Friday, June 28, 2013

Guilin Go!

Guilin is known for its unique scenery and there's a saying in Mandarin "桂林山水甲天下". But my main purpose of this trip was to visit Longji Rice Terrace and Yangshuo coz that's where the nice scenery are. In order to get to these 2 places, I would have to first fly into Nanning and go through Guilin coz Guilin is the gateway to all these places. In fact, there's actually nothing much to see in Guilin coz it's just another city. 

According to my original plan, we were not supposed to spend any time at Guilin at all. plan was totally screwed by the stupid train so I had to change my plan again at the very last minute and cancelled everything that I've originally planned for the day...very annoyed and disappointed. I'll explain what happened...

10 June 2013 (Monday): Nanning - Guilin

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had to take the 6am train to Guilin coz the one that I wanted at 8.50am was sold out already. We couldn't take the later train coz we had to reach Guilin by 1pm to catch the direct shuttle to the rice terrace. Even though I've been to China quite a few times, I've never traveled on a train before, not even for China!! Since this was our first time traveling by train in China, we woke up at 3.30am to pack up, check-out, took a cab to the railway station, and arrived at the station an hour before our departure time. We were kinda surprised that the railway station was quite crowded even though it was still early. 

When everybody started to queue for the train around 5.45am, we also queued patiently expecting the train to be on time, just like how punctual the trains are in Japan. Gosh I was so wrong, how could I even compare Japan to China?? It's not even comparable. Then we heard an announcement saying that our train would be delayed but they didn't say when the train would arrive, so we continued waiting and waiting and waiting. I started to get nervous and was constantly looking at my watch coz I only had the leeway of 45 minutes to make it in time for the shuttle at 1pm. If our train gets delayed more than that, we'll be totally screwed. I was already getting frustrated with the delay and making things worse were the uncivilised people queue jumping, spitting, and smoking around us. Dude...just get out of the air-con area to smoke annoying!!

Apart from the delay, my first experience on a train in China also wasn't a very pleasant one either. Sounds like this backpacking 101 class was definitely an intense!! The train that we took actually departed from Kunming and go all the way up to Beijing, so some of the passengers have already been traveling overnight before we boarded the train. We bought the hard seat tickets and found out that the seats were facing each other and there were people sitting on our seat. These people were the ones who bought the standing tickets. Seriously, standing ticket for such a long journey?!?! Oh well, this is China, seems like there's never enough seats for all these people. So whatelse did I observe during the train ride? People smoking in the train, talking loudly, eating fruits and spitting the skin in the aisle, etc. The picture above is kinda deceiving, it actually looks better on picture than it actually is. Conclusion, traveling by train in China is not for everybody and after this experience, I've learnt how to choose the 'right' type of train. =P

Unfortunately, our train departed an hour behind schedule at 7am and I knew that most probably we wouldn't be able to make it in time for the 1pm shuttle coz we still had to take a cab for 30 minutes from the North railway station to the South railway station when we arrive Guilin. So during the 6-hours journey, I had to rearrange my plans and come up with 2 alternative options. We could either try taking a public bus to the rice terrace but it would be late evening by the time we get there and it would be too dark and difficult to hike an hour to get to our hostel. Another option was to cancel the plan of going up the rice terrace, forfeit the hotel that we've paid for and spend the night in Guilin instead. Desperate times calls for desperate measures, we decided to take it easy and give up on traveling to Longji Rice Terrace, kinda disappointed that I had to give this beautiful place a miss but thinking on the positive side, we saved at least CNY 200 per person without going to the rice terrace. P.S. Traveling in China is not cheap these days, there's entrance fee to every tourist attraction!

Our train finally arrived at Guilin North Station at 1pm. The public bus (no. 100) to the city took about 45 minutes and costs only CNY 1 per person. =)

Since we changed our plans, we had the whole day free in Guilin. First thing first, had lunch then looked for a hotel around the bus terminal. We were lucky to find a pretty decent hotel for CNY 120/night right beside the bus terminal.

Relaxing day to walk around the city and visited the Sun & Moon Pagoda (日月双塔). It was cloudy and rained a lil' when we were there so the weather was very cooling. After 2 hectic days in Nanning, it was good to be able to chill and get some rest.

Mom definitely enjoyed this last minute change of plan coz that means it's shopping time!! The 2 yuan shop right next to our hotel became mom's favorite place in Guilin...her shopping!! 

Guilin noodles and rice dumplings for lunch before departing to our next destination...Yangshuo. P.S. Next post is gonna be massive. =)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nanning Detian Waterfall

After working hard for the past 6 months, it's time to take a break and reward myself with a vacation. As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, 2013 will be my cuti-cuti China year. So here I am again, continuing my 'China Rush' adventure and traveling to China once again. This time my destination is Nanning & Guilin. 

Ironically, when we did a radio interview in Shanghai last September, the DJ asked where we intend to travel next, and I just randomly answered Guilin & Yunnan. Shortly after we returned from Shanghai, Airasia launched the Nanning and Kunming routes and coincidentally, both destinations are places that I want to go so I just went ahead and grabbed the return air ticket to Nanning for RM 216/person...pretty cheap right? Sometimes you've gotta want something bad enough to make it happen. Law of attraction maybe? 

As expected, I was the one planning out the itinerary for this entire trip. Since my 'China Rush' partners this time are my parents, I tried to tone down the intensity of this 'backpacking' trip by making it less hectic and visit only places that I'm really interested in. Besides, mom and dad had been to Guilin on a tour before so I focused more on places that they've never been. Initially, my plan was to stay in hotels for this trip but mom was so gung-ho and suggested staying in youth hostels (coz she's never stayed in hostels before), so out of the 7 nights of our trip, we stayed in hostels for 5 nights. Welcome to backpacking 101 for beginners...hahaha! =P

8 June 2013 (Saturday): Penang - KL - Nanning

Backpacking 101 tip #1: I personally prefer carrying a backpack instead of a trolley bag when my trip involves a good bit of walking and traveling between several cities. I was also able to help my parents with their luggage coz I had both my hands free. =)

Spent our 3-hour layover in the lounge at LCCT...since when transiting became so enjoyable? =) I don't really like taking naps during the day coz it makes me more tired so I spent the entire 3.5 hours journey enjoying my own 'in-flight entertainment'. =P

After traveling+transiting for about 8 hours, we finally arrived at Nanning Wuxu Airport at 4.45pm. Thanks to my 'kiasu' skill, we managed to clear the immigration within 15 minutes...haha!! Quickly dashed out of the airport hoping to catch the 5pm airport shuttle (机场大巴1号线) to the city but we missed it by a minute. The next bus leaves after 15 minutes so I had some time to take a selca in front of the airport. =P The airport shuttle bus is pretty convenient and costs CNY 20 per person. But if you're traveling in a group of 3 or 4, you may consider taking a cab coz it costs CNY 90 for a cab and it brings you directly to your hotel.

Nanning is known as the 'Green City' of China and this was what I saw along the 45 minutes journey from the airport to the city. city...really?? My first impression of Nanning city...lotsa motorcycles and e-bikes...kinda similar to Vietnam. 

We were dropped off in front of Vienna Hotel on Chaoyang Road, approximately 5 minutes walk from the railway station. Our first mission was to go to the railway station to buy the tickets to Guilin. Of all the times to travel to China, we were so 'lucky' to be traveling during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday. That means lotsa Chinese are also traveling during that period and a lot of tickets are sold out. The train that I planned to take was sold out so we had to settle for an earlier train. I was a lil' overwhelmed by the amount of people queuing (or queue jumping) to buy tickets at the railway station. The unfriendly & impatient ticket seller at the counter doesn't make the situation better either. Oh well, I guess I've forgotten how things work here, welcome to China.

According to the homework that I've done using google map, we could take a bus from the railway station to 朝阳广场站 and just walk straight for about 200m to reach our hostel. Sound very simple, look very simple, but google map didn't know that the whole city is in a mess due to the subway construction that just begun 2 months ago. So instead of just walking straight, we had to walk further to cross the main road that was closed off for construction. We asked several people along the way on how to get our hostel but we were eventually led to 'holland' until we met a kind girl who told us that it's too far and difficult to walk with all our luggage so she suggested that we take a rickshaw instead. She helped us negotiate for a rickshaw and told the driver to bring us to the right place. Haha...this backpacking 101 class is totally like a crash course, within 2 hours of arrival, we're already traveling like a local on a crowded public bus and open-air!!

After much effort, we finally arrived Nanning Green Forest Hostel at 7.30pm looking as if we just came back from a good workout...haha!! The hostel is pretty clean and cosy but the downside is that we had to climb 2 floors up the stairs to get to the lobby. 

We were too lazy to walk more so we decided to have our dinner at a 竹筒饭 restaurant right opposite of our hostel. Everything tastes good after a good 'workout'!! =P

Mingsheng Pedestrian Street (民生步行街) was very near to our hostel but I'm not a fan of shopping so there's nothing much for me to see here. We decided to call it a day and returned to our hostel when it started raining. Luckily it didn't rain earlier when we were walking with all our luggage, or else we would be so drenched and!!

9 June 2013 (Sunday): Nanning - Detian Waterfall
Initially, my plan was to make our own way to Detian Waterfall by taking a direct bus that departs from Nanning to Detian Waterfall at 8.30am daily. However, after experiencing the crowd at the railway station the day before, I was worried that by the time we get to the bus terminal the next morning, the bus tickets might be sold out already. So we called up a travel agency and made a last minute change in plan to follow a tour instead. As I mentioned before, I dislike following tour groups especially in China (I'll explain the reasons later) but due to the unforeseen circumstances at that point of time, following a tour was a safer option.

Backpacking 101 tip #2: It's good to plan ahead but always have a back-up plan coz things don't always go as planned when you're backpacking. Be flexible and be prepared to change your plans to the next best option. But honestly, it annoys me when things don't go as I planned coz I've spent a lot of time doing my research and working out my plans...grrr! 

The travel agent picked us up from our hostel at 6.50am to the bus pick-up point near the railway station. This 1-day tour costs CNY 180/pax and the price is actually quite reasonable and comparable to what I've budgeted for in my original plan. We were the only foreigners in the entire tour group. Knowing how tour groups work in China, I wasn't expecting much from it. As long as it gets me to Detian waterfall, spare me enough time at the waterfall, and bring me back to Nanning safely, I'll just bear with all the other 'crap'. 

Backpacking 101 tip #3: The trick to having an enjoyable trip is to keep an open mind and know what to expect, as long as you set your expectations right, you'll minimize your disappointment.

Scenery along the way...finally I see 'green' in this green!! Along the way, mom did something hilarious that made us LOL!! The roads were quite windy and the driver was driving pretty fast. As usual, mom was sleeping in the bus and her arm rest wasn't lifted up so when the driver made a sharp turn, mom fell off her seat into the middle part of the bus half asleep. At first I thought someone's bag fell off the compartment and when I saw that it was her, I quickly helped to pull her up and 3 of us had a good laugh about this epic fail.

So here's one of the reasons why I dislike following tours in China...mandatory shopping stops. After traveling for about 3 hours, our bus stopped at this bamboo products shop and all of us had to go into a room to listen to the sales girl promoting how great their products are. You can even find all these products in night markets but they'll convince you that theirs are different and more special. Of course I didn't even bother to listen and was playing candy crush on my iPad instead. We wasted 45 minutes here before continuing our journey to Detian. On our way back, we also stopped at another jade shop and wasted another 45 minutes. 

Another reason why I dislike following tours, lunch is included but most of the time it's not good. Besides, you'll have to share your food with strangers and if you're slow, the good dishes would be wiped out in no time. Funny thing is we were the first to arrive but the last to leave the table. Dad was probably too hungry so he was still enjoying the food after everyone on our table!!

Nice scenery as we got closer to the waterfall. 

Finally after traveling for 6 hours, we've finally arrived Detian Waterfall at 1.30pm. We were given 2 hours to explore this place. I'm glad that it wasn't raining but it was hot!!

Detian Waterfall from viewpoint 1. This waterfall is the 4th largest waterfall along a international border, Vietnam is just right across where we were standing.

We had to do quite a good bit of walking to get to different viewpoints...ended up sweating like a pig...good workout...haha!! =P

Took a bamboo raft for CNY 30/pax to get nearer to the waterfalls. Kinda pricey for a 10 minutes ride but that's the only way to get a nicer view of the falls and get 'sprinkled'. =P

So this is the view that costs CNY 30...worth it? =P

Camwhoring non-stop during the bamboo raft ride. =P

3 of us were occupying the front part of the raft for the whole time. The aunties and uncles on the same raft probably had us as part of the background in all their!!

The weather was perfect for taking nice likey! =)

Mom's favorite part of Detian waterfall was this 'shopping street'. Lotsa vendors selling Vietnamese stuffs around the Sino-Vietnam border. This is their so-called free trade zone...hahaha!! 

We've crossed the border into Vietnam!! =)

Few more pics before leaving. 

Breathtaking view of the waterfall.

The journey back to Nanning took about 5.5 hours. We were lucky that It only started raining in the evening. By the time we got back to Nanning, it was pouring and we still took a rickshaw back to our hostel. Tiring day but mission accomplished in Nanning!! 

First 2 days of my Excel 'masterpiece'. =P Next post...Guilin & Yangshuo.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Packing for a Week-Long Trip

A lot of people dread packing but I actually enjoy packing. That's why I could spend one week packing, unpacking, and repacking over and over again...haha! If you ask me how much or how little to pack for a trip, there's no one answer and I'll say it depends on when you're traveling, where you're traveling to, how long you're traveling, and what you plan to do during your trip. My preference is to travel light (only carry-on) and save space for souvenirs. Here's how I packed for my week-long trip to Guilin. As it's now summer and my itinerary included quite a lot of outdoor activities, I brought mostly t-shirts and shorts. Everything basic, no fashion show, no nothing. =P

1. 40L Camel Active Backpack
Initially, I was gonna use my blue Race backpack but I was worried that the dimension is a lil' too big for carry-on and I didn't wanna risk having to pay to check-in my backpack. Thanks to SIL for borrowing me this backpack...the size is just nice for a week-long trip. =) 

2. Lowe Alpine Daypack
This mini backpack is used to carry all my travel necessities and important documents. Things that I fit into this bag includes a clear folder with my itinerary, iPad, earphone, camera, 2 water bottles, passport, purse and 2 umbrellas. When I'm carrying both backpacks, the big one will be on my back and I'll carry this in front. I know it's ugly but it's practical. =P 

3. Ipad
I definitely made good use of my iPad throughout this trip. I've planned out my entire trip before hand so I saved all the information in PDF and navigated around with my ipad. However, I used it mainly to watch movies in flights, trains, and buses since we had quite a lot of traveling time. I saved about 15 old episodes of Running Man and watched them all during this trip...haha!! =P Absolutely love iPad's battery life.

4. Dell Laptop
The only reason I brought this heavy and bulky laptop was to check work emails, just in case there are any urgent matters at work that I need to take care of. Fortunately, my managers were very considerate and respected my off-days so I was able to enjoy my vacation fully. =)

5. Adapter & USB Flash Drive
An adapter is a necessity whenever I travel overseas coz I have so many gadgets. =P I brought a flash drive 'just in case' I needed to save pictures from others.  

6. Camera
My Sony camera that has been traveling all over the world with me over the past 4 years is slowly dying so I borrowed my SIL's Canon camera for this trip. This camera was particularly useful for taking selcas since Sheng didn't follow us this trip to be my photographer. =P 

7. Itinerary & maps
Even though I've saved all these information in my iPad, I still prefer print outs coz it's kinda dangerous to be holding my iPad and while walking in crowded areas. I'll share my nerdy 'masterpiece' itinerary for this trip in my next post. 

8. Flip-flops
I usually wear only one sneakers and bring a pair of flip-flops whenever I travel.  and I prefer traveling light. Flip-flops are perfect coz it's light, flat, and it's a decent back-up when my sneakers get wet or spoil. P.S. What do you do if the top and bottom of your shoes split when you're traveling and you don't have a glue with you?  I've got a shoe-mending secret...chewing gum...haha! Just chew it for awhile, and let it dry, then stick it wherever you wanna 'glue'. I'm not kidding, it may sound gross but it really works in emergency situation!

9. Tops
I'm all about traveling light and comfortable. I don't really like traveling in summer coz it's hot but because of my work schedule, I've got no choice. But one thing good about traveling in summer is that I can travel light and bring just t-shirts. So how much did I pack for a week-long trip? One t-shirt per day plus a wind-breaker. I prefer lightweight/ compression t-shirts without collar coz it's easier to pack and less space consuming (see pic below). During this trip, I saw girls in heels and skirt hiking a mountain and looking miserable, then what's the point of dressing up? I guess I'm just too practical to be fashionable. =P

10. Bottoms
As I mentioned above, summer is the time to travel light so I didn't even bring any jeans this time around. I brought 6 shorts and only one track pants. 

This was how I arranged all my clothes to make it easier to take out the one that I wanted to wear without messing up the others. =)

11. Travel Washcloth
Brought this instead of a big towel 'just in case' the hostel doesn't provide towel. 

12. 2L Hydration Bladder
I'm used to drinking a lot of water so I thought of bringing this thingy but I had trouble using the tube so I decided not to bring it and brought 2 inflatable bottles instead (pic below). These 2 bottles fit well in my daypack. 

13. Umbrella
I checked the weather forecast few days before departure date and saw that it's gonna rain for the entire week I'm there. To avoid being drenched, we brought 2 umbrellas and 3 raincoats. Fortunately the weather forecast wasn't accurate and it only rained a lil' in the evenings so we didn't use our raincoats at all.

14. Tripod 
I decided to leave this behind coz it was too heavy and space consuming. 

15. Dry Bag
Brought this waterproof bag to protect my gadgets from getting wet when I get on a bamboo raft.

16. Toiletries                                                  

I've been traveling everywhere with this toiletries bag since 2008 and it's still functioning perfectly. Everything in this bag is below 100ml so I could keep it in my carry-on. Things I put in this bag: shampoo, body foam, facial foam, baby oil, contact lens solution, contact lens, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair band, shower cap, zip-lock bags and make-up stuffs.

So this is how my bags look like after packing everything in...both carry-ons. I weighed my big backpack in LCCT and guess how heavy was it?? Exactly 7kg...perfect...hahaha!! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Realistic Thrifty Traveler

Over the past 6 years, I've had the opportunity to travel to quite a lot of places and I'm incredibly grateful for all these opportunities. Yes, I admit that unfortunately I've got quite an expensive hobby and some may think that I must be pretty loaded to be able to travel to so many places. But let me set the record straight, I'm not born with a silver spoon and like many other people, I come from a middle-income family. Then you must be wondering how did I manage to fork out the money to travel to all these places? 

Ever since I started working 2.5 years ago, I've been fully responsible of my 'expensive' hobby. Being an auditor may sound 'glamorous' but the truth is I consider ourselves as cheap labors with no life. For people like us who just started our careers, we work hard to earn more money so that we can have the freedom to do what we want, but we do so at the expense of our time and health. That's the sad fact about most of us working a 9-5 job. But don't get me wrong, I ain't complaining my job and I'm thankful to be where I am right now. 

Most of the young people these days love traveling, but the thing that hold most people back from traveling more while they're young is money. In the first place, we don't earn a lot and after paying for all our living expenses, we're actually not left with much. On top of that, we're a generation that spends a lot on gadgets, shopping, eating out, and socializing. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, how do you expect to find the extra money to travel? No matter how budget budget traveling can be, it still entails money. Sorry for being a wet blanket but I'm just being realistic. 

Every now and then, we read or hear about people who quit their jobs and spend a year or two backpacking around the world. It does sound very cool and I admire these people. I have 2 friends who are actually doing this right now. They're currently in India living the cool nomadic life. It requires a lot of courage and determination to get out of your comfort zone, pack your life into a backpack, and expose yourself to all the uncertainties that the world offers. I kinda experienced the life of being a backpacker during our Amazing Race days coz throughout that one month, I didn't even need to think about which day it was, everyday felt like a Saturday. The only thing I need to think about is what new adventure will I experience next. That feeling is pretty awesome. But if you ask if I can see myself backpacking long-term around the world in the near future, I highly doubt that coz I guess I'm too much of a planner and down-to-earth to take the leap.

So back to my question, how does a poor auditor like me afford to do all these traveling and still saving approximately 40% of my net income? This is solely my personal sharing and I totally understand that everyone has their own way of living. 

1. I enjoy saving more than spending

I admit, I'm an oddball female who doesn't like shopping (excluding outlet shopping in the US). I rarely eat-out or party but I don't mind splurging on eating-out on special occasions. I love surfing the net but I'm one of the rare ones around my peers who doesn't have a data plan for my cell phone. Bear in mind, there's a fine line between being thrifty and stingy. I'm not rich, therefore sacrifices have to be made to fulfill my passion of traveling. You would be surprised that saving up on smaller daily expenses can actually leave you with much more surplus to travel and see more of the world.

2. It doesn't hurt to plan ahead 

For a travel junkie like me, I think that the existence of budget airlines is totally awesome. The cheap ticket game is simple, the earlier you buy the cheaper it is (this rule doesn't apply 100% but most of the time this is the case). And you've gotta stay up late at night to grab the cheap tickets the moment the sale starts. The sales are usually a year ahead and it forces you to plan your travel plans one year ahead. Yea I understand, it's hard to know your work schedule one year ahead and you may have a nasty boss who'll refuse to approve your leave. The worse case scenario is to burn your tickets but at least it forces you to give yourself a vacation. The truth is, if you don't plan ahead, you're most probably going nowhere coz by the time you want to plan for a trip somewhere the next month, the air tickets would be so expensive that it'll stop you from going anywhere. Besides, booking tickets one year ahead helps you to spread your travel costs and it gives you something to look forward to. So far, I've spent approximately RM 1,800 for 3 overseas trips and 1 local trip between this June and next April. Ain't too bad right?

3. The internet is not for Facebook and Youtube only

I'm currently planning for my upcoming trip and the internet is such a great tool when it comes to planning out your own itinerary. Even though I've followed tours for my US and Europe trips, I wouldn't recommend following a tour if you're traveling in Asia (especially China) unless you're above 50 coz most of the tour packages are either overpriced or they have all sorts of hidden costs. The last thing you want for your vacation is to be forced into a jewelry or pearl shop and risk getting conned. If you spend 90% of your time on the internet, then I don't think it's that hard to plan out your own itinerary. I usually find hotels and read reviews on Agoda and, I planned out my Japan trip with, I used Baidu extensively for my China trips, and Google map for almost every trips. You can actually find almost everything on the internet and by reading others' experiences, you learn to be a smarter traveler. However, don't trust everything you read on the internet until you've experienced it for yourself. 

4. Leave equals traveling

For normal people like me who has a job, the duration that we can travel is usually very limited. I get approximately 15 days of leave per year, which is not a lot so I always plan my leave very carefully. For the past 2 years, I've fully utilized all my leave on traveling and even 15 days out of 365 days per year is not quite enough for me. I can't afford to waste my leave just chilling at home, I've gotta travel somewhere. I see traveling as a reward for one whole year of hard work. 

5. Extend your travel period with technology

I don't have the luxury of traveling long-term like a backpacker, and I don't think I'll ever do that coz I'm too much of a planner. I try to make the best out of the 15 days of traveling that I get by making use of technology. So what do I mean by that? For each trip that I've booked, I would start doing my online research about 2 months before the trip. So for that 2 months, my after-work work is to find out more about the destination that I'll be traveling to, read blogs, read reviews about hotels, find out the best way to travel around, etc. If you've traveled with me, you would know that I'm an ultra-planner. I would gather all the useful information that I've read online and work out a perfect (in my opinion) detailed itinerary for my trip. After sorting out all the details for the trip, I would take 1 week to pack my luggage...slowly. Then I would embark on my 'real' travel period for approximately 1 week. After returning from a trip, I would then spend about 1 month editing all my photos and blog about my trip. My blog serves as my memory bank as it helps me remember the moments and experiences that I've encountered along my journeys. It's also a platform for me to share my journeys with others who may be interested to make the same journey I did. So that's how I 'extend' my travel period from 1 week to 4 months. By doing so, I would feel like I'm traveling for one whole year by going on 3 separate trips. would probably think I'm a psycho.

6. Traveling on budget is cool

If possible, try not to follow a tour and plan your own adventure. By doing so, you get to go to places that you wanna go and do things that you wanna do within your limited travel period and budget. Due to our work commitments, the duration that we can travel is already so limited, then why waste your precious holiday following a tour and end up doing things that you're probably not interested in? Try staying in hostels, traveling on public transports, and do things the way the locals do, it'll make your trip so much more interesting and memorable. You'll also learn to cherish simple things that you take for granted in your daily routine.

7. Find alternative sources to sponsor your trip

I would love to have a job that pays for me to travel more but unfortunately that's not the case but I'm already pretty lucky to have traveled to Singapore and Shanghai for work. In fact, I've had the opportunity to travel quite a good bit before I started working. Of course, I've gotta thank my parents for all the Pama-sponsored trips prior to 2011. Since I wasn't able to pay for my own trips back then, I found several alternative sources of 'income' to fund my travels. My first sponsored trip was an all-expense paid week-long trip to Hawaii to watch Backstreet Boys live in concert sponsored by Sony BMG that I won from a radio contest. I know a lot of people listen to music on Spotify, iTunes, or Youtube nowadays but listening to the radio gives you the chance to win free trips. =P My second sponsored trip was a year-long student exchange sponsored by the US government. By saving up my monthly stipend, I used the surplus to travel to 15 cities in the US within that one year. My third sponsored trip was a month-long Amazing Race adventure which gave me the opportunity to travel to 9 different cities in China. Some may say that I'm lucky but I'd like to think that it's hard work and seizing every opportunity that comes by. 

Time and money are commodities with an inverse relationship; you need to spend one to have the other. And traveling cheap makes you realize that time is more valuable than money. —Brook Silva Braga