My 2017 Year of Travel

This year, I must admit, I travelled more than I ever have before. Most probably because it’s also my final year in medical school ever = final year of freedom from real responsibilities. I even reached my 50th country! Without further ado, here’s my 2017 Year of Travel.

Previous Year of Travel posts: My 2015 year of travel and My 2016 year of travel

All photos are from my Instagram.

1.  Began the New Year in the Big Apple

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2. Attended my very first Indian wedding in Leicester, UK

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3. Seeing good old friends in London a month later

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4. Watching beautiful sunsets in Boracay, Philippines

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5. Interned as Dr. Sam in Philippine General Hospital, realising how grateful I am to live in a country like Sweden

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6. Represented my choir and sang with hundreds of other choir singers around the Nordic region in Oulu, Finland

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7. Passed by Tallinn, Estonia for a weekend

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8. Learnt how to scuba dive in Subic, Philippines

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9. Rode a kalesa in Vigan, Philippines

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10. Discovered beautiful natural springs in Bicol, Philippines

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11. Made a quick trip to Hong Kong Disneyland

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12. Visited paradise in Pangasinan, Philippines

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13. A quick stop over in my paradise home in Subic for a few days

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14. After a quick stop over in Subic, I got to sit in the cockpit of an airplane for the first time ever!

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15. Escaped winter and interned at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia for four weeks

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16. Got to finally dive the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia

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17. Made a quick stop over and explored Singapore for a few hours

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18. Returned to Philippine General Hospital for my final rotation and delivered my first baby!

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19. Finally got to see the beautiful Hundred Islands in Pangasinan Philippines with Jonas straight from the airport

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20. Happily ending this year and starting the next, with this guy by my side in the country of my birth ❤

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PHEW! That was a long list. Definitely the longest ever. It was a good year of travel, and we’ll see where 2018 will bring us! However as now that I will start working, probably not to very far away places. But my wandering soul will forever remain.

Happy new year everyone! 😀 ❤

My 2016 year of travel

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Hafa adai from Guam, USA!

As you all know, I can never sit still. Not only do I move around at least once a month because of medical school, but I also have the bad case of the travel bug.

2016 has taken me to many new places, places I never thought I’d ever be able to see. Places I never had even imagined, meeting new friends for a lifetime and making of course unforgettable memories. I thought 2015 was going to be hard to beat, but 2016 raised the bar even higher. 2017, where will you take me this year?

Click here to see My 2015 year of travel.

All photos are from my Instagram.

1. Ended 2015 singing for the Pope at the Vatican, and so began 2016

 

2. Exploring the cold, cold Chicago with my newly-met relatives

 

3. Started my new life in a new medical school in a new city, Linköping, Sweden

 

4. Weekend escapade with friends to Tallinn, Estonia

 

5. As usual, I always seem to come back to Hong Kong

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During my aimless walk around Hong Kong central, I notice a cute blonde guy holding a map doing the same in front of me. I continue walking and end up at Man Mo Temple. While exploring the temple, I notice the same guy taking photos in a corner. Now curious, on his way out, I decided to follow him a bit to see where he was going. I pass him and continue walking on the other side of the street. After a while, I look at the other side of the street and notice him walking directly parallel to me. I smiled, and turned to a side street of antiques. I reach a crossing by a main road and as I stop to turn around, I notice that he was directly behind me. We exchange smiles but unfortunately our eyes met for a final time, as the business of Hong Kong beckons one to always continue… If only I had the courage to say hi, perhaps I wouldn't be sitting all alone in Starbucks right now. I have 2h left here, maybe I'll see him again. But in a busy city like Hong Kong, one can only dream right? #solotravelatitsbest #manmotemple #hongkong #hk #solottravel #temple #samcation

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6. Explored the country of my birth Philippines solo for the first time in my life

 

7. Oh, and I also learned how to surf in Baler, Philippines

 

8. …and celebrated 20+ years of friendship with my childhood best friend Chy in Bohol, Philippines 🙂

 

9. Celebrated my sister’s 25th birthday in Iceland

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Midnight swimming at the Blue Lagoon ❤️

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10. Met the Pope together with 2 million other Catholic youths during the World Youth Days in Krakow, Poland

11. …and met the Pope again during the Swedish Papal visit in Malmö

 

12. Getting lost in translation in Tokyo, Japan

 

13. Living the tropical paradise dream in Guam, USA

 

14. Where I really did make memories and connections worth a lifetime

 

I knew 2015 was going to be hard to beat, but 2016 delivered. But now comes 2017, my final year in medical school (if all goes as planned). Even though I know I’ll have a tough final year ahead, I have a feeling I’ll still end up getting lost in translation in a new city or on another beach in another tropical paradise. Or well, I hope so anyway.

To kickstart my 2017 year of travel, New York, see you in less than two weeks! 😀

TRAVEL VLOG: Guam 2016

 

It has been a week since I left the tropical paradise of Guam… and I miss it so much already! For the past three weeks, I was fortunate to have been able to do my orthopaedic placement in Guam with my granduncle, approved by my medical school here in Sweden. I made the most amazing memories, together with the most amazing people who really made me feel at home there. Here is video a compilation of my adventures from Guam – take me back already?! 😦

Thank you for the adventures Guam, until next time! ❤

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.

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.

 

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!

Baguio for the weekend

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Baguio we meet again 👋🏽🙃 #Baguio #datviewdoe

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When I was baby, my family and I lived in the US for a while owing to my mom’s studies. As it is common in the West to have cut down pine trees as Christmas trees, we had that during our time there. We wanted the same when we moved back but as the Philippines is a tropical country, they’re not easy to come by. Except for in Baguio. Therefore during one Christmas, we decided to make the trip to Baguio to get a “real” Christmas tree. So ever since I was a child in the Philippines, I have known Baguio as the “cold” city where Christmas trees grow. Which is basically what it is.

Baguio City is a city created during the American occupation for Americans to stay in to escape the heat of the summer, as it is high up in the mountains and is cooler. You actually see people wear winter clothes there. I visited for the first time after perhaps 20 years last year, and again over the weekend. The “cold” reminded me of home!

 

As Baguio is known for their cool climate, it has also become known as one of the few places in the Philippines where strawberries grow. Therefore, aside from their famous ube jam (ube is a Philippine purple sweet potato) from the Good Shepherd (a convent reknown for making and selling Filipino delicacies including this), strawberry flavoured everything is a delicacy here – I had to try their strawberry taho (a Philippine sweet street food composed of tofu and tapioca pearls in sweet sauce) of course! The streets were filled with small stores selling Baguio delicacies, and I came back with at least a whole bag full – we’ll see how many make it back to Sweden.

After dad’s Rotary Club induction for the club in Baguio (the reason why we went to Baguio in the first place), my little brother and I decided to visit the night market, where they sell secondhand clothes or more excitingly for us, street food. I finally got to taste my favourite kwek kwek (deep fried quail’s eggs in batter) and eat some sweet corn in margarine – yum!

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The beautiful garden at BenCab Museum

The next day, just before leaving to go back to Subic, my family took me to the BenCab museum, home of one of the Philippines’ national artists. I have been to several art museums in the past, but this one was different. Apart from the art exhibited by BenCab himself and other Filipino artists he promotes, there is an amazing garden in the back, which is a part of BenCab’s personal garden (he lives next door). With an amazing and serene location like that, with a view of the mountains of rainforest, it’s not surprising BenCab can be so inspired to create such beautiful art. ❤️

I’m on vacation!

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Dear all,

I am now on VACATION! For the next two months, expect many vacation photos and lots of travel stories. My medical posts will be very close to nonexistent until August, and I apologise for this! Nevertheless, I am now about to board my final flight of the day. After a 10h stopover in Hong Kong, I’m about to board my flight to Manila!

For the first time ever, I’ve decided to travel solo around the Philippines, and finally see the sights I’ve grown up hearing about. Considering the amount of travel I’ve done in the past (taught English in Romania, hitchhiked across Europe in a unicorn onesie, been to a total of 46 countries and counting etc…), it’s really a shame that I haven’t seen my own homeland. I’m nearing the end of my medical degree, I’m single and I’m about to turn 23. If I don’t do it now, when would I ever do it? So here’s to my first solo vacation to my homeland the Philippines!

I will be visiting several islands and areas in the Philippines. Despite the monsoon season, I promise pretty photos!

After the Philippines, I’ll be travelling to Iceland with my family, and then finally to World Youth Day in Poland. Watch out for those posts after my solo three-week vacation (#samcation) in the Philippines.

Well, here I go. Wish me luck! Here’s to a well-deserved vacation!!

How about you, what are you up to this summer? 🙂

Tallinn for a weekend, why not?

friends in Old City Tallinn Estonia city hall

Hello from the old city of Tallinn! 😀

I’m a very work hard play hard type of person. I take my work very seriously, and I take my breaks very seriously. So my friends and I wanted to go on a cruise from Stockholm to Tallinn for a weekend, why not?

I left Värnamo Friday morning to get to the ferry in the evening. Yes it takes about 5h to get to Stockholm. Afterwards, my friends and I were on the boat and had an amazing time from beginning to end.

Party. Friends. New friends. Brazilian acrobats. Some Tallinn. Some singing. Party.

 

It was an amazing weekend, but now time for my final week in primary care in Värnamo. Here’s for a well-deserved getaway – until next time but for now, time to work hard. Hope you all had an amazing weekend, and have an amazing week ahead!

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