Happy Easter from Lidingo, Sweden

Lidingo, Sweden1

Lidingo, or “Island of Health is situated in the northeast of Stockholm archipelago. Like Philippines archipelago, Stockholm is in itself an archipelago as it has about 30, 000 islands, islets and rock formations. Today, the Daily Saving Time (DST) has officially started which made me lose an hour of sleep. Have a blessed Easter celebration🙂

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” -Janine di Giovanni

Captured Scene: Old Bridge Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Stari Most, or Old Bridge is a 16th century Ottoman bridge that crosses River Neretva. It was destroyed in 1993 during the Croats and Bosnian War. Then reconstructed in 2003 and opened to the public in 2004. This little quiet city is where I feel so fortunate to meet the kindest people in the Balkans. Mostar people are the best. Strangers who would walk with me to show where my hostel was. A family run hostel who cooked me nice dinner with good wine. Random strangers at the Old Town who gave me medicine when I catch cold and flu and let me rest in their shop. Pharmacy who did not let me pay because I have no Marka. Strangers turned friends who gave me special presents on the day before I leave. The hostel manager who drove me to Sarajevo… The people in Mostar has showed me what genuine kindness truly means. There is a “star” that sparkle in each of them. It shines bright and you see them not just in their eyes but in their actions and deeds. I was deeply moved by Mostar people kindness and exceptional hospitality. Fvala Mostar!❤

Kindness is my only guiding star.
In its light, I sail a straight route.
I have my motto written on my sail:
“To Live in Love.” -St Therese of Lisieux

Stories of Crossing Borders: Albania – Montenegro (My most terrifying experience in the Balkans)

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When I peeled back the layers I found a beautiful resilience inside. This is how I know I will always thrive.” – Lori Schaefer

Tivat, Montenegro
Inspired by the peaceful view of Kotor Bay next to the mountain range from afar, I am writing my (most) recent crossing border, the most terrifying (not to mention the most expensive journey) I ever had in the Balkans area. I arrived in Tivat, Montenegro last night at past 8pm after traveling for almost 2 hours from the border of Albania and Montenegro passing through Ulcinj – Bar – Budva – Kotor then Tivat. Along the journey, I was falling asleep. I couldn’t upkeep the conversation with Merli, the taxi driver who drove me from the Montenegro border up to Tivat. I was shaken from the unanticipated “drama filled” day –
That made me really scared.
For the very first time.
Traveling around the Balkans. Continue reading

Tirana (Albania) For One Day

0Tirana

The best way to predict the future is to create it.” -Alan Kay

I get numerous messages from friends and acquaintances asking me how I am able to travel for this long. I am on the road for 8 months now. But I don’t sleep on the road😉. I feel truly fortunate to find places I can call home. I keep receiving questions like – where do you get your money? How can you travel for that long and quit your job? How much are you earning if you don’t mind? Et cetera. These are valid questions. And I fully understand why they are asking. I came from a third world country. And perhaps not many of us are pursuing this kind of path. I will try to answer these in my succeeding posts.

Apparently, it is my second post about Tirana, Albania. Yet the focus is not at all about Tirana. I have not really talk about my impressions of the city, it’s people, the culture. I keep reading bits and pieces of Albanian history. And like my friends and even family would say: “Amiga, I have to google again where is Albania!” I don’t feel surprise. Because I have to admit that before visiting Albania, I know nothing about the country, its past and how they are in the present, I receive mix opinions. So every time the locals would ask me why are you in Tirana? Why are you traveling to Albania? I give them ‘my sweetest smile’ 😉. That is more than sufficient answer because I have no words to say🙂. For sure, I will write a post about this too.

Today, I want to share to our dear readers and friends a glimpse of how my day looks like. Through this you will have an idea that I am not just traveling, I am living like how I would be back home. Continue reading

Travel Diaries: On Decision Making, Future Plans, What’s Next?

Maf at Plitvice Lakes_CroatiaTravel Diaries: On Decision Making, Future Plans, What’s Next?
Maf-Travel-Insights: To Choose A Familiar Lifestyle Or To Take The Unknown Risky Path

I have done numerous decisions in my life that I couldn’t explain rationally.
I pick this entry from my offline journal. I wrote it 5 months ago but was not published. When I re-read it again, I learned more about my attitude and behavior towards work. It was an honest look how I was as an employee – my strengths and weaknesses… I did not edit nor delete anything. It was a free-flow writing. Continue reading

Tirana, Albania

Tirana2Hello dear friends and avid readers😉. Greetings from the city I have traveled unexpectedly.

I was talking to my sisters the other day when they innocently asked me: where is Albania? Is it still in Europe? I screenshot a map of Europe, zoom in Albania, sent to them and told to look at Italy or Greece and they will find Albania. Of course, Albania is in Europe🙂.

I have been here for 1 week already. Tirana, the capital city of Albania will be my temporary home-based after Skopje. Did I say, I have traveled here unexpectedly? Yes! I was supposed to head to Lima, Peru on 28 January. I did plan traveling again to South America. When I happen to find a cheaper flight. Aha, I thought I would skip the winter in Europe and return here after 3 months. Coz I have no idea how long will I ever bear the cold weather. Thank God it started to snow and I loved it! Minus the cold. Yes, sounds contradicting. I love the snow but not the cold weather. I wish it didn’t go together. In Tirana, it is not snowing, only in the mountains of Albania.

When I was in Skopje, I was booking a flight from EU to SA. I was already on the payment part (My Itinerary: Barcelona, Spain to Lima, Peru with layover to airports in London and US). When suddenly, an IMPORTANT NOTICE popped up: Those citizens from the non-EU countries are required to have a US Transit Visa and ESTA – a document that gives you authorization to travel. I postponed booking my flight. The next day I walked in to US Embassy in Skopje and the staff told me I cannot just walked in at the Embassy. If I have enquiries, I have to send email or make online appointment. I searched for the documents needed and how to process a US Transit Visa and obtain ESTA. Somehow it resembles to how you apply for a US Tourist Visa. I have got a phobia when it comes to dealing with the US authority because of my horrible experience at the US Embassy in Singapore. {That is the embassy where I encountered the rudest people. I swear.} My visa denial is still fresh on my mind. I have no interest to travel to US at all. So here I was, trying to book a cheaper flight to South America from Europe but I have to change flight in the airport that happens to be in the US territory – and I have to come up with so many documents! When in fact the country I am actually traveling to only requires me a passport that is valid for 6 months. People who happened to be born in powerful countries have no idea how lucky they are for NOT having to undergo a painful process of obtaining a visa just to be able to travel. This is one of the reason why I have decided to stay put and continue backpacking in Europe. I am sincerely thankful to the French Embassy in Singapore who was extra considerate to grant me a Schengen Visa that is valid for 1 year. Yes, 90 days is too short to visit 28 Schengen countries but it’s okay, I am grateful to them because although I have already resigned from my job in Singapore, they did accept my application and issued me the most coveted visa, just the day before I fly.

I am working again in a nice hostel at a posh location of Tirana, called Blloku or the Block. I will be forever grateful to the amiable hostel Manager, Linda whom (when I thought okay I will postponed traveling to Peru). I was looking for work opportunities when I search Albania – – – saw this nice cozy hostel, I wrote to them and I was so happy to hear a positive response from them the next day. I decided, OK I will travel to Albania. I will write a separate posts for my work experience while traveling.

Going back to my new home-based. Linda was showing me around the hostel, she was extremely likeable with a sweet smile. I keep asking questions in between. I was sharing some of my travel adventures when she suddenly asked me: Do you have a blog? You should have a blog! I did not say yes nor did I say no. I just did not answer at all. I felt so shy to tell her – yes I do have a travel blog. But to my mind – I don’t want her to get disappointed if she discovers that I actually did not write so much for the past 7 months. I was backpacking for 7 months but I wrote something very personal. Although yes this is a personal blog. I figured I would like to write more not merely for myself but for others who may be are looking to find information and travel related stuff in this part of the world. My travel experience, they may find useful.

So dear friends, this is just an introduction haha. Brace yourself. I will try to write regularly now. I will have a series of posts about crossing borders, life lessons while traveling, share some impressions and interesting things that I have encountered in those countries I have visited, lived and traveled for the last 7 months and counting. Faleminderit Linda, you have no idea how you inspired me write again and share about my travels. When I gain a little more confidence, I’ll probably tell you – yes I have a blog. With a heart😉

Pristina, Kosovo

2016-01-19 12.15.09Spend three exciting days in the capital of Kosovo – Pristina. It is snowing. Snow makes me extremely happy. Because it feels surreal. My surrounding is like a fairy-tale. I am walking towards the city centre, passing across the big cathedral of Mother Theresa Catholic church, to my right side is the University of Pristina. Walked up to the intriguing building of Pristina International Public Library, next to it is an Orthodox church built by the Serbians. While walking in the park a sudden feeling of immense gratitude is enveloping my whole being while having thoughts of – if I die tomorrow, I will never have any regrets, knowing that I have lived my life to the fullest. Life has been good to me. It was not perfect. But it was very good. Very good is an understatement. I have seen the world. Not so much. But part of it. It gives me a kind of feeling like having a reservoir of wealth beyond material riches. Learning more about myself that I can thrive beautifully in any place where I would live for a short period of time without knowing any one at the time of my arrival amazes me. I learn how to assimilate a culture that is totally different from me without losing my individuality, retaining the values that I think are essential, while keeping an open mind to adopt to a particular lifestyle. It can go together. You can always accept and embrace a culture that is different from your upbringing as long as you are in touch with your inner self and your values are intact. Otherwise, you might get swayed and forget about where you come from. Being conscious of your roots and learning that you can go further than you can imagine keeps your feet on the ground. Humility is indeed a virtue. Being true to yourself, when you can say “no” to a certain situation even if others viewed it not cool is okay. You don’t have to conform to a short-lived fashion and fads if it does not makes you feel good inside. It is better to speak your mind even if others may not agree with what you think is right and wrong. And if you can demonstrate what is “respect” through your actions and deeds, people will respect you and in return you earn their trust.

I still am dreaming of having my own hostel in one of the most beautiful islands in my country, Palawan – someday. I still dream of writing a book(s) and become a renowned published author – one day. I still want to have my own family and settle down – soon (day)😉. And the list goes on. I have a feeling that these will happen at the time that are designed to be.

For now, I am making one of my dreams come true – traveling the world while learning and experiencing the different culture of every country, city or town I am inhabiting.

Cheers to more success in 2016!
Hugs and kisses, Mafey xx

Maf at Kosovo!Me🙂 with the back drop of the intriguing building – Kosovo’s Public Library

PS, my current location: Tirana, Albania🙂