Monday, January 23, 2023

2023 Chinese New Year Celebration in the World's Oldest Chinatown

January 22, 2023 Sunday Binondo, Manila, Philippines

Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. In Chinese, the festival is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival as the spring season in the lunisolar calendar traditionally starts with lichun, the first of the twenty-four solar terms which the festival celebrates around the time of the Chinese New Year. Marking the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season, observances traditionally take place from New Year's Eve, the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February.

Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year.. There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals. In order, the 12 animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 2023 is a year of the Rabbit. Your zodiac animal is decided by your birth year. 

A Chinatown is an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside Greater China, most often in an urban setting. Areas known as "Chinatown" exist throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. The development of most Chinatowns typically resulted from mass migration to an area without any or with very few Chinese residents. Binondo in Manila, established in 1594, is recognized as the world's oldest Chinatown. 

2023 Chinese New Year in the World's Oldest Chinatown

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

How to Apply for Schengen Visa (Norway/Iceland) as Philippine Passport Holder

Quest to visit all Schengen Member States in 2023 as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

Highlight: I applied as Filipino Solo Traveller with Philippine passport only, with NO WORK (ex-OFW, retired Engineer) and with NO BUSINESS (Dec. 2022). I provided proofs of enough savings, investments and previous 3 Schengen visas per below link.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa in Spain Embassy (2018)

Schengen visa is a special document that allows a Schengen visa holder to travel freely within the 26 Schengen zone (European Countries) member states. Apply for the Schengen visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the Schengen country where you spend the most timeThis visa is valid in all Schengen states for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period for a visit or tourism, but not for employment or family reunification purposes.

* maximum of 6 months validity after issuance with period of stay of under 90 days
* If you get a multiple entry Schengen visa, you may leave and return any number of times within the 180-day period, but the combined stay within the region must not total more than 90 days. Important is the date of the actual entry, not the beginning of the visa validity. 
* As of January 2019, valid Schengen Visa holders of most of nationalities can transit/visit European states of (1)Albania, (2)Bosnia and Herzegovina, (3)Bulgaria, (4)Croatia, (5)Macedonia, (6)Montenegro, (7)Romania, (8)Serbia, (9)San Marino and (10)Moldova. Some of this countries provide maximum 15-days stay in any period given in the Schengen Visa duration.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa (Norway/Iceland) as Philippine Passport Holder

Sunday, January 08, 2023

​Budget Travel Tips on How to Save Money

You don't have to be rich to travel well.

01. Plan well your itinerary.
The primary and most important. If you know where, how and what to do, your budget is already lowered. 

02. Book flights as early as possible.
The earlier it was book, the cheaper you can get. Use the 3rd party booking sites also, way cheaper than the airline website. 

03. Bring cash and credit card.
Use credit card for booking and emergency only. Most of the time, paying in cash can provide discounts.

04. Take the public transportation.
Taking a taxi should be your last option and negotiate before agreeing. You should know the distance and taxi rate to avoid scam.

05. Blend in with the locals.
Don't overkill your travel attire, you are attracting scammers and touts. Most of the time, talking with the locals casually can save you a lot of time and money. 

​Budget Travel Tips on How to Save Money

Thursday, December 29, 2022

​My Greatest Travel Achievement as Filipino Solo Backpacker

Travelling Alone mostly on DIY as Philippine passport holder only (2010-2022)

"Live a life to inspire, live a life with sense of accomplishment, live a life you will remember" - Mang Andoy

Despite the weakness of Philippine passport (having only less than 70 countries that provide free visa / visa on arrival privilege) and challenging visa application, immigration, profiling and interrogation all throughout the journey (especially in NAIA Terminals), I managed to accomplish the following successfully and beyond what I anticipated. #livealifeyouwillremember

01. 2013 - First Europe get-away (23 Days Solo Autumn Experience in Central Europe, 9 countries visited) then to Promised Land of Israel (including Bethlehem of Palestine) coming from the Arab country in Middle East.

​My Greatest Travel Achievement as Filipino Solo Backpacker

Sunday, December 18, 2022

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

Narrative / Perspective / Actual Experience who visited more than 130 Countries having Philippine Passport only

"Look who we are, we are the Dreamers. We make it happen 'cause we believe it."


According to Henly Passport Index of 2022, Philippine passport ranks 80th in the world (together with Cape Verde and Uganda) with only 67 visa-free countries. On the other hand, Republic of the Philippines granted visa-free privilege to Nationals from 157 countries for a period of stay of thirty (30) days or less.

The challenge of having weak passport like Philippines is terrifying especially for first time travellers and Solo Backpackers (even how frequent traveller we are). Actually the most horrifying part is going out of Philippine International Airport (all terminals). High probability to be offloaded, wasted bookings and itinerary if a single doubt occured to assigned Airport Immigration. Not just here in our Homeland but also almost throughout the international Airport with interaction to their Immigration Officers / Staff, their query is degrading and profiling. In my honest opinion, WHAT MAKES A FILIPINO TRAVELLER IS HIS / HER CAPABILITY TO TRAVEL HAVING A PHILIPPINE PASSPORT ONLY especially as Solo Backpacker to countries who profiled us as someone who thinks that we are not capable to finance our visit as tourist (of course, based on my experience).


(1) Heavy list of document to provide of more than 120 countries needed for Philippine Passport Travellers to apply for visa before arrival. Some of this horrible required documents are the following;

a. Passport validity should not be one year before expiry.
b. Fully completed and signed Visa application form.
c. Two recently taken photos (within the last three months) must be attached.
d. Travel insurance policy with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros in case of any medical emergency
e. Proof of accommodation. (hotel/hostel booking) / letter of invitation from host to stay
f. Proof of financial means (Bank account statement)
g. Visa fee of around 200 USD
h. Letter of Visa Application why you want to visit that country
i. Letter of Invitation from a travel tour agency
j. Return flight ticket to home country

- For First World Travellers, they will just buy an incoming flight ticket (no pre-arranged visa to apply with terrible list of required documents, no return flight, no fixed itinerary, no further interrogation, they enter airport with peace of mind and no chance to be offloaded).

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

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