November 18, 2016

Vision Board#3

Filed under: Food, Travel — Tags: — rvchua @ 1:52 pm

One of my dreams is to travel to another country just for the food. I think Vietnam is the best bet! Also, I think this is the most amazing interview with Obama.



September 24, 2016

Vision Board #2

Filed under: Books, Travel — Tags: , — rvchua @ 11:17 am

Do vision boards really work? I don’t know so this is my experiment.

I already posted my the first picture for my vision board in Facebook. What does it mean, I am not exactly sure. Is it coffee? Work? Or?

One thing I really want do again is travel. I want to travel again. I am inspired to go to any of the Nordic countries. One is Sweden. I don’t really have an idea of what Sweden looks like except for two. The first one is Nyhavn where I saw a video of Kino McGregor doing Ashtanga in front of the people who just ignored her. That video also showcased her chanting the opening chant.

Another Swedish image implanted in my mind is the rapeseed field in the first Wallander episode, the one with Kenneth Branagh. I would love to visit the countryside: Ystad, Malmo, Skane, Smaland, etc. All those places mentioned in the books!


June 15, 2016

Packing Light (In My Dreams)

Filed under: Minimalism / Simplicity, Travel — rvchua @ 3:14 pm

I don’t know when I will travel out of country again but if I do I really wish I travel as light as this. It is amazing how she was able to have clothes for warm and cold weather. I think packing cubes are the best way to organize clothes however I haven’t seen these locally. Merino and bamboo are also key fabrics to stay warm, not smell and dry quickly. Personally I would add a water bottle to avoid overpriced water at the airport.

May 19, 2015

Things Change, Things Remain The Same

Filed under: Books, Money, Travel, Yoga — Tags: — rvchua @ 4:12 am

A year ago, I discovered a group of people from different aspects of life, all connected by the love of yoga. We hang out after a yoga class, joined outreach programs, even went to a retreat in Moalboal. Suddenly I found my satsang in the midst of Cebu. Everyone was special, everyone was quirky. I learned from these people, I was inspired by them. Friendships were formed, everyone was embraced with acceptance. Now I hardly see these people anymore. Some of them have moved to other places. Those that have I bonded with have formed new relationships. I think some of them may have stopped doing yoga. Once in a while there would be a gathering for yogis, a workshop, an outreach. Most of the time I would beg off, either I would be working, it is too far away, I need my rest, some other excuses. I guess it is hard to recreate the magic we had, maybe the right people came together at the right time. Who really knows? As I continue with my yoga practice, I continue to look for another satsang to be part of.

Last year, I accepted a challenge at work hoping it would mean opportunities for me. My job title remained the same but I got more work which I was not financially compensated. The new responsibilities were not a good fit for me. It gave me more stress than I wanted to have in my life. Finally it made me realize that I want to scale down my work life. I am currently looking for an online job that would cover my normal expenses and maybe even a little savings. With an online job, I will have free time for yoga, books, travel and other pleasures in life. I am still searching for an online job, for now this is what I want from the universe.

My first international travel since I came home in 2007 was last year’s business trip to Japan. It was scheduled suddenly that it left me frazzled getting my visa, my money, etc. I was not in a good mood when I left, if the Japanese immigration officer denied my entry I would have been more than happy to take the flight back home. During the two weeks I was there, I worked during the Holy Week and ignored my birthday. It was good to be back in Japan after 14 years but I was elated to come home. Last February’s trip to Kuala Lumpur was impulsive, fun and eye opening. After a long time, my wanderlust was ignited again. I want to go to Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and any country with no visa for Filipinos. I am looking for a travel companion but either they have no money or have other priorities. I am afraid to go alone because I feel like I would just hole up in the hotel room instead of exploring what the place has to offer. I also have to let go of all of this negative emotion inside me, I don’t want to be burdened when I travel.

Now that I have entered another decade, I want to change direction. I want to enjoy life. I want to use the money I have saved all of these years. I want to say I have lived my life instead of merely passing time. Things change but somehow it still feels the same.

February 17, 2015

Weekend at Kuala Lumpur

Filed under: Food, Minimalism / Simplicity, Thank You, Travel — rvchua @ 11:03 pm

IMG_0215Last Friday, I went off by myself to Malaysia to meet up with a friend. The tickets were booked 1 week before departure. It was going to be 3 days & 2 nights but in reality I only had 1 whole day in KL since the first and third days would be spent mostly for travel. Since I heard that you can change pesos in KL, I planned to have most of my money in pesos and my yen as backup. But in the end decided to buy dollars at BDO which was a breeze as long as you have your passport, travel itinerary & BDO account. I only had my red backpack with me with plenty of extra space, the heaviest thing I was carrying was my iPad mini.

 Cebu to Manila

 I woke up at 2:30AM with barely 2 hours of sleep. I arrived at the airport before 3:30AM with no fuss as there weren’t that many people yet. If my flight wasn’t that early I would have eaten somewhere else. The Dunkin Donuts coffee was jacked up by P20 so I ended up with Tsim Sha Tsui’s congee which I found to be expensive at P90. Fortunately it was delicious and filling.

To save on cost, I took the earliest flight from Cebu to Manila (I arrived at 6AM) which meant almost 8 hours standby at NAIA terminal 3. The first 1.5 hours was spent sitting and reading on a hard steel chair. The next 1.5 hours was at McDonald’s where I somehow ended up buying a rice breakfast instead of a McMuffin and coffee. Fortunately the checkin counter for my flight to KL opened by 10AM and I breezed in at Immigration (business or vacation?). The departure lounge was deserted so I stretched out on the chairs to relax my back. I was mostly horizontal until people started to trickle in. The flight was delayed but in the end it was reduced to only 10 mins.


 This is my first travel not using a travel agency or having a visa beforehand. I had my employment certificate with me but spent less than 5 minutes lining up at Malaysian Immigration. There is a special line for ASEAN so you can use that instead of using the Foreign Passport lane which has more people.

I was concerned that it would be quite late when I arrive at KL since it would take a 1-hour bus ride from KLIA2 airport to KL Sentral where I would meet up my friend. After immigration, I hurriedly changed P400 to have some ringgit for the bus ride (10 MYR) and some extra for dinner. With just a minor confusion on how to get down to the lower level, I managed to find the right bus which left the airport at 6:36PM. As I was sitting at the bus, I realized that the sun had not yet set despite being already 7PM. If you look at the map, you would see KL at almost the same time zone as Bangkok but it still follows the same time zone as the Philippines, so sunset is a little later.

An hour later I was at KL Sentral where I met up with my friend who took reign on where we would go.

The Vacation Begins

From KL Sentral we went to Chinatown via monorail. Unlike other cities they use plastic discs instead of electronic tickets for single journey travel, I guess this way they can reuse them a whole lot more. I rested at the hotel for a bit to give myself a break from all the sitting I had done during the day and also to offload my belongings. We had dinner at a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant where we ordered a set meal, I don’t remember what it was called but I know it had lamb in it and all the meat were really tender! For desert we had pistachio ice cream. I was already full at the time but I cannot say no to ice cream. If you had pistachio ice cream from the grocery, it is nothing compared to the hand made thing where every bite you get a mouthful of pistachio!

After dinner, we walked to Bukit Bintang (2 kms away). It was almost 11PM but the people were still having their dinner while others were already at the bars. Most establishments in that area stay open until early morning the next day. Since Malaysia is primarily Muslim, I thought drinking and smoking are illegal. So I was surprised to see this done not just by foreigners but also the locals. I also thought women are expected to dress conservatively but I have seen short skirts, stiletto heels and cleavages. Everyone is still conservative compared to other countries, I only saw one couple kiss in public and that was even on Valentine’s Day. It was already past midnight when we got back to the hotel. I was tired but my mind was still racing, it took me some time before I finally fell asleep.

Valentine’s Day

I think I woke up at 6AM but I was content to laze around the bed. Unlike other travels I wasn’t in a hurry to be anywhere. I had no itinerary though I was interested to see the Petronas tower. It was only later at night that I realized I could see one of the towers in the hotel window. It was already 9AM before we left the hotel for breakfast.

Our breakfast in Chinatown was at a food centre composed of several stalls selling different dishes, in the Philippines this would be an ordinary carenderia. We had roti and an okra dish from an Indian stall together with our leftovers from last night’s dinner. I hate okra but this one was different, it was not soft or slimy, actually it was crunchy. I ended up hogging most of it. I also had my first cold teh tarik (milk tea).

We then walked around the places near Chinatown. We admired the façade of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple with its depictions of Hindu gods, I could only correctly identify Ganesh and I think I pointed out Vishnu. Then we headed to Central Market and Merdeka Square. It was quite hot walking around and I wished I had my umbrella but it is not allowed as hand carry in the plane. I had to make do slathering myself with sunblock.

We spent considerable time at the KL City Gallery to see the scale model of Kuala Lumpur which shows the projected growth in 5 years time. They are planning to have 300 more buildings including the one that will surpass the Petronas Towers. I was really impressed with the urban planning, despite the proposed additions the city did not look chaotic. The gallery also shows an abbreviated history of Malaysia. The last part is the ARCH workshop which I can only describe as an intricate wooden decoupage. To see the KL scale model, you pay 5 MYR but you can redeem it at the ARCH souvenir shop or eat something at the coffee shop. I was eyeing some durian flavoured pastries and the kaya butter toast but I had to settle for coffee since we just had breakfast and ice cream earlier.

I was surprised to learn that you can go around some parts of KL for free using the GoKL bus. Among its stops are KL Towers, Petronas Towers, Pavillion and Bukit Bintang. First stop was KL Towers where we opted to walk towards the base instead of taking advantage of the free shuttle from the main entrance. We did not go to the top which costs 99 MYR but I enjoyed watching part of the KL skyline and see a lot of trees all around. I have noticed while walking around KL, there is minimal pollution and it is refreshing to see trees at most places.

We took again the GoKL bus to Petronas Towers, the bus went around so you can see all sides of the towers from afar. In the lobby there is Suria KLCC where you can shop at high end and middle end stores. The picture on the left shows the towers from the base, this is where people mostly try to have their picture taken with the towers in the background. Then we had a late lunch at the food court in Suria KLCC, I ordered chappati with 3 kinds of vegetables including roasted chickpeas and my new favorite okra!

We decided to go back to the hotel for a bit of rest but instead of using the GoKL we hiked the air conditioned skyway from Petronas Towers to Bukit Bintang. I wished that we had something like this back home! From Bukit Bintang there wasn’t any skyway so we took the same route as the previous night but now in humid heat. I could have gone on walking but I wanted a shower and a drink of cold water. However my friend insisted to have some cold teh tarik in the hole-in-the-wall at the back of the hotel before we went to our room. It was probably the most welcome drink I had during the entire trip.

After a cold shower and a couple of hours sleep, we had dinner at the hole-in-the-wall. I ordered kangkong with black bean sauce and eggplant with minced meat. It took 30 minutes for the food arrive but it was worth it. It brought back memories of the food that I used to eat in China. For the 2 vegetables dishes, 3 rice and 1 barley water, I paid 24.5 MYR (approx P302) which was not the cheapest thing we ate in KL but was worth every centavo. Besides for that same price in pesos, I would be hard pressed to find that kind of good food in Cebu.

We took again the GoKL bus and walked the skyway to go back to Petronas Towers. This time we went around KLCC park which is right beside the towers. Then we hang around the pool (we may have missed the display earlier) and watched the local people. It was already past 11PM so we decided to head back to the hotel using the GoKL. However after waiting in futile for 20minutes (GoKL bus is supposed to be available until 1AM), we took the train to the station nearest to Chinatown.

Last Day

The next day we had no agenda so it was another late breakfast at the same place we went the day before. This time we just placed food on our plate from several lined up dishes. Most people end up paying only 4 MYR no matter what they choose or how much they take. Then we went back to Central Market to try Old Town White Coffee which was recommended by my work colleague. I saw it several times the previous day so it seemed that we had to try it. However it was disappointing, my cold white coffee was like drinking McDonald’s iced coffee.

We headed back to the hotel to lie in. I finally packed my bag at 1:30 PM to have lunch at KL Sentral before heading to the airport. We had lunch near Little India and I ordered nasi goreng cina. It was kind of ironic to eat something Malay in an Indian restaurant. Right beside the restaurant was a Sivananda Centre, if I was still in KL after Tuesday that would have certainly been part of my itinerary.

I said goodbye to my friend at the KL Sentral bus station around 3PM. I will be always grateful for the bed, the food, the tour and the conversation.


Just like when I arrived, the bus only took 1 hour to arrive at the airport. Check-in and immigration was fast, the only long wait was for the delayed flight! My work colleague asked me to bring Old Town White Coffee instant packs but I couldn’t find any at the departure area. So no souvenirs for anyone!

After I had my dinner in the plane to Manila, I was groggy the rest of the flight. I had a 5-hour stopover in Manila where I was hoping that I could lie down at the benches in the departure lounge like the last time but the check-in counter opened only at 2AM with barely an hour before boarding the plane. I snoozed at the departure lounge and in the plane. I knew I needed sleep at home before I headed to the office. I finally woke almost noon so I decided to take the day off.

Other Thoughts 

  1. Cebu Pacific is notorious for being late especially for planes that are coming and going to Manila. Always have enough time for connecting flights however more than 4 hours standby at NAIA Terminal 3 can be agonizing and boring especially when you are tired and haven’t had any sleep.
  2. Always travel light. Although I went minimalist I had an extra shirt, bra and underwear just in case I had to change more than necessary because of the humidity at KL.
  3. Buy dollars before leaving. Have smaller denominations to use at the airport which has a lower conversion rate.
  4. I am glad I did not stop at any shops although I was tempted to buy something at Uniqlo but that would have entailed an hour of agonizing whether I need a new shirt or pants.
  5. Wear walking shoes. I love walking around in new places so this is mandatory.
  6. I had minimal expenses during the trip itself because I had free lodging and I did not pay every meal. We took advantage of the free things that KL had to offer and just by walking around where we were staying.
  7. Most people in KL understand English but don’t expect scintillating conversation with the old waiter.
  8. Despite being a big city, KL is laid back compared to HK and Manila. It was not crowded or polluted and there were trees everywhere. When the plane descended at KLIA2, I could see coconut & palm trees for miles!

I thoroughly enjoyed my KL trip, it is totally different from my last overseas trip. I am eyeing another vacation in visa-free ASEAN countries.

July 16, 2014

The Minimalists’ Packing List

Filed under: Minimalism / Simplicity, Travel — rvchua @ 2:30 pm

10 months!!!! So they only have 1 pair of shoes?

July 8, 2014

Light Travel Packing List (Edited and Updated)

Filed under: Travel — rvchua @ 4:14 am

My goal is to always travel light. Last weekend was just an overnighter however I was bringing a lot of things because we had 2 yoga sessions and there was no time to launder any clothes. The upcoming weekend does not have any yoga so here is my packing list for light travelling.

–       Black pants (updated: this was changed to blue jeans with belt)
–       Blue Basic House shirt
–       Green Basic House shirt
–       Penshoppe button up (updated: I brought this in case and did not use it)
–       Shorts (for sleeping)
–       Island Souvenirs shirt (for sleeping)
–       Bra (updated: I also brought a sports bra which I did not use)
–       Socks (updated: I had on foot socks while travelling and never used this)
–       Face towel
–       3 underwear
–        Hush Puppies mary janes

–       Sunflower Oil
–       Toothbrush and Toothpaste
–       Deodorant
–       Sunblock
–       Lipbalm
–       Pressed Powder
–       Eye Drops

–       Cellphone
–       iPad Mini
–       Sunglasses
–       Debit Card, Credit Card, 3 IDs, insurance Card
–       Coin purse with keys
–       Ballpen and scrap papers
–       Tissue and wet tissues
–       2 pcs Hair Ties
–       Plastic Bags for dirty clothes, etc.
–       Bottle of Water
–       Nike Backpack
–       Travel itinerary

I need to bring an umbrella but it is not allowed as handcarry so I will have to skip that.

April 24, 2014

Japan Day#10

Filed under: Food, Travel — rvchua @ 4:12 am

– Last breakfast in the hotel. Unfortunately my favorite mini croissants did not make an appearance.
– Second day of using my new backpack with my laptop and charger inside. Haven’t had problems with my back after the 30 minutes walk to the office.
– Only bought cold coffee latte and a choco bun at the grocery store for lunch.
– Not too many people in the office so no pressure!
– Last dinner with Sakamoto-san and Chida-san with steak and salad bar. Tried the pale pineapple and was very surprised to find it sweet. Tried also the honeydew melon which I seldom come across. I wasn’t liking the edamame though.
– Last chance to use fast internet!!!

April 22, 2014

Nihon no Asagohan

Filed under: Food, Travel — rvchua @ 11:09 am


Japan Day#7

Filed under: Food, Shopping, Travel — rvchua @ 1:48 am

– Another rainy day in Japan. Came in wet to the office. Hope I don’t get sick.

– Went to Don Quixote during office hours to do some omiyage shopping. The place has cheaper prices and is packed to the gills. It can be quite confusing especially looking for small gifts. For those who like makeup, they will go crazy over there.

– I thought I bought a ton of chocolates but it seems I missed out a lot of people including my group. My back started to act up lugging all of it home.

– Calbee potato chips, plastic wrapped sandwiches and dango for dinner! My favorites through the years!


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