TRAVEL: Around Taiwan (Taipei/New Taipei City) in B&W (part 1)

Traveling with my parentals is a double-edged sword. You’d love them because they’re not a killjoy and they wouldn’t say no for any adventure. On the other hand, you’d hate them because they do not like traveling if everything isn’t arranged/booked ahead of time.

A little backstory: my parents had a traumatic experience when we first went out of the country. We visited Malaysia and we didn’t have any itinerary with us; totally cool for us kids but a hassle for these adults. We were there for more than a week and we didn’t know what to do. As soon as we got home, my mum and dad said that we won’t travel anymore without booking with a travel agency to arrange everything for us.

The last time we all traveled together was in 2018. We visited Taiwan, per my mum’s request. As you’d expect, everything has been arranged by a travel agency. Despite a delightful experience, I still didn’t like it when the tour had to cut short because we’re following a strict itinerary and schedule.

Fact: I hate traveling when I’m pressed with time.

We were in Taiwan for about 5 days. We went around Taiwan, as far as Taichung, but for this post, I’m going to feature some snippets during our time in Taipei and New Taipei City.

lrm_export_623888080618702_20180901_021652555
I love the ceiling of the Taipei International Airport.
A little aerial glimpse of Taipei at night time.
lrm_export_623809075737912_20180901_021533550
Around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
lrm_export_623797010593575_20180901_021521485
Inside Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
lrm_export_623818599270482_20180901_021543074
Witnessed the changing of guards at the Martyrs’ Shrine.
lrm_export_623759120968871_20180901_021443596
Taipei has lots of gaming/arcade centers and this was one of them. I saw this cute couple whispering something to each other and took a photo of them.
lrm_export_623735315557427_20180901_021419790
A nice graffiti art somewhere near Ximenting.
lrm_export_623788711197119_20180901_021513186
Ximenting at night.
lrm_export_623892002904622_20180901_021656477
Trying to find my luck for a local sim in Zhongshan District.
lrm_export_623898239081079_20180901_021702714
Right outside of our hotel (Hotel B-1) in Zhongshan District).
Taipei 101
A view of the infamous Taipei 101 from below.
Beef Noodles
Local Taiwan Beef Noodles at Chef Hung Taiwan Beef Noodles at Ruihu Street, Taipei.

For some weird reason, I didn’t want to use my camera (Nikon D3200) to take photos and videos. Instead, I opted to use my old Samsung Galaxy S8 and tried shooting everything on B&W.

What I love about Taipei and New Taipei City during our visit was the cleanliness. I love how refreshing it is to see how things are highly organised and how the air isn’t as humid as it is in Manila.

If you fear that the language barrier will stop you from exploring (most people don’t speak English and would only be comfortable conversing in Chinese/Mandarin), you shouldn’t get worried. In fact, you can either Google your way to your destination or simply hail Uber if you feel a little extra (yes, they have Uber in Taiwan – how I miss Uber in the Philippines!)

I highly suggest getting their local cuisine. Taiwan is really known for its rich selection of food. I recommend going to Chef Hung Taiwan Beef Noodles shop and enjoy their Taiwan Beef Noodles + unlimited noodles and soup!

More photos (and stories about my parents) on my next blog – until then!

Travel Notes: 25 November 2018

Intramuros-Binondo, Manila, Philippines


My mum used to bring me with her to their office in Intramuros so it’s easy to say that I’m very much familiar with the area. Last Sunday, I went here with my brother to visit some of the old-but-reused buildings for their assignment. I’m delighted that I was able to go with him because it made me remember how happy my childhood was. It’s good to see that despite major developments here and there, the ambiance stays the same and that everything could still be reached easily by walking.

Head over to my Instagram and check out my new IGTV upload here featuring my weekend shenanigan with my brother!

Foulards for days! #HelpAFriend

#HelpAFriend: We have a couple of foulards (pronounced as foo-lards in English and foo-lah in French) at home and I plan on selling them. We don’t use them here — heck, I only use it as a “bag tag” to identify which one is mine. I’ve included some photos to let you all see how it looks like and how it can be tied on a bag (thanks mum for letting me borrow something out of your bag collection!)

Aside from being a bag tag, foulards can also be a great way to counter summer heat and to deal with the cold winter. It’s lightweight, made up of 100% silk and is very easy to wash and dry.

Our foulards measure 34×34 inches (about 87×87 centimetres). However, this ships straight out of Singapore, and so I apologise if the designs and stocks are very limited for now and might take a while to get delivered.

Giorgio Armani sells them for about $300 (PHP 16,200, $1 = PHP 54), which I don’t intend to do of course. Haha. If anyone’s interested, I’ll be delighted to help.

Thank you! 💕

Travel Notes: 1 November 2018

Cainta, Rizal, Philippines

On this day, when we remember what a great man my grandfather was, I’ve had the chance to be with my cousins, aunts and grandma. Finally, our busy schedules have aligned today, and as a bonus: I was able to speak to my dad on the phone albeit short. He’s travelling to France as of writing. I’m wondering what Tatay has been doing up there and whether he’s proud of what I’ve become today. I mean, who knows? X

Travel Notes: 26 October 2018

Pasay City, Philippines

The sun is setting

And you’re right here by my side

And the movie’s playing

But we won’t be watching tonight

I have no words to describe this week, but let me tell you than I am happy. I don’t think I am in the position to complain about anything, even though I feel empty; consciously know that there is something lacking in me. I am tired—beyond exhausted—but happy and content. To remind you how beautiful life could be, here are some photos I took on our way to the City of Dreams Manila in Pasay City for the #PFIP2018 5th Gala Night.

Have a good weekend, people! x

Travel Notes: 19 October 2018

Makati City, Philippines

Let’s all admit it – we never like how bad the traffic could get on Fridays and how humid it could be in the afternoon, but there is something about Makati Central Business District (CBD) which makes you love it as it is.

I visited Makati today after attending some brotherly duties at home. I had this sudden itch to feel the city vibe that only Makati CBD exudes. Although I weren’t able to roam that much, I still found myself in awe whilst at the elevated walkway near Paseo de Roxas and Greenbelt. I think it was just a great timing as there were few to almost no passers-by when I took these shots.

I didn’t bring my camera with me because I want to test the camera of my new phone – and it did not disappoint at all! For edits and colour play, I have created this new orangey preset from Lightroom. I’m sure this will work on natural lighting and I will continue using this until my eyes could not take it anymore.

Indeed, it’s a good way to get my weekend started and to end a busy work week! X

Can You Survive Metro Manila for 1 Week in 1,000 Pesos ($19) or Less?

Where are you headed to?
Where are you headed to? Photo taken in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

What if everyone could take the public transportation because you know it’s efficient? We’re confident that our trains wouldn’t break down because it’s been maintained well. We’re happy to take the major roads and never worry about getting late for school or work – but that’s in a parallel universe where we don’t live in.

I had this ‘Eureka!’ moment last weekend when my mum and brother got stuck at UP Town Center because of heavy raining. While having some sumptuous late lunch at KOS Greek Ouzeri, I wondered, what if my job don’t pay as much as I get now? Will I survive an entire week of not being able to buy what I want and just stick to only those what I need? For this week, I’ve challenged myself to limit my work week budget to 1,000 Pesos ($19).

In a hot Friday afternoon, I’ve decided to ride an ordinary bus from Bulacan to Makati – I didn’t regret that moment. Photo taken in Valenzuela City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

Cost breakdown

What’s a good way to prove an idea and to tell a story? Experience it, and so did I! It wasn’t easy to start the week in a morning schedule whilst half of Metro Manila is ‘submerged’ because of the heavy raining for the past 48 hours. I do not know what’s with mornings but it wasn’t easy to course through the traffic. Gladly, I was able to manage this – I rode ordinary buses in broad daylight whilst exposed in dirt and pollution; to get to my destination, I walked for more than a mile or two to save money; I even have to ask for mum to drive and take me to the train station to cut my expenses down. I am very lucky to have supportive parents, but what about those who don’t have such luxury?

Total transportation cost sums up to 741 Pesos ($13.72).

I was lucky for my 2 days training at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education, they served free food – morning and afternoon snacks, and full-course lunch meal, all in a managed buffet style – (Shout out to Villa Salud!) During the remaining days of the week, I’ve brought packed dinner with me and some biscuits, crackers to save money. Moreover, I used the Starbucks stars I’ve accumulated in exchange for free drinks. The only two instances I bought food this challenge week were last Monday when I met my best friend and ate lunch other and last Friday when I bought turon and pancit on my way to the office.

I think this was the most difficult part of my challenge. I cannot simply win over a battle against hunger, and I realized – what if I didn’t have those stars, where could I’ve ended up to? What if I didn’t have time to prepare for my packed meals each day, would I be able to survive? What if I didn’t have those 2 days training, would I be able to eat decent meals?

Total food cost sums up to 184 Pesos ($3).

I usually have my hair cut every 2nd or 3rd week of each month. Coincidentally, my hair cut is scheduled during the course of this challenge week. I felt torn between sacrificing 200 Pesos ($3.70) with my preferred shop and going for this newly opened hair salon for only 40 Pesos ($0.74). I ended up choosing the latter despite the bad service. My hair cut was fine, but I wouldn’t date to go back there.

Total miscellaneous cost sums up to 40 Pesos ($0.74).

There’s a missing 30 Pesos ($0.56) which I couldn’t remember where I placed/spent on but I as of writing, I’ve managed to save 5 Pesos (less than 1 centavos in US $) the entire week.

The first time I felt helpless was when it suddenly started to rain heavily and I wanted to take a cab going home but couldn’t because I simply can’t afford one. Photo taken in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig using Nikon D3200.

About budgeting

I thought I was just too confident to ask people favour. I always believe that desperate times call of desperate measures. I also have instilled to value of walking instead of taking public transportation. With how the Metro Manila traffic is going, especially when it’s raining and the roads are impassable due to flooding, the only best option left sometimes is to walk. I have also skipped meals when possible and I could. This wasn’t something I’ve done before because I usually eat when I want to and when I have to.

If you’re wondering what’s the secret, really, there’s none. I don’t think that’s budgeting that I did because it felt like I didn’t have much to budget in the first place. Now I suddenly felt envious with those people who would just walk going to work from their residence. I wish it was fast, easy to commute from Bulacan to BGC, Taguig. But here’s what I have realized:

  • One battle you cannot easily win over is hunger. This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problem to deal with. If only my level of discipline was heavens high, I could easily do this, but I have a body of a mortal that needs feeding.
  • 1,000 Pesos per week is not applicable to everyone. As a disclaimer from the video teaser I made, I implicitly mentioned there that there is no ideal budget each week. Some people would spend more than 1,000 Pesos (like me), whilst others could spend less, but that doesn’t mean that we, who spend more than 1,000 Pesos each week, have inferior budgeting skills than those who spend for 1,000 Pesos or less every week.
  • The thing that will differentiate us from each other would be our expenses. If you’d have a look at your expenses, you’d easily notice that your weekly expenses would differ from each other – and that is okay.
  • Always think twice, thrice before purchasing anything. The first question you should always ask yourself is if you really need this thing you want to buy. Definitely, if you can afford and have extra money, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t even dare to think about using your credit card, if you have one, to meet your ends. It’s not healthy for you and your financial credit, most especially if you can’t pay off the credit right away and/or not familiar with the ins and outs of credit cards.
  • Find alternative options… only if you can afford it. I hate to break this, but most people these days wouldn’t trade comfort and convenience for anything that’s practical. I felt that a lot of people do not patronize carinderia anymore and we all have our reasons – sanitary issues, proximity, availability in the area, laziness to walk around… I am guilty of this and should never use my time as an excuse since my work has a very flexible schedule.
In Metro Manila, you can’t afford to walk slowly, most especially when it’s rush hour. You’ll get bumped, people will push you… you simply can’t. Photo taken along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard using Nikon D3200.

What I’m trying to say is…

Open your eyes.
Notice what’s happening around you.
Remain vigilant.

I have a renewed and now a never-ending respect for those people who are able to stick with their budget, especially to those who have a family to support, those who need to pay for their rent/housing, those who can afford to save even if there are tons of expenses each month. I am definitely not alienating anyone or any group here, but to those people who have the sheer determination and the ability to provide for their needs – the inspiration to do better and to keep a good financial standing moving forward is simply overflowing.

Some of my observations include:

  • Our traffic has gone from bad to worse. When I was in college, sometime in 2013, to get to my university, I used to take the same McArthur route from Malanday bus stop in Valenzuela City to Muñoz, Quezon City for only 1 hour. Now, it would take me 2 hours to do the same, and 3 hours at most if the traffic is really awful. How come, despite tons of road widening, improvements, that this has been the case?
  • If living within your means is fine, how about those who couldn’t even afford basic needs? I’ve always been told by my parents to never live beyond what I could pay for, and that’s true. I’m very lucky to land a good paying job to support my needs and wants and to, basically, live independently. I just feel for those who couldn’t even support their basic necessities in life. I wish the world isn’t that unfair but who am I to complain? I’m just a tiny voice out of the vast jungle full of predators ready to swallow me whole.
  • The basic burger with fries and drinks now cost at least 80 Pesos ($1.48). It used to 50 Pesos ($0.92) but now, your 50 Pesos can only buy an à la carte – without fries and drinks.
  • The commute to work or school kills us. This is a reflection of how bad really our traffic and transportation system is. We haven’t even reached our destination and yet we’re already tired. It’s exhausting – imagine allotting 5-6 hours each day on road, this could have been spent on other more productive things.
  • Our transportation system couldn’t support the volume of commuters each day. I wish to find options was as easy as changing socks. Could you imagine what kind of life we would’ve had only if our mode of transportation is more convenient?

This challenge also brought me to another level of understanding of how our supposedly basic needs are easily affected because of the changes in the tax scheme, the worsening inflation of the country, and the surging prices of goods and services. Why am I saying this?

My point is simple – my 1,000 Pesos ($19) last year could already last for a week and a half. Now, it barely lasted for a week. Had I not taken desperate measures, I would’ve gone overboard. Last year, my daily budget for commuting was just amounting to 165 Pesos ($3). This year, it has gone up to 180 Pesos ($3.33). Whilst some of you would think that it’s only 15 Pesos ($0.28) difference, it’s still a big amount of money – multiply 15 by 22 days (average no. of work days in a month), that’s still 330 Pesos ($6.11). I could’ve spent my 330 Pesos to paying for our water bill which don’t normally go above 400 Pesos ($7.41) per month.

Is this what we deserve after working hard, trying to provide for our families, in the hopes of being a law-abiding citizen by duly paying their taxes and contributing to the country’s supposedly booming economy?

I don’t know, but what I know is that I survived 1 week with 1,000 Pesos – if have to grade this, then my grade would’ve been “Barely Passed.”

*$1 = 54 Pesos

Weekly Update: Week 29

Missing the beach and the long weekends.

Weekends are fun and exciting! I love the fact that I’m home alone this weekend and had the chance to think about things in my life. I know great things are about to come! I’m excited and couldn’t wait what the future has to unfold.

 

Seafood Marina Pasta x The Old Spaghetti House

Upon recovering from a recent Urinary Track Infection (UTI), I’m getting a lot more conscious with what I eat, thus am eating healthier food these days. I’ve decided to reward myself a plate of Seafood Marinara Pasta from The Old Spaghetti House. What a good treat it was!

 

A new printed wallet from Davao c/o Jann (Instagram: @janndemonteverde)

Jann, my office mate, has recently went to Davao together with her family. When she came back, we all received a new wallet from her. What’s with the wallet? It’s all about the fine prints and the gold strips, baby! I love how the design looks exquisite and rare. Good thing I haven’t bought a new wallet to replace my old one. Thanks again, Jann! 🙂

 

A new set of camera clip lens – Macro, Wide-Angle, and Fish Eye Lenses

All for Php 182, you get not one, not two, but three clip lens for an awesome photo taking experience. You may check my Instagram (@godonghae) to see more photos using these clip lens. Thank you, Lazada, for a good and fast service as always!

 

A new pair of grey. faux leather shoes

For Php 325, you get to enjoy a new pair of shoes from Lazada. I’m size 9 and a half (US) and good thing that’s in stock, so I don’t need to wait for that long to get my pair of shoes. What’s my motivation in buying a new pair of shoes? I just need to have a new shoes to use because my old loafers needed a breather. Lol!

 

Vanity Fair October 2015 back issue

I’m back at it! I’m back at collecting more magazines to stir up my creative juices. I like collecting magazines because I am reminded of the fact that I am a creative person and that’s something I could really use in my work.

THIS WEEK:

  1. Work. Double effort in finding the right candidates to close out these classes. From referrals, online postings, to pirating candidates… aahh! This is driving me crazy!
  2. Exercise. I must go back to running and working out so everything will click and be back to normal. I’ve lost a lot of weight ever since I did my diet and healthy eating. So to tone my body, exercise is a must. i will start this week and be better at it.
  3. Books. I must continue reading the Red Queen so I can move to my next book this week. I don’t want to pressure myself so I’m taking my time to finish it. Just like in life, we want to take things slowly but surely.
  4. Weekend. Weekend has not ended yet but I’m looking forward to another weekend to spend here at home with my family. I hope everything will turn out well and I’ll be able to have a good rest once again. +++

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP: Week #27

Post-birthday celebration, new book to read, improved selfie gaming, reunion, food, and more food! Here’s a recap of what transpired last week:

What’s Happening?

Here’s a new baby that I got from the National Bookstore for a discounted price. I’ve long wanted to have a personal copy of Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen!
Visited Gerry’s Jeepney at Maginhawa Street, Quezon City with mum and my baby brother. Pinoy food with an incredible dining experience! Plus the food is affordable. I definitely will come back.
Me with my baby brother, Rayan, while waiting for our food to be served.
Photo op with Rev, my counterpart and partner in hiring for his account. This photo was taken last Wednesday,  June 29, minutes before our meeting commenced.
Thank you for the treat, Rev! The Steamed Milk is and will always be my favourite, next to Strawberries and Creme of course.
Post-birthday treat together with my team mates in the office. Pizza party is love!

Selfie Gaming!

Photo  taken when we visited my brother last Sunday, July 3 2016, at Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary. Good times!
Something I learnt last week: How to properly take a mirror selfie while in the powder room.
Posing as if I was a model. It’s all about the angles, angles, angles!

Bonus: Healthy Living

Last Sunday, July 3, I decided to start eating healthier food because of the photo I shared on Facebook (see here). Today, I ate this: Chef Salad c/o Family Mart. Here’s to getting fit and healthier than ever!
8375948f-80ab-481f-9996-5072f727bab1-1
Last Sunday, July 3, I decided to start eating healthier food because of the photo I shared on Facebook (see here). Today, I ate this: Mixed Sliced Fruits c/o Family Mart. Here’s to getting fit and healthier than ever!

This week, I’m looking forward to:

  • Sustaining a healthier food diet;
  • Finishing (or at least progressing) on Red Queen book;
  • Getting more productive at work;
  • Coming home this weekend so I can be with my family once again;
  • Consistently taking of photos of new and exciting moments;
  • Being better at life, living to the fullest!

+++++