Hong Kong grey

The weather was gloomy when we visited Hong Kong a couple of months ago. Before I could be disappointed by the lack of vibrant colours, I decided to make the most out of the trip by shooting in black & white. Good thing architecture looks good in monochrome.

that time we entered a bat cave

People all over the world, throughout history, have this collective belief that you are closer to the gods when you are closer to the heavens. Temples all over the world, regardless of religion, are located high up on mountains–it’s both a physical and spiritual journey. The Batu Caves is no different, and climbing 272 steps is no joke (which we did twice!). At the top, you feel a sense of accomplishment in conquering the challenge. You are alive. You thank the gods and pray for a better life.

But for us tourists, we just want the shade and cool air, and maybe a chance to feed the monkeys. We marvel at the statues, the limestone and nature the gods gave us. When there’s nothing left to amuse, we go back down to our old lives.

venturing into truly Asian territory

I don’t really know why I chose Malaysia as my destination for 2013. Except for the Petronas Towers and the Batu Caves, I couldn’t think of other reasons to visit the country. To me, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur in particular, was like any other Asian city: a better version of Manila. But since I haven’t been there yet and there’s no visa requirement, I thought, why the hell not? I guess the nice tune and repetitive screening on TLC worked on me–thumbs up to the agency who brought “Malaysia, Truly Asia” to life.

I used to be a compulsive itinerary planner, but after every trip, I discover that I am becoming more and more a laid-back traveler. After our trip to Bangkok last 2012, I realized that it’s better to take things slow. So for our trip to Kuala Lumpur, I did away with the scheduled itinerary and just set one place to visit a day. Armed with our map, we basically just winged the rest of the day–and it felt great. No stress, like how a real vacation should be.

I would like to begin this series of posts about our trip by saying that it’s so easy navigating Kuala Lumpur. They have a train connecting the airport to the city (KLIA ekspres) and several train lines, making it convenient for tourists to go around the city.

We arrived in the evening and the first thing we do after checking in the hotel was go to the hawker food street. We love eating authentic local food, and Jalan Alor is the best place to try real Malaysian cuisine–family recipes served to tourists. The satay was so good, we couldn’t get enough of it! Lychee juice is now one of my favorite drinks.

To cap the night, we saw street performers on the way back to the hotel. We couldn’t understand the words, but they played really good music.


a reintroduction

I used to have another blog where I ranted and raved about life in general. After a while, I found myself reading travel and design blogs more often than “personal” blogs, and I thought to myself, hey, I can do this too.

I wanted a space where I could chronicle my travels (or non-adventures). I wanted to be a “curator” of design. Most of all, I wanted to write about my experiences and lessons learned. And so, design. travel. life. was created.

After browsing through what this blog has been for the past couple of years, I do not want to make excuses. I do not want to regret the things I have and haven’t written.

But I do want to start all over again. I want to improve my writing. I want to take pictures more often. I want to take this something and commit. I want to make this blog better (dare I say it?) great.


Hello 2014, this is design. travel. life. signing on.

closing out 2013

And just like that, it’s a new year already. I’m probably going to make a lot of erasures with the date when I get back to work tomorrow (happens every year). 2013 was an emotional roller coaster ride, with the highs of new experiences and the lowest of the lows that is my father’s death.

My father’s death. I wanted to blog about my dad, but I still lack words to express how I truly feel. For some reason, thoughts and memories are just stuck in my head. I could’ve said a better eulogy. No matter how many tears we have and still will probably shed, it doesn’t get any easier. I just hope to gradually feel better and accept our new reality. Anyway, I don’t want to get all depressed on New Year’s Day, so I’ll write when I’m emotionally and mentally ready.

My last post was in August. Surprisingly, I don’t feel guilty or regretful that I haven’t blogged for a while. So much of life has happened. Although, I do regret not taking enough pictures like I used to. My digital SLR almost gave up on me during our trip to Kuala Lumpur — maybe I should buy a new one to get motivated again? Hah!

I’m planning to change things up a bit in this blog. Having daily topics (Project Mondays, Travel Tuesdays, etc.) was a good idea, but schedules do not work for me, apparently. I’m O.C. about organizing my things and being on time, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to doing tasks (oh, the paradox). If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I hate being boxed in.

If there’s just on thing that 2013 (and yoga) has taught me, it’s this: I cannot control everything. So for 2014, I just want to let golet go of insecurities, fear and expectations. Let go and just be.

Fit to Write

Back in school, I was probably one of the last people to be picked in team games. I was so clumsy and awkward that I always had wounds and bruises. When I eventually realized that I lack spatial recognition and balance, I shied from physical activities, especially sports and dancing. I resigned myself to being a couch potato. Who needs exercise, anyway?

That was then.

It was late in 2011 when I started working out. Embarrassing as it may sound, I actually started exercising after a break-up. At first I thought I was just doing it to keep my mind off depression, but I actually liked working out. I exercised everyday, switching from pilates to yoga to hip hop abs to belly dancing to intense abdominal training. Early last year, I started running. I even joined two 5-kilometer races with zombies. Running became part of my routine: I ran 3 times a week and alternate Zumba, pilates and Shaun T.’s Insane Abs in between runs. Not bad for someone who used to trip on her own feet, right?


my trusty running shoes

This year, I added high intensity interval training (HIIT) with TheDailyHiit and yoga into my fitness repertoire. Of all the exercises I’ve tried, I enjoy yoga and HIIT the most–you can do different routines each day, they don’t take a lot of time and you don’t really need any equipment (aside from your mat and shoes). I also find that they have the most impact on my body.

I never thought I’d be a fitness enthusiast. I never thought I could be. But I surprise myself each time. It’s amazing what our bodies can do, once we set our minds. Like I mentioned in my other post, if I learned anything, it’s the journey that counts. I’m still not the best runner nor the strongest (nor do I have six-pack abs), and I still get sick every now and then, but it doesn’t matter. Every time I stretch a little further or run a little stronger, I feel better. My head’s clearer and my heart is calmer. It’s a good kind of addiction, and feeling you can do anything is the high.

This is now.

time lapse photography by Stephen Wilkes

In the series “Day to Night”, Stephen Wilkes photographs cities from one angle for several hours. He stitches up these photos to make one seamless image of a city transitioning from day to night (or night to day). I can only hope to have his level of patience and dedication. I haven’t been to any of the places he featured, but by looking at his photos, I can almost feel that I’m there.

All images are owned by Stephen Wilkes. See more of his works over at www.stephenwilkes.com.

Union Square, NYC

Sta. Monica Pier, CA

The Highline, NYC

Washington Square Park, NYC

Times Square, NYC

The Flatiron, NYC

Coney Island

Shanghai, China

travel tuesdays: travel inspiration by color

Have you ever associated a place with a color? Every place has a certain hue to it. Of the places I’ve been to, Bangkok and Cambodia look yellow/ orange when you walk around their streets, while Singapore seems gray with all its concrete and steel. Greece, in most photos, is perpetually blue. How about deciding where to travel based on color?  Here are some photos to fuel your travel flame:

Red/ Deep Orange

Chamonix, France


Zug, Switzerland

Yellow/ Orange





Cherry River, Virginia


Lake Como, Italy


Place de la Sorbonne, Paris


Forest Trail, Redwoods National Park, California

All photos are linked to their sources in Pinterest.

things on thursdays: BB Dakota in Manila!

BB Dakota is an American “modern lifestyle brand” and they’re now in the Philippines! They just opened last July 19, and honestly, I’m disappointed surprised that they’re not getting any buzz (so far). Fashion and lifestyle bloggers, you are missing out here!

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BB Dakota is sharing a store with Farah Vintage, a men’s apparel brand from the UK, at SM Aura Premier in Taguig City.

I would describe their clothes as “modern feminine edge”. I’m not what you’d call a girly-girl (I gravitate to the opposite end of the spectrum), but I do appreciate their style. The clothes are not overly trendy and can be worn everyday by us average janes (and instantly look good!). I also love that they cater to all kinds of women: young professionals, fashionistas, and even rocker chicks. You can find clothes for different occasions in their store, may it be for a lunch out with friends, a dinner date, a work-related affair or just a simple hang out. I just wish my salary’s big enough so I can actually buy (hehe).

Here are some of my favorite looks from their website:

a resurrection of sorts and my yoga experience

I haven’t been posting recently because my laptop’s keyboard is broken. (I never realized how important the Q-R and U-P keys were before this.) I’m only able to type right now because I hooked up our desktop’s keyboard to my laptop (ironic, I know). Those food photos I posted over the last few Fridays were done through post scheduling (one of the amazing features of WordPress). So you can say that this is resurrection number one. I should let you know now that I will ramble through the rest of this post because I never missed blogging this much before–a rambling of sorts.


After weeks of torture, I finally had my laptop, a Dell Inspiron N4110, checked last weekend. It turns out that I need to replace my keyboard, which will burn Php4,000 through my wallet/ credit card. Yikes. But, given that this laptop is less than 2 years old and I have no budget for a new computer, the 4 grand will have to do. Still, the service center still needs to order the keyboard so I have to wait. Bummer. The day my laptop keyboard works again will be the second resurrection.


I used to cycle between running, Shaun T.’s Insanity Workout and Zumba, all fast-paced workouts. Then I added high intensity interval training with TheDailyHiit and yoga into the mix so I wouldn’t be bored (I do a different exercise each day, depending on my mood). I can’t remember exactly when I started yoga (it was definitely this year though), and I’ve grown to love the practice. I never attended a class–I just download videos and practice at home (yes, I am a cheapskate).

The past month, I did the 30-Day Yoga Challenge with Erin Motz over at DoYouYoga.com. I finished Day 30 today and I feel absolutely AWESOME. I never thought I’d actually finish a challenge primarily because I have a trouble with committing to/ finishing something (I’m more of an idea person than a doer) and I get bored easily. It was in the middle of the challenge when I thought, hey, I can actually do this.

Yoga is actually a lot harder than it looks. Some poses may be easy, but the hard part is holding the poses while steadily breathing. What, how can breathing be difficult?! I know, but it is. And posing?! Again, I know how it looks and you don’t know how it feels. I was surprised that yoga challenged my body more than running did. Even more, I was surprised to see that my body reacted more to yoga. I could see and feel the changes, which I did not expect, considering the 30-day exercises only took 15 minutes on average.

I still don’t consider that I’m “good” at yoga though. I actually don’t think I’ll ever be a good yogi. But if I learned anything from yoga, it’s the journey that counts. I still cannot do the…

the crow pose,

…the monkey pose or the Hanumanasana,

…or a headstand

…but that does not stop me from trying. I don’t know if others also feel this way, but doing the poses exactly does not matter that much. I do not do this to pose; I do this for the challenge. It’s amazing what our bodies can do, once we set our minds.


Apparently, I now have a thing for challenges. My next “project” is TheDailyHiit’s 7-Day Insanity Workout Killer Challenge.


Oh, this fitness thing? My resurrection.

All images are linked to their sources.