Win free 3 days 2 nights stay in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore

After every long term travel, I always try to make it a point to let my readers experience the places where I have been.

Not everyone does this but that’s how I try to give back.. let’s wish that grasya.com can give more in the future.
Now this is a challenge if I get to expensive countries. I thought I figured it out when a former client did a giveaway in this site.. But let me figure it out more next time. Any suggestions? ^_^

For this moment, let’s aim to spread goodness.

As you’ve read from my previous story, I wasn’t able to travel to Singapore. My anxiety and low self esteem as a solo traveler during my long term travel was at an all time low too.

But I don’t want you, dear reader, to undergo the same anxiety and misfortunes that I went through.
Soo let’s have this opportunity to turn a misfortune into something beautiful.

This picture was in the Round Houses in Chiang Dao, Thailand owned by a wonderful lady named Maggi. The place is magical and serene, and the house is not a typical house because it’s creatively designed. I want to own something like this in the future. You can click on the image to see more details.


chiang dao round houses


I always try to do a give away so at least my readers can partake in the joyful moments I had during my travels. Here’s some of my previous freebies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rich in material things but who cares about it when I can do freebies and giveaways that make other people happy :P


This was down south of Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s my second time to be here. It’s a quiet resting place in a city with enough space for a 7-10 people group retreat. You may click on the picture to book


chiang mai retreat center

Ok. Do those pictures make you excited already? ^_^..

Up for grabs are the opportunity to stay for 3 days 2 nights in beautiful places where I stayed at either in Chiang Mai Thailand, Chiang Dao Thailand, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and Singapore… well, never really had the chance to stay in Singapore but I paid for the place so might as well give it away.


singapore


When you win, you can choose 1 place to stay in each country so you can finally get your peace of zen.. And, who knows you might want to stay there forever. There are 3 places to choose from in Thailand so you can pick whatever you fancy.

Most of these places are for people who do personal retreats. So if you’re looking for quiet places for rest, relaxation and meditation, I would recommend you to check out those places. If you’re a party person, sorry but it’s not for you. You can still join in and gift it to someone else that needs it.


This place is a quiet home up a bit northwest, 30-45 mins from Chiang Mai walled city. The rural place has very few tourist and has a very local vibe. For those hypersensitive to technology and needs lots of green spaces, you can check this out. This house was chosen by spiritual guides as a place for healthy energy. Click on the image if you want more details.


chiang mai retreat house


As for the contest, here’s the mechanics.

0. Like Homestay
1. Like Chiang Mai Homestay and Retreat House
2. Like Chiang Dao Roundhouses
3. Like Trekking Collective
4. Like Soholand in Malaysia
5. Like Travel Tips and Stories
6. Like grasya.com
7. Share this post in facebook, instagram or twitter with hashtag #retreats #homestay #contest #giveaway
8. Comment on this website on why you wanted to win this.

ALTERNATIVE ENTRY: Email me at grasya(at)grasya.com a story about your latest journey containing a minimum of 400 words – I might publish your story too. Email Subject should be Contest Entry.

At the end of Oct 2017, I will choose the names of the person worthy to stay at different places in Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao Thailand, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and Singapore for free. I give priority to those who are corporate slaves, single moms, those who do volunteer/charity work and other work that involves helping the underprivilege.

The picture below is in Malaysia. I stayed here twice already. I was traveling solo but there are always couchsurfers in this place hanging out, if you want a city vibe and yet still experience the rural mountains and hotspring, check it out.


soholand malaysia

A piece of happy thought: everyone who will participate here will still get something for Christmas. ^_^ It’s a wee something but it can at least start your journey.

If you win though, you need to redeem the prize and set your booking on or before December 2017. If you don’t have travel plans on or before January 2018, you can still gift it to someone else who is traveling and needs a place to stay, that way, we can pass it forward.


***DUE TO LOW NUMBER OF ENTRIES, DEADLINE IS EXTENDED UNTIL NOVEMBER 30, 2017***

Back to the Philippines. Long term trip experiences shared

It took me weeks to update the content of this website… because i want to show the beautiful side of life in a way that no one will get jealous if I show pretty pics, or at least no one will borrow money.

But after reading this, and you still feel envy, contact me and I’ll personally tell you all the horror stories that I’ve collected. Who knows I might convert the envy to fright and you might not want to travel already : )))))

But for now, let’s focus on life’s beautiful moments.

I do travel in a different way so please don’t categorize me in any of the social class ladder. I blend or adjust depending on different situations.

As I’ve said previously in old travel stories, I travel solo but I meet people along the way so I’m not really solo travelling all the time.

It’s nice to meet people who have a different culture or point of view other than yours. There’s beauty in diversity. And it’s nice to break other people’s negative mindset sometimes. Here are some highlights of my trip. Hope you enjoyed reading and get a lesson or two.

1. During gatherings of friends new and old, I usually pay for lunch or dinner of everyone. Then I see their upset faces.. I don’t know if this is the norm or not. But I’m really happy to pay. If I’m with fellow Filipinos, they will usually be happy that I’m paying. But the behavior changes when I’m with other nationalities… I may not look rich but at least, don’t treat me poor and always be on the side of receiving.. don’t spoil me and give me everything for free, because instead of being glad to receive blessings, it makes me feel guilty and tend to give back.

So I continue to treat them despite my friends showing signs of being upset and probably concerned about me that I may loose money due to traveling, I love these people, they are my human treasures.

Thai food


2. I’m not shy to say I cook, clean dishes, or tend the garden of my hosts because I love to do this. I buy their groceries out of my pocket too.

Our foreign visitors to the PH do this favor too, they cook dishes that represents their countries and my niece and nephews gets to have a global education.

I don’t want to be just a visitor. I want to be a temporary family member.


3. During travels, I met interesting people that are totally on the other side of my point of view. I met people who are pro-climate change, saying that trees needs more C02 so we need to produce more carbon. And that weather changes are causes by government, example, HAARP.. Wars in the future will not use missiles or machine guns, wars are now in forms of weather changes. Scary thought from that American lady I met in Chiang Mai.. but who knows what the future holds.

4. I also met someone from Latvia, a tiny country in Europe, and he doesn’t like Syrians and refugees saying they are spending the resources of their host countries. But at least he gave me a probiotic mushroom, so I’m happy. He said some countries in Europe are very racist and they have this – Aryan supremacist mentality.. I said it’s ok –
I’m used to being discriminated anyway… but now that I have friends in these countries, I will feel safe in their bubble.. hopefully.. we’ll see what the future holds.

5. The long term travel is a bit short for me coz usually, my long term travel duration is 3 months. But I was still able to meet different people like from US and Latvia as mentioned previously; and I also met a family from China, overworked yuppies from India, a focolarina from Japan, Chiang Mai ambassador from Australia, tiny homes owner from UK, a travel company alpha female owner who has a British passport, a young backpacker from France who is looking for a purpose in life, Thai tourist from Macau, a long time friend whom I thought was from Nepal but has an Indian passport… of course wonderful locals, my human treasures from Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, some whom were my friends since 2004 and 2010. These are just some of the pics, some moments are just forever captured in my memory (as an excuse for forgetting to take a picture) ^_^

grasya travel 2017


6. I met a monk who used to be a pilot. Now, he eats only once a day and live alone in the forest.It made me feel guity that we were eating a sumptious lunch and he just stayed in another table, unattached.

monk thailand

 

7. I met a few more who hated the Muslims…. but it’s very interesting to note that when I was stranded in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, while everyone was just staring, laughing and being entertained at my misfortunes, the one who rescued me was a Muslim family.. and we had a beautiful sharing about each others culture, and she told me that Muslim women are actually very important in their religion.. and to my surprise, this Muslim lady was actually driving the car while her husband and kid was in the backseat.. She later told me she is a financial expert and has different businesses… we might collaborate in the future.. she is very empowering indeed.


johor bahru


8. I wasn’t able to enter Singapore, but this should be told in another story. Of course I can’t say anything about that country coz I wasn’t able to visit in the first place. I went there before already so not really keen on traveling there again anyway. But I will have a contest to give away a chance to stay in a posh accommodation because well, I wasn’t able to go although I paid for this already, might as well give it away.

singapore

 

9. I was trying to do many things at the same time. Travel, working on different projects online that deserves another post, meeting people, shopping and getting lost, it actually took a toll on me and I got sick in my last few days in Malaysia. At the same time, my insecurities were at an all time high and I can’t help but compare myself to those backpackers who still looks posh despite messy hair, slippers, and just plain sleeveless shirt and short. I dress like that too, but instead, I feel more like an illegal immigrant maid. Maybe that’s the reason why I wasn’t able to enter SG? I was actually dressed decent that time, and was proud to tell the immigration officers I travelled to other countries already. Anyway, that’s another story and yes, I do deserve a hug, thank you.

10. Despite the last few days of my long term travel not ending well, I still wish more people can travel too so they can understand each other. What I see is that people go out of the country but they stay in their own bubble and meet people in their own class.. and then pick on other people not belonging in their own class.

It’s the same scenario anywhere. Rich vs Poor, Young vs Old, West vs Asians, White vs nonWhites, Christians vs Muslims, and vice versa.

Another challenge is inflation and war and other culture conflicts that makes it more difficult for people to move. Travel is still a privilege but if we find ways for everyone to travel and understand each other, this privilege will be erased. Besides, everyone deserves to enjoy this beautiful earth, it’s the only one we have until it’s time to leave it.

Back to Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Freedom (almost) achieved

Back to Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Freedom (almost) achieved

At last! I’m free!!

Well not really. I still have stuff to do back home in the Philippines. But after 2 years of not traveling out of the country, I felt like a bird suddenly out of a cage.

birds in Nepal

Don’t worry I’m not the wild bird type :P

My feelings were mixed of tears of joy and a bit of angst that I wasn’t able to do this regularly like other people who travels to other countries or continent like it’s just going to the Mall. But then I realized, I am still lucky coz there are people who lived their whole lives not traveling.

Or worst, some people travel just because they need to survive.

So I’m contented and my Maslows Heirarchy of Needs is fulfilled.. I feel grateful dear Universe.

destination addiction

I am currently in Thailand, then will go to Vietnam, then Malaysia. Traveling on a budget to make sure other people who don’t have so much budget can travel too. Although I need to make sure I give the right information to the right readers, because you know…. hello thieves. ^_^ I do hope I have converted them to not steal this time.

How to avoid travel mishaps

How to avoid travel mishaps

This is an update on how to deal with challenging events when you are travelling. I travel solo most of the times and have encountered all the scenarios below.. but it doesn’t mean I won’t travel again despite all those misfortunes.. the world is too beautiful not to see before our mortal time is up and these setbacks should not discourage us from travelling.

At least we know these can happen, so we can all be prepared.

Don’t get caught in the delusion that travellers are always happy and having a fun travelling life.. that will make some of the readers get envious instead of being inspired. Well reality check, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. But some people chose this as a way of life, together with the mishaps that goes with it.

I don’t have the control of your feelings after you read this.. But I do hope it will help you be ready and do necessary steps just in case unfortunate incidents happen to you while travelling:

0. If you arrive in a place that is currently undergoing floods and storms.. I strongly advise you to store lots of food and don’t go out until the storm has subsided. If you feel down because you can’t enjoy the holidays, you can always create ways to have fun indoors. Bored from staying indoors? Join volunteering and aid relief groups, that will give meaning to your holidays.. that’s an extra adventure too. Here’s a video of me and other volunteers trap in a far flung village.. looks exciting ya?




1. If you lost or broke a stuff during travel… learn how not to be too upset about it. I lost a few things during my travels including almost loosing a toenail when I was travelling solo in Mindanao. But while I travel, I have become more and more unattached to stuffs.. I buy inexpensive phones, buy dress in bargain stores.. if I lost them then it doesn’t hurt too much… The downside is some cheap stuff gets easily broken.. Oh what about broken hearts? Wait, I don’t know how to deal with that too. Go ask other experts xD

2. If you get ill while travelling, oh dear, take all measures not to get ill… Get appropriate Hepa shots if you love eating at local shops, rabies shots if you’ll be dealing with crazy dogs while walking around, and mosquito repellents if you want to avoid dengue. Although even if you are traveling in style and being careful, sometimes you really can’t avoid getting sick, so make sure you have enough medicine emergency supplies.. and a doctor or nurse friend on your facebook account just in case you need advise and no one is around to extend a helping hand.. and if you really got ill, please make sure you have travel insurance so you don’t have to pay huge medical bills.

3. And in case you get into an accident, make sure that travel insurance get it’s worth. This is for people with a birthmark on their butt. That’s a way of saying that you’re prone to mishaps.. I don’t have a birthmark on my butt but I’m really prone to misadventures because I’m special. Yeah you can sing – trouble, trouble, trouble.

This makes me think – Is someone voodooing me?


voodoo doll


4. If your ATM card is not working, have backup ATM/Debit/Credit Cards. Better yet, make sure you have enough money ready in your wallet. I really don’t recommend getting a credit card specially if you have an addiction to buying and don’t know how to manage your expenses.. But if one of your ATM is not accepted in a country, then you can try another ATM/Debit/Credit card… if all else fails, make sure you have money on your phone so you can call someone in an emergency. To have a rule of thumb, as much as possible, don’t withdraw your money from an ATM if the country you are in doesn’t have a good reputation to these kinds of transactions.

5. Speaking of money, if you are travelling in Myanmar/Burma, have ready crisp dollar bills.. I’m not sure about the status now but the last time I went, people do not accept dollars that are folded or old..

6. If you encounter harassment on the road.. learn the basics of self defence, or carry self defence tool such as pepper spray. Be sensitive with the culture and don’t go around wearing only a bra and miniskirt in most parts of India and other conservative countries because you might be inviting rape in the eyes of the men.. Good thing I never really experience being harassed to the point of getting raped when I was there, just men looking at the small mammary glands even if I make all the effort to hide it. I’m sure I disappointed them.

7. If your bus or boat gets stranded in the middle of nowhere.. have emergency snacks and water so you can munch on something. This was my smart move when I was travelling solo in Laos. The bus broke down that left us stranded for a very long time… The bus is expected to arrive in Vientiane at early morning and its already lunch time and we’re still on the road! Good thing I brought snacks with me and i was able to take one bite and one gulp every hour.. and was still able to share some to the kid in front of me..


Stranded in Laos


8. If your footwear got broken.. well don’t buy cheap ones specially if you are walking a lot. It happened to me when I was walking along a sleepy posh village in Chiang Mai, Thailand and suddenly, voila! the pretty pink sandals I bought in Hong Kong broke.. and like a stroke of luck (feel the hint of sarcasm?), there was no one else along the road and I don’t know where I am. I walked barefoot for like 10 minutes until I saw a human being. Armed with my basic Thai, I asked for directions on how to go back so I can get another footwear from the house I was staying in. Yeah that’s embarrassing.. it’s okay, they don’t know me there anyway.

9. If you got lost.. make sure you know the number of your hostel/guesthouse/hotel. Buy a local sim so it will be cheaper to call people. Getting lost almost always happen if you are new to a place. It is safe to wander with new found friends but if you’re a true blooded soloista like me sometimes, make sure the place you are exploring is safe. I met a Japanese young lady in Melacca Malaysia almost bursting with tears as she struggle with her English telling me she is lost and don’t even have a map or number of her hotel. It’s a good thing that people in my hostel are very kind to assist her so she can safely go back.

10. If you don’t have clean clothes because there is no time to wash or get changed… at least have the effort to smell good. I have seen lots of travellers wearing the same clothes in 2 or 3 consecutive days because travel schedule is hectic and simply there is no time to wash or change… It’s okay to wear the same clothing but please take pity on your travel companions and make an effort to smell nice.

When I was travelling nonstop from Phonasavan Laos to Chiang Mai Thailand I also wear the same clothes in 2 consecutive days and by the time I was in Non Khai, I was really already filthy.. imagine the horror in my eyes when I boarded a van and it was full of good smelling newly bathe handsome Filipinos!!!

So folks, please be ready when you encounter such mishaps. Currently I’m taking a break from travelling, which means taking a break from collecting misadventures.. so people who love me can breathe..

For those embarking on a new adventure, kindly bookmark this. If you think this won’t happen to you and it did, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. ^_^

Buffets in Chiang Mai, Thailand

People are currently celebrating Yi Ping and Loi Kratong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.. and I was privileged to experienced it a few years ago.. Although environmentalists actually frown on the idea of lighting up several lanterns in the air that releases more CO2. *sigh*

For those who are in Chiang mai, or are planning to go, you should not miss the buffet experience too. Shayne, a couchsurfing ambassador I met last 2013, shares with you more about where to eat in the fairy city.


 

buffet in Chiang Mai

Like most cities these days, there are so many options for eating in Chiang Mai. There are so many street vendors, restaurants and buffet options available. I am going to give you a personal selection for the best of those buffet options around Chiang Mai. One of the best things about buffets is you can try a little bit of everything and when you see the same thing on the streets, you can buy it knowing whether you like it or not. You can be adventurous and taste some of the many wonderful dishes Thailand has to offer.

 

Thai Style BBQ Buffets

There are so many table top, self-cook, Thai style BBQ (called moo-gra-ta) places around Chiang Mai. You can usually find them by looking for big tin sheds with lots of tables and some versions will have a blackened hole in the middle your table. People will fill their tables with many plates of uncooked meats and vegetables and sit there for hours, slowly getting through all the foods they have taken. The biggest is Sukonta Moograta which when full is a site to see and includes interesting live Thai entertainment. You will pay between 99-299 baht (US$3-9) with some including soft drinks and water in the price, alcohol isn’t included. Dinner Only.

buffet in chiang mai

International Buffets
Many of the big hotels serve buffet lunch or dinners only and some offer differing options for both lunch and dinner. Mid-range hotels like the Chiang Mai Grandview, The Empress, Holiday Inn and the Siripanna Hotel offer lunch time business buffets. They have many northern Thai style appetizers, other Thai dishes, soups and noodles available as well as a good selection of international options. They also have a varied salad bar, with delicious cake and dessert offerings. Usually around 200 baht (US$6). 11:00am-2:30pm. Each of these hotels has a dinner buffet for around 400 baht with a wider Asian variety of foods. Many of the bigger hotels around the famous Night Bazaar offer buffet dinner dining, at slightly higher prices. The quality is superior to all the other buffets in Chiang Mai and outstanding at the Le Meridien, Shangri-La and Centara Duangtawan. These are usually fairly quiet as they are out of most local’s price range. They are great for a special occasion.

 

Random Buffet Restaurants
Chiang Mai has a few very popular buffets that don’t fit into the above categories, their offerings can be quirky but their food is quality and delicious. There is Memorize on Nimman Soi 12, Retro Steak Café and Brownies and my personal favourite and a winner with the Germans, Auf der Au, a restaurant full of home made German sausages, meats, desserts and more meat. Some of the are very cheap at around 150 baht (US$5) and others are around 300 baht (US$10).

 


chiang mai buffet
 

 

Shopping Mall Buffet Chains
In recent times, several new shopping malls have been built and each of these will have invariably have a Sizzler, MK Hot Pot or Shabushi chain restaurant. These are similar to home, so many more local generally visit these establishments. Prices are around 400 baht per person (US$12). The food quality is generally good.


sushi at shabushi


shayne rochfort
Shayne Rochfort is a local who loves Chiang Mai and loves to eat. He has been volunteering in Thailand for 6 years and enjoys helping people get connected to others and things they need.