Sky Tower

Sky Tower is an icon of Auckland's sky line. I recently did the Sky Jump. It's basically base jumpimg by wire 192m off the tower. I have done Skydiving and the Kawarau Bungy Jumping last year so this Skyjump was just okay but still fun. I must admit I still freaked out at the start but totally enjoyed every seconds of it after I jumped. 


They didn't have a photographer. They strapped a gopro and that takes just the video where you can just take a screenshot but mine wasn't thag good because of the sleeves of the suit. I honestly don't think suit was necessary. 

Now, what are the odds that my Queenstown kawarau bungy jumping master Jaime is going to be my sky tower master as well here in Auckland. That was 7 months ago in the South Island and I wasn't expecting to see him again ever LOL. 

Oh yeah, make sure you tie your hair up before you jump!!! 

I checked out the observation deck which was pretty cool. 


I capped off the night with a nice three-course dinner at Orbit Restaurant. 


I also spent some time at the casino. I won some money then I lost all. LOL! I had fun though. 😂


These activities are definitely a must do when in Auckland. 😉

Northland, New Zealand

Retreat 2 90 Mile in Ahipara is a nice, relaxing place to stay when visiting Cape Reinga. 


The sunset was just perfect! 


Ahipara town is about 2 hours drive to the northern end of New Zealand’s North Island. 

Cape Reinga is believed to be the place of leaping for Maori spirits to begin their final journey. 

Breath of fresh air! 😌

With the lighthouse and the sacred tree from afar. 


This is the second northern tip of a country I’ve been. The first was in Cabo de la Vela in Colombia which was equally beautiful. One thing they have in common? Peace! Such a very peaceful place! Definitely a must visit. 😊

Easter Holiday in Canterbury Region

I arrived in New Zealand in June 2015. I have been wanting to visit the famous Mt.Cook National Park during my travels in the country but I didn’t get a chance until now, the Easter Holiday. πŸ™‚ 

I went straight to Fairlie from Christchurch as that’s halfway to Mt.Cook National Park and the accommodation is cheaper. I first visited the famous Lake Tekapo. 


Then the historical Church of the Good Shepherd. 


Saving the best for last, I finally got to explore Mt. Cook National Park. 


I ended this trip relaxing in a private thermal pool in Hanmer Springs. 

12 Days in Taiwan

I decided to welcome 2017 in Taiwan when I found out in October 2016 that Philippine citizens can now enter Taiwan with just a travel authorization that can be applied online (with certain conditions), I immediately  applied for one since I currently hold a valid NZ visa. 

The process took just about 5 minutes and I got my travel authorization. 

http://www.boca.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=6464&ctNode=868&mp=2

Finally, another stamp on my passport! My 16th country to explore. πŸ™‚ 


I chose to stay at Flip Flop Hostel – Main. I landed around 3AM and I got to take a bus from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport For NT$ 125 to Taipei Main Station where my hostel was just walking distance. 

Since I arrived around 4:30AM which is outside reception hours, the hostel made sure I get to my room. It was sure nice to be able to rest right away. 



I decided to visit the Elephant Mountain on my first day. 

And these were my first meal in Taiwan. Delicious beef noodle soup and dumplings. πŸ™‚ 


I attended a meetup on my first night hoping I’d get to meet people to spend New Year’s eve with. The meetup turned out well. A few people showed up. 


I spontaneously planned a trip for the next day and a few of them joined me. We took the train to Reufang about an hour from the city. We didn’t have a seat apparently. πŸ˜‚


We were supposed to go on a hike but the train station was too busy that we missed the train to our destination and the next one was not until after an hour and still no guarantee if we can get in. So the whole plan changed. We ended up on a food tour instead in Reufang. 

Here, we got to try the famous stinky tofu which was good by the way. 


Then, we went to the Cat Village. 


That sudden trip with these amazing people was tiring yet so much fun. πŸ™‚ 

On New Year’s eve, I decided to join Couchsurfing group at the park. The Taipei 101 firework was just beautiful. Welcome 2017. πŸ™‚


Then, we ate before we called it a day. 

On New Year’s day, I went to Tamsui. This place is one of my favorite. 

So enough of Taipei for now. I took a train to Kaohsiung on January 2nd. Highspeed! The supposedly 4 hours drive took 1.5 hours on the train. It did cost about NT$ 1500. 


I only stayed couple days here and visited just two places. 

I took the 8:45AM Harvard Express bus from Zuoying station at platform 2 to Fo Guang Shan Buddah Museum. I love this place! 


Lots of walking and it was hot and humid but definitely worth it. I decided to try their vegetarian buffet for NT$ 100 and yes, that was worth it too. 


I then went to the Lotus Pond. 


I went up the tower and this was the view. 


After a long tiring fun day, I had seafood at the Liuhe night market. 


Before heading back to my hostel, I went to see Ai He (love river). 


Found this beautiful church on my way. πŸ™‚ 


Don’t forget to check out the Dome of Light at Formosa station. 


My next destination was Hualien. It was about 5 hours train ride from Kaohsiung.


On my first night, I met this lovely girl at FH Hostel and we went to the night market together and we literally ate a lot. 


The next day, I joined a group tour to Taroko National Park. I ended up having fun with 3 Chinese girls in the group. πŸ™‚ 


On my last day in Hualien, with a Dutch guy from my hostel,  we rented a bicycle for NT$ 100 for 4 hours. Just beautiful! 


I returned to Taipei couple days before my flight because I wanted to get a tattoo. My first! I chose 13 Ink Social Club and this little cute tattoo costs NT$ 3000. I’d say it’s worth it and definitely not something I’d regret. πŸ™‚ 


I got to meet the family of my Taiwanese friend I met in NZ. Her family was amazing. They took me to lunch and we ate a LOT! 


On my last night, Nina, the girl I met through meetup on my first night in Taipei met with me again. She accompanied me to Shilin Night Market to eat again! πŸ˜‚


Before leaving Taiwan, shopping is a must. So I did!!! 


It was such an amazing 12 days in Taiwan. I wish I had more time to explore more of this beautiful country. I’m so thankful for this opportunity. 

“Taiwan Number 1” as they would say. 😊😊😊😊

Queenstown, Wanaka, Β Glenorchy, Te Anau, Fiordland (New Zealand)

So I recently turned 30 in New Zeaand. It was such a sweet and crazy celebration for me. Check outΒ My 30th Birthday CelebrationΒ andΒ Skydive at 30Β πŸ™‚

As part of my 30th birthday celebration doing Queenstown bungy jumping and skydiving, I also got to wander around Wanaka, Te Anau and Glenorchy and Fiordland Milford Sound.

Prior to Queenstown, I was in Fox Glacier for a month so being in a city was not so exciting for me.


I went to Wanaka to see that famous tree. πŸ™‚


Then to Hawea Lake which I fell in love with.


Glenorchy was also my favorite. The views were just amazing.


Te Anau was also nice.



But Fiordland (Milford Sound) was incredible.


I stayed at Milford Sound lodge and booked their cruise as well.


It was such an awesome 30th birthday celebration. I’m so blessed. Thank God! 😊

My 30th Birthday

My 29th birthday last year was my best birthday ever because I was on top of Machu Picchu in Peru which was my top dream destination then.

They say “life begins at 30” so I decided to start mine crazy. I had the craziest birthday ever on my 30th.

I initially wanted to do Skydiving on this day but the mother nature didn’t cooperate. I went bungy jumping instead for the first time.

I did the 43m Kawarau Bridge Bungy in New Zealand through AJHackett for NZD 195. The photo and video cost NZD 80 and they were having a promotion then to just add NZD 15 for printed photos on USB which I availed as well.

It was a little scary just before I jumped off the bridge but just a little! As you can see, I was having fun. 😊

Awesome staff who made my day.

Adrenaline rush indeed. Here’s the bungy jump video. 😊

 


Was that crazy? Yes! I still went to do something crazier than that though couple days later. My first ever Skydiving! 😊

Skydive at 30Β 

I wish I got to do this Skydiving on my birthday itself but due to the weather, I ended up doing Bungy Jumping instead.

However, mother nature gave a lovely weather couple days later which allowed me to Skydive. That’s right, I DID IT! Skydiving has been in my bucket list for a long time and I finally got to tick it off for my 30th birthday.

There are several beautiful places in New Zealand where you can do skydiving but I chose to do it in Queenstown through NZONE.


I decided to do the TROPOSFEAR for NZD 339. There was about 15 minute scenic flight to altitude then I jumped from the plane 12,000ft above New Zealand’s stunning alpine scenery. It was a 45-second freefall at 200kph which was the craziest, longest 45 seconds of my life so far! Then, there was about 5-minute parachute ride above New Zealand’s stunning surroundings.


This was a once in a lifetime experience for me so for my proof/souvenirs, I opted for The Ultimate Combo for NZD 319 which includes 4GB NZONE Skydive branded USB containing 40 mixed photos (although mine got 52 photos in it) and HD video footage combining freefall and handicam.

The photos were uploaded online 30 minutes after the jump and I got my USB after couple hours. I received my certificate to my email 3 days later.

I didn’t find NZONE’s staff in Queenstown’s office friendly except for Bill who was amazing. Other staff didn’t do anything but chat to each other despite having customers in front of them. The staff, the tandems (specially my tandem, Lima) and photographers at the drop zone are nice, friendly, crazy people though. Other than the bad customer service in Queenstown office, the overall experience was amazing.


I don’t think I got scared, okay maybe a little. I’d say bungy jumping freaked me out more than skydiving. I guess it’s because I jumped with a tandem so I felt secure. Here’s an awesome video of my Skydive! πŸ™‚

 

 

This once in a lifetime experience for my 30th birthday costs NZD 658 and is definitely worth it. I’m 30 baby! 😊

Westport, New Zealand

This town is famous for gold and coal mining. I think there is not much to do here in Westport but I stayed here doing volunteering work for a week anyway.

Aside from my wonderful Punakaiki trip that I did while in Westport, I liked the Denniston Experience which is just around 17km from Westport.


I also visited the Seal colony but the viewing deck was too high so it’s far from the seals to get a good photo but I’ve seen a few of them and certainly was entertained. I took this photo because I saw a baby seal being breastfed so it’s up to you to find them among the stones. πŸ˜‚


From the seal colony viewing deck you have an option to walk to Cape Foulwind which is 2km, one way. Taking this track instead of driving was super nice and worth it. The views were stunning.


There’s also this newly opened track just by the fishing wharf. I forgot the name of it. I went but since it’s new, don’t expect anything but a walkway.


Pretty much these are all I’ve got to see while staying in Westport since I didn’t have a car. Not much but I still had a great time. πŸ™‚

Punakaiki, New Zealand

Punakaiki is located between Greymouth and Westport on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes which are both a picturesque must-see when visiting the West Coast.

I was staying in Westport when I went here. It’s about an hour drive and some are winding roads. 

So this is the walkway to the pancake rocks and blow holes. Beautiful walk!

Almost there…

Lots of pancake rocks! πŸ˜‰



And you just have to wait for the sea burst for those holes to blow! I did!!! πŸ™‚ 


Luckily, the weather was beautiful.

And on the way out is just as beautiful as when you enter. 


After enjoying the spectacular views, I’d say that Pancake Rocks Cafe is a good place to eat. They serve pancakes of course! I was with a french woman who never had pancakes before so we shared it with pepperoni pizza. Each meal cost NZD 18.50. They were both delicious and I highly recommend to try this cafe. 


Just about 3km away is the Truman Track which is just 15 minutes walk down to the beach. Be sure to check this out while in the area. 


Punakaiki is truly one of the must-see places in New Zealand. 😊

Murchison, New Zealand

I spent two weeks in this little town in Tasman region of the South Island. Murchison is also known as the “whitewater capital” of New Zealand due to nearby rivers. 

I stayed at The Lazy Cow Backpackers which is an excellent, cozy place.

Right across is the Ultimate Descents where I’ve done my first whitewater rafting for free! This is because they just needed people to fill the raft for the practice of their future instructors which I believe are students from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. How lucky were we! Thanks again for this opportunity guys!


Me and this German girl, Beate were going to Kahurangi National Park but didn’t make it. These pictures are just on the way. πŸ™‚ 


I went to Maruia Waterfalls with the Swiss guy, Christoph. 


My English host Ali and Phil were kind enough to show me around. They first took me to see Rotoroa Lake in Nelson Lakes National Park which is so beautiful. 


Then, we had lunch at The Red Barn Animal Park and Cafe where I fun feeding these cute living beings. 


I did the Skyline Walkway which was harder than I thought it would be but the views were amazing so of course it’s worth it. 


Here’s the view of this little town taken while I head my way up to Skyline Walkway. 


Just the day before I left Murhison, I got to do whitewater rafting again but this time we had to pay NZD 20 per person which is super but this time, they had professional photographer so all these nice photos in action were captured. What a lovely experience! 


There is the Cow Shed Restaurant. Phil makes perfect cappuccino. πŸ™‚


Ali cooks delicious, yummy, sumptuous  food! These are what I got to try. Just yum!


And here are some beautiful photos I’ve taken during my stay in Murchison. 



Most people stay here just for a night to rest from a long drive but Murchison has a lot to offer and is worth staying for 3 days or so. This is now one of my favorite places in New Zealand. πŸ™‚

Ryshel The Explorer

For those of you who doesn’t know my story, I spent almost 8 years being the breadwinner of the family. I supported my two younger sisters from high school to their college even though I didn’t get to have my own college diploma.

Thanks to Call Center industry in the Philippines which paid well so that helped me a lot to help. Most call center companies hire people without a college diploma as long as you can converse and comprehend in English language well. This industry taught me to be punctual at all times. One second late is late and late is not a good record and I don’t like any bad records. If you maintain a good record of attendance, quality, AHT (Average Handle Time) and a great attitude towards work and co-workers, you get rewarded by either recognition certificate, gift certificate or cash. I also learned how to be patient, how to empathize, how to sympathize and specially how to give an exceptional customer service, all over the phone or through email which I also get to apply in my daily life.

When my younger sister graduated in 2012, I felt somewhat free. When she got a job few months after, when both of my younger sisters are finally making their own money, I finally became free from the financial responsibilities I voluntarily took over for years. Then the ME time started. I work. I travel.

I first started my adventure when I went to Doha, Qatar to visit my best friend. I got a job in logistics after couple of weeks so I stayed. After almost a year, I went back home and worked again in call center for a year. I walked to and from work everyday which usually takes 30-40 minutes. I packed lunch. I resisted frequent clothes and shoes shopping. The money I saved from doing all these went to travel funds. I then quit my job in June 2014 and took off to Singapore in July  where my whole backpacking started. I traveled solo for total of 10 months in Asia where I had such a wonderful experience by volunteering. I still remember how tough and fun my first farm experience was.

I didn’t want to stop exploring the world so I took a TEFL course online and I got my certificate after three months which landed me a job in my dream South America  in the middle of 2015. The company paid for my roundtrip flights, visa fee and accommodation. How blessed I am that I got to work and travel within Colombia and Peru for total of 9 months. Here, I got to spend my 29th birthday on top of Machu Picchu mountain. 

From South America, I went back to Singapore in April 2016, I traveled to Thailand to visit my first ever help exchange host and to India where I attended the Indian wedding  of two of my good friends. I then flew back to my home country, The Philippines.

After couple weeks catching up with my family and friends, I felt my itchy feet. I felt like I gotta get out again, go somewhere again, meet new people again, make memories again. I booked a flight to Singapore, then to Malaysia and the next thing I know, I was back in Singapore again for my New Zealand tourist visa.

New Zealand is the 15th country I got to visit and I’d say it’s the most beautiful country I’ve even been SO FAR. I got to extend my visa until December 15th so I am here to explore the country for total of 6 months.

I am jobless right now but of course I have to get a paying job soon. I mainly do help exchange to keep me traveling, to meet new people and to experience the local life. Since people speak English here, teaching won’t work for me. I started doing housekeeping instead. Who likes doing household chores? I just had to do it to keep me on the road. I learned interesting and fun handy jobs though and I acquired new family and friends.

My work varies. Usually only 2-4 hours of work so I still get lots of free time to travel.

I got to feed cows.

I got my hands dirty by doing some gardening tasks.

I walked and played with dogs.

I played with my host’s kids.

Read books and even put some of them to sleep.

I also do help exchange in hostels.

I change bed sheets. Put them in the washing machine, dryer and fold them.

I split kindling and keep the fireplace going for the cat… I mean for the guests.

I wipe surfaces, clean windows, sweep, vacuum, clean bathrooms and sometimes cook Filipino dish for my hosts. All these in exchange of food or accommodation or sometimes I get both. If I don’t get food, (mostly in hostels) I settle for instant noodles and bread but I treat myself to a good meal or ice cream once in a while. For transportation here in NZ, I sometimes hitchhike or just walk for hours to save money lol. Most of the time, my hosts are kind enough to drop me off to places and pick me up.

I go couchsurfing when I’m not volunteering. So far, I’ve got good reviews from all my hosts. πŸ™‚ 



This is how I get to travel for those of you who’s wondering. I mostly live day by day. Enjoy the moment as it comes. 😊

I’m not a rich kid at all. I am just blessed for having a good heart I guess. I share and give as much as I can and in return, I receive lots of blessings in so many different ways. 

“Help someone not for the reward but for the sake of changing a life.”

I may not have a degree nor a lot of money but I have a lot of genuine family and friends all over the world. I have a lot of good and not so good experiences, memories. I learn from them, I treasure them, I share them. πŸ™‚

If you truly want something, YOU make it happen. 

So . . . Travel if you can. Travel when you can. Travel while you can. 

I am Ryshel. 😊

5k Fun Run (Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon 2016)

I used to be active in running. My last run was back in January 2012 in Cebu, Philippines where I ran half marathon. After a while and with no practice at all, I did this 5k. 

I was kind of anxious prior because there was this pressure of breaking my personal record for 5k which was sub-30 back in June 2010 at the Nike Women’s Fitness Festival in Sacramento, CA. 


I realized it would be impossible to break my record so I set in my mind that I will not think of the time and just enjoy the run. Which I did! 

We started at 9:30am from Westpac Stadium. The weather was perfect. Cool, a little bit of sunshine and nice breeze during my run. The route was flat so it was easy. I ran continuously until I reached 3.5k mark where they were giving out drinks. I slowed down here, walked a little bit. Next thing I know, I was back to the finish line. My aim was to go under 40 minutes and I think I did a pretty good job considering I haven’t ran since 2012! 

Here’s the official result and I am extremely satisfied. πŸ™‚


And here are the photos from the run where I was obviously having fun!!! πŸ˜‚

How happy was I approaching the finish line!

Overall, it was such an organized and fun race. So happy to have experienced this during my first two weeks in New Zealand. 😊

My First Roadtrip in New Zealand

How blessed am I that I got to go on a roadtrip on my 4th day and first weekend in New Zealand. Destination? Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

First, we stopped in a farmer’s market in Lower Hut. 

It was chilly and windy so sipping coffee here was really nice after buying some fruits. 


Next stop was in Kaitoke Regional Park where I got to see this unbelievably beautiful Stuart Macaskill Lakes. 



Next stop was the Rimutaka Crossing. 

Very windy!


Then the Lake Ferry. 



We also made a quick stop in Martinborough for these amazing views.



Then there’s the Cape Palliser Bay. 


I got to drive right handed for the first time. Beautiful short drive for me! 

​​
Finally, we arrived in Cape Palliser Lighthouse. It was quite a climb but when I got to the top? 


Here are the amazing views!!! So worth it!



How can I not look back?


Cape Palliser is just beautiful! Amazingly beautiful! 


Before heading back to Wellington, we had my first decent and expensive (LOL) meal in this cute little town of Martinborough.



Then we made a quick stop at Queen Elizabeth Park and Henley Lake in Masterton.



What an awesome weekend! New Zealand is just unbelievably beautiful that the photos don’t even need any editing. I haven’t seen much and I already love New Zealand! ❀️❀️❀️

Karori, New Zealand

As I was walking around Central Wellington yesterday, it made me want to go somewhere where there are less to no buildings and traffic. Karori showed up on Google so today I got up and bought my first Snapper card for NZD 11.00 (just the card). 

I took the yellow bus 3 which dropped me off in front of Karori Sanctuary’s parking lot. The travel time from Central Wellington only took around 15 minutes and cost less than NZD 2.00 


Here’s the entrance which got me so excited to get inside Zealandia. 


And when I got to this sign, I didn’t hesistate to go up. 


Mostly uphills and there was nobody! πŸ˜‰

From here, I got this good view. 


Until I saw this and hesitated to go inside. I went back down but then I decided to go for it since I was already there. 


It wasn’t bad. I was probably alone inside this jungle only for couple minutes.


Then I just followed the trail with the fence.


I reached this sign and instead of going to the main road to head my way back, I decided to take the route to the wind turbine which I’m really glad I did.


I kept walking alone and witnessed such beautiful views.


Then there’s the windmill.



I decided to keep walking to see more of the windmills. I had no idea how far I was. 


Until I arrived here and saw that the rows of windmills are still very far so I decided to head back since I wasn’t sure if I can catch a bus on the other side. 


The views are just beautiful. It was windy and chilly but nice. 


Going up here took me a little more than an hour. Uh oh, I gotta head back in town.  There were few cars passing by and I thought to hitch-hike but I said I’d keep walking a little bit more until a car stopped and a man offered me a ride.

His name is Keith driving her sister, Molly around who just arrived from Auckland. They asked me where I want to go and I said The Terrace but I also told them they can just drop me off anywhere I can catch a bus. He then told me he will just take us to Holloway Road then go to The Terrace. 

Holloway Road is a place with interesting old houses. Keith said the people here are conservative, like hippies. 

Had such a nice little tour with them. The next thing I know, we are in The Terrace and they dropped me off right in front of the building where I’m staying. 


How blessed I am to meet very nice people! Such a wonderful experience with the Kiwis for the first time. πŸ™‚

New Zealand Tourist Visa for Filipino Passport Holder

Filipino passport holders can apply for a tourist visa online. The official website is https://www.immigration.govt.nz/
As stated below, if you intend to stay 59 days or less, you do not have to pay the non-refundable NZD 165 visa fee. 

I submitted my online application on May 25, 2016 while I was in Malaysia traveling. Right after I submitted my application online, this is what I got;


Don’t! I suggest that you DO NOT send your passport until you receive an actual email that your application has been approved. 

On May 27th, I received an email from my case officer who is located in Manila, Philippines asking me to upload additional documents (proof of relationship to my sponsor) which I did on the same day. 

On June 2nd, I received another email requesting that I send them my passport. This is when you should actually give them your passport. 


Since I was in Malaysia and unfortunately, there is no Visa Application Center there for New Zealand. I had to submit my passport in VAC Singapore which is closer than my country. I got to submit my passport on June 3rd. I paid SGD 32.00 handling fee in cash and the receipt includes your tracking number. I was told that the process is 7 business days. 

Below is the info for Singapore office which is very near Raffles MRT station.


On June 8th, I received the below email stating that my application has been approved with the following conditions. This time, I’m guaranteed that I will get my passport back with a visa stamp on it. 

By the way, up until this step, all the communications were uploaded to my ONLINE account by my Immigration New Zealand case officer. 

You will get constant email updates from VFS once you give them your passport. On June 10th, my seemed to be long wait is over.

I collected my passport on the same day! Yeepee! 

It took total of 13 business days for my case from the date I submitted my application online until the day I got to collect my passport. 

VFS office in Singapore was very efficient. Although, there were only two windows dedicated for New Zealand, I didn’t have to wait that long and the officers were friendly and showed willingness to assist. Specially my officer, Stellar. πŸ™‚

And I was off to New Zealand 4 days after I got my visa. πŸ˜‰


Tips:

-When you submit your online application, upload all the documents you think might help to get their approval. 

-When you go to VFS office, you have to go through security first and you will be asked to turn off your phones so I suggest you do that before. 

-When you submit your passport, you will be asked to write your current address, email address and phone number so if you don’t know this by heart, you should write it on the thank you letter before going inside. 

Vaniday Ladies Night at Hotel Sofitel So Singapore

I luckily found out about this event the night before. I didn’t hesitate to go and thankfully my dorm mate, Lea from Germany came along. 

It was kind of awkward at first since most people seemed to be professionals who went there after work. 

We arrived there a little before 6:30PM which was also our appointment for the free express manicure. The ladies who did our nails very friendly and made us comfortable. There were few choices of nail polish to choose from. 


It turned out very well despite the 15-minute job and we love it! Here’s mine below! πŸ˜‰


As we claiming our free champagne, the people from myspa offered to give us 15 minutes massage since they were free. 


Joyce was my masseuse and she defintely did a good job. We looked so relaxed, weren’t we?


There was a DJ as well and the music was nice. This Rooftop Pool and Bar is definitely a nice place to hang out in Singapore! 


Thank you Vaniday and Hotel Sofitel So Singapore for this treat. You guys definitely gave us an awesome ladies night! πŸ™‚

Happy Snail Hostel Singapore

If you want to feel homey and comfy, this is the place to stay. Run by a lovely couple, Mike and Christine. They just come over some time during the day so this is pretty much an independent hostel. 

The hostel has a minimum stay of 2 nights and the rates are below through hostelworld. 

This is basically a 3-bedroom apartment converted to a hostel of 18 beds. It has 2 bathrooms with hot water. There’s cable TV for movies and a laptop for guests use. The wifi is very good that I get to watch on my Netflix all the time. 

The free coffee, tea, bread and spreads are definitely awesome. Who wouldn’t want this specially if you can have it anytime all day and night?! πŸ™‚


There are sodas in the fridge for SGD 1 each. You can do your laundry for SGD 6 which also includes drying.  

Since it’s a small place, you can easily mingle with other travelers. Clean and secured. This is definitely like a home and I highly recommend it for people who wants a relaxing place. Apparently this is not for party people. I will definitely stay here again when I return to Singapore. 

Tip; Read everything posted on the wall. A lot of information that’ll help you with your stay at the hostel and your Singapore trip so READ! 

Info; Food court, grocery store, salon, ATM are just literally few steps away. The hostel is located at Block 147 Silat Avenue #01-32 Singapore 160147. The nearest MRT station is Outram Park which is just a little over 1 kilometer away. I find it easier to take exit F and walk to and from the hostel. 

If you decide to walk and take exit F, as you can see on the map below, it’s not too hard to find. Just take exit F and turn right, walk all the way until you see block 149 building on your left then you’ll know you have to cross the road. Block 147 is located behind 149 and the entrance is at the back. 

Enjoy your stay! πŸ™‚ 

The Indian Wedding

I remember when I first visited India in 2014, I desparately wanted to attend an Indian wedding but there was none. 

April 2016, I had to go back to India for the wedding of my very good Indian and Filipino friends. It’s such a previlege to experience this culture. 

First night was all about dancing. People danced nonstop. It’s to show that they are happy for the groom and the bride. 


The next day was the actual wedding. The family of the groom had to welcome him like a very special person. From the street, still a lot of dancing. 

The groom!

The bride!

The ceremony!


And the reception happened at night. 

With the family of the bride!

The married couple! Just beautiful!


I’m so happy for them! I’m so happy that I am blessed enough to experience something like this. πŸ™‚

Medellin, Colombia

I chose to visit Medellin for 3 days to spend my last week in Colombia. As many people know the history of this city, I did not feel unsafe at all. The city is definitely more laid back than Bogota. I liked Medellin a lot. Here are some photos as I cannot give much details for this either due to I’m behind. πŸ™‚

I took the famous cable car to Arvi Park.

And a day tour to Guatape.


Colombia has so much to offer. So sad, I had to leave. 

Northern Colombia

It’s my last month in Colombia and I chose to go to Santa Marta for a week. First impression right when I got out of the airport? Lovely! The bus station is right in front of the ocean. As I am behind on my  blog. I can’t say much details so I’ll post photos instead to share my experience. These are all I got to do in a week in the northern part of Colombia.

Beautiful sunset in the city of Santa Marta


Couple nights in Tayrona National Park


Jungle day tour in Minca


A relaxing day in Taganga Beach


And my favorite part of this trip…Cabo de la Vela. 

Proud same sex couple…

While waiting to board my plane back to Bogota from Santa Marta, an inspiring couple was sitting next to me. Two men who weren’t ashamed of their relationship. They were holding each other’s hand and they were kissing from time to time. I couldn’t help but approach them to ask for permission if I can write this experience of mine since this is the first time I’ve seen something like this in my own eyes. I am not the type to take a photo of other people and post it online. I believe in respect and privacy so I asked for their permission but instead, they took my whatsapp and sent me three of their pictures they agreed on to share in public.

I have no idea what other people were thinking while looking at them but for me, I don’t get to see a couple like this very often, in fact this is the first. I had to tell them that I am proud of them for being the couple that they are. They are not afraid to show in public that they are a couple with the same sex. They don’t care about what other people would talk about them. They showed their love for each other despite whatever discrimination this society has.

Fernando is Colombian while Benjamin is French. I only got to talk to them for a few minutes since we had to board the plane but to have met a couple like them is a nice experience for me. They’re such a sweet couple. πŸ™‚


Β Β 
Like I’ve mentioned on my other posts before, traveling made me a totally different person. I became more open-minded and less judgmental. I think that wherever you came from, no matter how big or small your house is (or even if you are homeless), whatever your color is, whatever you look like, whatever degree you have, whatever car you drive or job you have, whether you are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender,
 any of these is not a basis whether you or I is the better person.

We are all humans after all. No one is perfect. Everyone has the rights to make their own choices in life. All people may not agree on the choices we make but the least they can do is to respect. And that goes both ways, whoever you are. πŸ™‚

Laguna de Tota

Just 3 days after my Cartagena trip https://iamryshel.com/2016/03/01/solo-travel-to-cartagena/, I traveled to Laguna de Tota in Boyaca with two of my students, Richard and Luis. 

It took us about 7 hours to get to our destination. We arrived late at night. 

 

The whole purpose was to camp so yes, we slept in the tent.  This place was so cold. It was around 7 degrees celcius that night! Brrrr! It was freezing that I didn’t sleep well. 

  

But this what we woke up to. Beautiful! Just beautiful! 

   
 
Before we headed back to Bogota, We visited the nearby towns and Playa Blanca. Went also went on a boat tour. 

   
   
It was such a short weekend trip but I’d say this is one of my favorite places in Colombia. 

   
 Coming back only took us 5 hours. Then back to reality…work! πŸ˜‰
 

Solo travel to Cartagena

Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th is a holiday in Colombia so I decided to take an extra day off from work for a 4-day weekend. As usual, I impulsively bought a roundtrip ticket costing around USD 93 from Bogota to Cartagena through my favorite affordable airline VivaColombia. 

I heard so much about Cafe Del Mar so this is the first place I visited when I arrived. The place was crowded because it’s a perfect place for sunset. 

  
The next day, I explored Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. I opted for an audio tour since I wanted to know the history. I’d say it’s interesting and worth it. The weather was super hot to be doing this though. 

   
 
On my technically second day, I went on a day tour to Baru Island. 

 While on a boat tour, there was actually people selling fresh seafood in the middle of the ocean. I got this delicious lobster for about USD 3. 

 
I also met these people (Colombians and Spanish) who were nice enough to translate for me and invited me to join their group while on a tour. πŸ™‚ 
 
Baru Island was okay. I’ve been to a much nicer beach so I was not that impressed. It was worth visiting though.  

On my third day, I explored the walled city. 

   
 

I also visited Cafe del Mural. 

  
I discovered this little ceviche place called La Laguna Azul in Centro Comercial Getsemani. Their Ceviche Bomba was truly a bomb.

  
I had to go back and tried something else.I love this place! 

  
On my last day/night, I wanted to make the most out of Cartagena by choosing to spend time at Cafe del Mar. They don’t open until 5pm but I went there around 4pm, picked a perfect table, watched the water, the cars, the people, the birds and the sun. I relaxed until I they opened. 

Ordered their ceviche and piΓ±acolada which cost around USD 15. Expensive? Yes! But hey, I was paying for the view! 

  
This is my favorite photo taken by my server. A perfect photo! 

 
So there, I got to visit Cartagena, Colombia. Traveled solo as usual and enjoyed it a lot! 😊

  

Solo Travel Changed Me

June 2014 was when I started to do the real essence of traveling, solo! https://iamryshel.com/2014/09/26/i-am-a-backpacker-i-am-a-filipina/

I was backpacking for around 10 months where I got to visit total of 9 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka). I visited the famous tourist spots but I spent most of my time in not-so-tourist places where I had fun the most. I traveled with no destination and no plans. I traveled where my feet took me. I traveled solo. I traveled with a bunch of strangers and afterwards gained friends all over the world.

After Asia, I wanted to travel to South America and I was able to make that happen in less than two months. I arrived in Colombia on June 24, 2015 and now working as an Instructor in one of the best language education companies in the world. I’ve been working and traveling for the last six months. I was able to make my dream Peru happen last October where I had the best birthday ever. https://iamryshel.com/2015/10/29/the-best-birthday-ive-had-so-far/

Few days ago, I spent my Christmas Day with an amazing family in Anolaima, Colombia. Such a peaceful place surrounded with farms and there is no signal at all. I was totally disconnected for couple of days. Here, I learned how someone had to walk up and down the hills for an hour to go to school. I always admire people like that since I never got to experience this. I can imagine how tough life was but because of determination, we can always achieve what we want in life. Here, I again got to experience a simple life. People spend time to eat and actually converse to each other unlike nowadays where people eat while on the phone. I got to play the traditional sport called Tejo. Such a silly game if I think about it but I had fun and it was amazing how this game can bring happiness to people in a secluded place like this. I also got to look at old photo albums. Something that I don’t have. I don’t have any album to look at to remind me of my childhood whether it’s a good or bad memory. In fact, I don’t remember much about my childhood.

During my travels since June 2014, I did some volunteering jobs. I got to see different types of poverty. I got to experience difference kinds of people’s kindness. I earned more patience from all the waiting I had to deal with when taking public transportation or crossing the borders. I learned not to be less judgmental. I became more open-minded. I started to appreciate the beauty of nature more. Every time I see sunrise, sunset, beach, mountains, the moon and the stars, it makes me feel something different inside. I can’t help but be thankful despite everything I’ve gone through in life. I am a strong woman. I’ve always been safe and blessed. Traveling solo gave me a lot of opportunities to develop myself. Seeing different places and meeting different people is just an awesome experience.

Despite what I’ve accomplished in life, I am good at keeping my feet on the ground. I guess, that’s one of the reason I am always blessed. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

La Chorrera Waterfall (Colombia)

I asked a few Colombians if they’ve been to La Chorrera and surprisingly, none of them knows about it. According to wikipedia, this is the tallest waterfall in Colombia with a total drop of 590 meters. How can they not know about it?! 

Anyway, I mentioned it to one of my students, Luis who then invited me to go there two days after we talked about it. He has a car so it was of course easier. From Mazuren area, it took just about 1 1/2 hours and we reached La Chorrera. 

The entrance fee per person is 8,000 COP which includes a guided tour. We opted for the 10am tour which didn’t really start until almost 11am! While waiting though, we had the time to see the small waterfall. 

   
   

The trek took us 3 1/2 hours going and back. It was a little bit challenging and I honestly thought this was harder than MacchuPicchu Mountain. LOL! There were only few stairs and some parts are slippery so I highly suggest a good trekking shoes. 

   
    
   
We ordered our lunch before we started the hike so it was almost ready when we arrived.  This cos 15,000 but I didn’t like it much. Everything was too oily and it tasted like they used the same oil for everything. It was definitely nice to eat in the middle of the forrest though while you hear the water as it falls.

 
This little dog who accompanied us through the hike sure benefited from it though. πŸ˜‰

  
The views along the way is breathtaking. 

   
    
    
   
It’s absolutely worth to allot one day for this trip. Tiring yet fun and relaxing at the same time. 

  

Oh, and Choachi is just about 15 minutes drive from La Chorrera which we also went to just because we needed gas. It’s a tiny town worth chilling for a bit. πŸ™‚

CaΓ±on Chicamocha (San Gil, Colombia)

It took us 7 hours drive from Bogota to San Gil. Since we arrived around 10PM we just had dinner and went to bed. 

The next morning, we left to CaΓ±on Chicamocha Park which was around 20 minutes drive from San Gil. 

We opted for the Teleferico for COP 44,000 (US $15) which includes the entrance to the park and the cable car. 

  
The view is just amazing left and right. 

     
 

   

  
    
   
We did the cablevuelo (zipline) for COP 22,000 (US $7) which was definitely worth it! 

   
I purchased the picture they took for only COP 10,000 (US $3). 

  

And here’s a video of mine enjoying the zipline! πŸ™‚ 

 
We did the cable car last. It was A-M-A-Z-Z-I-N-G! The view was breathtaking and it took at least 20 minutes for the one way trip which was quite a ride for what we paid. We literally crossed through the caΓ±on. 

   

   

  
When we reached the other side, we didn’t expect that we had to get off the cable car. There’s another park and the line was long for the return so we decided to eat lunch here and of course the view is still astounding. 

  
This park is definitely worth a visit. 

Before we called it a day, we drove straight to Barichara, a little town near San Gil. There wasn’t much there so we didn’t stay long but this church is beautiful though.

  
And here’s some pics taken before we left San Gil. 

   
    
  

Heading back to Bogota only took 5 hours. Fun weekend indeed. An addition to my list of places I got to visit. πŸ™‚