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.

Move to Paradise – a must read for city dwellers

Move to Paradise – a must read for city dwellers

I have lived in different far flung rural areas in the Palawan, Bohol, Antique, Laguna in the Philippines. Aside from that I also lived 5 months in rural Kolkata in India, and a few weeks in Bhakatapur and Heutuda in Nepal, and a few days in far flung rural Laos.

I don’t just travel and take pictures.. I try to partake in the way of life and hopefully get a lesson or two to share to people. Some of you, especially those who lived in the city, would want to make the move to rural life because of – Clean air, fresh food, peaceful life, low cost of living.

Paradise right?

These are carabaos staring at me when I visited a small island in Laos:

rp_cows2-1024x768.jpg


Stop the music playing in your head. Can I burst your bubble this early?

Here’s the harsh truth – You might be in the honeymoon stage of travel where people usually see the brighter side of things. Try to live in rural areas for a few months to confirm if it’s indeed paradise coz I don’t want you to start cursing me silently by promoting rural living yet when you tried it yourself, you just can’t fit in.

If you ask me personally, it is indeed great. Benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Usually, people paint dreamy descriptions of rural living, like what I said:

Clean air, fresh food, peaceful life, low cost of living. Paradise right?

This was in a lesser touristy area in Palawan.

palawan
 


But those in marketing with properties to sell, vacation spots to promote, will never tell you the negative side of things. But I’m not biased, take that to your advantage. Now, if you’re really keen on living the rural life, here’s a few things that you need to take note.


Sometimes, rural means, far from everything.
Like malls, schools, stores, and hospitals.. So when there is an emergency and hospital is like 2 hours away and you don’t have your own vehicle, well, good luck. On the brighter side, when the air is clean and you eat veggies regularly, there’s less probability you’ll get an emergency concerning your health. And what is there to spend when you don’t see anything to spend on? And that’s how you accumulate wealth dears :D.. don’t forget to share it with the less fortunate ok?


There’s abundant greens which means less pollution.
It also means less transportation to and from your area. So if you don’t own a private vehicle, your mobility is compromise. Example, I have to make sure I take the 5pm jeep going home from the town because it’s the last trip. If you can’t make it, you’ll have to wait for the trip next morning. Or hire a tricycle (because there’s no taxi) but you’ll have to pay more than the jeepney fare.
Aside from that, because all rice fields looks the same, you need to make sure you go down on the right rice field.. coz once you go down and you realize it’s not the way to your home.. then you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.. pray that there is no mumu.

 

antique road less traveled

 


If you want to live in rural areas, you will need to empathize with traditions. Your old folk’s tradition believes there exists such monsters, aswang, kulam, etc. Ask them if they saw an aswang and they will say not yet.. If you talk back, you’ll be considered an ingrate so shut up ka na lang. I was actually joking with a friend from the city whom I told, we don’t usually go to trial courts in the far flung province, but people there use kulam or witchcraft on their enemies.

Limited internet signal, and sometimes limited electricity too. The irony of living with abundant natural resources is limited technology. Bad move for digital nomads who needs internet like they need coffee to live here, unless they are writers or other creative who needs offline moments to produce work output. Oh I have to correct myself on abundant natural resources – because you know, sometimes I need to burst your bubble that even in Paradise called Bohol and Palawan, there’s limited water too. Are you pouting already? Oh yeah locals only experience that so no need to worry if you’re a tourist.

This was in the border of Thailand and Myanmar when we did some ICT training:

stoop low. aim high. grasya in Burma
 


There’s a possibility of cultural clashes and misunderstanding. Many people think that only foreigners and locals have clashes in ways of living. But actually city dwellers and rural folks, even if they are both of the same nationality, still have misunderstandings. The difference in dialect from each province and ways of living is a point of confusion from each side. If you’re not speaking the dialect of the local folks, it is understandable to get a bit paranoid that they are talking about you even if you are in front of them.
Another example of misunderstanding – city dwellers think these rural people are lazy for always chitchatting and spending time doing nothing.

They don’t actually see the behind the scenes of how the muscles of these people are developed by tilling the land all day so we can have unlimited rice. Unless of course if you are a haciendera/haciendero where you can sleep all day and still get unlimited rice and veggies, if you are, ask me how to make your life productive. :D

On the other hand, rural people think city dwellers are also lazy for always traveling and staring at the computer.. that’s my personal experience btw. They can’t comprehend that I work with different clients in different countries while I’m just in my bedroom “staring at the computer”… Struggle is real.

On the plus side, there’s a sense of community when you live in rural areas. It’s difficult to have that in the city where you don’t even know your neighbor. People in far flung areas know almost everyone living in the area and almost everyone is related to each other. So fiestas and reunions are interesting activities. Imagine being introduced to your third cousin’s uncle’s mother from another grandfather.

Also when there’s trouble, there’s a big probability you will get a helping hand.. sometimes for free too.. just don’t be a bitch to always ask for help. This also goes when the community sense that you have money, be careful not to let them look at you with $$ in your eyes or you’ll encourage dependency. I remember one time, a big healthy person from a rural area asking me, a frail small skinny lady for donation. See the difference?

Be careful though coz since it’s a community, when you get into an argument with a member of the community, you have the whole community against you.

This picture was taken while we were traveling in Myanmar:

grasya in motorcycle
 


Feel my frustration? Thank you ^_^… I just want you to know both sides of the coin dear, I’m sure you’ll thank me somehow. You’re welcome.

Rural living is bliss to those who are adjusted to the slow yet healthy lifestyle. You can’t have everything but if you’re tired and stressed from the hustle and bustle of the city, then you deserve to escape to the province and let the clean air, fresh veggies, beach, forest heal you.. Be warned that you might want to stay forever..


How Forests Heal People from Nitin Das on Vimeo.

 


Either that or get bored and want to go back to the city again ^_^…

 

Recommended Reads:
http://grasya.com/2014/06/how-to-take-a-bath-using-4-to-5-dippers-of-water/
http://grasya.com/2016/08/8393-living-the-local-life-a-personal-insight/
http://grasya.com/2012/09/fiesta-and-street-dance-parade-in-panglao-bohol/

welcome

 

Where and what to eat in Antique Part 2

Where and what to eat in Antique Part 2

Fresh fruits. This part of the Philippines is filled with natural resources. It also means this part is also filled with fresh fruits too. You can trek in the mountains and eat fruits for free. Or you can just simply ask your friendly neighbour for some guavas, atis, coconuts, duhat, etc.. I remember when I was in the Ati tribe, I just asked for an atis fruit and they simply gave it to me.. We gave them jollibee in return :D

If you don’t feel like asking, just go to the market and buy yourself some fresh foods.


atis fruit

Chao Long – At last! I don’t need to go to Palawan or Vietnam to get a taste of delicious Vietnamese Chao Long dish. The favorite soup is now in Antique. Well done entrepreneurial souls! This motivates me to re-open my coffee shop again. Anyway, for those who wants to taste the vietnamese dish in Antique, go to San Jose, then ride a tricycle and tell them you want to go this restaurant that serves Chao Long in Dalipe.


chao long in Antique

Shells – This is considered exotic to many including me.. Until I found out it’s a normal dish in the province. You can buy them at the market and let your homestay host cook it for you. It can really be challenging to eat one mind you.. have lots of patience.

shells in Antique

The interesting part is, if you live near the sea, you can eat shells for free.. just get it in the beach side..

Getting food in the beachside. Antique, Philippines

The shells there looks like this. So have you seen sea shells by the sea shore lately? :D Aren’t they yummy?

shell

This is part 2 of of the food trip series in Antique. For part 1, please go to http://grasya.com/2012/11/where-and-what-to-eat-in-antique/

There are also different kinds of fishes and varieties of kakanin, guess this topic needs a part 3.

Tourism and Community Development: Showcasing the richness of the poor

Tourism and Community Development: Showcasing the richness of the poor

For other people, there’s nothing special in places that are far from everything. No skyscrapers, no malls or fancy restaurants nearby.. if you’re lucky, no cellphone or internet signal too. Others may think that locals who live in very rural areas are poor. But for me, these people are lucky they are living in a hidden paradise. That’s what I observe during my travels around Asia.

There’s no shopping malls, but most people in the remote areas grow their food so they don’t need to buy.. And even in places that have no farm, cost of living is very low. I usually spend $10/day for myself, but in a far flung province in Nepal, $10 will let you feed yourself, 7 kids and the kitchen lady.. and I’m not even required to contribute that much.

Despite not living in condominiums or posh houses, members of communities are even generous enough to share what they have.. even to strangers. Like what I experience during Fiestas in the Philippines.

Kids from the tribes may not be exposed to ballet school or proper gymnastics, so it makes them very creative.


ballerina


These local communities may not have skyscrapers, sky trains, nor fast cars; but they have natural springs, mountains full of greens and the sky has birds that freely fly.


birds in Nepal
 

They may not have cute dogs or cats as pets, coz they have exotic animals already roaming in the house. Below is a picture of a Tuko, a big lizard, in my ancestor’s house in the far flung province of Antique, Philippines.


welcome


 

Whenever I travel, I love to appreciate the differences of religion, language and tradition of a place.. For me, they are the spices that make’s a country beautiful. This is a traditional Tiboli tribal dinner down south of the Philippines.



 

 

And you think because the country is poorer than yours, people will take all your wordly possessions once you visit? My friend even gave me Vietnamese coffee when I visited her in Vietnam. She even accompanied me to her favourite beauty salon.. Maybe I’m just lucky.

 

 


beauty salon in Vietnam


 

 

Yes there are struggles. But the strength of their soul inspires me. Below is a picture of me with a tribe girl while people are crossing the flood in the background in the Thailand border.


 

 

I remember my friend from Myanmar, whom I haven’t seen in 5 years, cried tears of joy when I get to visit her country. I also felt guilty that I have seen most of her country while she was stuck in her job.. I wish locals will have the chance to travel in their own country too..


grasya in motorcycle


 

That is why I support additional sources of income like homestays so travelers will have the chance to visit beautiful places and directly contribute to grassroot families too.. and probably learn a thing or two. This is taken while celebrating Christmas in India.




I’m not really a tourist that travel just for leisure. I travel to also connect with locals in the community. It is because of them that a place has become beautiful anyway.

Malalison Island, Antique, Philippines

It is typhoon season… and I’m traveling xD

Well, we’re supposed to go check out far flung communities and see how they were doing after devastating typhoons.. and look around to promote homestays too.

And one of the places we went is a small island that you can see once you arrive in Culasi town in Antique. And this island is Malalison or Mararison for locals.


malalison island

The small island is beautiful.. White sand remote beach is perfect for my German companion. She said it looks like Scotland from afar.


malalison island, antique

The village living there however, needs vast improvement.. so visitors that I encourage to stay there should be health and community aid workers.. it will feel so weird if tourists go there to play on the white sand while dirt poor villagers are trying to get by.. right?