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 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.


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
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) 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.


Homestays in Siargao Island, Philippines

Siargao Island is a place I’d keep coming to. You know the feeling when you already planned your next visit even when you just arrived? It is that charming.

I arrived really early in Siargao, alighted at Dapa Port around 9 in the morning. It’s a sunshine-y day. I got in touch with a friend of a friend days back prior to this trip but he doesn’t know any homestay places in the area so I figured I’ll have to search it on my own. I met a fellow backpacker at the market and had a little chit-chat. We both needed a place to stay. We clicked in an instance. We rode on a tricycle and told the driver to bring us to a “Homestay” place. The driver brought us to a lovely place in General Luna. The place is called “Jing’s Homestay”.

We went inside and asked around for the details of the homestay. I looked around and noticed this isn’t the “homestay” I thought about. It turns out it’s a family run hostel. I had no choice but to stay here for the night. The people around doesn’t have a clue with what I am talking about. I really expected to stay at someone else’s house. Eat the same food they serve on the table and all that “homestay” stuff.

homestay surigao

It may not be the “homestay” I imagined but definitely it was the same “homestay experience” I have imagined. The family who run the hostel is super nice to everyone. They check us all the time and let us have a good time by their common dining area. They always always make sure we don’t get bored. They have a lot of good ideas popping every now and then. The owner by the way is one of the first surfers in the island and one of the first to teach surfing to the locals. The family is such a funny and warm bunch. It almost felt like we’ve known each other for a very long time.

I spent the day motorbiking together with my new found buddy. We checked out the different surf spot, we went to Pilar and to Union. We didn’t get to surf that day but we were able to check out other spots anyway. The day flew by so fast. We arrived back in our homestay right before sundown. There in the common dining room were other travellers from all over the globe gathered for a little siesta time. We joined the group and had dinner together and spent the rest of the night talking non-stop about travel. And yea few bottles of beers involved before we called it a day.

The following day, I woke up pretty early and was able to catch up with the man behind the homestay, Mr Jing. He’s a funny man who definitely knows how to make any person smile with his effortless humour. It was a great day, breakfast was of omelettes and good laugh.


homestay surigao

I bid goodbye to the place I called home with a happy heart. I wish I could stay longer but I couldn’t so I had to scout for a new place to stay. Nevertheless, my “not-so-legit-homestay-experience” was pretty amazing and it opened my eyes into many many possible things. I definitely learnt a lot and looking forward to that more “legit” homestay experience somewhere. Someday.

The people I met at Jing’s Homestay were also the reason why I extended my trip to more than a week. Good times!


For those who wants to check it out, here’s the info details:

Pob 5 (Bayud), General Luna, Siargao Islands 09152781113

Airconditioned room: 1000/night Fan room: 800/night

homestay surigao


Author Bio: Shugah Pauline is a 23-year-old solo wanderer who lugs a 40-liter backpack without a definite itinerary. A digital nomad or “Cyber Gypsy” as she calls her self. She would never be found lounging pool-side at a tropical resort. For her, travel is all about thrills and spills and seeing how a place can really get her heart pounding. It’s about swaying tree barks, getting robbed by a local and running after him (because anything can happen!!), scaling cliffs and generally laughing in the face of gravity. She doesn’t believe in taking it easy; she believes in pushing it to the next level. She doesn’t drink beer and prefers a sweet coffee machiato, por favor.

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?


This is part 2 of of the food trip series in Antique. For part 1, please go to

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.


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.



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.

Giveaway: Stay in this beautiful home for FREE

Giveaway: Stay in this beautiful home for FREE

I lived in this beautiful house last year when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now, I wanted to share to a lucky reader what it is like to live there. This is made possible in collaboration with Ms Punika Shinawatra, I really realized even if I’m not (yet) rich with money, I still have rich friends… errr.. so I feel rich because of affinity.. you get the drift ;D

These four Lanna styled houses are located down south in Chiang Mai. And because these beautiful houses are located a bit far from the walled city center, it is perfect for small group retreats, which I’m planning to do together with other brilliant retreat masters soon… or if you are a solo traveler like me, it is perfect if you want some peace and serenity.

Chiang Mai Lanna House

The Lanna styled houses will make you feel the authentic Chiang Mai way of life, yet it’s still has that modern touch because of the air conditioning, television, and hot shower. Internet is provided upon request.

If you haven’t been to my fairy city, I highly recommend that you grab the chance to stay in this beautiful place for free! And who knows, if the fairy city decides to cast a spell on you, no matter what, you will always go back.

The beautiful villa can be booked at Airbnb. Feel free too get a glimpse here.

How to get the chance to win a free stay in this beautiful home? Join the raffle below, it starts on July 25-August 25,2014. Winner will be declared on August 26, 2014.

The winner will need to claim the prize until December 26, 2014; otherwise, it can be given as a gift to someone going within the timeframe. The property is not always available so please check with the owner on the schedule of visit ahead of time. Good luck ^_^

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations goes to Mia Kristiina Armada of Finland! You have won a FREE stay in this beautiful Lanna house villa for a WEEK.. Plus you will also get FREE travel advices from me once you get to travel in South East Asia. Kindly email me at grasya (at) on how to claim your prize. Have fun! ^_^