Dirty White Jazz: Summer is a State of Mind

I drive a white Honda Jazz that unfortunately I don't get to take to the car wash as often as I should. I do, however, love taking it on relaxed long drives, often on my own, with a lot of good music to keep me company - hence the title of this series of posts. I love music of all kinds, and love putting them together in playlists that help me build memories. Often I associate a song or a series of songs to a certain trip or a specific moment from that trip, kind of like a soundtrack to my own personal movie. In these posts I will be sharing the music that I listen to during my travels, from all-time faves to newfound loves and one hit wonder flings. In a lot of these posts you'll find a download link to the entire mixtape for your own listening pleasure. I would also love to hear your music recommendations - I'm always on the hunt for new songs to play when I travel!  

The summer is nearly over and I'll bid it goodbye with two weekend beach trips. I'm excited! I suspect the next few months will be crazy busy, so some summer quiet before the storm would be much appreciated. And what's a summer beach trip without the right music? Thought I'd share the songs that have kept me company throughout summer this year (I didn't have time to make a mixtape, I'm sorry!). What were your songs from the summer?

San Juan Bloggers' Weekend at The Circle Hostel!


It's only the middle of the week but already I'm looking forward to the weekend, because I’ll be spending it at The Circle Hostel La Union with a group of amazing travel bloggers. I’m so excited! I’ll be posting about it soon, watch out for it! Anybody else hoping to catch some waves/sun/sand/good vibes in LU this weekend? See you there! :)

Life in Flip Flops: A Thousand Buddhas & Corridors, Bagan, Myanmar

I took so many photos when we went to Bagan, and these are the last of the lot - my final favorites. I love that they're bathed in the orange glow of the Burmese afternoon sun, or otherwise steeped in shadow from within the halls and corridors of the ancient temples that surrounded us for three days.

On our last day, I thought I had had enough of the temples, opting to spend our final afternoon in the cool shelter of our hotel. As the sun set and dusk approached, we rode a van that took us out of the archaeological complex to the bus stop, where we would take an overnight trip back to Yangon. I caught a glimpse of the temples as we drove past and felt a sense of great panic at the realization that it was the last time I would catch a glimpse of them. I don't know why I felt it, a sense of sadness tinged with great regret that I did not spend the time I had that afternoon for one final moment around the temples. It was irrational, and a tad too dramatic, and it was the worst feeling of separation anxiety I have had in any of my trips. I must've really fallen in love with Bagan to have felt that way.

Good Vibes, Good Friends, and Great Music at Wanderland 2013

It's magical, that moment when you're watching your favorite band perform and they start to play your favorite song. In a split second, right after that first note, everyone in the crowd seems to be thinking the same thing, which is in fact nothing, because you all just want to get lost in the music.

Add to that a lot of great friends and good vibes on a summery Saturday night in Manila and you have the first ever Wanderland Music Fest. Because really, when was the last time you laid out a mat on a field of grass?

Where to Stay in Bagan, Myanmar: Bagan Thande Hotel

Bagan Thande Hotel - book now at special rates via Agoda.com
Archaeological Zone, Old Bagan,
Bagan, Myanmar 05232

In a nutshell:
Excellent location, relaxing & spacious surrounds, a bit of a splurge for a backpacker's budget, but worth it!

Rating: 4 / 5

How to Overcome Post Travel Stress Disorder

In my travels I’ve realized that the first day back at work from a holiday is the worst. I’ve never been happy to be back from a trip. There’s relief, in finding my flat intact, or in confirming that yes, I did NOT leave the air conditioner on before I left (do you ever get that feeling before a trip? My paranoid self always does!). There’s relief in realizing that I still have my job. It feels especially nice and I’m always grateful to see friends and family and give them trinkets and souvenirs, and to hear them say they’ve missed me (and then I realize how terribly I’ve missed them too!). But to be immediately happy after that cab ride home from the airport has never happened to me. I go through a lot of separation anxiety after a trip, and it’s usually directly proportional to how epic the trip was. It would take a couple of days or even weeks to get me comfortably back into “the real world”.

Overcoming post travel stress disorder is still a work in progress for me, but here are some tricks I’ve found to be of help.

The Beautiful Burmese: Portraits from Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

I spent more time taking photos of the Burmese locals in Shwedagon Pagoda than of its massive, ornate structures. I hate to admit it, but at some point in our temple exploration of Myanmar, all temples, pagodas and stupas began to look the same, and I prefer temple ruins and ones that are unpainted and made of exposed bricks to brightly colored new ones anyway. As I made a post about the beautiful locals of Bagan, here are some portraits from our visit to Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

Life in Flip Flops: Brief Encounters on Our Last Day in Yangon, Myanmar

Our stay in Yangon had been largely transitory, a necessary stopover to Bagan, and our final departure point out of Myanmar when the trip was over. Upon landing at the airport from Kuala Lumpur, we stayed in the capital for less than twelve hours before we took an overnight bus for Bagan. After three days in Bagan, we went back to Yangon for one final day before our flight back to Kuala Lumpur early the next morning.

Pleasant Surprises, Yangon, Myanmar

Before we left for our trip to Myanmar, Mabs and I worried about a few things we had never worried about in our other trips to other countries. We worried about the quality and condition of our dollar bills, having read that the Burmese were very particular about only accepting mint condition US dollars, and that ATMs were few and far between and credit cards were largely unheard of. We worried about not having roaming on our phones because our Philippine providers didn't have partnerships with Burmese providers yet. The fact that Myanmar had only begun to open up to travelers a few years prior seemed to mean, at least from all the research we had done, that there was much about it that was very different from our own country. It was definitely going to be a trip to take us out of our comfort zone.

We visited Burma at a time when it was still relatively Indochina's Great Unknown, the region's Great Undiscovered (this, however, is something that is changing very rapidly). So I was surprised at how at ease I felt almost immediately upon landing in the capital of Yangon. The airport was new and well-maintained, immigration was a breeze and getting our dollars changed equally so. The lady at the tourism booth was exceptionally kind and helpful, and our cab driver was the same way.  The heat was horrendous, traffic was pretty bad, but I could say the same for Manila. Burmese hip hop played through the radio in moderate volume while I looked out the window of our cab to gain my first impressions of Myanmar - my first real, authentic impressions, the ones I made for myself, with my own eyes, and not from the stuff I read or heard from others.

Travel is inherently related to perspective. Even a routine road trip to a beach you've been to so many times since your childhood can have an effect on how you see things. Imagine then how flying to a mysterious, mystical and newly welcoming foreign country can change you. All the stuff you've read and heard won't do it justice, this post you're reading won't do it justice, because the perspective you will gain from actually seeing the place for yourself, for actually being there, will be unique and will only be completely true for you and you alone. 

For every worry I had about coming to Myanmar, the country seemed to have a pleasant surprise waiting for me to defy it. Within only a few hours upon landing, my anxiety-filled view of coming into this new, foreign place had been pretty much washed away by the joy and excitement of being in a strange new environment and meeting its inhabitants. In the crazy Burmese heat, I learned to relish in pleasant surprises.

Travel Guide: Seoul, South Korea

This is the first of (hopefully) many travel guides to some of my favorite places in the world. 

It was the KPop, and probably the kimchi as well that did me in: I love Seoul. I love how vibrant and lively it is, how big and bold and distinctly urban it is, but at the same time how it can also be quaint and creative. I've only ever been to Seoul twice, but have explored it enough to be able to compile a fairly comprehensive guide on what the South Korean capital has to offer (beyond flower boy singers and fermented vegetables, if you're not into those as much as I am).

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