Travel Here, Travel There, Travel Everywhere

Travel is a very hot topic among our generation.  Everyone I know wants to travel at least a little bit.  Not everyone wants to do international, but they at least want to see different parts of the US.  It’s honestly gotten to the point where I’m more surprised by people who haven’t or don’t want to travel when I meet them.  I’m not saying it’s good or bad one way or the other; everyone has their own preferences and likes.  But because of the popularity of it there is an abundance of travel themed blogs and social media pages.

In some ways mine is very similar and in others it is different.  The obvious difference is that in the majority of blogs I saw about travel (shout out to those of you who started following me)  they are still travelling and their experiences are raw and happening as they blog about it.  This is great because you get to experience it with them and it’s almost like you’re in the moment as well (even if you’re reading it from your bedroom).

Mine is from a viewpoint of a few years removed from having been to most of these places.  So I’ve had time to really reflect on the experiences I had in each of them and I can talk more about the things I learned by travelling as opposed to just the fun I had while doing it.  It’s nice because it gives viewers/readers an option and different perspectives of places.


Fair Use and the Philippines

Featured image from: Here


I decided I’m going to combine our assignment with my second post about a country I’ve been to.  There’s a reason why and it will become apparent later in this post.  The featured image is just a random shot of a city in the Philippines.

So what guidelines do we have to determine if it’s okay or appropriate to use someone else’s image on your webpage?  According to the Fair Use guideline this particular image would be favored for fair-use because its purpose here is to compliment a comment about a related topic, no profit is being made from it’s use by me, and it is arguably being used as a research tool.  The nature of the image itself also qualifies it.  It is an already published image, so I can not claim it as my own.  I’m using the original image in its entirety, but if I were to crop it for some reason it would detract from the educational value it serves.  Overall my use of this one image has no negative effect for the original producer.  I’m not creating copies of it, I’m not profiting from it, I’m not trying to claim it as my own, and there is no effect on the market.

The publication and allowed use of images like the featured on are important for people who are seeking a realistic view of somewhere new.  Especially in a country like the Philippines it can be be all too easy to cherry pick photos to portray it as something it is not.  Pictures of Manila or some of the beautiful landscapes or seascapes are very easy to come by.  For someone who is unfamiliar with the Philippines they might be led to believe these images are representative of the culture.

I’m going to tell you that nothing is farther from the truth.  The Philippines is a great country, but it is also a very poor country.  The average Filipino citizen makes in one year of work roughly the equivalent of what and American citizen would make in a year.  So for a foreign visitor this can come across as a shock.  I know my first time there I was very surprised by how ‘rich’ my friends and I were considered to be.  This also means you have to be careful though because the Philippines ranks very high globally on the crime index, so you’re instantly a target.

I was in the Philippines five times, so other than Japan where I actually lived it is the country (other than the US) I am most familiar with.  Despite being paid poorly the people work very hard.  It is very obvious right away that those who work take a lot of pride in what they do, and are not afraid to travel far if it means a chance to produce more income for their family.  For example, when the American military comes for multinational operations people will travel across the entire country to set up small temporary shops that sell food and souvenirs.  They do this because they know Americans have more money and are willing to spend more money on food and things to send back home.  It is possible for a dedicated vendor in this situation to make more in a few days than he/she would in an entire year.

Sex is also a very large industry in the Philippines.  It’s not uncommon to go to a bar and find it also doubles as a brothel.  There will be a woman who oversees all the girls and makes sure they are treated fairly (in regards to their standards).  But often these girls are working in places like this because their family owes a lot of debt to some organization and the only way for them to pay it back is through prostitution.  So don’t be surprised if you visit and go for a drink and a random girl (or three) approach you throughout the night asking you to buy them a drink.  This is just how they let you know without saying it that they are working there.

The food is very flavorful.  However there are some dishes that will be off-turning to people.  The best one I can think of would be balut.  Now before I tell you what it is I just want to say I actually really enjoyed this.  So balut is a duck egg that has been boiled, and the embryo is still inside it.  The idea is that you crack the shell, drink the ‘soup’, dip the yolk in a bit of rock salt, and chow down.  The concept is disgusting to people, but it does taste good.  Other dishes that I’d recommend that aren’t so controversial are lumpia, adobo, and sisig.

So just to summarize.  The Philippines has a lot to offer in major cities, and you’ll be able to afford to do anything because of the struggling economy there.  The people are friendly, but beware of those who might take advantage of you.  Make sure you take the time to visit areas outside of the major cities so that you can really experience the full culture.


The first place I ever visited outside of the U.S. was Japan, so it is only fitting that my first post pay respects to a country I lived in for two years.  If I’m being completely honest when I got to Japan I was miserable.  It wasn’t my choice to go, but I was required to be there and I hated it.  However after a month of being miserable I decided it was time to get over myself and start finding a way to enjoy my new home.  I took a few short cultural classes to learn more about proper etiquette while venturing around the towns.  Something interesting was the chopstick use and etiquette.  For example there is a funeral custom in Japan that involves leaving chopsticks upright in a dish of rice.  So doing this in a restaurant is considered a faux-pas and rude.  It’s small and most likely you’d be forgiven as a foreigner, but knowing things like this will go a long way to endearing you to the culture.  Personally I didn’t learn the language, but I had friends who I was living with that learned the basics.

The food is vastly different there.  Preparation is very meticulous, often there will be food served in common dishes (don’t eat directly from these), and obviously there are a lot of raw foods.  I’d never had sushi until I visited Japan.  Now it is one of my favorite foods, but I’m also quite picky about where I will buy it from.  I also sampled horse for the first time there, and while I didn’t like it it is a common food option for Japanese people.

For those who don’t know the money there is called Yen.  It fluctuates often, but usually it is between 90-102 yen to every American dollar, so the exchange rate is very favorable.  As a result I found I was able to really indulge and explore.  On Okinawa, the world’s largest tug of war competition is held each year.  This on it’s own is a very cool event, but they also add on a re-enactment of a Japanese story on top of the giant rope.  There were thousands of people and I was able to interact with so many.  There is also a cherry-blossom festival in Japan that has a great deal of importance and cross-cultural significance.  Japan gave cherry blossoms to the U.S. at the end of WWII (if I remember correctly).

Overall something I was not excited about when I started turned out to be an amazing experience that broadened my knowledge and allowed me to learn about a culture completely foreign to me.

Introduction Audio

Listen here

This was an interesting assignment.  It took me a while to decide on what songs I wanted to use for it.  I needed songs that I felt captured the true theme of my blog.  The songs are from various cultures and in a variety of languages to really emphasize how different people can be. However I also worked hard to overlay and crossfade them in ways that show a blending of the cultures perfectly into one another.  Through traveling you learn to take individual pieces of each culture and blend it into your personality.  America, more specifically, New York City is often referred to as a great melting pot.  Well someone who travels the world and embraces the cultures, I believe, becomes a melting pot in their own right.  With each new place they visit an ingredient is added and stirred until it blends and becomes a true part of the concoction.

After deciding on the songs and blending them to a point where I was happy I had to decide what type of audio I wanted.  I’m a relatively simple person if I’m being completely honest.  I’ve learned to enjoy the small pleasures in life by being exposed to people who have quite literally nothing, and yet they still find happiness each and every day.  For that reason I chose to use only three short voice-overs in my audio commercial.  I do not have a Mac so I didn’t use GarageBand.  Instead I used Adobe Premiere Pro to create the video.

For those unfamiliar with the Adobe suite; premeire is the equivalent of garageband.  However if you haven’t ever used a previous version or any version of it the controls are complicated.  Things are not labeled the best.  For example there are at least three different ways to adjust the volume on each individual media clip you insert, so if you know the short way it’s not much of a process.  However there are longer ways that can be annoying because you’ll have to click back and forth between frames.  Overall It wasn’t bad for me because I’m familiar with the software.

Creating a blog

So setting up a blog is not in my normal skill-set.  I’ve never had a blog before and so, it took me a while to figure out how to properly navigate the site and use all the customization options effectively.  It was a little frustrating, but it’s a good way to expand my knowledge and capabilities.  This blog is going to be my canvas over the next few weeks to share the experiences I was able to have while traveling through 9 different countries.  Some I stayed in strictly for pleasure while others were a mixed experience of work and play.  Many people look at travelling as a way to have fun or new experiences.  Of course it is that, but more importantly when it is done right travelling can be a humbling experience where you learn about yourself and other people.  You’ll be able to share in some cultural experiences you never would have done in your own country.  Those are the moments and experiences I’ll be highlighting in my writings.

Photo credit: Lanterns


Feature Photo: Featured