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.


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.

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

 

10 Practical Holiday Gifts for Travelers

10 Practical Holiday Gifts for Travelers

For those looking on what to give this holiday season to travelers, here’s stuff that I found necessary while traveling. I have used some of them and can highly recommend them as gifts to fellow travelers. Check them out, and if you find a stuff that you need, feel free to send this link to Santa Claus. ^_^

1. Scarf. Scarf is the most useful stuff I bring on my travels. You can use this as a fashion essential to cover your bulges, or your small mammary glands. Aside from that, you can also use it as a substitute for towel, blanket, and handkerchief, and if you can be creative, a big scarf can be a dress too.. Very practical indeed.


grasya with scarf in Nepal


2. High End phone that functions as a camera, video, internet device, gameboy, etc. You can work and/or play at the same time while you are traveling. I have a cheap phone that I use mostly when traveling because it doesn’t break and if it gets lost, I won’t have a heart ache. But recently, I felt that need to have a high end phone for my online projects, good thing I got them for free because of my postpaid plan. Now, that’s what you call practical :P

Note: As a traveler, one must also consider the quality of images you capture. It is a good thing to have your own handy camera that’ll capture your escapade. For this, one must consider buying their own digital camera. For this you might want to consider a professional dslr, a mirrorless camera, a point-and-shoot camera like the canon powershot g3, or an action camera.

3. Backpack with wheels. The wheels will give the backpack a dual purpose so when you get a backache, you can wheel the baggage instead. My cousin gave this kind of backpack to me, so thank you sooo much ate Liza xx

4. Swiss knife, pepper spray and other self defense tools. This is important especially for women travelers.

5. First aid kits. If something happens and hospital is far, it’s better to learn first aid and a first aid kit should be handy.

6. Beauty kits. Some travelers want to look chick and posh while still traveling so a beauty kit that contains powder, cologne, etc is a gift that every traveler will be delighted with.

7. Tech gadgets such as laptop. I’m just putting it out here because my laptop needs to be replaced soon. Here’s my paawa effect image:


laptop-and-phone


 


8. Hotel vouchers. Some people love to travel outdoors, but some love to just stay in their accommodation and just.. stay there. Yeah I know people like these. That’s why the word staycation is invented. Some people travel to a place, then when they get to the place, instead of exploring, they just go around their hotel and sleep.. Understandable when you’re traveling with senior citizens. ^_^ The perfect gift for them are hotel vouchers. If you look around my website, I’m giving discount staycation vouchers. Feel free to use them ^_^.. That’s my mom in a hotel we got for free, thank you sponsors ^_^


grasya-and-mom-in-thailand
 


9. Airmiles or a free ticket elsewhere. Because you are giving gifts to travelers. Duh. My Air asia bigshot id is 7310008540 and Cebu pacific getgo number is 2030241901, thank you. I do prefer land travel though.. but it’s difficult when you’re located in the Philippines when the fastest way to get out of this country is by air.

10. Travel funds. Let’s cut the chase. Sometimes you are given a gift that you don’t want. So better give the funds to buy the gift that you want no? ^_^

 

So there’s my suggested list of items to give travelers this holiday season. Any practical stuff to add up in the list? ^_^

Frugal Travel Tips Story #19 – Interview with Juanito Estrada

There are people who go to different countries for a very long time. Some are long term travelers, who hop from one country to another. Some go to different countries for a purpose. Such as Juanito Estrada. I have not met him yet but I’m amazed at how he survived far flung areas in Africa and currently, Nepal.

While I’m taking a break from international volunteering, I admire people who are currently reaching out to do what they need to do. This is indeed a great timing since we are celebrating the International Volunteers Day.

And yes these people travel.. but they travel not just to tour places although it’s indeed a great reward for the work that they do, they travel with a purpose. And you get to learn some culture and some dish to cook as well. Read his food blog and savour different dishes from different countries. Read on how he was able to do it:



juanito estrada


Can you tell me something about yourself? Occupation/hobbies/etc

I am a university lecturer on natural sciences, and currently a professional volunteer. My main advocacy is on environmental health education that empowers minorities to attain a self-sustainable community utilizing local resources. Passions includes philanthropy which is very innate to me, exploring less explored places and my high are the wilderness and being with my small group of close but trusted friends and immediate family members. And I love my privacy. Planting trees and volunteerism is a part of my lifestyle.

Of all the countries you’ve been, which one is your favorite?

Tanzania, it is blessed with everything, the awesome landscapes, exotic animals, the serene vast azure seas of the Indian Ocean, the mystic lakes with endemic organisms, its warm and hospitable with different cultures, traditions, religions but living in harmony, a blessed nation with very rich resources, it is simply paradise!

Any hidden paradise you’ve discovered that are not on guidebooks?

The beaches of the islets in the northern part of Pemba Island in East Africa, from its wonderful, drop off sites teeming with autumn colours of the organisms, isolated white beaches and tropical fruits. Also the vast savannahs of Katavi, Ruaha, and Lake Natron national parks are simply amazing. Cycling and travelling with my foster brother Mustafa Hassanali and his wife Durriyah, and close friend Mohammed Mustafa Hassanali and his family is always a thing that I look forward always every year, I hope I will not miss it this 2016!

Have you met a person that is not from a developed country doing the same thing that you do?
Yes, my foster brother Mustafa Hassanali, he is very passionate about everything on what he can do for others. We have a lot in common, the love for family, nature, cycling, and of course food but we are also opposite in a lot of ways, he hates reading, which I love so much, he is calm and I am an agile but it compliments. He is more than a biological brother.


juanito estrada3

How do you fund your travels?

I always save for my travels so that it will commensurate my lifestyle. Living simply by eating to survive but not to indulge, buying resources from the locals to benefit them directly but also getting the freshest and healthy produced, To savour my travels I love to be acculturated by spending time with the locals and travel using local transports if not hiking, cycling or trekking. To synthesize, save for the best, live simply because the greatest luxury in life is not on splurging, but it is in always in simplicity.

What are your plans after traveling?

Embarking on my I love always, teaching and live simply in a quite place where I grow organic organisms for food trees, continue planting trees and be involve biodiversity conservations, I will still do the things that I love to do today. Travelling is a thing that I cannot stop doing, because it is my greatest teacher and entertainer, it always put me in equilibrium and makes always dynamic. I am simply a nomad.

Do you have frugal travel tips you want to share?
Travel like a local, commune with them as a local, and you will experienced as a stranger that kindness is everywhere and will restore your faith in humanity. The only tip is to be sincere and honest always. Spend like local always!

Any advice to people that wants to follow your lead?

Happiness in life comes from small packages as they say, so put always the spirit of sincerity, compassion and transparency, then you will how to love and it will radiates back. Love changes everything no matter what.