The World (TRAVEL)

The UK & I

Believe it or not, I started drafting a blog post about my “future” dream trip to the UK waaay back in 2011. Back then, it was blank (how could I write? I haven’t even been there yet!) and it was titled “It’s been a long time coming…” Haha. It’s not surprising, though, because as early as age 7, I’ve already dreamed of going to the UK. Some dream of having the ultimate Euro trip (traveling to countries covered by the Schengen visa), but me, though I still want to do that, my priority has always been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland through and through! So if you’re wondering why I spent almost half a month in the UK (to be honest, bitin pa nga!) and didn’t go to other European countries (with the exception of the Republic of Ireland), then obviously we’re not really close. Wahahahaha! Simply put that those who really know me know that the UK has always been the apple of my “travel” eye and if there’s anyone who deserves to go there, that’s me! me!! me!!! Pag-agawan na ng iba ang France, Spain, etc. Basta ang UK, sa’kin at sa’kin lamang!!! Lakas lang maka-#Brexit noh?! Mwahahahahaha! But yes, as early as age 7, I claimed it, then I finally went, and I sure as heck “conquered” not just the United Kingdom, but also Ireland! This is the very draft I started almost five years ago, and I’m so happy I’m now finally able to click “publish”!!! 😀

So the UK and I. The “I” can literally mean ME, but it can also refer to “Ireland.” 😛 You see, waaay back in history (even before Magellan landed in the Philippines! Haha!), there was no United Kingdom — they were “divided” kingdoms. Back then, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were all independent states (or “kingdoms,” headed by monarchs). I’m not going to lecture you about their history per se, but let’s just say that somewhere along the way, the four became “united” into one country — hence the United Kingdom. BUT somewhere along the way again, Ireland became divided, and so now there’s Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK; Belfast is its capital) and there’s the Republic of Ireland (which is an independent country and requires a different visa; Dublin is its capital).

So technically, I’ve been to only two countries: the UK and Ireland. But trust me, if you’ve been there, you can easily distinguish the different characteristics of each “kingdom” that it’s not fair to write about the UK as a single country. (Plus! A week after I left, #Brexit happened. Go figure.) 😉

Now that you know that, you can further understand why I’ll be writing about England, Scotland, and Ireland separately — and why I still have more reasons to go back: I still haven’t been to Northern Ireland and Wales! Told yah, half a month wasn’t enough for the UK alone! Tapos ine-expect pa ng iba diyan na pumunta ako sa ibang European countries?! Kayo kaya ang pumunta at gumastos! ‘Nuff said. Haha!

Anywaaay, here’s a summary of the things you’ll be reading on this blog in the next few months (monthsss talaga! HA HA HA):

The UK & I

June 2016. Buckingham Palace, London, England, UK



Big Ben

Did you know that this is actually called the Elizabeth Tower (prior to 2012, the Clock Tower)? Big Ben refers to the bell of the clock but not the tower itself.



Trivia: some scenes from the Harry Potter movies were shot here at Yorkminster!


Shakespeare's grave

That’s the grave of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time lang naman. 😛






One UNESCO World Heritage Site off my bucket list, more to gooo! #Stonehenge



One of the Roman baths (guess you know where the place’s name came from! haha).




Mary, Queen of Scots sure was lucky to have this view when she was still alive!

Glencoe (the Scottish Highlands)

Glencoe (the Scottish Highlands)

One word: BREATHTAKING! (This was also where we passed to go to Loch Ness…)



Dublin Castle

Look, it’s the Dublin Castle! Hehehe!

The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Ever heard of the lyrics, “where the fields are green, to see you once again… #mylove”??? THEY WERE RIGHT! Hahaha!

And this was just a teaser, so stay tuned for more!
Besides, when it comes to the UK and me, mahaba-habang usapan lagi yun noh!!!

Mika xx

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Travelers, The World (TRAVEL)

Traveler of The Month: Madel’s “U.K. Calling”

“Traveling is one big, interactive, history lesson.  It opens my mind.  It removes biases and misconceptions against places and people.  And surprisingly, it also makes me appreciate my own country and people,” my featured traveler for this month said.

And since it’s October — my birthday month (ehem!) — what better way is there to celebrate it than talk about one of my loves: THE UNITED KINGDOM!!! =))

That’s why it’s truly a privilege to introduce to you this month’s featured traveler because she didn’t just “travel” around the U.K. — she actually experienced living the English life! *inggit*  So my dear readers, meet my friend (and fellow Lasallian!) Madel and read carefully…  because I guarantee you, this is “one big, interactive, history lesson” about the U.K. that you wouldn’t want to miss! 😉

Madel at Baker Street

As always, the first question I ask my featured travelers is about the time they first caught the travel bug.  And in Madel‘s case, this was how it went: “I started to appreciate traveling at a very young age.  Before my seventh birthday, my dad brought me (and my mom) to the U.S. where I really enjoyed myself.  We visited a lot of places that were very enjoyable to young children — Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World — to name a few.  So as a young girl, that experience gave me an idea that traveling brings you to wonderful, ‘magical’ places.

“However, my awareness and deeper appreciation for traveling actually started when we toured Europe in 2002.  At that time, I was still in high school and we just finished taking up world history.  The tour allowed me to relate the beautiful sites I saw through the history lessons I learned.  With this, my appreciation for traveling definitely deepened.”

And “deepened” it did!  Madel has already been to at least 15 countries (including the Philippines).  “At around seven years old (1993), my parents and I traveled to the U.S.  My next trip was at the end of my first year in high school (2001) at Assumption, where I got to visit Japan as an exchange student and traveled alongside with seven other students and two teachers.  This trip was a special experience because I got to live with a Japanese host family and be fully immersed in the Japanese culture and traditions.  Exactly a year after this trip, we went to Europe (2002).  We joined a tour organized by Trafalgar Tours.  It started in London, England, and continued by bus to Belgium, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France.  We then ended our trip by visiting some of our relatives in the Netherlands.  In the summer of 2007, we visited Australia and passed by Singapore before going home.  From 2011 to 2012, I studied in the United Kingdom.  During my year abroad, I also traveled a bit, touring Spain and Portugal for a week.”

Top left- Stonehenge (England); Top right- Barcelona, Spain; Bottom left- Lisbon, Portugal; Bottom right- Edinburgh, Scotland

London Calling?

Even before Madel decided to pursue her graduate studies in the U.K., she already toured England (e.g. Stonehenge and Lake District) and Scotland (Edinburgh).  But when she finally became an official student at the University of York, that’s when she got the chance to visit more places in the U.K. with some of her friends: from England (Oxford, Sheffield, London, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, and Manchester) to Wales (Cardiff)!

Left- Brighton; Top right- Manchester; Center right- Cardiff; Bottom right- Sheffield

Oxford University

So what will Madel miss the most about the U.K.?  Well, here are some of them:

“It’s the place to be!  Honestly, I really wanted to study in the U.K. after seeing London in 2002.  It’s very beautiful and full of history.  Also, you’ll never be bored in London because there are so many palaces, parks, gardens, museums, and shopping places to go to.”

Left top to bottom- SHERLOCKed at 221B Baker Street; Right- Big Ben at the back

Top- Buckingham Palaca; Bottom- with the British Royal Family (at Madame Tussauds London that is! Haha!)

Hogwarts!!! (a.k.a. Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden)

Yes, the same one from THAT movie! 😉

London 2012
“I was so lucky to have been in England during the Olympics.  I remember that I used to watch the Olympics not even dreaming that I’d be able to watch it ‘live’ someday because I knew it was impossible.  However, by some lucky twist of fate, I studied in England in the exact year the Olympics was in town.  Although I wasn’t able to watch the opening ceremonies live (that would’ve been a dream!), I did watch a semi-finals football game in the historic Old Trafford in Manchester.  Although the competing teams were from Egypt and Japan, my friends and I happily cheered on our chosen teams — with flags and banners to match.”

“This is the beautiful city where I lived in for one year.  It’s very scenic because of its medieval history.  There are walls surrounding the city.  There’s also a beautiful York Minster that’s the focal point of this city.  Unlike London, York’s still predominantly British.  And because of this, I had some first-hand experience of how it is to really live amongst the British.  What I discovered is that the British are very courteous and friendly.  People always say ‘Thank you!’ to bus drivers before leaving the bus.  Also, when you walk into any of York’s street shops, store keepers greet you and sometimes, even engage in a good conversation with you.  Also, the locals often call you ‘love’ (for example they’d say, ‘Hi, Love!’ or ‘Thanks, Love!’) — which I find very endearing.”

Left and center right- Christmas in York; Top right- Cliffords Tower; Bottom right- York

Castle Howard

York Minster

The University of York
“I feel really lucky to have studied here.  Originally, I hadn’t planned on going to this University.  But by some lucky twist of fate, I landed a spot here.  The University of York is amongst the top 10 Universities in the U.K. and top 100 in the world.  This is despite the fact that it has only been in existence for less than 50 years.  Recently, it has also received the top place in the ranking of the youngest universities in the U.K.  Our professors are also amongst the best scholars in the country.

“Our University’s also very modern and beautiful.  It has one of the biggest man-made lakes in Europe.  It’s also famous for its ducks and swans — which walk freely on the university grounds.  Truly, it was inspiring to study in a campus as excellent and beautiful as this!”

Sweets and Pastries
“England’s well-known for its sweets and pastries shops!  Inside you’ll find traditional candies like toffee and mints, as well as traditional pies, cookies, and cupcakes.  I love them because I have a sweet tooth.  But to be honest, some find these things too sweet.”


Now that you’ve learned a thing or two about the U.K. thanks to Madel‘s own personal experience, “what are her travel tips,” you may ask?  Well, she shared, “For people who are very interested in seeing the world, I suggest that you consider joining tours rather than going around a city on your own.  These are the reasons why:

“First, joining tours allows you to see many places in one go.  Our tour of Europe is the perfect example!  In as little as two weeks, we visited seven countries!  Although we had a strict schedule to follow, the tour brought us to all the key places with enough time to go around, take pictures, and buy souvenirs.

“Second, joining tours will save you a lot of time, headache, and even money.  I know that there’s a misconception that tours are very expensive.  But on the contrary, tour companies usually have more efficient ways of going around cities (using their buses).  They also have good arrangements with their partner hotels — which are usually the luxury hotels in the area (they probably get the rooms at a much cheaper rate because they buy in bulk).  Hence, you’ll not have to worry about hotel bookings, understanding public transportation, and not knowing how to speak the local language.

“Third, tours mean tour guides!  And honestly, nothing beats the knowledge of these locals!  Apart from knowing the history of their place by heart, they usually also have funny anecdotes and stories about the place or tourists who have visited the site.  This is one of the things which I enjoy the most.  It also makes me remember a place even more.  And last but not the least, joining tour groups gives you the chance to meet really nice people (of different nationalities).  They can even end up as your lifelong friends as you share many wonderful experiences and photos together!”

A Scottish tour guide

I actually agree on that!  I, personally, prefer booking tours for hassle-free travels!  Hahaha!  But enough about me…  after 15 countries, where does Madel plan to go to next?  “To be honest, my next dream destination would be somewhere in the Philippines.  I actually envy people who have seen so much of our country.  I’d love to go to the underground river in Palawan.  I’d love to have my picture taken beside the Chocolate Hills.  I’d also love to visit Batanes where life seems so simple and peaceful!  There’s so much to experience in our own country!  That’s what I plan to do this coming year.

“Although if there’s a place outside of the Philippines that I’m eyeing now, it’s China.  I’ve made many Chinese friends back in York and I’d love to visit them in their country.”

This post is brought to you by The Lady’s 2012 Blog Project.

You can also check out my other featured travelers HERE.

Gathered Thoughts, The World (TRAVEL)

(Feeling) Miss United Kingdom

Two words: UNION JACK (or Union Flag)! 😛

But first, let me show you how the Union Flag we know TODAY came to be:

The evolution of the Union Flag 😉

Interesting, huh?  But what did you expect?  After all, IT IS the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — but as to why Wales is not represented, well I’ve no idea either.  Heehee.

Anyway, I don’t know when exactly my ADDICTION started, but I can remember that as early as my elementary days, I was already HOARDING (haha!) Union Jack-inspired stuff!  Through the years, some of those have come and gone, but of course, they’re NEVER gone!  In fact, they keep on “coming” 😉  To give you proof, the following are SOME of the Union Jack-inspired stuff that are CURRENTLY in my possession:

…from my bag, purse, and even wallet!

even my (pink) gym bag is Union Jack-inspired!

“some” clothes

I own the exact same pair!

Pink bedsheet-with-pigs-and-polka dots aside (hahaha!  Sorry naman, ang cute kaya ng bedsheet ko! :P), I also looove buying Union Jack-inspired stuff (including underwear!  Hehe) from these locally available U.K. brands:

But wait, there’s more:

Union Jack nails, anyone?

why not combine them with French tips?! France + the U.K. = panalo! Parang WWII lang sa pagiging “allies” CHOS! 😉

But you know what?  There are still “some things” I’ve YET to POSSESS!  Like:

designer bag at its BEST!

I know that when I go to the U.K., sa tabi-tabi lang, pwede na’kong makabili ng mga ‘yan!  Pero pa’no ba ‘yan, hindi pa’ko nakakapunta dun eh!  Kaya pwedeng mag-sorry?  Wahahahaha!  But anyway, my bank account better be ready for me once I finally push through with my U.K. trip because you know, there are still mooore Union Jack-inspired stuff that I WANT:

And who knows?  Maybe in the future, I might even go AS FAR as these guys:

Oh diba, Union Jack HAIR and TATTOO?  AWARD!!!  Sila na ang hardcore Union Jack fans!  As for me, I better stick to my own “hoard” FOR NOW:

Group Picture! Hahaha!

So there.  Ika nga ni Lola Queen Elizabeth (asa naman ako!  Hihihi),