Finally home back in Seattle. It’s been raining and cold ever since I got here… great. It feels surreal to be back home, feels like I imagined all of my Asia travels, or dreamed them and they weren’t real. Also feels like I’ve been gone for a year and like I never left, all at the same time. My mind is honestly getting tired from this overwhelming experience.

Well, one way I can prove to myself that my 3 month long trip actually happened is through the pictures I have brought back from Asia. I’ve been posting on this blog the pictures taken with my iPhone. I have also been taking tons of pictures with a real camera and tonight I finally got to upload them all on my computer that was left in Seattle.

While looking through the pictures all the memories from this trip are flooding my brain. I cannot believe I forgot that I rode a freaking elephant! If I didn’t take a video of this terrifying experience I probably would have never remembered it! 

Tomorrow finally back to work. It’s good to be home :-)

OMG airports! Especially Tokyo! Everything so pretty and futuristic!

My last night of my Big Fat Asian Adventure and I can barely sleep. What an amazing life-changing experience this has been! I saw so many places, met so many wonderful interesting people, ate so much delicious food!

I can’t help but compare all places I’ve been to one to another. My overall favorite has definitely been the Philippines with its friendly and hospitable people, stunning beaches, freshest seafood, and star-filled nights spent in my hammock. I will be definitely keeping my love-affair with this exotic country for years to come!

It’s gonna be hard to be back home in Seattle so soon; I’ll freeze for sure and I still don’t know where I’ll live. But I’m excited to implement everything I’ve learned from my travels into my “regular” life, it’ll be a whole new challenge in itself.

But for now my challenge is to get at least couple hours of shut-eye before the longest day of my life (tomorrow is gonna last 43 hours for me!!!)

Haha only in Asia!
Anyway how could soap tighten vaginal muscles????

Are you alone?

Not a day goes by that I’m not asked by a total stranger if I’m single and why am I traveling by myself. These questions come only from Filipinos (or Vietnamese) and everybody from taxi drivers to security guards at the airport feel entitled to ask me.

It usually goes kinda like this:
“Are you alone?”
You mean, if I’m traveling by myself? Yes I am
My friends are too poor/busy to go with me
I prefer to travel by myself
It’s too far from home
This trip is too long
“But where is your husband?”
I’m single (I quickly learned not to use this answer, single men get too excited)
It’s a private question
Why do you ask?
“Because you’re beautiful”
… Thanks
My husband is at the hotel
My husband is tired today
My husband is working
My husband doesn’t like to travel
My husband is back home with our 5 children
(That usually shuts them up)

And it’s not just me. Every single female traveler gets asked that, by men and women. People here are honestly not used to single ladies traveling on their own. Or single ladies in their twenties that are not already married and accompanied everywhere by their husband.

There’s also a common belief here in Asia that single foreign female travelers are all slurs and are here to sleep around. I do not understand how the locals came up with this but it is what it is. That’s why next time I travel (especially to India) I’m wearing a fake wedding ring ;-)

I think my Chacos have had enough. It’s hard to believe that my indestructible sandals that I bought at REI way back in 2007 (or 2006…?) are finally ready to retire.

We’ve been through so much together, have traveled 3 continents, have swam in Hawaii and SE Asia, hiked Cascades, stampeded across Moscow’s Red Square… And that blue pattern … It went so well with everything! (Not hard, 80% of my clothes are blue…)

It gives me solace that my Chacos have seen the world and felt the hot soil and salt water of the Earth. They will rest in peace in Philippines, and my feet will have to move on.

I’m spending my last few days of my Big Fat Asian Adventure with a local Filipino family at their village house in Mindolo near Puerto Galera. Thanks to my friend Trevor I have this amazing chance to live and observe local village life.

The village is hidden in the jungle but is right by the road, and it’s continently located very close to White Beach. Everybody in the village seem to be related and the whole extended family likes to hang out together at grandparents house (where I’m staying). The main house is made out of concrete so it’s a bit cooler and there’s the main kitchen and tv. Other buildings are made of bamboo and straw. I sleep at my friend’s unfinished bamboo house in my sweet camping hammock from REI. The stars at night are incredible!!!

We’ve been eating fry fish and rice for every meal! Oh and crabs and lobsters. It’s a very simple life, and the local people are very laid back and kind. And so hospitable!

I spent my Sunday having picnic at the local beach, then hanging out with friends at White Beach, and now eating corn on the cob while watching urban Filipino interpretation of Robin Hood on the TV (the show is called Robin Dude haha) with the fam.

Life is good.

Picture was taken by Anna Corcino.

I don’t get how this is ketchup. There are no tomatoes in this banana ketchup so what makes it ketchup? Is it Acidulant?
Only in Philippines!

Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces were totally rad! OMG so cool! I hiked around the town of Banaue (bottom picture) and its rice terraces, every local said “hi!” and “where are you going?” to me. I stayed at Greenview Lodge and met a great company: Ruth, Rachel, and Adrian from Ireland and Jasmine and Thomas from Poland. Awesome peeps!

We all took a jeapney together to Batad which was the craziest off-road-quality kind of ride I’ve ever had! We all agreed that it felt more like taking a ride in Disneyland than real life: our jeapney loaded with tourists and their backpacks including a roof full of Poles, Germans, and Irish riding like a race car on a steep dirt-and-boulders road with a very very steep cliff on one side and a wall on the other. After 3 months of traveling I wasn’t even fazed, just fascinated that we lived.

We hiked into Batad and then to a waterfall with a local lady-guide. Awesome waterfall, crazy-steep hike! It was like a stair-master the whole way; I kept telling to myself it was good for my butt. I stayed at Simon’s guesthouse (200 Php) with an amazing view out my window. Great day of badass action!

Today I hiked with a local guide down from Batad to the main “road” and took a local suicide-bus back to Banaue. Thank goodness I had my awesome guide carting my 13 kilo backpack, I almost killed myself on that steep slippery hike today. My knees are angry at me. What a great sunny day!

Tonight I’ll ride the night bus back to Manila. I can’t wait.

marcc said: your nightbus to sagada post was great. when my friend from SF was visiting me, it took us 13 hours by nightbus to get to the banaue rice terraces and it was brutal. if you're still in sagada, definitely hit up the yogurt house for their homemade cow's milk yogurt (hopefully you're not lactose intolerant).

Thank you for your message, I’m glad you liked that post. It’s funny, I actually just had dinner at Yogurt House and bought their oatmeal cookies. Hoping to get the actual yogurt for breakfast tomorrow though I am leaving at 7 am.

Yes the night bus was brutal but in the same time kinda relaxing. Which rice terraces did you see in Banaue? Do any hikes?