504 Days

Posted on May 19, 2018

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

New years day 2017, Tokyo: I was heading to Tsukiji market to have breakfast but I ended up going back because it was closed for the day. I wasn’t sure where to go next so I decided to check out this Buddhist temple (Tsukiji Hongan-ji) that was conveniently located across my hotel. Upon entering, I was greeted by a spacious courtyard leading to the entrance of the temple. Just before reaching the main doors, I saw a group of people gathering around this long table on the side. Curious, I asked what was going on, and one of them replied, ”Writing our one ‘wish‘ for the year” whilst holding a piece of paper that was shaped like a leaf. He said I should write one as well and added that once I’ve written my wish, I need to keep that piece of paper until I’m back home so my wish will come true. I thought it was really cool and with a hopeful smile I wrote my wish…

A selfie across the road from Tsukiji Hongan-ji on New Years Day 2017.

The wish I wrote and kept to this day. For actual photo after writing my wish, check my Instagram post.

and 504 days later, my wish came true.

The End.

A few things I learned (in no particular order) while waiting 504 days for this dream to come true.
1. It obviously doesn’t happen overnight.
Dreams do come true but it takes time.  There are no shortcuts. If you want something, you have to lay the groundwork. Yes, luck, timing, and connections sometimes play a role in getting what you want, but most of the time it is your passion, your determination, your hard work, and more importantly your attitude that will keep you going until you reach your goal.  You will need all of these and more to deal with the blows that may come your way.
2. It’s not over until you say it’s over.
Never give up until you’ve exhausted all avenues (legally and without hurting other people of course), there was a point in my journey when it was looking VERY bleak, and some friends we’re saying that maybe it’s not meant to be, but I refused to give up.  I took the 1% chance I had and was able to turn things around and I’m so glad I did.
3. Believe in yourself and in your capabilities.
While I may have fretted over the many interviews I had to go through, I never doubted that I was a good fit for the job.  I’m not saying I got the job because I’m the best, I got the job because I know that I possessed the many specific qualities the company was looking for and so I focused on highlighting those qualities and it worked in my favour. Remember, ‘bullshit’ can only take you so far.
4. The value of Education.

Still one of my favourite OOTD’s. My Masters cap & gown during my graduation at Curtin University here in Perth, Australia.

Before I even started teaching at Curtin University, I was already an advocate of education.  My education definitely helped opened doors for me. Saying that, I am aware not everyone is fortunate enough to go to school, some people even risk/lost their lives just to go to one. Here’s the thing though, education is not limited to the classroom or going to the best university.  Education is simply a process of acquiring a wealth of knowledge; a process of inviting the truth and possibility (Smith 2015). As adults we learned firsthand that not everything we need in life is taught in school or not everything we were taught is applicable in real life (Hello Calculus?). However, it’s beneficial for us to continually educate ourselves because as human beings, we need to evolve. Therefore, we need to be open and to be curious, we must be willing to learn not only to keep up with the times but to really want to learn, so that one day we can also impart or share our knowledge to others with the same authenticity.
5. Have a solid support system.
A few months before I got my visa, things were extra challenging for me but not once did my parents asked me to give up on my dream (even if it meant that I will be living thousands of miles away from them), instead they stood by my decisions and supported me all the way. To put it simply, they are the wind beneath my wings.
When I was preparing for my interviews I would nag my friends JP and Adam to help me practice. They were always willing to accommodate my demands lol, even if it meant staying up until two in the morning. I’m pretty sure I drove them crazy at some point because I was very anxious with the status of my application and my visa, but throughout the journey they were there for me and that’s not something most friends would do nowadays.

Taking a photo of JP taking a photo, photobombed by Adam in one of our random road trips downsouth (Pemberton). These two were there for me from the very start. Love them.

I also had to ask my family back in the Philippines (Irah, Chei, Joy, Bon, RB) to help process some of my documents and let me tell you now, processing official documents in the Philippines is VERY VERY challenging.  Sometimes they would end up taking a day off from their work just to sit through traffic and also wait for a single document to be released and although I still ended up going back to the Philippines to process the documents myself, it became so much quicker because my relatives were able to complete most of the requirements beforehand. Bless them.
Initially when I got the job in Japan, I decided to only tell a few friends here in Perth and abroad (you all know who you are) because I didn’t have the visa just yet.  Most of them were genuinely happy lol!  Some were quick to offer any sort of assistance that I may need.  There were also some who patiently listened to me while I go on and on about the hurdles I was going through whilst processing my documents in the Philippines, just listening to me go on and on and on, was a big help already 😘
I am very fortunate that I have a lot of support but…
Sometimes you only need just one person who supports and believes in you wholeheartedly, and you can move a f*$king mountain.
6. Prepare as if your life depends on it
I’ve always been a doer so when I made that wish early last year, I didn’t just sit and wait for it to happen. I seeked opportunities to help make things happen. I did my research on how to prepare myself to be mentally, physically, socially and emotionally ready for the job.  I did a lot preparation behind the scenes so that when it eventually happens,  I’m ready as I’ll ever be. It’s almost like planning ahead, but always with a clear goal in mind. I skipped a lot of parties and chose to invest my time, my money and my energy on things that are beneficial to achieving my dream. To some, it may seem like I was putting all my eggs in the one basket, but I was never the type to do things half heartedly. It was all in or nothing.

Casually chilling in Miyajima Island, Japan.

7. Ask nicely and you shall receive
I ended up asking a former boss to be one of my referees. I was hesitant at first because I haven’t spoken to him in years so I was pleasantly surprised when he said yes. I also had the audacity to ask Hannah, my current boss at that time to be one of my referees, and not only did she say yes, she also sent me a copy of her 2-page response.
I also asked a former classmate for a digital copy of the course we took online and he ended up giving me his entire notes as well, typed and summarised neatly (I can’t understand my own notes because my handwriting sucks, my students will agree), Thanks Joel.
8. Pray
I prayed at the temple where I made the wish.  I prayed every now and then. I prayed for my wish to come true but to also have the courage to accept and move on if it doesn’t. My friend Tom prayed for me in Lourdes when he visited Portugal. My mom prayed ever single night and continues to pray for me every night. I know a lot of friends prayed for me. Never underestimate the power of prayers.
And when you pray, do it sincerely and really heartfelt, okay?

While processing my documents in the Philippines.  I did a side trip to Garin Farm in Iloilo which is a 480-step pilgrimage site.  It is a man made depiction of what heaven looks like, with cement sculptures painted in the brightest of white and G. F. Handel’s Messiah blasting in the background on repeat

9. Be grateful
I am grateful for every person/thing I mentioned above. I am grateful for the people I forgot to mention but helped me along the way.
I am grateful that God still answered my prayers even when I don’t always pray.
For the good, the wonderful, the stressful, the ugly and the humbling experiences I went through while waiting for my wish to come true, I am grateful I got to experience them all.
They’re all important life lessons.
So thank you life for constantly schooling me.
I’m super ready to press START this new adventure.

Love and light,
Smith, M. K. (2015). What is education? A definition and discussion. The encyclopedia of informal education. http://infed.org/mobi/what-is-education-a-definifion-and-discussion/ . Retrieve May 2, 2018.

My Journey with Dragon Ball

Posted on March 12, 2018

I started university at age 15. I was obviously just a kid but I remember being obsessed with Dragonball that all my notebooks had the opening themesong written in english on every first page.

Nothing’s changed many years later, I’m still a big Dragon Ball fan, and with Goku finally mastering the Ultra Instinct technique in Dragon Ball Super, I can’t help but be super proud lol! I’m sure some people reading this will say “what’s a grown woman going on about a 2D character?”


Goku in Ultra Instinct mode. Image taken from ArtStation.com.

The Dragon Ball series is all about “evolution” and having a never give up attitude, and while Goku focuses on getting stronger, he does so in a manner wherein he doesn’t compare his progress with other people, he just works his ass off to get stronger.  Even when he is already considered the strongest fighter on earth, he doesn’t get complacent. He understands that the universe is big, and that there are many fighters that exist somewhere way stronger than him.  Instead of just accepting that fact/theory, he challenges himself, and continues to push his limits.  Yes he gets frustrated when his opponent is stronger, but he doesn’t get jealous or play dirty. Rather, he acknowledges the strength of the person he is fighting, and works on improving himself.

Something that we can all practice as well. Everyday we get bombarded with images on social media highlighting things that we lack, or things that we want but we dont have, and sometimes we end up comparing ourselves to other people which is very unhealthy.

What we see on social media is not a complete representation of someone’s life. Most of the time, we only show what we want people to see and it’s quite understandable since part of social media etiquette is to not expose our dirty laundry online. Therefore it follows that we mostly see the good or the perfect images, curated and most likely filtered. It doesn’t mean that that persons life is perfect, on the contrary, it could be far worse than yours. And if their life is truly perfect, be happy for them.

We are all unique and we have our own strengths and weaknesses. Instead of putting other people down, or getting jealous on what other people have, let’s all be like Goku, and just keep working on becoming the best version of ourselves.


Goku’s glow up over the years is goals. Image taken from DevianArt.

It goes back to self love.
Instead of focusing on other people, or caring too much on what other people say, focus on your strengths, focus on the things you love, focus on things you can improve. Take up a new hobby, and don’t give up straight away if it seems hard at first. It doesn’t matter if other people think what you’re doing is not cool or not hip, as long as you are enjoying yourself and you’re not hurting someone else in the process. Just do it! I once encountered a group of ladies in a knitting conference and they were having the time of their lives. Focus on your own journey and don’t compare your progress, and cherish the little victories you make along the way.

If you focus on improving your skills, your mind doesn’t have any room to wander into negative spaces.

I mentioned here before that one of my hobbies is painting, but before I could paint, or could afford to buy painting materials, I used to draw on the back cover of stationeries or on ordinary bond papers. I didn’t own any sketchbooks but I had a folder with clear plastic inserts where I keep/display my A4 size drawings, it was like my little portfolio. I didn’t have proper tools to colour my drawings but I never complained. I made do with what I have and they still turned out fine.  To this day, as much as I am proud of my huge paintings, I still treasure my humble old drawings from over 20 years ago as they remind me of how far I’ve come.

My DBZ drawing circa 1998

Trunks was a favourite back in 1997

My biggest painting so far, started working on this one early Dec. 2016.

Finished just before Christmas of 2016.

My Son Goku acrylic painting, 40×40 inches canvas.

Just like Goku, I too have evolved.

Scents and Sensibility

Posted on December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas everyone!

Feels like I have abandoned this little travel blog haven’t I?  My only excuse (aside from work) is that I’ve been working on something life-changing this past few months that I can’t share just yet.

Anyway travel aside, I hope you guys enjoyed your Christmas celebrations with your family, lover, friends, and or with complete strangers. To many people, myself included, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Aside from the festive atmosphere, the oh so sinful foods, the awkward/fun family reunions, the Christmas songs, lights and decors, there is also that gift giving tradition (that basically generates billions of mullah to countless retailers around the world each year) we all look forward to.

A staple gift during Christmas is perfume.

Over the years, I’ve received many perfumes (I got another one yesterday) and had my share of gifting them as well.  To some, perfume falls in the “you can never go wrong” gifting category, but I always find that giving perfume as a gift (not only during Christmas) is a tricky one.  After all, it’s a very personal gift. When you give someone a perfume, you’re basically saying to that person “this scent encapsulates you”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying gifting perfume is a bad idea. When done right, it’s a wonderful way of showing someone you’ve been thinking about what suits them, what suits their lifestyle or their personality and it makes it all the more thoughtful. You never know, the fragrance you give someone might just become their signature scent and every time they spray the perfume, they’ll think of you. Totally winning.

So since I love perfumes so much, I thought I’d share my top 10 perfumes of all time, including their top, middle, base notes to help you cut down on research if you are choosing a scent for someone or considering buying a scent for yourself (you’re welcome).

Some of my favourite perfumes.

  1. Narciso Poudree by Narciso Rodriguez

Nose behind this fragrance: Aurelien Guichard
Top notes: Bulgarian rose, Jasmine, Orange blossom
Middle notes: Musk
Base notes: Vetiver, cedar, coumarin, patchouli

This was love at first sniff.  It’s soft and feminine, light powdery, very intimate. It’s a stunning scent but not loud.


2. My Insolence for Women by GuerlainCreated by: Christophe Raynaud and Sylvaine Delacourte.
Top notes: Raspberry, Citruses
Middle notes: Almond blossom, Jasmine
Base notes: Tonka Bean, Patchouli, Vanilla

A classic and almost timeless scent, one can expect from the House of Guerlain.  I love wearing this in winter.  It’s soft and creamy yet strong, so don’t spray too much.


3. Eau Claire des Merveilles Hermes for Women by HermesNose behind this fragrance: Jean Claude Ellena
Top notes: Citrus, Aldehydes
Middle notes: Floral notes, Spices
Base notes: Vanilla, Powder, Driftwood

If I’m to describe this scent in one word, it would be “whimsical”.


4. Agent ProvocateurCreated by: Christian Provenzano
Top notes: Magnolia, Indian saffron
Middle notes: Gardenia, Vetiver, Moroccan rose, Egyptian jasmine
Base notes: Amber, Musk, Cedar

This scent is the bomb! I really feel like a bombshell when I wear this, my ex bf can’t stop sniffing when I wear this, truly sexy and provocative.


5. Forever and Ever by Christian DiorTop notes: Freesia, Water jasmine, Ivy
Middle notes: Almond blossom, Rose, Geranium
Base notes: Musk, Vanilla and Nutmeg.

This is sadly a limited edition back in 2002. I had to include because I love the packaging and scent so much, I’m keeping this forever and ever lol. It’s a delicate floral scent that basically screams, romance in a bottle. Perfect to wear on your first date.


6. Escape by Calvin KleinTop notes: Apricot, coriander, black currant, melon, chamomile, tagetes, mandarin orange, oakmoss, cassia, litchi, hyacynth, apple, Marigold, ylang-ylang
Middle notes: Almond blossom, jasmine
Base notes: Tonka Bean, Patchouli, vanilla

This is basically my everyday scent, so this is the perfume I buy the most.  A romantic, feminine fragrance with a hint of marine scent created in 1991 and is a cult classic for a reason.


7. Burberry London for Women by BurberryCreated by: Michel Almairac
Top notes: Black currant, peach, apricot, pear, green apple
Middle notes: Jasmine, sandalwood, moss
Base notes: Musk, vanilla, cedar.

This scent debuted in 1995, but I only discovered in 2005 and has become a favourite ever since.  It’s warm and fresh at the same time.


8. Josephine Eau de Parfum by RanceCreated by: Francois Rance
Top notes: May rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, hyacinth – peony, lilac – hawthorn, bergamot
Middle notes: Iris, violet leaves, geranium, blackcurrant, peach – cloves, galbanum
Base notes: Sandalwood, bourbon vanilla, ebony, amergris, white musk

This was an impulse buy at Sydney airport en route to California. I was sold when the saleslady said that  this was the scent Napoleon Bonaparte created for his wife Josephine.  I didn’t bother googling whether it was true at that time because I liked the smell lol but according to my research, Francois Rance did create this fragrance within the strict guidelines of his pupil Napoleon Bonaparte as a dedication to Josephine, the love of his life. I wore this at a fateful reunion with my then ‘love of my life’ in San Francisco. We sadly didn’t work out and I’ve since stopped wearing it, so I think it’s about time I wear it again.

P.S. I took the crest of Empress Josephine sticker on the bottle because it was coming off as well as the pink knot around the neck.


9. Daisy by Marc JacobsCreated by: Alberto Morillas
Top notes: Violet leaf, blood grapefruit, strawberry
Middle notes: Gardenia, violet, jasmine
Base notes: Musk, white woods, vanilla

Most ladies will agree when I say that the real reason for buying this perfume is the cute bottle. It’s a sparkly floral-woody fragrance that’s perfect for summer.


10. White Moss by Acca KappaTop notes: juniper berries, lemon, bergamot
Middle notes: lavender, aldehydes, cardamom
Base notes: amber, white musk, cedar

I’m glad that I get to include a unisex scent.  It’s very clean and fresh, like a white shirt that just came out of the laundry and it’s hard to overspray because the scent is very subtle.


So there you have it, my top 10 most favourite perfumes of all time (for now). Just one lil note before you start hitting the perfume section. There are some notes that don’t agree with our body chemistry so what may smell nice on me, may not smell nice on you and vice versa.  Best to try the scent first on your wrist then leave it on for a few hours. If you still like how it smells, then you know you won’t regret buying it.

Scent-cerely yours,




The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō

Posted on June 13, 2017

I wanted to greet 2017 overseas so I decided to fly to Japan (a.k.a. my happy place). The trip was sadly a short one because I was heading to Korea and Philippines as well, but I managed to visit some really awesome places and squeezed in some fun adventures that I’m happily sharing with you, right about now.

Anyway, after a couple of email exchanges with my beautiful Japanese friend Satomi, we decided that from Tokyo we’ll be visiting Kanazawa en route to Shirakawa-gō. I will be writing a separate post about Kanazawa because both of these places deserve a post of their own.

Now a little background of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Shirakawa-gō is renowned for their gasshō-zukuri (合掌造り) architectural style farmhouses. These farmhouses are super strong and were designed to easily shed snow from their roofs, to withstand the heavy snowfall during winter time.  The village is located in the mountain regions and get heavy snowfall during the colder months and transforms into a winter wonderland. Alas, when we got there, there were hardly any snow, instead we were greeted by rain, so I didn’t get to see Shirakawa-gō in its full winter wonderland glory, but this hidden, I mean historic village still took my breath away.

Most of these farmhouses are over a hundred years old, but they’re still very much functional.  They easily adapted/incorporated the modern amenities to let the younger generation (and tourist like me) enjoy and experience the blending/fusion of the old and new traditions that is uniquely Japanese.

Satomi after a long day of travel.

After tea and some much needed (short) rest, Satomi and I headed to the lookout point to get the best views of the village.


The hidden leaf village (joke), overlooking Shirakawa-gō.

I tell ya, it almost felt like I’m in the Hidden Leaf Village.  It has this shinobi village vibe and if it wasn’t raining, I would have pulled a ninja run just for the hell of it. As always, we regret the things we didn’t do, lol. After taking gazillion selfies and pictures (of the same view), we slowly headed back to our lovely farmhouse to have dinner, and by dinner, I meant feast. Our host family prepared the yummiest dinner that I still dream of to this day.


Look at that big smile plastered on my face.

Our host family also prepared some entertainment for us and introduced as to the village mascot.

After dinner, we went to another farmhouse that had an Onsen. Remember my post “16 Travel Tips I live by” where I said you must always carry some cash when traveling? Well I don’t always practice what I preach and almost missed out, but luckily Satomi lent me some coins and I was able to enjoy a soothing hot spring bath (arigatuo Satomi).

Resting bi*ch face = My sleepy af face after onsen.

The following day, we were also served the most delightful breakfast. I swear it was better than the ones I’ve had at 5 star hotels. The daughter of our host family also performed for us, a traditional dance and made us play some instruments.

And then one last tour of the village before heading back to Kanazawa.

You can stay under my umbrella.

Singing in the rain. Chos!

Shirakawa-gō is beautiful all year round.  Despite the lack of snow, I still really enjoyed our short stay. Maybe next time I’ll go during spring or summer time so I can do my shinobi/ninja run. Until then…

Love and light,


P.S. Pardon my Naruto references, I couldn’t resist.




Posted on April 20, 2017

On our way to see the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we passed a little sleepy town called Seligman in Arizona. Now I could easily talk about the majestic Grand Canyon but I thought I’d write about Seligman instead because its history really fascinated me.

Yes, I do wear flats… once in a blue moon.

Hoover Dam, Arizona side

Before reaching Seligman, we passed by Hoover Dam.

Now if you’ve seen the Pixar movie Cars, the town of Radiator Springs is loosely based on Seligman. It’s said that Seligman used to be a popular stopover along the old U.S. Route 66 but literally vanished from the map with the construction of Interstate 40 bypassing it.

Do these “Cars” look familiar?

I did the mannequin challenge (with real mannequins) way before it was even a thing, lol!

Seligman’s story reminds me of those famous silent film actors that got tossed aside or whose star waned when the talkies came (oh hey, that plot was turned into a movie too!), but am glad Pixar thought Seligman’s backstory was pretty cool that they came up with this amazing movie that helped put the place back on the map.

Anyway, even though Seligman is not as popular like it was back in its heyday. I’m really hoping that this quirky little town (apparently it’s called census-designated place or CDP) won’t be forgotten again.

A sneak peak of the Grand Canyon that I’ll be posting some other time.

See ya later,


Posted on February 8, 2017

Happy 2017 my friends! Hoping this year will bring us all good health, luck, love and more travels.

I kickstarted the year in Japan but will talk about that amazing trip another time, for this blog post will be about its equally exciting neighbour, South Korea.

When people mention South Korea, a few things come to mind; beef bbq, kimchi, kpop, korean drama and amazing skincare/make up etc. It was my first time visiting the country last month and I was so excited I almost forgot I went during winter time and me and cold weather don’t mix. Even with layers and layers of thick clothing my imaginary balls were still freezing haha. It was so cold my nose was dripping non stop. I would say South Korea is even colder than Japan but I didn’t want the cold to bother me (see what I did there?), and decided to embrace the country the only way I know how. Explore and wander without prejudice.

I stayed in Dongdaemun area of Seoul while waiting for my mom to join me. I didn’t want to go to major attractions I will be checking with her again but I also didn’t want to just stay idle for four days.


When in Korea, do as Koreans do.


Korean inspired makeup! Fake it till you make it? Lol

I decided to check out Insadong first, I asked the hotel staff for directions and he tried his best to explain to me in English but I must have looked really confused because he said “Fighting!” like straight out of a Korean soap opera, it was so adorable.  Unfortunately his directions got me lost for about two hours (note to self, use Google maps instead), but the good thing about getting lost is that you force yourself to talk to people, and South Koreans I find are very accommodating and helpful so I was confident I’ll find my way.


Lost in Translations

So I found this restaurant purely by accident, I was tired and starving after walking for two hours. I actually wanted to eat at this fried chicken and beer restaurant but it doesn’t open until late. I went inside and was ushered to sit on a tiny table set for two and ordered bibimbap.  While waiting for my food, I noticed some celebrity pictures and signatures on the walls and a high rating from Trip Advisor and that’s when I realised that the little restaurant I stumbled upon was pretty special.  I found out later that Yookssam Naengmyeon is the original naengmyeon house to offer meat along with naengmyeon, that became uber popular in Korea. Winning!


Probably the best beef I’ve had in South Korea


A few blocks from the restaurant is Insadong or Insa-dong, a popular shopping neighbourhood selling traditional Korean crafts (i.e. Hanbok, ceramic) as well as modern goods (i.e. makeup, skincare).

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After Insadong, I took a taxi to head to another shopping destination, Myeongdong.


Myeongdong or Myeong-dong is a shopping mecca slash street food stalls haven, with some shops open until 5 AM.  That my friends, is taking shopping to a whole new level.

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The following day, I decided to check out Ihwa-Dong Mural Village.  I wanted to see the famous mosaic tiled outdoor staircase mural but unfortunately it was painted over with gray paint by some angry residents who complain that tourists are way too noisy.


Start of Ihwa-dong


The koi fish painting was painted over with plain gray paint. I’m so sad.


Planning to do a mural soon and the Ihwa-dong was providing me with so many inspirations.


I was craving for fried chicken but all the popular restaurants selling them seem to be closed on certain times, so when I passed by this fried chicken joint in Jongno-3ga, I went in even when I knew I was going to stick out like a sore thumb, as most patrons were Korean men over the age of 50, drinking soju and beer. I didn’t care. I was effing hungry.  The fried chicken at this place was crispy, not too salty and tender juicy inside. The best part is, one whole chicken only cost 4000 won (less than 5 AUD).  I loved their fried chicken so much, I went back and brought my mom with me.


The best (cheap) fried chicken at Hankook Tongdak

I also visited a few fish markets and one thing I noticed about Koreans is just like Filipinos, they also have a penchant for dried fish/seafood.


Jungbu Eight Gate was another amazing restaurant I discovered in Dongdaemun Market.  Again, it’s not a fancy place, but their grilled beef dish was to die for. The place is run by two aunties and one of them even mixed my bowl because I was apparently doing it wrong.


After picking up my mom from the airport and changing hotel, I took her to Myeongdong to do some late night shopping.


So happy I got to explore Seoul with my mom.

Even when it was freezing, I still wanted to try the famous 32cm ice cream and while I struggle to finish it because it was so fucking cold, it was worth it, the things I do (for the love of ice cream).


Moms first Korean dinner at Sawol-e Juggumi in Lotte Fitin

It was a full day of sightseeing around Seoul the following day. First stop was Gwanghwamun Square.


King Sejong and I

Was also lucky that mom and I made it on time for the bell-ringing ceremony at Bosingak and the guards happily took our pictures.

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20170110_090856Obsessed with this coffee. I wish they will sell it here in Australia.

After lunch we went back to Gwanghwamun Square to check out Gyeongbokgung Palace or Gyeongbok Palace, but alas the palace is closed on Mondays.

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From the palace, I dragged my Mom to go to Bukchon Traditional Korean Village. She was not impressed but I liked it there.


After Bukchon we went to Gangnam as per Moms request haha.


Meet my new friend Ryan (Kakao Friends).

Our last day in Seoul was spent in beautiful Nami Island and romantic Petite France.


Thanks to Mr. Lee of Funtastic Korea for this picture.

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Behind me are pictures of some famous Korean Soap Operas that were filmed in Nami Island. My mom saw almost all of them!


After  Nami Island, our last stop was the romantic and magical place that is Petite France.  Many Korean soap operas were shot here, in particular Episode 15 of my fave My Love from the Star.

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How cute is my Mama?


I promised my mom I will take her to Paris one day to see my fave Eiffel tower, but this would have to suffice for now hehe.


Mom and I really enjoyed our stay and we can’t wait to go back (but definitely not during winter), so until then…

Saranghae 사랑해 Seoul,





Posted on July 21, 2016

This Kyoto post will be the last of  my Japan 2016 chronicles.  I will not be including our travel adventures in Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Osaka.  I feel that I’m starting to overkill my Japan blog entries already  so I’ll write about another country next post, promise.

But I cannot NOT (yay double negative) include Kyoto because there are just so many cool things going on in that place.  Actually, I had this image of Kyoto being all historic and just shrines and temples everywhere,  so I was surprised that it’s actually a big city and quite cosmopolitan at that.  It’s a contradiction of both the old and modern blending together seamlessly. In other words, Kyoto is DOPE.


Since there are so many things to do/see, you really need to plan ahead especially if you don’t have a lot of time.  Again, a little research and some extensive interrogation (annoying questions you ask locals) will help you a lot.  A few things you need to remember before you go temple/shrine hopping.

  1. The more popular the temple/shrine, the bigger the crowd (obviously) so expect long queues at the entrance and expect to compete photo op space with other tourists (i.e. families, tour groups) as well as locals that go with their friends and families.  Some locals go to these temples/shrines to pray or to give offering.  It is a holy place and many tourists/visitors like myself tend to forget that sometimes, so it is polite to observe courtesy at all times.
  2. Have some spare change/cash with you.  Some temples/shrines have an entrance fee.  They also sell some merchandise inside and there are many food stalls, souvenir shops at the entrance/exit of these temples. I can tell you now, the green tea ice cream and pork siomai I ate at  the Arashimaya station were amazing. I almost cried when I didn’t have enough change to buy another one.
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3. Think of the season you’re going.  We went during the cherry blossom or sakura season, and that’s another reason for attracting large crowds.  Make sure to have a warm jacket or coat even during springtime or a light cardigan just in case it gets chilly.  If you don’t have issues bringing an umbrella, even better.

4. Once you’ve decided on the places you want to check out, then start mapping out your route.  Again research on how to best get there, some of these temples are within walking distance from each other so you want to avoid zigzagging and or missing out on another temple that’s just beside the temple you visited (even if it’s not on your list).  Believe me, after 4-5 temples, they all start to look the same lol.

Here are some of the temples/shrines we visited in Kyoto.

Fushimi Inari Shrine or Fushimi Inari Taisha, probably one of the most iconic shrines in Kyoto and maybe the whole of Japan. It’s world famous  for its thousands of vermilion torii gates but to get a decent solo picture with these gates as backdrop is a challenge so I will be posting all the decent ones we’ve managed to take, considering the effort that we put into it. Oh, and Inari is said to be the God of Rice, so just another reason why I love love this shrine.

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Not sure what these are but they look pretty.

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Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion) officially Rokuon-ji Temple.  This beautiful Buddhist temple manages to stay minimalistic even when it’s coated in gold.

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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, you may skip this spot if you’re not interested in bamboos but amidst the soaring stalks of the largest member of the grass family and you’d think you’re being transported in another time.  It’s like being on a set film and some ninja’s are gonna start flying from one bamboo to another and start throwing shuriken at each other.  Yeah I watch too many movies/animes.

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Tenryu-ji Temple or Tenryū Shiseizen-ji, the great thing is, the bamboo grove is just opposite to this beautiful Buddhist temple.  We spent some time admiring the garden and again took gazillion photos of the cherry blossoms because you can never have enough.

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This cute little birdy was showing off.

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Honen-in Temple, this would have to be one of my favourite temples because out of the many we’ve visited, it’s by far the simplest and the least popular.  It’s quite hard to explain. It’s walking distance from another popular temple Ginkakuji which we decided to skip.  It’s quite secluded and because it’s not as popular, there are less crowds and you have more time to appreciate the temple.

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Philosopher’s Walk or Philosopher’s Path – This two kilometre’s path is prettiest in April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.  It’s almost like a fairytale.  The path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion).

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There are still plenty of places I want to explore in Kyoto but that will have to wait until I make my way back.  Here’s wishing that will happen soon.

Love lots,