To João: An early bird’s stroll in Copacobana

IMG_5031 (1)
Early morning light in Copacobana Beach in Rio de Janeiro

I took this photo during my morning stroll in the Copacobana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

The beach is beautiful, as well as the city. And who can forget about their very delicious cuisine? This more than trumps my unfavorable memories of Rio de Janeiro.

I only spent two days in Rio de Janeiro during my solo backpacking trip in South America back in October 2014 (too short, I know, since it was a layover). Even though I was aware that there are ATM scams in the city (I was prepared! I read numerous articles about it before my trip) or I was conscious of my every move or I took a lot of precautions, I still was made a victim to this crime. Never have I been robbed until I had gone to this city. It amazes me how fast people are to adapt to technology, both in good and bad ways. Fraud protection is the next best thing to sliced bread, if not the best thing in the world (props to Chase for saving my bank account).

It was about day three in my 11-day trip, and I was already feeling fatigued, tired and restless. As soon as I got into my hostel, which was about a good three blocks from the beach, I broke down and cried to the guy by the hostel’s reception. I was clearly disheveled, confused, lacked sleep, and I was in my worst mood (What was I doing in this place, alone?). My itinerary for this city already went down the drain. After I cleaned up and cried all the tears that I can cry, I summoned up all the courage that I can muster and braved this city. The lovely gentleman, João, tried to have a conversation as I was about to head out, probably to have a good second impression of this girl in distress. He spoke good English, too. To my surprise, he gave me a nice, warm hug and reassured me that everything will be okay and that the city is not entirely what I thought it was.

Whenever I see this picture, I’m reminded of the good people by the beach who took time out of their busy schedule to tell me directions to where I was headed or where I can find cheap but yummy eats. In my travels, I always keep in mind that there are good people out there that I’ll meet – people are generally helpful, especially to tourists… and solo women travelers. I may never have known their names, or remember their faces, or  shared my experiences with them, but they’ve surely left footprints in my memory. Without them, I may never have these beautiful stories to tell.

This blog entry is dedicated to all the João’s in this world. It was very refreshing that in a foreign land full of unknown wonders and unfamiliar faces, someone made me remember why I love traveling in the first place. I give back and pay forward by being gracious to tourists in my own city…especially in Times Square. Each and every one of us is going through something, so the least we can do is to be nice to people.

Perhaps someday I’ll find myself back in the welcoming arms of Rio de Janeiro, and give the city a second chance.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

I’d like to share with you this picture of Coney Island boardwalk – a place that only lives on the memories of summer. Have you read the book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom? When I first laid my eyes on Coney Island’s boardwalk and Brighton Beach, the first thing that came to mind was the setting of the first few chapters of that wonderful book.

Thought that the photo looks better in sepia, thus giving a glimpse of the old charm that the place is known for.

African Penguins in Boulders Beach

This is my first post about my travels, so I thought why not start off with something adorable and interesting? I was reading Budget Travel July/Aug issue the other day and as I flipped open the magazine, my eyes immediately zoomed in on the feature about Cape Town.

I can say that Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It’s one of the most popular destinations in Africa, mainly due to its good climate and unique geography. Boulders Beach attracts a lot of tourists because of the colony of African penguins that settled there.

Hello there, baby penguin! Come out and play! Baby penguins usually are larger and more furry than their adult counterparts.

You have been warned!

If I could, I’d certainly go back to Cape Town!

It’s more fun in the Philippines

It's more fun in the Philippines

One fine day at Panglao, Bohol. Really beautiful.

But then again, it’s one thing to tell about it and another thing to see it for yourself. If you haven’t already, why don’t you go spend a holiday in one of Philippines’ finest beaches?

Here are more photos:

Echoes from Long Island Sound

But I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle. My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play. My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.

~ Tim Kreider on “The ‘Busy’ Trap” (Click here for the article)

This summer, I can say, is the first real “carefree” summer I ever had in such a long time, without any exam to prepare for or any classes to take. I could wake up at 10AM and I couldn’t care less, have my breakfast and lunch at the same time while I watch Supernatural, take long naps, and sleep in an ungodly hour. In a way, I missed being a kid and I’m really glad I get to spend time alone, with only my thoughts distracting me. I know people who work seven days a week and this, for them, is a luxury they just cannot afford.

On the best ordinary days, I get to spend the afternoon at a park and wait until the golden hour to take some of the best pictures. When I get back home and take a good look at the photos, I realize what I’ve been missing out on. I never thought sunset could be so beautiful, with splashes of yellows and oranges across the evening sky. I’ve forgotten how wonderful it feels to have sand in my toes until I frolicked around the beach in my summer skin.

Last Saturday, June 30th, I got to go to a BBQ at Sunken Meadows Park in Long Island. Louka, Xiaoli, and I first met up with some of their friends in Queens then we drove to Sunken Meadows, with the trip taking about an hour.

I’ve never been in the company of so many Chinese before. I find it somewhat amusing that people I got introduced to where greeting me Ni Hao (although I think I don’t look Chinese at all with my being morena).

The beach serves as an escape from the drudgery of everyday life.

I hope that when I get older, I still find delight in the simple things that people ordinarily take for granted. I hope that I won’t be “too busy” and find myself stuck in the cruel rat race. When was the last time you’ve been to the beach or spent quality time with your family? I know I’m still young and haven’t gone through much in life but if there’s one thing I learned, it’s the journey that matters most. I hope you don’t lose sight of what’s important to you.

C’est la Vie!