Real People: Ruby Ilustrisimo
One of my goals for this blog is to inspire people to travel. My trip to Paris last 2011 was a lightbulb moment for me: Europe was something I had never even dared to dream of, and yet…there I was. I hope to inspire others to believe that their travel dreams can come true too, and what better way to do that than to feature real people who have made travel a part of their lives.
Ruby is one of my best friends and I’m featuring her first because not only is it her 18th birthday *wink*, she also:
- Put college on hold for a year to join an environmental camp in Seattle, something I can’t ever imagine doing at that age.
- Taught little kids in Bangkok — the curriculum included sailing up and down the Chao Phraya and going to Ayutthaya. (Is that even school?! Shouldn’t the proper term be fun?)
- Obtained her masters degree in Scotland and visited Skye years before I realized how absolutely cool that was and how totally jealous I should be. I’ve been bugging her and bugging her about going back to Scotland and doing the West Highland Way with me, and she’s been putting me off and putting me off, saying she has to save. (Which is okay, because so do I.)
Anyway, here are travel insights from one of my favorite, favorite people in the world.
University lecturer in Psychology
HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
It is usually an impulse treat but I have been lucky enough to have also been funded by loved ones, especially when it comes to overseas travel.
WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Boracay. Boracay is actually lovely if you avoid the peak season. It starts to wind down around June but still has a lot of things to do and people to meet. It is best to stay in Station 1. Contrary to what people believe, there are still resorts that are reasonably priced in Station 1 and if you’re quick enough, you can snag a deal on Agoda or TravelBook. It is also quiet but near enough to party central (station 2) if you feel the urge to walk and mingle. But mainly, I love the beach in Station 1.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO NEXT?
I am hoping to go back to Thailand and cross over to Laos and Myanmar when I get the chance.
WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
- The Northern Lights in Norway
- Dubai to see their desert
- Egypt and Morocco
DESTINATION: Thailand with these specific places in mind:
- Chiang Mai: It is steeped with Northern Thai culture and history, lots of activities from visiting elephant camps to going to Doi Inthanon which is the tallest peak in Thailand and sleeping with the hilltribes as well as shopping. If you’re planning to go there, be sure it is a long weekend. They have a Saturday night market at the Pae Gate selling a lot of kitschy and beautiful artwork. Go around November for the Loi Krathong and be a part of the greatest lantern festival there is.
- Khao Yai National Park: It is the largest track of rainforest in SE Asia teeming with lots of beautiful wildlife. The night safari is a must. Although there’s no guarantee you’ll see the big mammals, you’ll still be able to glimpse lots of the small wild ones.
- Koh Samet: It is an island located near Rayong. It is like Boracay but definitely smaller and quieter. Popular with young Thais and young foreigners. If you’re looking to party, this is the place to be.
- Krabi: Wonderful place to do kayaking and rock climbing. Plenty of lessons there and the view is akin to Palawan’s El Nido.
STAY: Of all the places I’ve stayed in, the 3 Sis Bed and Breakfast in Chiang Mai will always be my favourite. I’m a flash backpacker. I require a certain degree of comfort but I don’t want to put a dent on my shopping and exploration money. This bed and breakfast looks like a four star hotel with great customer service and has a rustic and homey feel to it.
FOOD: Street food is the way to go. If you want to experience authentic dishes, it is always best to go to the streets.
Walk around. If you wanna know how people live and how they go about their lives, prepare to do a lot of walking. Explore the markets and the hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Pick up a smattering of their language and buy things that you don’t see in your country. Take pictures but don’t make it your main activity. You don’t want to go home only remembering the pictures you took.
Travel whenever you get the chance and don’t just go for a three-day trip. If resources allow it and if you can, do a 1-week travel spree. It’s long enough to explore the place and not run you ragged. You travel because you want to destress, not to acquire more stress. Most of my life-altering decisions were made during traveling. I think it gives you a better perspective of how the world works and how other people live, which in effect gives you insights on how to become better and live better.