I always smile and cringe whenever I think of my first blog post. It was a very short narrative about my trip to Roxas City in Capiz (one of the southern provinces in my country, the Philippines). If you must know, I wrote about how sweet the mangoes I tasted from Guimaras; I briefly discussed how my flight from Manila went, and how fresh the grilled seafood dishes in Roxas City were. But I still believe until this date, that I did not do justice to travel blogging about Capiz; I mean, I think I could’ve done better.
That first blog post was published on this site on 8th of May, 2007. And thankfully, 10 years after, this blog has evolved into what it has become. I only wished I established this blog earlier, like long before I started traveling. Yes, folks! I confess that my first love was traveling, and blogging comes only as second best on my list. Seriously, I have been traveling long before I started to blog. And I somehow regret to have nothing documented properly about my first trip to Hong Kong; the same is true when my family and I went to USA, Brunei, and New Zealand. Nevertheless, there’s a long list of things to be grateful for, as I’ve been keeping this blog alive for a decade now!
Please allow me to stroll down memory lane, and enumerate the 10 significant events that happened within 10 years that were all recorded on this blog. These are the events that are worth celebrating for!
- 1. MEETING PEOPLE & CONNECTING WITH THEM.
With blogging, I met countless people from all over the globe and from all walks of life, both online and up close and personal. This site has enabled me to reach out and connect with readers and followers, fellow bloggers and those so-called, social media influencers, to PR managers and Marketing directors.
It feels awesome whenever I receive queries regarding my posts; it means there’s a living soul who’s interested with what I wrote; and it’s even more amazing whenever I read sensible comments and sound advice regarding my posts. And then, the most rewarding part is putting a face to the username, whenever I get to meet my virtual friends. More often than not, previous strangers have become friends because of blogging.
A single superlative would not be enough to describe the feeling of meeting people with the same interest and passion! Thankful to meet fellow travel bloggers, instagrammers and social media users for the past 10 years and counting!
Also, I’m thankful to those who invited me to review their hotels, restaurants, airline services, theme parks and events. A few Marketing and Public Relations people have become my good friends too!
- 2. LIVING IN MALAYSIA
This blog has been repository of my years and travels in Malaysia. From the day I left my country in 2010, to become an expat and to join the league of Overseas Filipino Workers; when I worked as one of the medical lecturers in a medical university-college in Penang, I’m grateful that I had immense opportunities to travel within Malaysia and neighbouring Asian countries. And most of the adventures and trips were blogged on this site.
It was 3 remarkable years of learning about Malaysian people, culture, tradition, heritage and food!
- 3. TRAVEL TO ASIA
With Malaysia as my home-base for 3 years, I’m thankful I was able to take trips to some Malaysian states and neighbouring countries like Singapore, Thailand, Nepal and Hong Kong in both sponsored trips and personal ones.
I was exposed to the fact that traveling makes one appreciate the vast world in a smaller scale.
- 4. WON 2 INTERNATIONAL BLOG AWARDS, EARNING CITATION, FEATURES, INTERVIEWS AND RECEIVING INVITATIONS.
Best Expat Blog Awardee for 2 years – in 2012 & 2013, from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.
Honored & thankful to received 2 of these awards!
My portrait of a young Burmese refugee, published in 4 glossy pages of Lonely Planet.
My “Floating Duo” from Hat Yai, was also published in Lonely Planet Asia Magazine.
- 2 of my travel photos taken in Chiang Mai and Hat Yai, Thailand were published in 2 separate issues of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine.
- 2 International Awards from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for being Best Expat Blog Awardee for 2012 and 2013 respectively.
- A string of online travel and expat magazine citations and interviews.
- Invitations from airline companies, theme parks, premier hotels and upscale restaurants in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
- I couldn’t be grateful enough!
I started my blog to document my journey and my son’s growing up years, until it became focused on travel. I’ve never started to blog to become famous, to win awards, much more to get noticed. I’m blogging because it provides platform for my creativity. I’m blogging because blogging makes me happy!
- 5. BECAME AN EXPAT IN DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
Following my 3 years in Malaysia, I transferred to Dubai, UAE with a new work, new life and a fresh start. Dubai has opened a lot of opportunities for me to gradually grow personally and professionally. Along with my new found-independence, this blog has evolved and has been better! More stories, more travels, more adventures, more events, more reasons to be thankful!
I may have struggles and sacrifices living alone in the UAE, however, at the end of the day, I remain thankful for everything – for both difficulties and pleasant times!
- 6. TRAVELED TO MIDDLE EAST, CENTRAL ASIA AND EURASIAN COUNTRIES.
I had a chance to initially visit the emirates comprising the UAE, then I also traveled to neighbouring countries via short haul flights like Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Armenia & India. Remarkably, I’ve taken a camel ride in Petra, Joran, experienced my first snowfall in Istanbul, Turkey, broke stereotypes and wrong perceptions about Iran, learned importance of traveling with utmost care and vigilance in India and had a chance to distinguished similarities and draw lines on differences between Georgia and Armenia!
One of the greatest advantages of living the Middle East is being in the center of everything, particularly those destinations inscribed in my own bucket list!
- 7. AUTHORED 2 PUBLISHED TRAVEL PHOTO BOOKS
My travel stories documented on humble photographs are also immortalised on pages of 2 travel photobooks. Yes, I turned myself into a book author too! #TravelMemories and People.Places.Memories are both available on print on demand via Amazon and Barnes and Noble (click the photos of my books on this blog’s sidebar for the link where you can purchase them online).
And I still dream of publishing a much improved 3rd travel photobook! Thank you to those who purchased a copy of both books!
- 8. TRAVELED TO AFRICA.
I lost count of how many cups of hot mint tea I sipped and enjoyed in Morocco. I ate various kinds of tajines, from chicken, vegetable and camel! I’ve also spent an entire week in Kenya, where I was reminded by wild animals living without borders and fences how essential self-reliance and freedom are!
Blogging keeps the hopeful child inside me alive! I hope and dream to set foot in more African countries in the near future! I want to experience more conversations with African people, instead of being happy with safari only.
- 9. TRAVELED TO SOUTH AMERICA.
Took a chopper flight over Cristo Redentor atop Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro!
Marveled at the world’s largest salt flat. Salar de Uyuni in Uyuni, Bolivia!
And felt surreal in the ancient Incan citadel, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru!
I’m thankful for the chance to travel to South America! Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Iguazu in Brasil. La Paz and Uyuni in Bolovia. Cusco and Lima in Peru!
You made me crave for more of you, South America!
- 10. TRAVELED TO EUROPE.
In Venezia, Italia. The most beautiful traffic congestion on the face of the Earth!
Drove 50km on ice via a bad-ass snowmobile in Rovaniemi, Finland!
And fulfilled a childhood dream of traveling to Paris, France!
What seemed to be so impossible and considered to be luxurious was appreciated without spending a fortune. I re-learned the art of backpacking and living in hostels with random strangers. I learned to trust myself more and became more self-reliant. I was reminded that even the tiniest positive thing is a blessing! Thankful to all people that I met who became my friends in Napoli and Milano; I’m equally grateful for the chance to visit the Vatican City for a personal pilgrimage, and to visit the various cathedrals in Rome, Florence and in southern Italy. I fell in love with otherworldly European places like Venice, Firenze, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, Positano, Procida, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Valletta, Tallinn, Riga, Helsinki, Rovaniemi!
Traveling across few cities in Europe reminded me to look beyond the superficial, and to value more the depth and meaning of everything!
I cannot wait to explore more countries in Europe again!
- So for the past 10 years, it’s 34 countries, 5 continents, countless flights, bus and train rides.
- 2 International Blog Awards, several features, citations, and published photographs in international travel and in-flight magazines.
- Invitations from premier hotels, upscale restaurants, must-visit-theme parks, and most importantly, meeting people who became friends throughout the years!
- Authored 2 published travel photobooks and still dreaming to create a much better 3rd edition!
- Took 2 chopper flights in Brasil. Ate camel tajine in Morocco. Rode a bad-ass snowmobile and a reindeer sleigh in Finland. Walked on salt flat in Bolivia. Soaked my feet on sand dunes of UAE. Explored the islands of Malta and Venezia. Arrived in Estonia via huge ferry from Helsinki. Took a night train in Russia and Austria. Accidentally sprained my right ankle in Vienna. Lost all my pocket money when I was mugged by 4 men in India. Accidentally dropped my camera in Istanbul, Rome and Cusco. Got lost so many times in bus and train platforms.
- Throughout the past 10 years of my journey, blogging keeps my memories vivid and alive!
- Funny how simple I can sum up that 10 long years of blogging into 2 significant words : THANK YOU!
Maraming salamat po!
(That’s thank you very much in my native tongue, Tagalog or Filipino).