Featured Traveler: Youmi and GEORGIA

As a continuation of my travel blog project (which started all the way back in 2012, wherein I feature different travelers who have been to unique destinations OR have unique experiences in familiar places), I’m featuring someone who has been to a Eurasian country that has that Eastern European charm without the costly Schengen visa– and- Euro combo needed when one wants to travel to Europe — I’m talking about my friend, Youmi, and her trip to the enchanting country of GEORGIA (not to be confused with the U.S. state). 😉

Youmi in Chicago, Illinois, USA

For those dreaming to travel to Europe, Georgia may not be part of the Schengen states, but it’s a good place to start! It’s a country that’s half Eastern Europe and half Western Asia, making it unique already because you can be in two continents depending on what part you find yourself in. And for Filipinos like me, applying for a Georgian visa is easier than the traditional European Schengen visa because it can be applied online (e-visa) through https://www.evisa.gov.ge/GeoVisa/en/VisaApp. Very interesting, indeed!

So, let’s get to know more about Youmi, her travel background, and her life-changing trip to Georgia! *hint, hint*

“I started traveling around the Philippines only and I enjoyed it so much, so I thought, ‘What more if I travel to other countries?’ That’s when I tried to go to Hong Kong where the nearest Disneyland is located. After that, traveling to other countries became part of my ‘goals,'” Youmi said when asked how her love for traveling started.

As of this writing, she has been to a total of ten (10) countries outside the Philippines: 🇭🇰🇲🇴🇬🇪🇺🇸🇸🇬🇰🇷🇲🇦🇲🇨🇯🇵🇼🇸 — can you guess what these flags are? 🙂

In Georgia, the major places she visited were Tbilisi, Narikala, Gudauri, and Signagi…

flea market in Tbilisi

Georgian bread worth 1 Lari – the official currency of Georgia (around Php17)

various artworks sold in Narikala

Georgian wood art

free amusement at Mtatsminda Park

Old Tbilisi

Georgian National Museum

inside the Georgian National Museum

Old Tbilisi

Signagi

Wine World in Signagi

food and drinks at Wine World

Bodbe Monastery in Signagi (the main religion in Georgia is Christianity, under the Georgian Orthodox Church)

snow in Signagi

…her most unforgettable experience, though?

It was in Georgia where Youmi got engaged to the love of her life, James! ❤

Mtatsminda Park – the place where James asked Youmi to be his wife!

Gudauri ski resort (located at the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range) – where Youmi experienced her first now, with her engagement ring to boot!

Youmi and James in Georgia

As someone who has been through that moment” (a.k.a. a marriage proposal) most females dream of, I could imagine how Youmi felt! Each engagement is unique and special, and I pray for a great marriage for these two all the days of their lives — which all started in Georgia! They actually got civilly married there, which required notarization from the Georgian Consulate in Manila in order to be recognized locally… no worries, though. The couple planned a Christian ceremony anyways! Life-changing, no? 😀

What started in Georgia will continue as Youmi lives her life as a wife and mother. She plans to travel to more places, including her dream destination, Iceland (mine, too!), because for her, “Travel is freedom. It is my breather. I travel when I want a reset in all the stresses I have in life. I also travel when I feel that my life is becoming routinary. I travel to live fully, to learn in every place, and to allow the world to shape me in becoming the best person I can truly be.”

Her quick- and-easy travel tips are:

  • Research and plan for your trip
  • Pack less (because less is more!)
  • Get good shoes and walk everywhere if you can
  • Go with no expectations (inconsistencies/surprises are part of the experience)
  • Buy and try new things — something that will make you remember the place

So what are you waiting for? Georgia is a beautiful country and after Youmi‘s sharing, it automatically became part of my “countries I want to travel to” list — I even have a hashtag in mind already: #GeorgetteInGeorgia WAHAHAHAHA! 😛

❤ ❤ ❤

*all photos in this feature are from Youmi herself


For more of my other featured travelers on this blog, click HERE.

2018, You Were Really Somethin’

Last year, I said in my annual “year-ender” blog post that “I actually consider 2017 as my BEST YEAR.” But I also concluded that entry with this: “Yes, 2017 was my best year… SO FAR. Not to worry, though. I have a feeling na hindi naman papatalo si 2018 ehApir!”

And indeed, hindi nga nagpatalo ang 2018 ko! 😀

I’m going to make this year ender short and simple. God really took over my 2018, and He actually made me feel His tender loving care (TLC) through these things that made a mark on me this year:

Travels

God once again answered my travel dreams by allowing me to visit four new countries I haven’t been to before… including my last stop: the heart of my Catholic faith — The Vatican!!! ❤

my 2018 travels

Love

Well, if there’s something I’m most grateful for this year, it’ll be my special someone: Ish. 🙂 Yes, friendsss, I’m in a relationship with someone who I love and highly respect — most of all, who loves God more than anyone and anything, even more than me and I like that fact very much! Also, I’m happy that God allowed him to find me at a time when I was very content with my single life and not really looking for a boyfriend (my close friends could attest that before I met Ish, I was actually planning on entering the convent! HA HA HA). But God had other plans for my life, and He knows what’s best. Indeed, God works on His own timeline — so to all my single friends reading this, just continue to trust Him and let Him surprise you. God NEVER FAILS, and He’s still probably preparing the one for you to be at his/her best according to His will (or perhaps, preparing YOU)! In His perfect time, all will fall into place. Not your time, but His perfect time.

Career

My work is still one of my answered prayers ever since I started working at my dream workplace almost four years ago. This year, God surprised me even more with a promotion I didn’t really expect to happen at all in 2018! Haha! When the opportunity opened, I just grabbed it and placed it in God’s hands… it has been a quarter since I acquired my new position at work. There are added responsibilities and I admit that I’m still in the learning process (learning never stops anyway), but as I enter the new year, I’m excited for what God has in store more for my career, trusting that He always has got me covered! 😉

So, that was my 2018. As the newest Miss Universe, Catriona Gray (yay for the Philippines!), reminded us in her winning answer: “be grateful” and “see situations with a silver lining.” I totally agree (in fact, “gratitude” has always been a recurring theme in all of my year-ender posts since 2011!). As we enter 2019, let’s continue to be grateful and to see situations with a silver lining… but most importantly (as one post I saw also mentioned), may Ms. Gray‘s win be a reminder of how beautiful you are in God’s eyes. Don’t let the world dictate who you are; operate in God’s universe and see how He can transform you into being a true champion and warrior who is made in His image and likeness! 🙂

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them…” -Genesis 1:27

I pray that you’ll allow God to be the center of your universe this coming 2019, and may He bless you abundantly!!!

As for me, if 2017 was my so-called “best year” and 2018 was really something, I claim in Jesus‘ mighty name that 2019 will be my MOST BLESSED YEAR BY FAR! ❤

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

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!