Miss Tech

Miss Tech

Don’t mistake this fragile little lady to be just another small lady.. she has worked in different cubicle corners in different countries already.

Her expertise, according to non techy people like her mom and aunt, is to stare at the computer all day. She earned her Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science, so she has the right to stare at the computer.

Seriously, technology allowed her to roam the earth. Check out her projects and feel free to collaborate.

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.

10 Travel tips if you are going to El Nido, Palawan

10 Travel tips if you are going to El Nido, Palawan

Beautiful pristine waters, grand rock formations, beautiful people.. El Nido, Palawan is beautiful alright.


palawan best island
And you think to see that beauty is an easy journey? Well not for some. There are still visitors who came unprepared for the challenge of being in this paradise.. Going to El Nido, Palawan may not be an easy tick in your bucket list but once you overcome challenges by preparing yourself on what to expect, then definitely, you will enjoy the best island in the world.



Here’s some tips:

1. ATM is unreliable. Whenever I go to the ATM to access money, it is not working. You might want to load enough cash before coming to El Nido to make sure you enjoy in this paradise, 1000php a day is acceptable if you have activities that you plan to do in El Nido. There are alternatives though, hope your accommodation accepts credit cards. Here’s more of my Palawan budget tips too.

2. Zigzag roads or great waves might make you vomit. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from Puerto Princesa, and the roads are winding.. Make sure first aid kit comes in handy just in case you or a travel companion gets dizzy. Throw up bag is also useful.


northern hope tours

3. If you arrived in the wee hours of the morning, you can sleep on the bus and wait for the sunrise to set before you go off. Once I took the last trip from Puerto Princesa to Taytay (a small town before El Nido), but since we arrive at around 1AM, I didn’t want to go down Taytay and the scaredy cat in me decided to head to El Nido instead.. but when we arrived in El Nido, it’s still very early.. Good thing the bus conductor said, we can sleep in the bus so there were around 5 of us who took advantage of the “free accommodation”. At around 6am, I traveled back to Taytay.

4. Tricycle fare around town is always 10-20 pesos.. If tricycle drivers asked you for 50 pesos, then you are being asked for tourist price. You can always have the option to look for another tricycle. If you arrived in the bus/van terminal, usually fares are cheaper when you walk away from the terminal and walk down the street.

5. There’s traffic in El Nido. The town did not anticipate that it will be famous one day, so when huge crowds of tourists came in, human and vehicle traffic became apparent. It will be a culture shock to those living in the mountains that rarely see people.


el nido jeep
 

6. If you are traveling in off peak season, it is optional to book an accommodation in advance because there are lots of places to choose from that are not listed in the internet. It is better if you have contacts with locals or someone that can get you a better deal on places and tours because El Nido can really get expensive if you don’t plan well. I was booked at Northern Hope Tours, you might want to check them out too.

 

7. Restaurant dining can get really expensive. If you have the money, you won’t really be bothered by 200 peso (5usd) coffee or a 300 peso (7.5usd) course meal. But for the budget conscious like me, there are alternative options to look around. Restaurants near the church are affordable and it offers healthy home cooked meals for 70-100 pesos (1-2USD) only; you may want to check it out. And you wanted a cool yet affordable coffee shop? Find the coffee shop of Gawad Kalinga at the other end of El Nido town proper.. their views are nice too.

8. There’s cheap buys in El nido.. El Nido can be expensive at first sight. But if you look around, you can actually shop and buy a short for 20 pesos (or ~0.5 USD)


cheap finds in El Nido
 

9. Make sure you bring extra money when going to boat tours because you’ll pay extra for paddle boats, coconut juice, etc on islands. You’ll pity yourself if you didn’t hire the paddle boat to go to the small lagoon specially if you don’t know how to swim.


palawan best island3
 

10. El Nido to Coron is a difficult route. If you decide to head over to Coron, make sure you check the weather and the waves.. I tried that route and it topped my list as one of the scariest boat rides of my life. If you want to experience how terrifying it is, follow your desire and travel from El Nido to Coron on rainy season.

There are indeed more hidden challenges like lack of potable water (yep) and electricity outages that most of you might never experience because you came to Palawan as tourists.. and thus you will never know the joys and pains of being a local in Paradise.. I might write about this for another story, we’ll see.

So there you go. Did I miss anything? Do you have any addition to the pointers above? No matter what, the best island in the world is still a beauty and I recommend you should visit it at least once in your life. For those who are already going, hope you have fun in El Nido. ^_^

Related articles:

http://grasya.com/2013/01/what-to-do-in-puerto-princesa-palawan/
http://grasya.com/2012/11/the-vanishing-batak-tribe-of-palawan/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/coron-palawan-philippines_n_6193058.html

How to Get Free Accommodation When You Travel

How to Get Free Accommodation When You Travel

I have to tell you something.. most of the places we stayed at when I was traveling with my mom were free..

And surprisingly, those places were very nice.. almost glamorous. And did I mention free? You can read more about how to stay in hotels for free here.

hotel in Thailand


 

Ok before I make some of you envious (and plot a way to rob our house again like what happened last 2013), let me tell you that there are ways for you to have free stays too. Here are some options:

1. Volunteering –  I was able to go to India and Thailand because of a volunteer agency. In exchange of the work that I did for non profit organizations, I was able to learn the language and culture of the country, was able to get a nice apartment, and I was able to travel as well.. on a budget of course.

 

2. Couchsurfing – although people see this as a way to get free accommodation, you are expected to barter something. Like cultural exchanges, and a little bit of household chores. There are generous souls who I met that did not ask for anything but as a responsible guest, I did my best to reciprocate the generosity I’m receiving. This is my room when I was in Nepal, not bad for a “couch”


 

3. Stay at family homes – because most Asians are family oriented, most also prefer to stay in houses of relatives when traveling. That’s why sometimes it’s the advantage of a large family clan. My family clan is scattered around the Philippines so when I get to travel around, I almost always have free places to stay. You don’t have a large family clan? No worries, families can be in a form of organizations or friends.. ask to be adopted by one ^_^

 

4. Join Contests – well, unfortunately I was not lucky enough to win in such contests.. so I made my own contests :)).. check out my posts about how grasya.com gave free accommodation in Nepal and Thailand, hopefully grasya.com can give away more contests in the future ^_^

 


 

5. Get sponsored – From our last trip, I was not able to volunteer or couchsurf, we also don’t have families in Thailand and Vietnam. But lucky enough, advertisers are able to fund my trip so we got to stay in fancy hotels. I also got promo codes from Airbnb so it reduced our accommodation budget significantly.

 

Despite that, since I’m all about transparency, I still will post stories about not so nice experiences don’t worry :P

There are also other creative ways to get free accommodations which include house sitting, woofing, work exchange, and I’m still experimenting on Trampolinn. But I haven’t done those yet, probably I’ll do it when I get to Europe as I intend to stay in that continent for a bit longer.. as you see, I do love long term travels… We’ll see what the future holds.

 

How about you? Do you have tips on how to get free accommodations when you travel? Do share your tips.

 

 

 

Win a Free Stay in Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur, Nepal

Win a Free Stay in Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur, Nepal

Yep, I’m giving away free 2 nights / 3 days stay in a brand new building named Star View Guest House in Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur District, Nepal. That’s courtesy of my generous host when I was in Bhaktapur. Thank you Amanda of http://www.unconventionaltourist.com/


star view


This is also my way of promoting the community in Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur. It can be a road less traveled, as I seem to like traveling to these kinds of areas.. Click here to learn more about Changu Narayan.

star view building, changu narayan, bhaktapur, nepal

 

Really travelers should go to other places in Nepal other than Kathmandu and Pokhara, you never know what hidden paradise or art you’ll discover once you’re there.


around bhaktapur, nepal
dolls in Nepal


Bhaktapur is actually home to UNESCO World Heritage sites including Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal, Changu Narayan Temple. Imagine being transported to time when you’re there.. specially that it’s not as crowded and busy as compare to Kathmandu which is only around 2 hours away.


changu narayan temple


Travelers going to Nepal on May 2014 to May 2015 are welcome to join.. And just in case you will not be going on the expected timeframe, this contest is transferable so you can give it as a gift to a friend or family.

What does it take to win a free 2 nights stay in Changu Narayan, Nepal? Easy.

1. Just like the following facebook page,

https://www.facebook.com/LifeIsForeverBeautiful

https://www.facebook.com/traveltipidtips

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Homestay/157240934484114

2. Follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/gracebangoy

3. Comment here on why you wanted to win a free 2 night stay in Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur, Nepal

It is a must to complete all 3 above otherwise you will be disqualified from joining. Winners will be chosen on April 30 2014 via random.org

Good luck!

It’s April 30th! And the Winner is Mark of Sunshine Social Welfare Group!


winner of starview guest house