Alternative places to stay when traveling

Alternative places to stay when traveling

I used to think traveling to different places is expensive because you have to stay in posh places like hotels.

Well, some people really do travel and stay in hotels all day. I was lucky to stay at 5 star hotels on various occasions. This was at Shangri La Hotel in Edsa.


shangri la hotel
 

Read this if you want to stay in posh places for free.

Well, now that more and more people are traveling, it has now become apparent that there are other alternative places to stay when you want to take a break from your daily life to meet people and see other places.

Alternative places to stay can be hostels which is cheaper than a hotel and suitable for young people because of the vibe and the connections.. For those who have a large network, or family, you can stay in your relative’s homes which can be free as long as you wash the dishes or help around the house… in my case, I try to cook or buy people food instead.


cebu with chuchay
 

You can sleep in family homes, but you can also sleep at other people’s homes too.. it will be more interesting if the house has a character. So far, I have stayed in our old traditional Filipino house in Antique, a farm house in Laos, an art house owned by a movie director in Palawan, I’ve stayed at nipa huts of friends, and I’ve stayed in a Tribe community in South Cotabato..

 



If you don’t have a large family clan, but belong to an organization or community, you can try to sleep in the org’s headquarters in the area where you are in. I was able to stay in Tagaytay for a few months because of an international community called Focolare. In Nepal, I stayed in a school that has a children’s home run by the Ananda Marga organization.. in return, I took care of the kids, became a temporary computer teacher, treat them food that they don’t get to eat always, like spaghetti.

Now, those houses are still normal resting places. Let’s explore a bit more of the unconventional places to check out when looking for places to stay while traveling.

You might want to consider these places to add more interesting travel experiences.

Have you tried sleeping in a convent? I did. During retreats, we get to stay in religious places.. I am also curious about temples and other religious places though.. might try to stay in one out of curiousity.

How about sleeping in a tent? I’ve tried that when we were in Omkoi, Thailand last 2011 while doing volunteer work in the far flung area.


tent


Ok, if there’s no tent, sleeping under the stars is an option too.. yep, tried it one time with a french friend in Bohol in Alona beach, Panglao… we just put our towels in the sand and slept outside ignoring the posh establishments.


I also tried sleeping in moving vehicles, a bus, or train.. this saves time and money because you are moving while sleeping.


sleep

Another temporary refuge is the airport or bus terminal.. Get a bench, make your backpack your pillow, and catch a few hours of sleep. I tried that in Malaysia, then I overslept and my plane went ahead of me.

Hammocks are nice too. I haven’t tried this yet but who knows what the future holds.

But after all these traveling, you know what I realized? A 5 star hotel can still feel like an any star hotel.. And a home can feel like the poshest hotel that gives you all the positive feelings..

It really doesn’t matter where you stay or where you rest your head at night.. what matters is the positive vibe that the place is giving.. Here’s a list of my favorite places to stay whenever I travel.

Were you able to travel and stay in alternative places other than the usual hotel/hostel/home? I’d like to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

What to buy in the Philippines

What to buy in the Philippines

I am minimalist but there are wee times that I would like to shop and bring souvenirs from countries I have visited.

Now if you are traveling in the Philippines and would like to bring something from the places you have visited to your home as souvenirs, take a look at these suggestions:

Aside from the normal fridge magnet, I have observed my foreign friends buys these stuff, so it might interest you as well.

1. Traditional dress. This can be a patadyong, filipiniana, or a more tribal getup. It’s always nice to buy something traditional, it’s like you’re partaking in the culture of the country specially if you wear it in special occasions. You can try to buy those stuff out of the country but it’s authentic if you buy it inside the Philippines.

Patadyong Filipino traditional dress


2. Tshirt that says you’ve been in the Philippines. This is not really an exotic find but this is what others buy to humble brag that they have been to a particular place. I buy those shirts printed with – I love (insert country here) too just because I’m human and feel the need to humble brag too.

3. Traditional instruments like angklung or marimba. I used to be an angklung and marimba player when I was in elementary. I love to reminisce those days of playing with those instruments made with bamboo. Kinda sad coz no one uses it now even here in the PH. If you know someone who produces these instruments, I might buy just for the sake of reminiscing the past.

4. Pearls and shells – the Philippines is blessed with abundance of water.. to the point that it floods during typhoon. Good thing the under water world is full of splendid creatures, for those who wants to take a piece of the ocean, you may want to buy pearls and shells as souvenirs.

pearly shells


5. Bayong – I know of bags that are worth 1000 USD, yet the sturdy bayong that takes hours to make by hand is also worthy to have its equal attention and price. Unfortunately, our Filipino colonial mentality frown on our own products.. but I’m also seeing Filipino pride in the youth so we’ll see how the bayong will evolve.

6. Sungka –Sungka is a game where shells or stones are dropped on a long canoe shaped board. It has become an exotic toy and is a perfect gift to kids if you want to snatch their attention from their gadgets.

7. Banig – This is used as bed by locals and is still being used in provinces. You can use this too for decoration or bedspread if you want your bedroom to look something exotic.

8. Filipino goods such as pancit canton and canned sardinas – this can be a treat if you want to give a gift to Filipinos who are outside the country. It can bring back that old familiar feeling thru their tastebuds, they will surely thank you for that.

9. Local delicacies such as ube candies and polvoron and bohols peanut kisses, piaya and tablea chocolate. Of all goodies, I love to promote tablea. Tablea is a chocolate that is formed like large tablets and you either eat it raw or put it in rice porridge, or make a chocolate drink out of it. The ingredients is less processed and directly come from the cacao tree.


tablea chocolate


10. Barako coffee. Strong aroma will make your nerves awake for the rest of the day. As much as I love the coffee in Vietnam, it is my responsibility to promote the coffee in the Philippines too. Check it out.

If you noticed, most of the stuff I featured here are exotic and can be only be found in the Philippines. Some, like Marimba are unfortunately almost extinct or not being used already..

So if you want to look for unique finds only in the Philippines, bookmark this article.

If you are outside the Philippines and want to buy any of these, we can ask errand runners at Errand to go to help you out.. it’s a mini project in Beta testing, feel free to test it out.

Offline is the new Luxury

Offline is the new Luxury

Sometimes I look back at my life and see all the computer gadgets that I used since 15.. from 386, 486, pentium 1, 2 etc etc

I realized, the cost for buying all the stuff is equal to a round the world trip ticket already.

I’m not complaining that technology is fast evolving, but sometimes, I just wish I was a doctor or a lawyer instead.. coz doctors and lawyers don’t have to deal so much on versioning.. the human body and laws don’t change too fast.

I do ride the waves of technology and still grateful for the opportunities it has given to me. And someday, it will afford me to earn online while i’m offline too… yep, my ultimate goal of an alternative lifestyle.. a different way of life alright.

But for now, sadly, I live by this quote:

I’m in the transition and to be honest, I can afford to be not in the computer for the whole day.

I just wish that when I travel again, I’ll be able to stay in self sustainable communities, away from racism and people that drains my positive energy.. and then I’ll be able to leave a trail for other adventurous souls to follow.

Many people in poorer countries love to travel.

They just are not privilege enough to do so.. hopefully we can help each other out.

As for the privileged people, I do hope they know the value of being offline.. living in the present moment.. and just enjoying the surroundings. I will feature sustainable communities as I travel along.

Meanwhile, you might want to see this interesting documentary:

What to do next? My dream travel itinerary

What to do next? My dream travel itinerary

Do you know the feeling of wanting to have a holiday but due to grown up responsibilities, it is not yet possible at the moment? I know most people are in that stage.. coz that includes me too.

But that does not hinder us from planning on that great escape right? While I hustle on accumulating that so called freedom fund, I also daydream on that perfect holiday to finally experience the unique landscape of Cappodocia, Turkey; that captivating feeling when you see the Northern lights; that excitement to see the New York City attractions; or the bliss when you finally see the Corrs live in Ireland; or that moment when you finally step into the hills that are alive in Austria, and much more.

Let’s look forward to the day where we’ll finally be able to cast our worries away on that far away land just because we deserve it. I’ll be writing my dream travel itineraries because.. well, this is my blog. :P

You may want to follow this itinerary too if you are fond of long term and slow travels.

Coffee or Tea shop hopping. My friends who went to travel with me previously know this is so true. And while they trek that mountain, I’ll be on that coffee or tea shop hanging out to wait for them to get back. Maybe I’m not that sporty type but yeah I’m happy reading a book in coffee or tea shops while my friends sweat it out outside.

 


coffee shop


Reading books during transit. I love to read books more than watching tv or movies. Sometimes I even read favorite books twice. ^_^ My favorites are The Little Prince, Alchemist, Like a Flowing River, and a Thousand Splendid Suns. Looking forward to read books recommended by the book club of Mark Zuckerberg this time.

Landscape and history tour. Sometimes, every city that you visit are always the same – malls, parks, buildings.. same gray architecture with busy people. That is why it is nice to visit heritage cities and geographical landscapes that are out of the ordinary. It is what makes a country unique and travel more interesting.


 


Explore towns with a Bicycle. Aside from train travels, I do love to ride bikes when traveling. That is because bicycle rides produces low carbon footprint, so it’s an environment friendly way to explore surroundings.


bike


 

Cooking school. Not really a good cook, but I’m learning. It’s fun to do this whenever I go to different homes during my travels because every country have their own dish specialty.

Culture and Language exchange. Going to a new country means also meeting local people and get to know their way of life. I was fortunate enough to learn a bit of Bangla when I was in Kolkata, India and learned Passa Thai when I was in Thailand. I learned a bit of Italian when I stayed in Tagaytay because I was with Italian speaking people and I learned bits of dialects in every Visayan province that I go to. Here’s to learning more!


christmas


 

Road trip and Train travels. This is a definite bucketlist. I once read about that trans siberian train travel where you can get from Asia to Europe and vice versa by land travel. Road trips during winter on vehicles with winter tyres are on the bucketlist too.

I just hope to tick this off while traveling with special people in my life so we can see if we can still stick with each other despite uncomfortable long travels :D..

So those are what I regularly do and what I still plan to do once I start to travel out of my country again. I’m getting that feeling that the universe can’t wait for me to explore again.. and yes dear Universe, I am so grateful.

As much as possible, I intend to not just travel but live in a new country for at least a few months to a year. Visiting for a short time only scratches the surface culture of a country, it’s still nice to immerse in the country and learn it’s way of living too.. that way, we become a global citizen and learn more about the world.

Recommended reads:
http://grasya.com/2016/09/where-to-go-next-my-dream-travel-itinerary/
http://grasya.com/2014/10/long-preparation-for-a-long-term-travel/
http://grasya.com/2015/03/things-you-need-to-bring-for-long-term-travels/

Contest Entry from Klaudia H.

Contest Entry from Klaudia H.

This story is an entry for this recent contest: http://grasya.com/2017/10/win-free-3-days-2-nights-stay-in-thailand-malaysia-and-singapore/

Read on and see if the story deserves to win.


Let me tell you about me first. I’m an average person, with an average life I would say. I honestly haven’t done much for the community so far: in highschool we organized a charity for the harmed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I donated blood for a couple of times, me and my family giveaway clothes, toys and food time to time to the Red Cross (it’s a support in Hungary for the domestic abuse survivors), and last year I went to Korea to volunteer to paint schools and fences. Other then these I hosted many couchsurfers and guided them in my city.


**some info deleted for confidentiality**

My latest journey leads my story to South Korea, last year, when I volunteered and spent time with sightseeing and meeting friends.


As for the volunteer part, I don’t really have much to say, I just painted the walls and fences^^” So let me tell you about how I spent my freetime:

I stayed in Suwon, couchsurfing, my host was really nice, helped me with everything and his family was super nice as well, so I feel really lucky.

I got to meet my friend for the second time after 6 years, when he first visited me in Hungary, it feels so great that we’ve known each other for about 9 years and still keeping in touch despite the distance. He was also really helpful and introduced me to his family for so many years. His mom cooked me at least a 10 dishes lunch, even though they’re not wealthy at all and my friend said they only eat this “fancy” on birthdays, so it made me feel very thankful, but kinda inconvenient at the same time. I can’t believe she saw me for the first time, but took so much effort to please me. I hope one day I can visited them again, so next time I can prepare something nice and delicious for them as well. Thinking about these I just realized how lucky I was to meet these people.

In Korea I experienced my first times. Like going to a theme park. It might sound simple, but we don’t have theme parks in my country and have never been in one. I even tried the scariest roller coaster! I couldn’t really walk and my knees were trembling after getting off, but I’ll never regret. I visited a couple of fortresses, those historical palaces, temples, they were all so breathtaking! Sooo huge! And the view is even better! So nice to see they used so many bright colors, most temples are dark and more sorrowful, but the ones in Korea so bright and happy. I went to Busan from Suwon by train, it was my first time travelling by such fast train. I played with fireworks for the 1st time in my life by the beach. In Busan I got to stay for a couple of days, on the 47th floor of a building thanks to my friend. I think I’ve never been higher than 10th floor in my life before (this also kind of simple thing to be in such high building, but for me, it’s unforgettable, I basically stucked on the window^^”)
I went to the cherry blossom festival in Yeoido~ I love these kind of festivals which admiring the beauty of nature. Interesting fact, that I’m kinda social phobic in my country and have constant anxiety, but Korea I never felt anything like that, even when I was alone, the crowd was kinda comforting there, maybe because people the don’t stare at me, unlike in my country.

In my entire trip, my very best moment, when I felt the best, when I was in Busan, we went to the fortress, crossed the wall, and on the other side of the wall, there was a park. In that park, there were about 30 people, all of them with their puppies. They were playing with each other, and each other’s dogs, I don’t even know why, but it was just to peaceful, I was watching them playing for about an hour I believe, I even shed tears. I know I can see this scene basically everywhere, but at that moment, at that place, I felt all peace. If I didn’t have these friends, I probably couldn’t experience these moments. No matter where I go, I just need to spend the time with my friends.


**some info deleted for confidentiality purposes**


After thinking about the entry for a few days, then wrote my thoughts down.. I realized I’m not even sure about flight included the giveaway or not, so I will feel really awkward if I misunderstood. In that case, I’m really sorry in advance