I Traveled to 23 Countries… and Not Counting (For Now)

The fact that you’re reading this means you also have the desire to TRAVEL! Haha! If that’s correct, then GOOD!

I had the same desire right after I graduated from college and started working in the real world — with entry-level salary and meager savings. Even though I’ve been traveling since I was five (you know, the usual family trips), it was only after a decade (in 2006), when I was already in college, when the travel bug “bit” me for real. It started with visiting my sister in Sydney, Australia as she finished her fellowship/sub-specialty training to become a Pediatrician slash Human Geneticist. When I came back, I yearned to visit more places outside the Philippines and Asia. But I had to start small first, so my travel journey began by crossing off Southeast Asian countries off my travel bucket list — mostly because there’s no visa required (thanks to the ASEAN agreement!), and of course, since local budget airlines frequent these routes (yay for promo fares!). Little did I know, now that I’m nearing the end of my twenties and about to go on being “thirty, flirty, and thriving” (of course flirty only to my S.O. and bonus points for you if you get the movie reference!), I’ve already traveled to a total of 23 countries (the Philippines — my home country, and Europe — my dream continent, included), and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I did it! 😛

But if there’s one thing I’m sure of, everything was, is, and will always be God’s grace. Call me religious or spiritual, but I believe that the main reason why I was able to do it — to travel even when I’m not rich — is because of His unlimited provisions in my life. He planted the dream to travel in my heart (especially the dream to travel to Europe) all the way back in 2006, and He has been faithful in that promise. He always is.

So yes, I owe it all to God’s grace. That, and my unceasing faith in Him, my never-ending hope that my travel dreams can come true, and my unconditional love for this life that God has blessed me with! Sure, God works on His own timeline, and it’s our job — it was my job — to be patient and trust Him fully. Take my dream destination for example. I wanted to travel the world in 2006, but my dream to travel to Europe specifically was planted in my heart in 2010. In 2016, I finally got to travel to my ultimate dream destination: the UK! 🙂

2016 travels

And I thought that was it. But you know what they say, when God blesses, it’ll be “siksik, liglig, at umaapaw.” We can never outrun God’s generosity. Lo and behold, I didn’t expect that I’ll be able to travel again to different parts of my dream continent in the next two years after my first travel dream fulfillment. He even allowed me to travel to other local and Asian destinations in between — and lose 30 lbs. to boot! (But that’s for another blog entry altogether! Haha!)

2017 travels

2018 travels

The Philippines. Hong Kong (China). Singapore. Australia. Malaysia. Vietnam. Cambodia. Thailand. Brunei. Guam (USA). The UK. Ireland. Taiwan. Japan. Germany. The Czech Republic. Slovakia. Hungary. Austria. Greece. Turkey. Italy. The Vatican.

I’ve been to those aforementioned countries (separate posts for each can be found here)… but I’m not counting anymore. For some, that may be a lot. But still for some, that’s not even half way through all the countries they’ve been to. For me, that’s more than enough. All my travels are personal, none of which is work-related (though I wish some are!), that’s why I’m not complaining. 😀

Sooo. Why is this post entitled like that?

Well, after reaching my travel dreams in my twenties, I believe God is calling me to a different season as I enter the next chapter of my life in my thirties. In short, my priorities are changing, I don’t see myself splurging on travel again the same way I did before, and this is my “swan song” to my “Wander Mika” self — at least the traveling part.

I say the “traveling part” because I don’t just limit the word “wander” to “traveling.” The dictionary defines “wander” as “to walk slowly across or around an area, usually without a clear direction or purpose.” When I came up with my “Wander Mika” concept for my social media accounts (including this blog), I defined “wandering” as living a “pointless” life without God in it (referring to the last line of the dictionary’s definition: without a clear direction or purpose). And that is where FAITH comes in. Because thankfully, I have the best “travel” buddy: JESUS. And through this blog and my other travel-related posts, I pray that you find Him in your own journey, too, and live a life full of LOVE (as defined in my life verse — 1 Corinthians 13:2) ❤

misc. travels from 2006-2015

So no, you won’t see me traveling as much in the coming year (and probably in the years after that). Yes, I’ll still travel from time to time, but my next “splurge” trip will probably be in the next five years or more (I still want to see the Northern Lights! *hint, hint*). But rest assured, I’ll always be Wander Mika regardless of the season I’m in, and I’ll always have the “best travel buddy” in this journey called life: GOD!!!

2012 travels

If God has been faithful to me even in just my simple travel dreams,
I trust that He will be even more faithful when it comes to my bigger life dreams! 😉

I pray the same abundance and provisions for YOU.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!


Got travel questions?
Don’t hesitate to send me a message or two!

Book Review: The Tale of Juliet by Jhet Torcelino-van Ruyven

Title: The Tale of Juliet: You Have the Power to Change Your Life

Author: Jhet Torcelino-van Ruyven

Format: Paperback

In a nutshell
This is a self-published book about the “rags to riches” life story of Juliet “Jhet” Torcelino-van Ruyven on how she overcame her struggles as a poor girl in the province of Batangas, Philippines when she was still young, worked hard and studied, achieved her dreams one by one, which led to her eventually becoming one of Canada’s successful female entrepreneurs. Add to that the fact that she’s also now a bestselling author and sought-after motivational speaker, having the likes of Mark Victor Hansen (of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) as one of her mentors.

My thoughts
This became an instant page-turner for me! Having the author as one of my kababayans (we’re both from the Philippines; although she’s now Filipino-Canadian), it was easy for me to relate to her storytelling. Sure, I have to admit that I haven’t experienced the “extreme poverty” she mentioned in the book during the early years of her life, but it opened my eyes more on the plight of some of my fellow Filipinos and really made me appreciate more what I have.

The writing part of the book is done in a very simple way, and those who are after the writing style won’t really be impressed (I actually saw one negative review on an online book store, and I was like, “why would you be after the writing?!”). But what it lacked in the “writing style” department, the book very much made up for in content and inspirational message. Heck, I even witnessed the author twice in a live speaking event, and I really love her humility in admitting that grammar isn’t really her strongest suit that’s why she left that for the experts (editors, etc.) — what she has is a really big message that inspired, inspires, and will continue to inspire the world! And isn’t that what a book really is for at the end of the day? To share a message! To inspire! And the author has done that. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “my life is my message” — and the same rings true for Jhet. Her life story on how she turned her breakup into a breakthrough, her mess into a message, her struggles into successes — that’s what will make you buy and read this book. That’s what you’ll remember (and will inspire you to take action in achieving your own dreams and helping others) even long after you read it.

With this book, you can’t help but also be motivated to turn your life story into a successful one too! 😉

Rating: 4 out of 5

*BONUS!* I was able to meet the author herself, Ms. Juliet “Jhet” Torcelino-van Ruyven with her husband, Mr. Ted van Ruyven. They were such a very nice couple and down-to-earth people! May God bless them both more! 🙂

with the author and her husband (P.S.: don’t mind the bandage on my chin; I had an infected zit but that didn’t stop me from pushing through with my day’s activities! haha)

Have you read “The Tale of Juliet,” too?
Share your thoughts by sounding off in the comments section below!

That Rainbow in Prague (A Short Memoir)

Prague, Czech Republic (July 2017)

Prague. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? After all, I know of some people who dream of visiting it. Praha, some of them even say. The Czech Republic. But not me. I didn’t dream of going to Prague. It just so happened that it’s included in the tour package me and my sisters booked for this trip. This Euro trip — now that, I’ve always dreamed of. And for some reason, I’m now living it. Maybe it’s God’s way of telling me that it’ll be alright? Because this is just good timing. I’m currently moving on and healing my broken heart, I’m embarking on a trip of a lifetime, and I’m emo as emo one can be — ain’t that the stuff of movies? But hey, I’m not complaining! I know that my life is a story and if the main author of it, God Himself, is orchestrating something to help me make something good, even great, out of this heartbreak, then why not? God did it to me before, and I know He can do it again. He always will.

So no, I didn’t really plan on going to Prague. But as I step on this wet floor after some rain, overlooking the city’s skyline, I was reaffirmed. There it is on the clouds above, perfectly positioned for all to see, for me to see, in all its seven vibrant colors: a rainbow. There’s a freakin’ rainbow in the city of Prague, and I love it! I always love seeing rainbows! It’s always like a dream come true after each rain.

And now that I’m standing here, seeing this rainbow in front of me, while I’m still going through my own “life storm,” it’s like God is telling me, “Mika, it’ll be alright. Just like this rainbow, life will be colorful for you again. Just trust Me, I got you.”

Looking back, it has been alright. Prague has been more than a year already, and I’m glad to say that life, indeed, has never been more colorful for me. And I’ve nothing left to say but, “thank you, God!” 🙂

And that, my friends, is actually a product of the most recent writing workshop I just attended: Scribblory‘s Your Past at the Tip of Your Pen: A Memoir Writing Workshop by Elaine Marie Factor (author of Kerygma Books’ Finding You: A Memoir on Dreams, Detours, and Destiny). We were given a few minutes to choose something to write about, and me, out of panic (haha!), the first thing that came to mind was my phone = photos — including my travel photos. And this rainbow shot taken during my Euro Trip last year is actually one of my favorites despite not considering Prague as one of my favorite destinations. Hence the post above that you just read. That’s the unedited version straight from my notebook, so apologies if there were some grammar/writing style issues. Wahahahaha! I wanted to keep it that way to help me in my progress as I start venturing into this whole “memoir writing” stuff. I’m loving it, by the way! 😉

I know I need more practice because one of my dreams is to actually write my own non-fiction book! There, I said it. Writing has always been a passion of mine (hello blog!), but I believe it’s high time to take this whole passion project into a whole new level. Sure, I’ll still blog — blogging is another form of writing I’ve loved doing since my college days (this blog alone is turning nine years old this December! yaaay!), but I’ve to get more serious with my God-given craft. And the best way I can think of to do that is to finally finish my book! Of course, all for His glory! 🙂

So yes, I’m on the road to writing my memoir in book form! Pray for me, yes?

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!