This is my collection of experiences from wandering around this world plus little bits of inspiration found along the way.

Bye Bye, China

We have left China. I know it’s three months early and before you say, “Oh…why? What happened?” or “I knew it. See you soon.” let me explain: when we came here in July we had a plan. Granted, it wasn’t a very good one, but it was a solid-ish plan nonetheless. I would use my work-sponsored visa to stay in China for the year and Pete would just keep renewing his tourist visa until we left. Up until January this worked out well, until we realized that in September all the visa rules changed and renewing his tourist visa, or even getting a new one, was no longer an option. With the recommendation of the exit-entry administration of Zhuhai we got on a ferry to try our luck with a Hong Kong visa run. Usually, if you arrive in Hong Kong in need of a Chinese Visa they can issue you a 30-day tourist visa without any issues. However, in Pete’s case, the embassy found that a six-month stay on a tourist visa seemed “questionable” and he was given two choices: 14 days in China or the boot. I know that the strict regulations were put in place to limit illegal foreigners but what about English teachers? Educators? Those that wore Santa suits to class during the holidays and saved children from a lifetime of misfortune associated with naming themselves Hamburger or Wiwi?

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Our van we rented on our road trip back to my Moms hometown!

Our van we rented on our road trip back to my Moms hometown!

Standing outside the old house, Guagua, Philippines

Standing outside the old house, Guagua, Philippines

A Balikbayan in Guagua

When my mom left her hometown of Guagua in the Philippines, she was in her twenties and heading to America to marry my Dad. Of her three sisters, one moved to Germany and the other, along with my Lola, joined her in America years later. However, one sister remained in the house where they grew up. It wouldn’t be until 30 years later and the passing of my Lola years before that we all made the journey back home. For us children, this trip was important because it gave us some insight to part of our culture and because we would finally meet the Tita we only knew about through letters and phone calls. For all of us, especially my Mom, this trip was not only necessary but also emotional. 

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Blue bench outside the old church in Guagua, Philippines

Blue bench outside the old church in Guagua, Philippines

We picked this street snack up at a gas station in Pangasinan on our way to Baguio City. In that region it’s called tupig but when my Lola used to make them she called them suman bulagta. This version was sticky rice and coconut grilled in a banana leaf. It was so good I ate a whole stack!

We picked this street snack up at a gas station in Pangasinan on our way to Baguio City. In that region it’s called tupig but when my Lola used to make them she called them suman bulagta. This version was sticky rice and coconut grilled in a banana leaf. It was so good I ate a whole stack!

Homemade halo-halo in a side shop in Guagua. Halo-halo is a typical pinoy dessert with preserved fruit, sweet red beans, jackfruit and sometimes sweet corn topped with shaved ice and covered in condensed milk. I haven’t had this in such a long time! So delicious!

Homemade halo-halo in a side shop in Guagua. Halo-halo is a typical pinoy dessert with preserved fruit, sweet red beans, jackfruit and sometimes sweet corn topped with shaved ice and covered in condensed milk. I haven’t had this in such a long time! So delicious!

Chopping fresh buko in Guagua, Philippines

Chopping fresh buko in Guagua, Philippines

Guagua, Philippines

Guagua, Philippines

Walking through the old neighborhood!! In Guagua, Philippines

Walking through the old neighborhood!! In Guagua, Philippines

Jeepney parked on a side road in Manila, Philippines. A jeepney is an open back taxi that can fit about twenty people inside, and all of them are custom decorated!

Jeepney parked on a side road in Manila, Philippines. A jeepney is an open back taxi that can fit about twenty people inside, and all of them are custom decorated!

Tricycle stand in Guagua, Philippines

Tricycle stand in Guagua, Philippines

The old man and the kids in Baguio City, Philippines. All of the taxis and jeepneys here are decorated with the drivers name and design of choice!

The old man and the kids in Baguio City, Philippines. All of the taxis and jeepneys here are decorated with the drivers name and design of choice!

A stacked sugar cane truck on a highway road in Pangasinan, Philippines

A stacked sugar cane truck on a highway road in Pangasinan, Philippines