abroad. However as my sister is turning the big number 25 on the 21st, we decided to celebrate it properly. So I decided to only have a short stay in the Philippines so I can be there for my sister. As I’d be here for my birthday, why not celebrate it?

Last time I celebrated my birthday was when I turned 18 five years ago. It was about time.

I had planned a pub crawl around my favourite themed bars in Stockholm. A friend from St Andrews had come all the way from the UK to visit, and my two little sisters from Linköping had come to celebrate as well so I wanted to make the night out more interesting. Despite having planned everything with a pub crawl app and all, in the end we only managed to go to one bar… the Vampire Lounge. At least we managed to go out anyway – E for effort! We later ended the night at one of my favourite clubs Hornhuset and headed home.

After celebrating my birthday with my close friends, I felt blessed and grateful for the wonderful people I have around me. Friends who have stuck with me through the years and friends who I still maintain close with no matter the distance. I have definitely hit it big these past 23 years. I will cherish these friends I have, and hope to celebrate even more birthdays with them in the future.

Thank you life for being good to me, despite all the ups and downs. You have made one happy girl nevertheless! Until the next birthday ❤

20+ years of friendship in Cebu/Bohol

Since I was a baby until we moved to Sweden, we lived in an apartment within the campus of the University of the Philippines Diliman. My sister and I weren’t the only babies and children in the area, two floors above us for example lived two girls our age, the youngest only being 3 months younger than I was. As we were around the same age and lived so close to each other, we became best friends when we were babies until we were children, and remained so until I moved to Sweden.

After a few years in Sweden, we unfortunately lost contact. However after over ten years later, we reconnected again a few years ago. It’s funny how life turns out sometimes, as everyone were surprised at how alike we still are despite growing up apart. Some things just never change.

To celebrate our over 20+ years of friendship, why not go on our first vacation together to somewhere we have never been to before? Bohol it is.

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As the goal of my trip was to see as much of the country as I can, I was excited to visit a new place. I have heard a lot of positive things about Bohol, especially about its snorkeling on Panglao island. But before that, we decided to pass by Cebu because why not!

We had no plans when we were in Cebu, but somehow, we managed to see all the must-sees. Sto Nino church, Sto Nino’s mom’s church, Magellan’s cross, eat lechon and buy a ukulele. We just walked around with our suitcases and somehow we managed to do everything we wanted to do. Even if it included walking through basically ghetto with people lying in the streets to get my ukulele. It was worth it nevertheless. We were happy with our short few hours trip to Cebu, and all the friendly locals greeting us as sole two female young travellers. Short but sweet, enough to make us want to come back to see more! But now time for Bohol.

Maayong adlaw from Cebu! 👋🏽😁 #Cebu #Philippines #ilovecebu #bisaya

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In Bohol, we stayed with my mom’s friend on Panglao island, who slowly but surely became like a grandfather to us both. He picked us up from the ferry in Cebu and took us first to Alona beach in Panglao for dinner. Let our Bohol adventures continue.

On the first day, we went island hopping on “grandfather’s” boat, with our boatman Joel. You know those National Geographic programs talking about fishermen who can dive deep in the ocean and shoot spears underwater? Basically that’s what Joel did for a living. Joel took us to Balicasag island where we – tried – to snorkel, but unfortunately owing to the strong waves, he ended up just pulling us all the time on our life buoy… But we saw a sea turtle at least! Afterwards he took us to the Sand Bar on Virgin Island, where basically they sell food in the middle of the sea on a little beach area. Really random, but interesting nonetheless! Lastly, he took us to Islo Francesco which is part of Virgin Island, a religious island dedicated to Padre Pio (who happens to be my favourite saint!). I’ve never thought I would kneel down to a shrine and pray while wearing only my swimsuit…

 

On the next day, we did our land tour of Bohol. We ticked off all the must-sees such as the Chocolate Hills and the tarsiers. To be honest though, the other places like the Butterfly House and the cave were more fun. Mainly because of the guides that we had. Nevertheless, they are must-sees for a reason, and those Chocolate Hills are pretty cute in the end. Tired owing to the heat and all that walking touring around, we came back beached and napped, preparing ourselves for our night out in Alona. Which we did well, because as it turned out, Alona nightlife delivers.

 

While doing shisha, two Australian-Chinese sisters joined us where we bonded over being international. We decided to continue up to the bar, and there we met a group of medical students from Leeds in the year below me in medical school. You know it’s a small world when people you meet on the other side of the world are friends with your friends in the UK. Yup, they knew my medic friends in the UK. They even went in the same class as an acquaintance of mine. Crazy isn’t it?! It was a fun night being with international people, and I guess that’s the type of crowd this place attracts 🙂

 

On our final day, our “grandfather’s” niece decided to join us, and together we went to the mall to buy souvenirs and finally got to try snorkeling again. This time we were lucky with the winds, and managed to properly snorkeling. Wow, it really is this beautiful and calming under the sea. We ended the day by checking in to Bohol Plaza hotel, with a beautiful view of Bohol. We jumped in the pool, sat in the jacuzzi and just reminisced of the days past. What an amazing trip it has been.

 

Bohol you have truly been amazing, and we are in love with your beautiful waters and even more wonderful people. What an amazing way to celebrate our over 20+ years of friendship. We promise to return, but until then, stay beautiful. Until next time! ❤

It’s pretty chill in La Union

Last year, and all the times in the past, I’ve always been staying in the same areas: Manila, Iloilo, Subic… basically where I have family. I told my family this year that I want to see more of my country and so they decided to take me to places I haven’t been to. Somehow, my family had a feeling that I would be a surfing person, and luckily they were right.

Earlier in the week I visited one of the Philippine’s famous surfing spots, Baler. This weekend, my Titos and Tita decided to take me to another of the famous surfing spots in the Philippines – La Union.

We stayed at San Juan Surf Resort, a small hotel founded by, owned and run by a Filipino-Australian surfer, who now resides in the area. Already upon arrival, you could get the feeling of the sea, the sun and the warm summer breeze. I quickly changed to my surfing attire and went to the surfing school. I’m gonna work on what I learnt from Baler I thought, here we go!

I met my surfing instructor Ronnie from San Juan Surf School and hit the waves. Or well, what we could call waves at the time. Yup, as it turns out, there was no swell when we were there… Dang.

 

Nevertheless, I found new surfing buddies. The next day, my Titos and Tita joined us surfing and Ronnie grabbed his surfing instructor friend Jeff. Again no waves, so I decided to just be a cheerleader for my Titos and Tita as they were learning. I made my surfing instructor buddies promise to teach me tomorrow morning instead when there are hopefully waves.

In the evening, we tried the hotel’s salo-salo, and we were hooked. A mix of four dishes good for four, with different combinations everyday. In the end it was so good, we ate all our meals there… yum. Trying different combination of traditional Filipino dishes everyday. Like what my mom says, soon she will be able to just push me down a hill and I’d roll. Unfortunately, she’s not very far from the truth…

After dinner, we’d have drinks by the beach at a local bar, with live music. Did my Titos make me sing? Why yes of course they did. Because that’s what family do, always find the chance to embarrass you.

 

The next day, I woke up again early in the morning to meet my surfing instructors by the beach after breakfast. To my disappointment upon looking at the water… it was as calm as a cradled baby sleeping. Again dang. So instead, we chilled by the beach chatting, swam and Jeff even let me try his paddle board. Oh well, next time! 🙂

Owing to my constantly changing and fast-paced lifestyle, I’m starting to appreciate the peace of being out in the province. Especially by the sea. Meeting new people, and chilling with a drink at hand eating good food. Surfing or no surfing, I had an amazing time due to the people I was with.

Thank you Titos and Tita for bringing me to San Juan in La Union, and thank you to Ronnie and Jeff for being awesome! Until next time. Bawi sa waves. For now, let my adventures by the beautiful waters of the Philippines continue!

I fell in love with Baler and surfing

As the Philippines is surrounded by water, surfing is a relatively common sport to pursue here. My dad, as it turns out, grew up an area with perfect waves for surfing. At the end of my stay with dad, they took me to Baler in Aurora where I discovered my new found love for surfing.

 

Baler is a magical place. So magical I can even see myself staying here for a long period of time. Filled with relaxed, friendly, welcoming locals, who are really there to make sure you will have a good time. You’d see people of all ages on surfboards, from children doing crazy tricks on the waves (yeah, I felt super self-conscious with them around as a first-time surfer), to grandparents still rocking their surfboards in the water. If they’re not on their surfboards in the water, you’d see the locals on their bikes or longboards, cruising down the long boardwalk by the surfing beach. Their lifestyle really is sleep, eat, surf, party, repeat. Surfing 6am in the morning and again in the afternoon, eating and napping in between until you end your day with a beer. Surfers are my new favourite type of people. If medschool fails, I’ll retire to the beach with a surfboard and spread love to the world with my ukulele. Sounds like the dream to me.

It’s hard to describe the exhilarating feeling when you’re surfing a wave on a surfboard. The adrenaline kick of cruising on top of a wave, taking you to shore. Kuya Doods my surfing instructor from Baler Surf School was very patient but supportive. He was so good that he already managed to get me surfing on my third wave during my first lesson. By the end of my one hour session, I was already longing for my next lesson the next day. Really, I couldn’t sleep because of my excitement and even watched Lilo & Stitch in true surfing spirit. Nevertheless, I managed to sleep 4h and woke up at 7am again to go surfing. You can say I am now hooked.

 

The next day came and after the end of my second one-hour session with Kuya Doods, I am now ready to take on waves by myself. Bring it on!

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Thank you Kuya Doods for introducing me to my new-found love for surfing, and my family for bringing me to Baler. I’ll definitely be back. Next time I’ll bring more people and definitely stay for longer than just overnight. Next time I’m back, you’ll see me cruising the big waves, I swear!