5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

5 Activities that will make you go on Retreats

Going to a retreat is actually a way to rejuvenate yourself, renew your spirit, enlighten your soul. It’s a way of going back to heal before you move forward. Some think it’s a religious activity, but you can actually view it as a way to recharge your human batteries.

It’s not all prayers, chants and reflections. There are different retreat activities that you can do depending on your budget or where you want to do it. You can go with family or officemates to pamper yourselves at luxury vacations, or you can do solo silent retreats at a forest in Cambodia, up to you as long as it suits your style.

 

I highly recommend it because I’ve done retreats before spanning from a few days to 6 month long activities and it has shaped me who I am today. Want to know more? Below are retreat activities that may spark some interest in you.


you have permission to rest
 


Reflections – These reflective moments should focus on assessing past activities whether it will be beneficial to your future moves. Sometimes, it can just be staring at the ocean at day and gazing at stars without thinking too much.. just unwinding.

Wisdom sharing – this depends on the kind of retreat you are looking forward to. I had a 6 month long retreat in an international community and learning from actual experiences proved the best life teachers to me. For those who have limited time, conversations with a life coach or a spiritual guide may help you chart the next steps of your life.

Food nourishment – those who live in big cities may not have a chance to always eat healthy food. Retreats are occasions for you to also nourish your health. Usually, these kinds of activities are done on rural areas where fresh food and fresh air are abundant. I recommend going vegetarian and see the effects in your body. I tried to have a vegetarian lifestyle for 2 months when I was traveling in Nepal, and despite the very cold weather, I never got severely sick.

Physical activities – You can do some massage, yoga, or if you’re up to it, hike some nearby mountains, bask in the warmth of the sun, swim and feel the love of the ocean. If you love the outdoors and don’t want to be confined in a stationary place, then you will enjoy these activities.
But for those who wanted to just lay back, daily massages and yoga can calm the nerves and soothe the soul. If you are attending a spiritual retreat, spiritual practices is included in the itinerary.


things to do in Bohol: camp out in the beach


Giving back – a way to have a worthwhile activity is to commune with mother nature and the care takers of the beautiful place where you are having a retreat activity. The oceans have lowly fisherfolks, the mountains have indigenous communities, the fresh food that you eat are taken cared by grassroot farmers. It is better to connect to these people and see if both of you need help. You need nourishment of well being; they need help with their livelihood. Both benefits and the cycle of life resumes on a positive light.

Retreat activities should not be fast phased. The objective is to relax and rejuvenate in preparation for busy days ahead.

It’s also different from just having a vacation because here, all aspects of your life are being assessed with reflections. You may want to know life lessons that I’ve learned from doing activities like these, I’d like to share some to you:

1. Everyday is a dying day. So we all need to create beautiful lives not just for us but if we can, for everyone. So when we leave the earth, people will remember the good, and hopefully, will forgive our bad sides.

2. Beauty, fame and glory fades away. Only one thing is constant – change. I have become unattached to material possessions, I do value and collect beautiful experiences instead.

3. That every one has their own purpose in life. If there are no farmers, we will have no food to eat, if there are no doctors, no one will treat us when we get sick.. so they should be given equal treatment in life.

4. That the world is beautiful and we should take care of it because it’s the only one we’ve got.. and because we have limited time on earth, we should roam it before we leave.

5. I still have my bad mischievous side.. just like the yin and yang, all humans have this. Being a saint in this day and age makes you vulnerable to people who takes advantage, leaving you drained out.. So a good balance is beneficial.

Some people actually look forward to some relaxing days away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. For the lucky ones, it has become an everyday lifestyle. ^_^

Food Guide in Metro Manila

Food Guide in Metro Manila

Maybe you’re thinking of where to eat in Makati, BGC, or anywhere in Metro Manila.

But before that, why not think of how to hack your way by dining out at fancy places without making your wallet cry. You can still be posh without scamming someone to treat you.. woop, sorry cynical thought right there.

Despite high cost of living in Metro Manila as compare to other provinces, you can still hack your way around it. Thanks to friends who gave me insider tips.

Besides, a probinsyana should equally enjoy traveling the concrete jungle just like city people enjoying the greeneries. That way, we’re creating an equal world.

I just hope that people in Metro Manila are regulated coz the population is just very many I felt that people are running out of oxygen already.

Anyway, for those who wants to do food trips in Metro Manila, here’s random ways on how to have a happy tummy that is value for your money.


metro manila buffet

1. Eat at food courts in Malls.
This is usually a place in the mall where all eateries are beside each other. You can find different kinds of foods from all over in this area, plus you get to enjoy aircon. Tip is to find a store where there are lots of people who are lined up to order. If a store doesn’t have a patron, the food is probably not that good so don’t bother unless you want to have an adventure at your own risk.

2. Take advantage of unlimited rice.
You can opt to diet the whole day and then eat once in restaurants with unlimited rice. One order can range from around 130pesos or 2.6usd, then you can request for as many additional rice after. But if you’re from the province, why do you need to this when there’s unlimited rice in the rice fields. I recommend to eat something else instead like international cuisines. I see your reaction – ekpensib ba? I’ll break your logic in my next article.


3. Book hotels that provide buffets.

For the posh but still wants value for the money, you can opt to stay at hotels that provides buffet breakfast.. you can start at 10am so you can have breakfast and lunch at the same time.

4. Hack Buffets.
But if you don’t need to stay at hotels, you can still opt to eat at buffets.. for free. Yep. Make sure it’s your birthday, then go with your friends to buffets where there are birthday freebies and you get to eat free… if your friends don’t want to treat you, ditch them.. you don’t need fair weather friends :D


veggie buffet

5. Break stereotypes
For those who wants to break the stereotype social class boundaries, you can still visit posh places without breaking your wallet. Buy that kakanin from aling tindera, then eat it while sipping your expensive coffee. If someone stares at you, stare at them back hypocrites.

6. Look for discounts or deals.
I learned this late because I’m antisocial and so behind in the grapevine. You can look at websites of restaurants or deals website like Metrodeal and usually there is a link there that gives discount information.. I actually want grasya.com to be like those kinds of websites too. Let’s see what the future holds.

7. Get invited in parties.
Because I’m antisocial, I rarely get invited into parties. If I do, I’m the one paying for the party : ))))… so be lucky to be invited, this means free food too.

pizza and spaghetti

8. Get to eat for free by mystery shopping.
I did this gig when I was tasked to scrutinize different branches of a posh restaurant. Yep, I get to travel to eat and do what I do best, make okray in a professional way.

9. Healthy option – cook your own food.
You can do a day trip in a nearby Palengke to shop for ingredients of your food. I recommend the wet market rather than the grocery store coz it’s cheaper and you get to help the vendors in their livelihood too. Just make sure what you’re buying is fresh. Sometimes cooking is a cheaper and healthier alternative than eating out. I’d do this if I’m in Metro Manila and have a proper kitchen.


how-to-make-sushi

10. Hole in the wall options.
This is not for the faint hearted. But I survived my college and yuppie days in Metro Manila eating hole in the wall food.. and I’m still healthy and alive as far as my health checkup is concerned which was just last month. Just make sure the hole in the wall or carinderia has many customers, that means it’s trustworthy.

Here you go. Do you have some tips to share? Please put them in the comment section and let’s give blessings to others. May you find happiness in food theraphy.

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation

Checklist on Choosing that Great Holiday Accommodation


**this is an old post that I’d like to reminisce and update every now and then, enjoy reading ^_^…

In the upcoming days, I will play tourist guide to a cousin from the United Kingdom.

Usually I’m a girlscout cheapskate traveler, but since I’ll be traveling with family, I will have to level up with some comforts. One comfort will be places to stay while we are on holidays.

I have prepared a checklist of my definition of the perfect place.. Whether it’s a posh hotel or a family house, what really matter is if the places agree to the criteria below. Check them out or feel free to add up more info in the comments if you like.

1. Value for the money. To be honest, I have stayed in 5 star hotels, and I felt like it’s just another hotel.. And I have stayed in hotels that don’t cost much yet I get that posh feeling, and I feel like not wanting to leave… Below is one of my favorite hotels in Bangkok. That posh feeling don’t need to be expensive.


temporary hotel office

2. Genuine Staff Hospitality. When I was traveling in Boracay last month, I overheard this group of local young men taunting another local traveler. Based from their conversation, I think they knew each other very well.. Because the sarcastic phrase of telling the newly arrived local not to go back to the island if he doesn’t have money was… sarcastic but for the locals it’s funny.

Now, imagine if those local men were the staff at the hotel. Do you think they will treat you according to the level of your budget? In the material world, probably you’ll get treated that way.. but in some far flung places, you’ll get treated as a valuable visitor.. and that is genuine hospitality.

3. Cleanliness. After long days of travel, anyone would like to rest in clean and welcoming rooms. No matter how simple or how elegant, as long as there is no cockroach flying, floors are clean, sheets are newly washed, then it’s already heaven. Below is a picture of my room, I got it for free courtesy of my host whom I consider a foster mom in Bhaktapur, Nepal.


4. Food. I prefer to stay in hotels with free buffet.. or at least the restaurants are nearby. Every place has their own unique dish so the foodie in me craves an adventure that delights the taste buds.


metro manila buffet2


5. Facilities. Hail to the accommodations that provide extra facilities like Swimming Pool, Gym, Rooftop, and meeting rooms. It feels like we’re not just renting a room, but we’re free to roam around the hotel building to use the amenities as well.

6. Great Location. I actually met tourists who prefer the far flung areas. So I guess location preferences vary from the types of guests. If for example, I’m in a city, I would choose a place that are near the malls, subways, airport. But when I wanted to dive deep into the culture, I would go as far as Changunarayan, Bhaktapur in Nepal just to seek the authentic. Take note, traveling to far flung areas and experiencing real culture doesn’t have to be expensive too.

7. Complimentary stuff. Freebies such as slippers, shampoo, lotion, towel, plates, spoon, fork.. wait… dear hotel staff, I’m just kidding, don’t send a policewoman to stare at me while eating. Below is the hotel room that me and my mom enjoyed while traveling out of the country last year.


8. Security. It feels safe to know that there are security guards making sure guests are safe during their stay.. but when these guards stare at you in your every move, then that’s not the definition of safety. Stare at them back and in an intimidating voice ask them – do I look like a drug pusher?

9. Parking. This will be convenient for those who have their own car. I don’t have a vehicle so it’s down my list.

10. Travel and Tour Assistance. This is also not a priority for me because most of the time, I travel without needing any tourist guide. But this comes in handy when the place is really far flung, and the helpdesk is ready to find you if you’re lost.. coz you haven’t paid yet so probably that’s one of the reason.

Related Articles:
http://grasya.com/2014/10/5-ways-to-stay-in-luxury-hotels-for-free/
http://grasya.com/2017/12/alternative-places-to-stay-when-traveling/
http://grasya.com/2015/08/how-to-get-free-accommodation-when-you-travel/

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.