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.

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I love the ceiling of the Taipei International Airport.
A little aerial glimpse of Taipei at night time.
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Around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
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Inside Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
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Witnessed the changing of guards at the Martyrs’ Shrine.
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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.
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A nice graffiti art somewhere near Ximenting.
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Ximenting at night.
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Trying to find my luck for a local sim in Zhongshan District.
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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!

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: 20 October 2018

Quezon City, Philippines

It was Becs’s idea to meet up here at Marindo, a newly opened restaurant located at the heart of Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. Conveniently located at the G/F of Manhattan Garden, it’s not that hard to find but caveat that there are no parking space available except the open parking outside.

They were operational since 6 October and serves Indonesian-Malay menu. I MUST try their Laksa, even if it meant skipping my diet for the night, and boy, it did not disappoint for something worth PHP195 ($3.61). I’ve also ordered Vegetable Fritters for PHP90 ($1.67) for everyone (not in the photos) which was surprisingly good and it reminded Japan’s Okonomiyaki but less savoury which is what I like. ($1 = PHP54)

The first I’ve noticed was probably the clean vibe that Marindo exuded and I have to give it to those white walls, clean utensils and Instagram-worthy lighting which only some restaurants have. They operate on a self-service set up and you have to pay as you order, so please do not expect this to have a fine-dining set up.

Some of the best people I’ve known for roughly 9 years, albeit my first time to meet Marvz with Kiefer today. Thanks for Jeric, too, for still going all the way to Cubao from Cogeo even if it was already late. If it wasn’t for Becs‘s business (go check @powercasesmnl!), this wouldn’t be possible. Look at what I’ve ordered from them too, and it costs way cheaper than your Starbucks Venti drink! It was seeing everyone last night, and I think I should do this more often now. 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 40

When an old chapter closes a new one begins.

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We’re moving in circles, and you are the light that guides me through.

More than half of the year have passed. I’ve met new faces; forgot most of the old ones. I’ve been to shitty dates and flings. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs at work; been a hopper ever since then. I’ve been to places I never thought I’d go to. It has been one rough ride but I’m getting better at it. Let me do a quick recap about what my year has been through.

Books

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard.
Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard.

The series of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard has been on my To-Read List since the start of this year. I’ve managed to finish the 1st book and I’m starting now with the Prequel, Cruel Crown. Based from reading suggestions, it’s going to be better to read Cruel Crown than going directly to the 2nd book, Glass Sword, to better understand the characters’ history + know more about the Kingdom of Silvers. I know, I should stop reading Young Adult books (hello there baby hihi), but I just couldn’t because of the fact that my mind’s creative side gets exercised. Though the story is predictable to avid readers, the plot will still bring you to a roller-coaster-fantasy-extravaganza. I’m looking forward to finish the book this week so I can secure a copy of Glass Sword ASAP.

See also: my renewed vow and love for reading has dawned!

TV Series

One day you're in, next day you're out.
One day you’re in, next day you’re out.

The new season of How to Get Away With Murder has arrived but I haven’t started watching it again. There’s no excuse for this one but I’m really finding it hard to watch it because: 1. I have terrible internet connection in my dorm, and; 2. I have no time to spare. Now, I’ve been hearing stories—thanks to you spoilers, friends—about the new season and boy, I can’t wait to start watching it again!

The Stranger Things is next on my list. Not only that it’s the new buzz in Twitter and Facebook—again, thanks to my dear friends—but it’s been dubbed as “a wonderful blend of everything 80’s and as binge-worthy a TV show as you’ll find this year.” What makes me curious to try watching it is my interest and bias towards The Twilight Zone. I love shows that are eccentric and hard to determine these days. The more that the plot is twisted, the more that I get excited about it. I just hope this series won’t come close to disappointment as my hopes are really high.

Runner-up: Outcast that has started many moons ago. Also, no excuse to be lazy moving forward—I will find time to watch these series!

Location

Crafty ceiling at Binalot, Nepo Strip, Angeles City, Pampanga.
Crafty ceiling at Binalot, Nepo Strip, Angeles City, Pampanga.

I’ve recently moved to Pampanga due to my new work—but with the same bosses, mind you! Yes, I’ve managed to conquer my fear of leaving the Metro by convincing myself to move out, find a place outside Metro Manila, and start with an almost-new life. I’ve transferred to a new company due to unforeseen events that have happened. Call me names, I don’t care, but I will never stay in a company where my health, safety, and career growth are compromised. I’m fortunate that my previous bosses actually had an opening for me in Pampanga—a better paying job, better environment, bigger opportunity to grow career-wise, and new people to work with. So far, the environment suits me well. I like my team and I can never ask for more!

Work

TaskUs ERP Booth Setup by yours truly.
TaskUs ERP Booth Setup by yours truly.

A lot people wonder about my career plan. Well, to be honest, I really don’t have one, but when they ask me what I do, I simply tell them that I lure people in. I sell the company to potential candidates. That’s how important Sourcing is to the team. I could have easily chosen to be in Recruitment, but without Sourcing, the Recruitment Team won’t be able to process anyone. Prior joining my company, the average number of candidates that would visit the site would go between 7 to 10 in a day. When I joined the Team, we were able to increase the number to 40-50 in a day; even brought 90 candidates in one day. How did I do that? That’s the secret I probably won’t tell, not unless you are my boyfriend. 😉

On the brighter side of things, we were able to close out the previous months strongly, as we were more than 100% in terms of our pooling and hiring rate in Pampanga. #PampangaStrong #PakGanireKamiSaPampanga

Life

Slowly, you're becoming my life now.
Slowly, you’re becoming my life now.

So far, I’ve been living better. I haven’t been hospitalized for the past 3 months. My binge drinking habit is slowly dying down. I’ve been eating more food these days not because I can but because I should. If I were to rate my life from 1 to 10 and 10 being the highest, I’m close to getting to 7. It’s always been a work in progress. I never consider myself close to 8 or 9 because I know there will come a time that I will falter and get tripped again. What matters to me now is that I’m living a better life without any regret or hatred towards anyone. I love how things are falling into its rightful places; that I don’t need to rush things. Sometimes, the unexpected things (and people) come along in times that one feel helpless. I learnt not only to be patient but not to do things out of my emotions.

Plans

Stuck for now, but I know I'm moving.
Stuck for now, but I know I’m moving.
  1. Zambales Trip with the Pampanga Recruitment and Training Team.
  2. Visit Enchanted Kingdom on baby’s birthday this month.
  3. Start saving for our future travels and side trips.
  4. Stop binge drinking and eating.
  5. Resume weekend volleyball habit.
  6. Minimise social media usage.

+++++

A Brand New Start!

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es·ca·pade
ˈeskəˌpād/
noun
an act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure.

I’m living a life full of escapades, regardless if wanted or unwanted.

I’m Kim (or Kimmy to my friends) and I’m the owner of this not-so-fancy-blog. I’ve been a frustrated blogger since 2007 and have been to numerous blogging platforms before. Now, I’ve found a not-so-new-home here on WordPress. I’m 22 years young and when time permits, I do some blogging (just like this).

More of me, I have a degree in arts and my major is in Development Studies. I should be working with Non-Government Organisations, fighting for a cause but I’ve been working with contact centres, doing outsourcing services for clients outside the Philippines. I wanted to start my own travel blog before but keeps on failing to do so because I fail to keep up with it. I’ve had life and personal struggles and this will be a good balance for every negative thing that I have to deal in life.

More of the blog, my goal is to share some of my best experiences in life and spread good vibes. I do take lots of pictures using my phone and I rarely use my camera. I don’t do lots of travelling, though, because of time issues but when I do, I really take time to savour it. When I travel, I like going to bustling cities and take a good glimpse of how life is there. Sometimes, when I feel going alone, I take the adventure to low-crowded provinces and think about my life there. You will definitely see in here that I don’t compare places because every place is special to me. I am a big fan of beauty, albeit being subjective, and that’s what this blog is all about — the beauty of travelling; the benefit of living life to the fullest, and; the comeliness of looking at the world on a different perspective.

I hope you could join my journey towards life appreciation, enlightenment and self-discovery. I look forward to more travels and meeting you somewhere (yes, you who is reading this). See you! Au revoir!