03 June 2016

Birthday trip!

Five months in Tainan just flew by and what can I say - it's been great five months so far :)
Not what I wanted to talk about today so let's just leave Tainan for another time, today I'll share with you a word or two about my last vacation in Philippines...

"Don't listen to what they say. Go, see!"

In my last post I told you about a birthday gift to myself, a plain ticket to Philippines! 
Buying an airplane ticket is so much better than buying shoes (and I LOVE shoes!), it feels like opening the first page of a new book. The feeling of not knowing what's waiting for you on the next page. You can imagine it,but before you get there and see it with your own eyes nothing can describe it so perfectly. The sweet waiting and anticipation...

To pick one of more than 7000 beautiful islands this country has was not easy, however, when the tickets are cheap(er) for one of those destinations it helps you decide. Palawan it was!

Two years ago I planned a vacation in Boracay with my friend Adri but ended up in Zanzibar instead because of visa requirements which was a bit tricky to make happen at the last moment considering the job we were doing back then. Nowadays Croatians don't require visa to enter this SE Asian country which was one more reason to chose it for my trip
The third reason 'why?' was the beauty of its nature, yummy food and friendly Filipino people. Well, those are actually three reasons but I count them all in as one category. Why? Because those are the only actual memories you will remember long after your trip...

You won't remember how your hotel room looked like but you will remember nice staff who helped you around, with a smile on their faces at all times! (and all the other people for that matter)
You won't remember how much you've spent but you will remember some of the most breathtaking sunsets, beaches, woods, mountains, waterfalls you've seen.
And for sure you will always remember where you had the most delicious fresh coconut, fish platter, burger, slice of cake or any other local dish in the country you've visited.

Since I've already been to Philippines many times before, but only in Manila, I couldn't wait to experience its other side - easy going, relaxed, poor but happy island of Palawan.

Must say my first thought about the place was that it looked a lot like Zanzibar. As I said, easy going, relaxed, poor, the same climate, similar food, approachable people...
Five days in a small hotel in the city of Puerto Princesa was really cheap and easy to find and book through Booking.com, but five days was not even closely enough to see all of what this island has to offer. 

Renting a scooter is also easy and cheap but be prepared to leave your passport at the rental place for insurance. Not the most comfortable thing to do though :/
Beaches around the city are not like the ones you see on the pictures online but if you take an island hopping tour you will enjoy the day swimming and snorkeling on those magnificent, surreal looking beaches you once only dreamed of visiting.

"The mind will not always remember exactly what happened,
but the heart will always remember the feeling..."

The other day trip we took was to the Underground River - one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Something really different and memorable, specially the part when your guide tells you to keep your mouth closed if you don't want to taste the bat poo falling from above! (...how do you know if all those drops are water or poo? Well, water is cold...) ;)
After 45 minutes in those dark scary caves I had to go and try the zip line. Nothing can beat the rush and excitement of a free fall out of the airplane but this was also fun and I ticked it off of my list!


Dining experiences were all more than satisfying. Whether you eat in a well known restaurant, beach bar or at the stand by the road the food will be delicious, service will be fast and you will leave happily full! The only thing in question is how much are you willing to spend on food and drinks? If you are a foodie like me prepare a little extra just in case you can't say no to tasting everything from the menu in every restaurant you go to :D
Just kidding, Or not? :p

Before you exit the country, at the airport, you have to pay a certain fee. My golden fish brain can't remember how much was it but don't exchange (or spend) all the money, local currency before you pay that fee. Be prepared ta wait because most of the times there are flight delays, and always and I mean ALWAYS have a mosquito repellent or two with you! Those little, flying, blood sucking beasts are merciless! Other than that you will have a really great time meeting interesting people along the way, making memories, trying out new things...

"The best things in life are the people you love,
the places you have see and
the memories you have made along the way."

Enjoy your upcoming vacations and summer/winter trips!
Happy and safe traveling everyone! :*

02 February 2016

Living in Asia :)

This post I want to start with a quote that inspired me this morning...

Waking up early and going to bed early was my routine since...forever! Then everything changed when I went to Dubai and for years worked at any time of the day and night.
It messes you up, trust me, it really does. Still, I'm trying to catch my old rhythm that I love so much, even now after almost two months I'm not completely myself, but getting there, slowly... It's Tuesday, I woke up at 8 am, and I'm writing again! Woohoo! High five me :)

(street art photographer took this photo of me, yaaay,
too many selfies since I can't pester my girls for a perfect photo anytime I want hahah)

The weather here in Taiwan is, well, nicely put - crazy! The worst winter in the last few decades, sun and rain playing hide and seek day in and day out, it's warm during the day and we sleep in two long sleeves during the night. I'm actually using winter gloves and had to buy a warm winter jacket for scooter rides...brrrr... Yes, a scooter!

In the land where everyone live on that thing (not the biggest fan of motorbikes, scooters etc.) it was about time to get my own, as much as I would love not to, and get to know the city easier and much faster than on foot or bike. The secret, the unspoken rule in traffic around here is (and by here I mean in most of Asian countries) the bigger, the stronger, the faster - has the priority! Accidents on the roads are so usual. Not everyone will turn their heads to see what happened, just another one down. Don't be scared, people are not dying daily on the streets, I know it sounds like it, but it's not fast and furious around here, I just want to point out how common it is to see an accident whether it was a serious one or just a minor bump.
Anyhow... I'm driving a scooter now, another thing I never thought I would do hahaha :)
For some of you it sounds ridiculous but, as I said already, I don't like them, they don't look safe, I already have a running nose and... Hmmm, those two reasons are more than enough for me.

On the positive note, it feels like I'm in Disney world once again!
Asian girls are well known for their love of funky fashion and cartoon characters all over their clothes. Not just clothes but everything they have! And did I mention how much I love cartoons? And glitter? Minnie and Mickey? Minions? Snoopy? Fairytale princesses? No? Well I do now - I LOVE IT #iwannabeaprincess <3
That being said imagine what was the only thing that made me happy about buying this monster on two wheels? A possibility of buying super, ultra, cool, awesome, cute HELMET with...guess what - cartoon characters :) :) :) #happyasachild

When I went to buy myself one, I was lost like a kid in a candy store, which one to get, which one I like best, which one is the prettiest??? So the decision was made - I'm gonna have one for every single day of the week hahahaha. No, I didn't buy 7 of them, for now, but with time I will have a pretty little collection for sure ;)

Prices of these kind of helmets are between 20 and 60 USD, and the prices of used scooters 50ccm are between 60 and 160 USD (depending on your negotiating skills - that's why my friend did it for me, cause you remember, I suck at it) :) 
(just some street art in Tainan)

The other thing I bought this week was an airplane ticket! Surprise, surprise? Not really...
When I made this decision of coming to Taiwan I made another decision - I will try to travel around Asia to the places where I haven't been yet or to the places where I want to go back to. And I'm not coming back (home) for good until I cross over a few more destinations on my list! First of them is the amazingly beautiful country of Philippines and its Palawan island. Plan for now is to go alone, while crossing fingers a friend of mine gets days off to join me on this weekend getaway at the end of March. Let's call it a pre-birthday gift to myself :)
It's not going to be my first time in the Philippines but it is going to be the first time on the island. Manila can't be compared to the nature of the islands so I'm expecting a whole different experience! One more thing I can't wait to do there is to be pampered in some nice beauty salon...
Ohhh, the best beauty technicians in the world come from the Philippines (you should all meet my friend Maggie in Dubai)! Sandy beaches, breathtaking sunsets, delicious food, friendly people, cocktails, my camera, a good book... Can I skip right through and go there tomorrow?! :)

"A little reading is all the therapy a person needs sometimes."

Talking about books... Still didn't find a proper bookstore where I can find and buy books in English. There is one but it has, like, 10 titles which is making it hard to choose from when you have read half of them already :D
But all the bookstores and used books stores I found were all those kind of places where even the most grumpiest person in the world would feel calm and happy, where the book haters would start loving to read, where the atmosphere is just like an old book - has that special heart warming scent, occupies you with all its content and makes you wanna come back again. After visiting one like that, I'm not even sad I haven't found myself a new one to put on a shelf, I'm happy to know those kind of places exist absolutely everywhere I go in this world and I can go there anytime I want and just be...

"A library is a hospital for the mind."

Have a beautiful day, week, month, LIFE of memorable travels, magical words and books to read, countless memories to remember and unforgettable loving people around yourself...

Huge kiss from me to you!