The Hippies of South America

I’m on a fairy hunt.. and I see Sarah as one of them. She’s a brave Canadian who’s roots are Asian yet spirits are from elsewhere. ^_^ She worked in super yacts, volunteered in hostels, and has become an actress at some point. All these she does for the love of travel.

This little lady is awesome according to my book of life. So I let her share stories in this website… i don’t necessarily encourage you to quit your job to travel like what Sarah did. But for those of you with brave souls, here’s a member of your tribe.


It’s Sarah, on another chapter of her life. I quit my job (again) to pursue and go somewhere far (again). This time I find myself in South America. It’s not because I hated my last job, I just needed a long break from workaholics and those who are in a constant bad mood. In this journey of mine, I met some very interesting, common yet unstructured, ingenious, free spirited, friendly, chatty, etc people on the road – the hippies of South America.

sarah tang in south america

One might probably define hippies as these dirty beggars without a penny to their name, hitchhiking around the planet. Maybe you’d think they have these bohemian style dress code with dreadlocks that swing back and forth like ropes on a boat. I don’t think it applies to every hippie, and it’s hard to generalise as they are not a tribe, not a cult, not a religion, but more like a community of free floaters, flowing around the globe and choosing a life that they want. Can you imagine quiting your job, selling all your things, kissing your family and friends goodbye, and start travelling for the sake of travelling? I am very sure they can.

So back to the topic. What makes the hippies in South America so different and capturing? For one, my hippie friends here dont’t have a lot of money, maybe even without money. However, they are not free loaders and definitely do not beg for money and never with a sign saying “need money to travel”. Instead, most of them have some skills to add to their name, such as making these beautiful designs of friendship bracelets, selling and making crystals and wired crystal ornaments, juggling in crosswalks or the plaza, baking and selling bread, rolling truffle balls to sell, wovening dream captures, etc. My favourite is when they busk and sing traditional South American songs on the street, in buses, and in restaurants. I loved it so much, I went to join my hippie friends’ band for a few days restaurant hopping and busking. And in every tourist city, should a hippie or a traveller without much of a skill needs money, there will be some badly printed sign outside a restaurant looking for a waiter(ress), cook and cleaner. I got my job as a cleaner/ waitress that way! That’s how they make money and support themselves. That’s how they can continue to live their travelling life. That’s how they are not a burden to the population or to the government or to anyone.

I forgot to mention, I started with zero foundation of Castellana (Latin American Spanish) and my various beloved friends here were very persistent to teach me Spanish, as they spoke almost no English. As for sleeping? Most of them own a tent. I don’t know how budget tight are you when you travel, but should I need the cheapest recommendation for a place to sleep, you bet I would ask the first hippie type of person on the street for that.

In this community without borders, I have felt very welcomed and very happy to share my time with them. As a traveller, be it hippies or just a regular traveller, we travel and learn by sharing informations. I will forever remember their genuine smile, their hospitality, and their lessons in sharing all they have.


Chinese New Year: Spring Festival Memories

Chinese New Year: Spring Festival Memories

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, I asked my Chinese friend living in the Philippines to tell a story about festival activities in Mainland China. I thought it’s gonna be a simple story that she can share for fun, turns out she wrote a heartfelt story about how they celebrate Spring Festival or Chinese New Year in their village when she was young.. I hope I didn’t made her too homesick when I asked her to write this. Read her story below:


I was born in a small village located in Jiangxi Province, China. I remember the small village only have about 20 households, most of the people living around me are the relatives from grandparents generation. I was told long ago that people want to avoid the civil war, so many of people migrate to the mountains and settle down when they find a place good to stay.

The small village surrounded by hills, and with a small tributary from the reservoir into the Xin river must have been a very secret refuge.

People often know that Jiangxi is a beautiful place because there are mountains and rivers in it, that’s so true, the small village where we stay is the best witness. As the village is so small, so everyone is familiar with each household, grandparents, uncles, aunts home are all just there.

When I was a child, I live with my grandparents. Most of the adults in the village went out to far away cities like Fujian and Guangdong province because of work. They will return to our hometown only a few days before the Spring festival. Most family members who stay in the village always look forward to it..

Every year when spring festival is near, people from different places rush home, some people arrive a few days before the spring festival while some get home the day before the festival. When someone comes back, the children will go together to his or her home, and often they will buy candy from the city as a gift to the kids, everyone has a share. That’s the happiest moment in my childhood.

 

chinese new year festival

Photo Credit: Jessi_zou


A few days before the Spring festival each household will conduct a clean-up, cleaning every corner of the home to be spotlessly clean, to prepare for the upcoming new year a new atmosphere, the point of new year is the word – “New”. On New Year’s Eve, every household will hang red lanterns and paste couplets on either side of doors, whose inscriptions seek good luck or happiness, these are the annual customs. Uncle who lives next door will personally write with the brush on the couplets that everyone in the village brought to him because my uncle writes the best Calligraphy in the village. Now my cousin, my uncle’s son, also inherited the calligraphy talent, he owns a Painting studio and recruits students in Shenzhen.


chinese caligraphy
 


Everyone wears new clothes on Chinese New Year’s Eve, when I was a child my desire for new clothes is very strong even till now, I often remember on New Year’s Day, we get up a lot earlier than usual, for most of the reasons I can’t wait to try my new clothes on in the morning. Mom will help us dress up in the early morning, I remember there was one year my mother painted a red point in both me and my sister’s forehead with a lipstick, we look like goddess Guanyin which always have the red mark on her forehead. Can’t imagine how happy we were during the Spring Festival.

Dinner in Lunar New Year’s Eve is often the most sumptuous meal of the year. I remember my grandmother busy with preparing the food from early in the morning. The pot will be stewed with large chunks of pork, fragrance floating in the village. Since everyone are preparing new year food, the fragrance of food surrounded in the village can be smelled from each family’s kitchen. Not every day we can eat delicious food during my childhood, so for this special day seems everyone try to make up for the past days to prepare many dishes as they can. New Year’s Eve is the day families reunite, each household will prepare a hearty dinner for the day. New Year dinner is often indispensable with chicken, duck , fish and many meats, chicken are often stew as whole , “Chicken鸡” sounds same as “lucky吉”in Chinese, in the hope that a year can be wealthy with favorable wishes. Like the chicken, the fish also needs to be cooked as whole fish too.

Before we start to eat, Grandfather will offer some meal as a sacrifice to our ancestors. The dead relatives will always be concerned about the offspring of the children and grandchildren, earthly people then worship to pray and repay their patronage and blessing, offering sacrificial rituals, including incense, sacrifice meal, wine, God worship, etc. After grandfather is finished with the worship, then we can begin to enjoy delicious food.

 


For the children, Lunar New Year’s Eve is another highlight of getting “lucky money” from parents and relatives. Normally it starts after dinner, the adults will go to each family of the children to give “lucky money”, the money are put in red envelopes to the children. Give “lucky money” custom has a long history, aside from giving good wishes, it serves as amulets of the elders to bless the children in the new year. The next day, kids then buy lots of toys or snacks, to celebrate their unique New Year atmosphere.


lucky money for chinese new year
 Photo Credit: Jessi_zou


In the first day of the Lunar New Year, we get up early, of course, parents will need to get earlier to prepare breakfast and candies for people to come. After breakfast, sister, brother and me will go to grandparents house BaiNian(拜年), and then to uncle’s home. BaiNian is a traditional Chinese folk customs, it means to congratulate the New Year, it’s a way of discarding old and bringing in new. Usually the first day of Lunar Chinese New Year, the parents lead the younger generation to go out to visit relatives, friends, elders, gives warm wishes to each other to celebrate the New Year, the young people must know how to salute, that’s “BaiNian”.

The host family will give dim sum, candy, red envelopes (Lucky money) to show warm hospitality. The second day Mom and Dad will lead us to go to another grandparents house(which is mom’s parents). BaiNian starts from the first day will continue until the fifteenth of the first month, usually visits to relatives and friends of the order is: first day visits relatives from father’s side; second, third day visits Grandparents and uncles from Mom’s side, father-in-law and so on. after visits all the relatives then could hang out with friends.

The small village I lived in is crowded only during Lunar New Year. These beautiful memories are only from my childhood, I think probably because I have grown up and lived so long in the cities, I have not been home for a long time to celebrate in the Lunar New Year. When I think about it, I feel a lot of regret, perhaps in the next Chinese New Year, I should go back and share the New Year with the family.


belle tutu

Contributor: Belle Tutu is an absolute dreamer, thoughts often floating in the air. One day, she can’t bear the illusion of life outside anymore, she followed her heart and fly out to see the world. She had left her laughter in the blue sea of Redang Island, and stayed in Chiang Mai’s jungle trekking, felt the beauty of half water half fire in MuiNe.

She also made her footprints in every corner of London, the road trip at pacific high way one in California was her best encounter ever. If she had not been brave, she would not have met the most beloved Filipinos. She is a brave dreamer, dreaming that one day travel and writing will be her life too.

Dream Travel Destination – Africa

Usually people dream of traveling to the north, like Europe, USA, Australia, any posh capitalist country that has a high economic index. So I’m gonna dream of traveling to another continent instead – Africa.

Africa is not a country, it’s a huge continent with several countries. I have met people who went there as volunteers in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.. and I also met a volunteer from Uganda who went to Thailand to share his skills. The world is getting equal huh? There’s still more to improve on but let’s hope future is bright.

My eyes widen with curiosity when they tell stories of the continent..

Safari is always a regular tourist activity when people go to that part of the world. But for the more curious souls, there’s more to Africa than safari as I’ve come to know more about it. You know what I’ve found?

1. Zuma Rock in Abuja, Nigeria is 725 meters high, double than the Uluru Rock from Australia.. and is also as high as Burj Khalifa in Dubai.. Thanks for the info Nas Daily.

Also, Table Mountain of Cape Town in South Africa is the most famous of the table top mountains in the world. . Here’s Table mountain, picture courtesy of Roger and Wendy Arendse:

table-top-mountain-in-cape-town

2. There is snow in Africa.. You think it’s all desert and famine like what you see on the tv? Some of the people who went there said there are parts of the continent that are actually cold… and you know the latest news? Snow has fallen in Sahara.

3. I actually met someone in India who was born and grew in Africa… and she looks very European.

4. The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, so why is most countries in the continent poor? That’s something to think about.

5. Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfalls. It’s what divides 2 countries Zimbabwe and Zambia.

6. There’s an African food named fufu.. And there’s a lack of African restaurants in the Philippines.. hello entrepreneurs :D

So what interesting fact have you learned about Africa? Do you want to travel in the continent too?

Travel Dream Destination: Italy

10+ years ago, I lived with Italians.. that is why I know some words like.. Ciao :D

But I did not came to live in Italy to mingle with Italians. I was in Tagaytay, Philippines for a 6 month retreat when I came to live with international young people.


focolare tagaytay
Do you wonder what we did while confined in the paradise called Mariapolis? There are lots of activities but I learned how to cross stitch and I learned how to cook there.. Every day, each person (or persons group by nationalities) in the house would cook, so sometimes we have Vietnamese dinner, Italian lunch, Korean breakfast, and when it’s my time to cook – we have pancit canton and red egg….. :D

And when it’s our free time, while the rest do other activities, this is what I do:


grasya geeking
I successfully brainwashed Father Georg, the former responsible for Priest school of Asia, to let me borrow his computer so I can update my website. :D.. and what have I created? Poetries.

 

Oh well, those were wonderful years in my book of life. I am in deep gratitude to the Focolarinas who have put up with my rebel tendencies and still managed to adopt me ;D

And after 10 years, I think it’s high time for me to fulfill this dream travel destination – to travel in Italy. It’s slow going but I’m getting there. But why do I want to go to Italy?

My friends from Myanmar and Vietnam whom I also lived with when I was in Tagaytay has already been to Italy, some of them can speak fluent Italian already. They were able to go because of sponsors.. and since no one wants to sponsor me, I will sponsor myself..


gen batch 2004-2005
Kidding! I really want to prove that I am capable of fundraising for my travels ;)

It has been 10 years and this will all be worth it. But where will I go?

I want to visit the place of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement. She is one of the forefront of religious and cultural dialogue of different faith, culture, races, and classes of society. I look up to her ideals of unity and would like to pay respect by visiting her place like when I visited the tomb of Mother Theresa in Kolkata, and when I visited the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, Nepal.

Yeah of course, Israel is also on the bucketlist.. Jesus, can I pretty please pray for more frugal ways to visit your birthplace?

Now if I get a sponsor, I’ll get to travel around and visit Rome, Venice, and I heard Sardinia is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered.. but that is if I get a sponsor to fund my travels…

**cricket sounds**

 

Ok, sponsors can just give the money to people who need it most. Do not worry I’m self sustainable and just happy to eat authentic Italian PiIiizza and PaaAasta.. I’m saying this with matching Italian gestures.

 

I am also in love with their language, it sounds so beautiful.. Oh the Italian men? I met many Italian guys during my travels, although the ADHD in me was like – oh cute guys – and when they are gone, I will be like – oh my pizza is delicious.. I have no hope :D…

 

It has been years in the queue but it’s all worth the wait.. and it will be very soon till I will finally be able to buy that ticket to this dream destination.. It is worth the wait, dear Italy.. it is worth the wait.

Greece: Dream Travel Destination Series

Greece: Dream Travel Destination Series

Greece has an impression to me as an ancient country that is rich in history and culture.. I knew this country thru English literature class during those school days but I still look forward to seeing Greece in person… well I want to visit all countries in this Earth actually xD.. let’s see what we can check out in Greece

1. Visit Zakynthos, or Zante as it’s often known. It’s one of the most popular resorts to explore in Greece. The Philippines already have lots of resorts considering its an archipelgo.. but of course Greece is a different country. Hopefully I can find a great deal that is within my budget..

2. Visit Mykonos. It’s the first time I’ve heard about this place, just because a friend, Mehmet, has pictures of those.. I just notice almost all of the buildings are painted in white.. not sure what is the reason, but it blends well in the blue sea background. And they are indeed fascinating.

3. Go to Athens. This capital and largest city in Greece must be on my list. I only read about Athens in books specially that it’s one of the oldest cities with a very impressive history considered as the birthplace of civilization. I wouldn’t miss visiting Acropolis, or “Sacred Rock”, the most famous archeological monument in Europe.

4. Try out Greek cuisine.. and learn how to cook them! Moussaka, an eggplant or potato based dish is on my to-eat list.. I’ve looked around and think Souvlaki looks interesting too… it actually looks like Shawarma.. we’ll see what it actually taste like when i get to eat the real thing.

Ok at the moment, this is a draft itinerary and I have yet to learn more about this fascinating country.. for now, bear with me while I do steps to make my travel dreams come true..

Really scary and exciting that my dream to travel is becoming true.. ^_^ Future looks really bright ;)

So, what else do you think I should do in Greece? ^_^