Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

Have you ever participated in anything not knowing what you’re getting yourself into? Well, let me tell you the story about one of greatest fifteen days of my life as I share to you some of the most memorable experiences I have that took place in god’s own country – the beautiful Kerala.

About two month’s prior, one of my favorite travel blogger posted a link on Facebook noting that she took part in a voting contest asking friends and family to vote for her to be part of a press trip that will take her to South of India. It was Kerala Blog Express, a marketing campaign organized by Kerala Tourism where they ask bloggers, vloggers, and influencers to join their contest and whoever gets the highest votes get a chance to be part of their prestigious press trip. Thirty bloggers from thirty different countries will be chosen to travel on a bus for a trip of a lifetime to see the beautiful Kerala.

“Looks cool,” I told myself.

I registered, shared it on my personal Facebook, and sent it to my Dad whom I asked if he could tell the family to vote for me (forcefully if he can).

“You’ve been to India, right?” I asked my Dad

“Yes, I’ve been many times for work. You’ll love India; it is a beautiful country.” He replied

Aaaand I forgot about the whole event. I didn’t do any further marketing to get more votes nor asked more friends, so the idea of going to India just went away. I was busy, so I didn’t have the time to work on it. You know, as we all say, life happened.

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

A month later I got an email stating that I was shortlisted to be part of Kerala Blog Express. It was a coincidence because I was just reading about fish curries from Kerala because I am craving for curry but so sick of Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken. Meant to be? Could be, who knows.

I was ecstatic of course, but at the same time, I was not too comfortable flying across the world to spend fifteen days with strangers. The Finnish attitude was apparently kicking in, I need my space, and I need my quiet time.

Despite my worries, I know I will anyways have to bring back the Filipino in me out for a good time. What’s the worse thing that could happen between 30 bloggers in a bus on a road trip for fifteen days? Everyone’s well traveled, and the bloggers from the previous editions have nothing bad to say about this trip. I freaked out from time to time with the idea, but I got excited as hot chocolate fudge on vanilla ice cream!

I don’t even like hot chocolate fudge on vanilla ice cream! I know that it will be crazy and I’ll love it.

Boy, I was not wrong. It was certainly epic from start to finish.

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

After a long trip from Helsinki, I landed in Kochi (the starting point of our journey), I was greeted by the warm, humid weather of Kerala, and I melted like butter. It reminds me a bit of home, only they drive on the left, and they shake their heads for everything (which all bloggers adapted by the end of the trip, it was cute). Nevertheless, my heart was filled with happiness I thought I was crying, but it was just sweat, or maybe it was both, I don’t know.

“Have to get used to this heat because you’ll likely to have this in Finland?” I thought to myself.

I didn’t get used to it, but I’m happy I got my sunshine this year just in case mother nature hates Finland this year and decides to piss all summer again, at least I got my taste of summer in Kerala!

As the trip started, I already got the feeling that it is going to be a blast. There are all kinds of personalities in this trip, all amazing and so fun to travel with! I never went on a trip with a big group before and often prefer to go with close friends or family (like when I went to Venice with my sister, and to Malta with my partner), but it is amazing how thirty people (or twenty-nine, actually) from different corners of the world, from different walks of life, came together in a place so beautiful beyond words and had one of the best time of our lives.

It is amazing how the universe plans its course sometimes. It truly fascinates me.

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

For fifteen days we jumped from one lovely hotel to another, immersed ourselves in a culture so different from our own, enjoyed and savored the local delicacies, mingled with the locals, and of course enjoyed ourselves with whatever the beautiful Kerala have to offer.

We started our trip from Kochi and ended it in Trivandrum, but in between, we visited almost all corners of the state from South to North, from East to West. Our journey took long bus rides, but with the scenic view you’ll witness with your own eyes along the way, the butt pain was worth it.

What interested me the most is, of course, the culture, traditions, and the local cuisine and I was overwhelmed with Kerala’s rich culture that at one point I could no longer keep up with the words, meanings, and the reasons behind everything. Trust me when I say this – each state, village, and tribes have their culture and traditions different from each other. Thankfully we had the most fantastic guide along with us who could answer all my silly questions!

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

“Oh, Mother Nature you so beautiful!” is I think my most overused sentence the whole trip.

If you followed my Instagram stories or Facebook lives, you’ll hear me squealing this sentence, or swearing in Finnish, out of admiration.

With all seriousness, I’ve been to places where Mother Nature impressed me a lot, but the moment I laid eyes on some of Kerala’s most unearthed destinations, I was in awe.

For instance, when we were high up in the mountain in a place called Munnar, I took a leap and challenged myself physically by trekking for four hours panting and struggled but succeeded and climbed that fudging Phantom (that’s the name of the mountain, and yes, it made sense after the trek).

READ: Hiking Plitvice Lakes National Park Experience

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

“Few more steps, come on! You can do it!” the guide was shouting to me from the top with a grin on his face as the other guide drags me to reach the top.

Surely, I was on the verge of giving up (and crying) for every step I took, swore in three languages, blamed the cigarettes I don’t know how many times, promised to get back to the gym, and prayed to the gods that I don’t die on that mountain at the age of twenty-six – but I survived. I fudging made it to the top of the Phantom!

Despite all my complaints along the way, my vertigo, and as well my couch perfect physicality, I did survive the trek, and all sweat and tears were rewarded with one of the most stunning views I’ve seen so far – Mother Nature at her finest, I must say. She’s a stunner.

Apart from the amazing views, I made so many good memories in Kerala which I now share with a bunch of once a bunch of strangers turned friends, and I think that’s what made this trip so amazing – sharing life experiences with like-minded people who not only love traveling but also living life to the fullest.

Twenty-nine Strangers, One Bus, and a Trip of a Lifetime to the Beautiful Kerala!

That said, this adventure was certainly a trip of a lifetime and the best part of it all, the memories and experiences will stay with me forever. Ever. Seriously. I’ll never forget this trip.

I mean, I did share a bed with a stranger after knowing her for a good three days. That counts as an experience, right?

P.S
I enjoyed it.

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Beautiful Kerala India | Travel to India | South of India | Travel to Kerala | Kerala Travel Experience | Places to see in India | Kerala adventure | Kerala Blog Express | Kerala Tourism | Kochin | Trivandrum
Beautiful Kerala India | Travel to India | South of India | Travel to Kerala | Kerala Travel Experience | Places to see in India | Kerala adventure | Kerala Blog Express | Kerala Tourism | Kochin | Trivandrum
Beautiful Kerala India | Travel to India | South of India | Travel to Kerala | Kerala Travel Experience | Places to see in India | Kerala adventure | Kerala Blog Express | Kerala Tourism | Kochin | Trivandrum

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  • Have you ever been to beautiful Kerala? How was your experience?
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*Thanks to Kerala Tourism and Kerala Blog Express for making this trip happen!

Bangkok Street Food Experience

Bangkok Street Food Experience

Bangkok, Thailand – Capital city of the Kingdom of Thailand. An urban place where locals meet and foreign come for a cultural experience, here’s my attempt on telling a story about my Bangkok Street Food experience.

Three years ago to be exact around this time of the year I was planning my first backpacking trip starting from Paris, France and ending my journey in Manila, Philippines. In between those two countries I’ve set my mind up and I thought it would be great to also take a side trip while in South East Asia since I anyways have three months to kill before I start a new season at work so I’m like why not.

READ: Bangkok budget travel guide

I contacted one of my friend in the Philippines and told him about my plans to visit and we both got so excited and head on to plan our trip as we check our schedules and as well the cheapest flight tickets to somewhere. It has always been quite cheap to go to Thailand from Manila so we decided to take a little peek on what is the hype towards Bangkok over the years and booked our tickets and as well planned on a side trip to Cambodia to see the ever so famous Angkor Wat.

bangkok street food experience

So far so good and everything was planned ahead and excitement starts to fill me as I start my journey from Paris to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to UAE, UAE to Manila, and Manila to Bangkok. Three months of non-stop traveling was such a dream and it felt like I was doing something I truly enjoyed and the experience was more than I can ever imagine. I learned so much in those three months and I can only imagine what else I could learn if ever I continued traveling hmm… Let’s say, non-stop? One day I always tell myself.

READ: Discovering Bangkok in 2 days – Grand Palance and Floating Market

Anyway, Bangkok was amazing from the moment we landed. We are very much interested in cultures, therefore, we paved our way from one temple to another, taking lots and lots of photos and just simply enjoyed our time inhaling the experience and all the learning it can offer. However, for some reason before this trip I had this major idea about testing all sorts of street food in every place I visit and while in Thailand and specifically in Khao San Road in Bangkok; where you’ll see mostly Caucasians than Thai’s just to say the least.

bangkok street food experienceDelicious Pad Thai, a serious eat.

Upon arriving in Bangkok, I had many things in mind and one of it is to eat street food as much as I can because I love Thai food! Seriously, who doesn’t? It is full of flavor made from the freshest ingredients, my kind of cuisine. On our second night in Bangkok, we head on to Khao San Road where there are a lot of street food vendors who sell all sorts of Thai delicacies. Of course, we know it is a very popular place amongst tourist and the prices sure are more than a regular Thai person could handle, but we went nevertheless and stuffed our faces with all sorts of Bangkok street food. I ate grilled mushrooms, Pad Thai and swallowed it down with a little help from a local Thai beer called Tiger. Well, it was everything I wish for you know. Thai food, beer what else? I was a happy little Asian girl having everything: culture, experience, food and beer. My friends also had a little something extreme and those nasty buggers are also called bugs. I didn’t try it, like what I said, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to street food. I’m a chef, but I’ve set up my limit that when it comes to food that moves, I’ll only have those that have four legs and not more. Thank you very much. Thank god I have friends who are adventurous enough to eat bugs so I can take photos of their disgusted faces. It was awesome.

bangkok street food experienceMy heart still stops whenever I see this, just ugh. No.

As we head on to drink the night out and just simply wander around and enjoying, what supposed to be, the most awesome night ever comes to a halt when my stomach starts to rumble like never before. It ached with pain like I could ever imagine. I know I always had a weak spot when it comes to my food choices, but I never thought I’d have this on this specific trip. I thought because I grew up in Asia I’d have a strong system against street food because I’m so used to germs and all. Stupid thinking I know but well, whatever, I didn’t have a strong digestive system and I had the D thing which most travellers try to avoid whilst travelling. Why it has to be while in the place where the local food could cater my food lust. It just needs to be, right?

bangkok street food experienceThis is not the best photo of myself but I love how happy I was. The smile didn’t last long.

I had a feeling though that it didn’t exactly came from the food itself. When we were buying beers from the street vendor he stored it in a cooler filled with ice (most probably made from tap water, it is not safe to drink!) and when he opened it some of the water went inside the bottle. I didn’t bother much about that because you know, I thought I had a strong digestive system (whoops), so I just kept on and drank from the bottle. But then again this is just a theory because I just couldn’t accept the fact that I had the D thing from the street food of Bangkok. That is a lame story. The ice water, however, is something else.

Much to my luck the D thing lasted about two days but I still managed to roam around Bangkok with my friends feeding myself with cup noodles and food from the mall, which was advised to us because it is supposed to be clean. I didn’t like the idea of eating in a mall’s food court (I love street food) but whatever, I only had a few choices: cup noodles, burger king or Thai food from the mall’s food court. I ate at Burger King though and if only I didn’t start this article honestly talking about the D thing I would not admit I ate at Burger King. I am not a big fan of food chains and it breaks my heart to eat in any of them and to be in one of Asia’s top culinary destination I was so heartbroken for not taking a good advantage of that. Damn stomach, I hate you!

bangkok street food experienceI could live with this all day, everyday.

Lesson learned: Always bring meds and suppliments for stomach ache and that cursed thing. You’ll never know when you’ll be a victim. Heck, I have it here at home with me all the time. Only god knows how many times I got bad indigestion from the simplest things. Or maybe I’ll just follow the old tip given to me, a shot of Jagermeister before heading off. I heard it is medicinal.

In conclusion, I sure did had a great time in Bangkok and I will for surely go back just for the food but on the next journey I will come there with a medical kit filled with medicines I need in case, you know.


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I love Thai food and although I had an unfortunate event during my visit in Bangkok I still had the chance to taste some of its finest street food.

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  • Have you been to Thailand?
  • Did you like the food?
  • Would you be brave enough to try bugs?!

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Why I chose to let go of my Filipino Citizenship

Why I chose to let go of my Filipino Citizenship

Sometimes we are faced with serious choices therefore here’s my story on why I chose to let go of my Filipino citizenship. Because sometimes we cannot call the place you’re from home unless your heart states so.

To start with, this is not a negative post and in this article I will narrate the reasons why I chose to claim a new citizenship and chose to let go of my Filipino one and do not intend to get it again (or at least for now). Before you start judging my choices I ask you kindly to read my story further for enlightenment but if you think I’m being a jerk and a joke to humanity then okay, I’m a jerk and a joke and you can be an ignorant fool who listens to nothing– just kidding.

10 Filipino Traits I Have And Love (Even After A Decade Living Abroad)

I was only sixteen when I was faced with one of the biggest life changing decision in my life and that is to either study in the Philippines or move to Finland with my sister and pursue my education in there. I was very young but I knew what I want to study, which university to go and who I want to be in the future and that is to be an artist and I chose to be a multi media artist concentrating on design and animation. That was my choice and I wanted to be that or nothing.

When I was in my senior year in high school most of my classmates were so busy taking extra classes to get in to the universities they were applying while I was trying to figure out how could I make my parents agree on my professional choice.

You see my mother was an interior designer and marketing graduate, an artist by heart, and she understood my frustration when they try to explain to me that the school I chose was too expensive and they could not afford the tuition fee. I know this because the only school I wanted so badly to get in is apparently one of the leading universities in the country meaning my parents would definitely and will shed nearly millions of pesos just for the school’s tuition fee. That is the unfortunate reality if you want to send your kids to good school in the Philippines.

“In Finland, I learned to be strong and I learned how to live and survive on my own.”

Anyway, on my defense on this case which I handled with a little hint of teenage stubbornness because I knew everything including how the universe came to existence and why the sky is green at the old age of sixteen and told my parents I will either go to that specific school in that specific course or nothing.

Well, I was so sure I convinced them until my sister told our parents that in Finland education does not cost anything and that she is willing to import me from the Philippines to Finland and live with them while studying. Well, to no surprise my parents sure did not think twice about this and exported me to Finland just months later. I don’t blame my parents for anything, they are awesome and they managed to send two of my siblings to one of the top schools in the country and both of my siblings are successful in their respective lives. Unfortunately, I am the youngest and the fund has gone low and dry like the Sahara desert. Such a bummer but hey, I’m sure I was part of its draught.

Anyway, I arrived in Finland during autumn of 2007. I was fresh out of high school and just had my first plane ride ever. And yes, I still could remember pretty clearly how painful it was because it was long and it deflated my ass flat like a pancake as I suffered; but thanking the world and its glory we arrived safely. There were several course choices for me to attend but my sister and me settled on Culinary Arts because it was the easiest to get in. You see I am not the smartest kid on the block so I had to settle on something easy. The main problem I had to face in here is that I never cooked anything in my life! I didn’t even know how to turn on the gas stove back at home or what is the difference between milk and cream for instance. I was so screwed!

However years has passed and I graduated from the cooking school with good scores and had good chef jobs during and right after my three year stint in that college and for the past eight, buts I worked for many good restaurants with amazing chefs and as well made a lot of good friends and could seriously cook just about anything! A lot has changed since I moved to Finland and I became a good part of this country and its people. Since I moved here I had several jobs including personal assistant (yaya), baby sitter, cleaner, dishwasher and a kitchen helper. I had to work to provide for myself because when I turned eighteen my sister and her family had to relocate to Abu Dhabi because of her husband’s demanding job and I was left in Finland on my own. Of course they made sure I would survive and trained me not to be an idiot and how to be independent.

why i chose to let go of my filipino citizenshipI was a part of this amazing team who made amazing rustic Finnish style dishes

I was on my own since I turned legal and that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I probably wouldn’t be who I am right now if I always relied on someone else. In Finland, I learned to be strong and I learned how to live and survive on my own. I am so sure that if I stayed in Manila and my parents strived to support me to be in that school I would’ve never learned how to do all what I can do now and would have never been the person I am right now. I’ll for surely be a little brat who thinks I could get everything I want. I probably would be jobless for a long while and would feed off my parent’s money.

“I no longer have any reasons to go back because the home I loved so much no longer exist.”

I am not saying I had a hard life in Finland and to be honest it was quite easy and everything seemingly go to its own place. Big thanks to this of course go to the organized system this country have. I did not pay for my education here but I made sure that I did everything right and according to the law and had all of my taxes fixed and strived to contribute to the community. I do love it here and do consider Finland as my home. I feel like I belong in here, I feel safe and I know I’d spend more years living in this country until I decide to move on for new experiences. Eight years living happily and content in here has been bliss. I found friends in here who I will forever keep in my heart, my family lives in here as well and the amazing workplaces I’ve been made me feel like I truly belong here and that maybe my parents knew in their hearts that I did not fit in well back in the Philippines that’s why even though it was very difficult for them to let go of me, they still did.

I have been living in Finland for eight years already and I sure did consider this country my own home but part of me still longs for Philippines. I could not deny the fact that it is still the country where I was born and raised by amazing parents. I could not let go of my origin and I never will. This year marks my eight years far away from home and that is closer to a decade than anything else and this year I received the news that I am no longer a Filipino and instead a citizen of Finland. I felt happy because finally I am no longer subjected to the expensive renewing of working visas and that finally I am an adopted citizen of this country that I considered home for a long time. I am happy to finally call myself a Suomalainen (Finnish citizen). However, I am truly not happy losing my Filipino citizenship and I know I can retrieve it again whenever I want and apply for dual citizenship but the idea of losing my title as a citizen of Philippines even just for a short time saddens me.

why i chose to let go of my filipino citizenshipMy mother and I during my early years

“For now I am trying to save up so I can pursue my dreams and wishes of heart and as well to figure out on how I can contribute to this world and be a part of it.”

All the while the thought of having home where the heart is no longer apply on this case because you see just early this year I had by far the worse news of my life. My mother, who I loved so dearly, was hospitalized with little hope of survival. A week after I arrived in the Philippines I lost my mother and I found myself lost in the place I used to call home and everything seems to be so unfamiliar like nothing was the same. I was so attached to Philippines because of her because she has always been the person who supported me in all the choices I made in my life.

Her home, the place where I grew up, was my safe haven whenever I go back to visit her during those eight years I have been away. Now that she is gone the idea of having a home back in the Philippines died with her. I no longer have a place in the Philippines. I no longer have any reasons to go back because the home I loved so much no longer exist.

Sure the house still sits there and it continuously will for many years because the hell, if the house moves I’d be terrified all right. You see I love my mother dearly and she is the main reason why I’ve been visiting Philippines over the years so when she passed away early this year I was broken and shortly after I came back to Finland I received my new citizenship and I was literally crying when I got it because it may seem to be just a coincidence but seems like I got myself a new home because the place I used to call home is now just an empty house with no life in it.

Now I am trying my best to start fresh and move on from my mourning and enjoy the life in this country that adopted me and considered as part of it. Maybe in the future I would eventually apply for a dual citizenship and even maybe consider going back to the Philippines for a short while. Besides I still have my best friends and family living there and of course my father who I love equally as much. I would love to go back just to spend time with him because I always hanged out with my mother whenever I was there. Seriously, will dads consider going for a manicure, pedicure and facial with their daughters? I think not. For now I am trying to save up so I can pursue my dreams and wishes of heart and as well to figure out on how I can contribute to this world and be a part of it.

So yes, the reason I chose to let go of my Filipino citizenship have deeper reason than just simply getting rid of it. When they say home is where the heart is may be true but in my case home is where I’ll start fresh and build a new beginning.