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.

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. ^_^

Where to stay and what to do in Phonsavan, Laos

Where to stay and what to do in Phonsavan, Laos

I never had any idea I was close to the most secret place on earth… and I arrived on a friday the 13th!

I just came just to see the plain of jars, take a picture, then go home.. But as things unfolded, the heavens planned to scare me too!

Aside from scaring myself, there are actually stuff I did in Phonsavan.. and yeah i told you, I went to see the Plain of Jars :D

The tour costs was actually higher than a bus ride from Phonsavan to Vientiane.. It was low season, and because I was shy to approach other people to split the fee, I paid 250 000.00 kip, that’s around 25-30 dollars to see a bunch of jars xD… but I think it was worth it, coz it’s not just any other jars.. it’s THE plain of jars xD… read the history behind it.

Oh yeah, you can lower the cost if you just rent a motorbike instead.. but since I dont know how to drive one and I dont want to get lost and discover a bomb waiting to explode, of course I asked for a tour guide.

Speaking of history, Laos was one of the most heavily bombed countries on earth.. so you can also see bomb craters around the area.. However, that was the past.. locals found a way to deal with their past by establishing a coffee shop, and displayed the bombs as decoration. Isnt it welcoming? ^_^

Where to stay in Phonsavan:

My budget costing was compensated when I stayed in Lao Falang… It was the cheapest guest house option that I found in the internet while I was browsing on where to stay in Phonsavan, Laos. Well if I chose to be really frugal, the most cheapest alternative is to couchsurf and cook for my hosts in return.. but I also want to spend travel money to contribute to the economy of the country..

 

The beds are just simple but I particularly love the hot shower and wifi is impressive.. A strong wifi in a very rural area is what makes me really happy. Check them out:

Lao Falang Dormitory
Contact numbers +856 20285 858 58
Cost: 25 000 kip / night

 

This Grasya is in Laos

This Grasya is in Laos

Last 2 years ago, I spent 2 hours in Laos when I visited the Golden Triangle while in Thailand.. yes 2 hours only.

The 2 hour visit was very interesting though.. coz I get to see exotic wines.. like turtle wine, snake wine, etc.. But now I’ve stayed longer than the usual visa run to get a feel of the country.

Vientiane, the capital, is really laid back, even if its already a city.. which I actually like.. lesser people, lesser pollution, lesser problem.

Although its quiet, you will sometimes feel uneasy.. do you know that Laos is one of the most heavily bombed countries? To those planning on harakiri, just go off the beaten path here where no one has ever set foot yet and you just might get lucky to step on a bomb. Of course I’m kidding.

Anyway, it is peaceful where I am at.. Sorry to disappoint you.. Here’s what I’ve been doing at the moment:

1. Food trip. The food is really very similar to Thailand.. Specially the noodles and the spicy food.

2. Sight seeing. Its good that I met some folks who have a vehicle here, I get to see some sights in the city that will be difficult for me if I just go alone. Never really get to see the whole of Laos.. But I have visited a farm and school in a far flung area where few foreigners have been including this German nun who runs that place.. I saw some weird bugs and plants that I haven’t seen in the Philippines though.. I guess that is what you call sight seeing. I also saw these interesting stuff while going around the city.. do you know what these are?

3. Volunteer in a school and farm. Of course I didnt just go around. I contributed to the society of this country in my own little way.. The teens in this area has so much potential and so eager to learn.. the place has a lot of improving to do.. I just wish another volunteer will stay longer here and develop the area into a global school with an eco tourist farm. Volunteers anyone?

4. Check out some coffee shops. Oh yeah, those temporary offices makes me temporarily happy.. until I want to go to a new coffee shop again.

5. Trying out strict veganism. I survived 5 days with no meat and eating only certain veggies without garlic, onions, eggs, chocolate and almost no coffee! *pats self at back*

Details on future stories..