BootsnAll Travel Network

The Great WOW

February 14th, 2009

“He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man.” – Mao Zedong 

Ni hao from China! The past two days have been rugged to say the least. I never felt so helpless. My constant attempt at communicating in Chinese and English didn’t really help me nor the person I was trying to communicate with. The books I’ve read and stories I’ve heard couldn’t be any truer – English is rarely spoken if any in China. Not even the staff at my hostel who is supposedly aiming at wooing international travelers. But I’m definitely making the best of it and putting a bit more effort in learning Chinese. I booked a single room for two nights at Y128 ($16).  A bit over my budget but my burned out body was in dying need for a nice, long uninterrupted nap. And my chances of getting this nap would have been slim in the dormitories.

I spent the whole day site seeing. I purchased a bus ticket to take me to The Great Wall and the Ming Tombs. Little did I know, the ticket I bought placed me on a Chinese tour bus. So the tour guide only spoke Chinese. Dang! I totally screwed myself. But it turned out to be an awesome exprience nonetheless. A family of six pretty much watched over me the entire time. Trekked up The Great Wall with me, held my hand, bought me food, walked me to the toilet, chased off the hawkers, kept me on time check just so I don’t miss the bus, etc…. It brought me back to my similar experience on the bus in Cambodia.

All the distress I had this morning was washed away by the site of The Great Wall. Of course, a must see when visiting China. It’s massive, it’s beautiful and damn right amazing! This wonder stretches at approx 4,000 miles and dates back 2,000 years during the Qin Dynasty.

greatwall2.jpg      greatwall.jpg  

Can you tell I’m excited? Happy V-Day everyone!


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See ya later San Diego

February 12th, 2009

My trusty backpack and me are hitting the road once again. Sorry Trace, Sorry Marvin, I had to leave the massive luggage behind but thanks for helping me pack it anyway. Besides, I could always have my brother mail it over once I get settled somewhere. I’m soooo ready. I’m ready to embark on this journey into the unknown. New country, new lifestyle, an open plan and solo. Awww…just the way I like it! 

Gotta run….My plane leaves in 4 hours. See you all in Beijing! 

Love, Sophia 



Good times with fam and friends

February 10th, 2009


What a weekend? Or shall I say… What a week?

I’m blessed to have such extraordinary people in my life. I truly have the greatest family and friends! Thank you to all for coming out this past week to wish me well. And thanks for the gifts! Much appreciated and you all will be missed. Sam and Iris- I can’t say this enough, thank you again for “adopting” me for a few months. You both have supported me and my wander-lust to travel and it means the absolute world to me. 

Thanks to all for keeping up with my travel stories and rants. I started this blog site for one reason only and it was to keep my family and friends posted on my whereabouts… But now it goes deeper than that. I hope to inspire others to do the same.

The count down continues…Two more days before take off!  

I’ll leave you all with photos of my nephews. I will miss them dearly! Feel free to comment on how cute they are, it doesn’t get tiring 🙂


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Dreaming of tasty dim sum, fluffy pandas, and the great wall

February 5th, 2009

I didn’t get much sleep last night and surprisingly woke up early. I was laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling with a huge smile on my face thinking, “In eight days I’ll be waking up in China!”

Ni Hao  (Hello, How are you?)

Zai jian  (Goodbye)

Xie Xie  (Thank you)

Wo Jiao Sophia  (My name is Sophia)

Wo mi-lu le  (I am lost)

Wo bu dong  (I don’t understand)

Du shao qian  (How much?)

1. Yi

2. Er

3. San

4. Si

5. Wu

Hopefully my Mandarin accumulates in the next few days 🙂

Ended the day watching the sunset at the Cliffs.

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I’m booked for China

January 22nd, 2009

12th of February – I leave for Beijing! WoooHooo!

Quick recap on my job search: The past two months have been nothing but applications, waiting, phone interviews, waiting, paperwork, waiting, more paperwork and more waiting. Instead of sitting here, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the right contract to come along, I’ve decided to take the advice of a friend who taught English in China for three years. She suggested that I fly to China, look into the schools of interest that are hiring, and apply in person. So I’m going to do just that! Plus, there are advantages of applying in person: first impressions, contract negotiation, etc… I’m in the process of cutting my cities down as to where I plan on teaching so I’ll keep you guys posted.

So how do I feel right now?

I’m freakin’ excited but in all honesty a bit scared. I am moving a gazillion miles away to a new country.

Am I still going?

Heck yessss!!

P.S. To my family and friends, and I say this with all my love –  No more surprise parties! I think I cried enough back in August when I left for my first trip. Although, I think I could get use to all the surprises lol 🙂 just kidding.

Xièxie (Thank you)

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Happy 2009 everyone!

January 2nd, 2009

Where did the time go? This year flew by…. then again I say that every year. Hope you all had a safe and wonderful time bringing in the New Year! 2008 was an amazing year for me so I can’t wait to see what 2009 will bring – I’m sure it’ll be EPIC! And to be moving to China, what a great way to start off the New Year! 

2009 Resolution: To learn Mandarin Chinese!  

To my family and friends: I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing individuals. Thank you again for the love and support! I love and miss you all so much. Happy New Year!


China Bound

December 26th, 2008

Last week I got my passport renewed, thank goodness a new updated photo! If you remember me mentioning in my past blog how extremely dreadful my photo was prior (it was not good), lets just say I’m very happy that its updated.  In addition to my passport renewal, I just sold my truck. OMG! I sold my freakin’ truck! I’ve written off my only essential asset – goodbye Big Country! (that’s right, I named my truck Big Country 🙂 Why? Aside from it being enormous in size I have no idea. I watched it drive off and thought, “Dang, I’m really doing this….I’m moving to China. Yahooo!” .

I’ve had this ardor for teaching abroad for a very long time, dating all the way back in college and now I’m finally going to do it! I studied to be a teacher so I know I’ll be in my comfort zone. I’ve thought long and hard about my decision, contemplated the  pros/cons especially being away from my family for such a long time. I mean c’mon this is a life altering decision right? This shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. At the end of all this thinking back and forth it always resulted in the same feeling. I want to do this. I need to do this for myself. I’ve had this fascination for teaching abroad and now I feel it’s the ideal time to just go and do it. As Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing” right?

Why China? Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world so I’d love to learn to speak it. Plus, I’ve never been to China apart from Hong Kong, so it would be nice to teach in and explore such a massive country for a whole year or so!

Am I afraid? No. I am a bit apprehensive about the language barrier because I hear English is rarely spoken. However, a good language book will fix that 🙂

A new chapter of my life is about to unfold and I’m ecstatic! I know with all my heart that this is what I want to do… I’m aiming to leave at the end of Jan. I’ll keep you guys posted on my exact departure date. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! See you all in 2009! Cheers!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”— Mark Twain

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Home Sweet Home

November 23rd, 2008

I was awaken this morning not by a rooster crowing at dawn or the sounds of the roaring engines of tuk tuk drivers but by my adorable 4 year old nephew jumping on my bed. That’s when it hit me – I’m not in Asia anymore, I’m home. 🙂 Home sweet home – it’s always a great feeling knowing you’re on a plane bound for home.

My three months of traveling SE Asia has come and gone. No more asking or answering the ultimate traveler question: “Where are you from?” 

On the road, I had my share of grungy hostels/guesthouses, tourist traps, being robbed, scary cab rides, etc… but they all come with traveling right?! (especially being a newbie). But then you have all your amazing unforgettable moments –  trekking in Indo, snorkeling in Thailand, caving in Malaysia, walking in the rain in Cambodia, getting lost in Hong Kong – all wonderful experiences! To come from reading about the world and hearing about it from others, to finally stepping foot in those countries, my fascination for the people, culture, language and food grew immensely! It’s such an undescribable feeling! It really is. I can blog about it and post up photos but the feeling of being there is something else. I wish everybody had the opportunity or guts to come and experience and see how it is to live on the other side of the world. To have traveled in some of the poorest countries was an eye opener for me, it has changed me completely. We all have it so easy back home and we don’t realize it.

The world is a big place filled with many beautiful places and I couldn’t see enough with the two weeks vacation I got when I had a job – so I took three months to travel… but now I’m thinking maybe a bit longer for the next one. My passion and desire to travel is an addiction that will be hard to kick! As I was traveling Asia – I was already thinking about what continent I wanted to travel to next. So I’ve concluded, I am an addict and I don’t think I’ll be planning to settle down in one place any time soon lol. I hope to be on the road again in 12 months time – I’m crossing my fingers 🙂

Thank You’s

I’ve met some of the kindest, open minded and adoring people on the road and I was fortunate enough to have gotten to know some of them. So to my fellow travelers – thank you for the company, stories, advice and laughs.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting my blog.

To my fam Mom, Dad, Sam, Iris, Sheila, Trace, Jill – thanks for everything! Your love and support has been endless! Oh and the money you gave me at the airport came in handy. It got me out of some sticky situations (ie…immigration, arriving to a country forgetting to notify my bank, pay offs, etc….) lol

To Josh – you know this trip wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for you. You inspired me to go after my desire to see the world and now look I’m hooked, it’s entirely your fault. I love you and thank you – I owe you big! 🙂

Interesting Note: I bumped into seven Americans on the road and they along with other travelers said the same thing: Only 10-15% of Americans travel outside of the US, which is a shame because they don’t know what they’re missing. There are more wonderful things to see outside the US!


The count down begins…

November 17th, 2008

Since leaving Melaka a few days ago I’ve noticed my bites have increased dramatically. My whole body is covered from my neck down to my toes. Easily 50+ bites – its pretty gnarly! I’m itching like crazy and I don’t think the tiger balm that I’m using is helping with the itch. I bumped into my friend Romano, the italian-american suave from Miami, who i met when i first arrived in KL two weeks ago and he recommended using cologne/perfume to ease the itch. So I sprayed some of his aqua di gio cologne all over my skin – and he was damn right. It worked like a charm almost instantly! For once I didn’t have the urge to rake my skin with my nails. Last day in KL, Romano and I met a spunky Vietnamese girl from Canada. Nhi, a very fun free-spirited gal with a strong determination to find her future dreamy Australian boyfriend (sorry Nhi, i just had to put that in – lol). She along with most of the travelers I’ve met will move to OZ to live after traveling Asia. The saying is once you get to OZ you will never want to leave!

Anyway, I’m back in Hong Kong for two nights to catch my flight back to the US of A. The officer at immigration looked at me and my passport double time and chuckled saying that my passport picture didn’t look like me at all. I said “Yes, I get that all the time. It’s an old picture.” Come on’ it’s like a 9 yr old photo taken back in my rebel days in high school. You know those crazy kids who walked around school with big baggy pants who dyed their hair with all sorts of color — yep that was me! I was rockin’ my pink/blonde bangs in my photo lol 🙂 (And my answer is yes, to all of you that are just dying to see this passport picture).

Checked in at the same guesthouse in Kowloon – surprisingly they called me by my first name and welcomed me back and then gave me a discount on my room. Sweet!

Oh man, 48 hours to go…The count down begins…

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Attack of the killer bedbugs

November 14th, 2008

So I woke up this morning covered in bug bites – 18 plus bites and still counting…Argh! I think I rather take on the mosquitoes because these bedbugs bite and feed on you like there’s no tomorrow…seriously –  and they are outrageously itchy! They bite not once not twice but several times in the same area. Even with loads of bug repellant on those damn critters still go at it…chomp chomp chomp 🙁 I guess this is what I get for staying in cheap dormitories. 

At last, did my laundry back in the Highlands so I finally got to put on some clean clothes!! Yay! lol…Threw the clothes I was wearing this morning into a plastic bag just incase some of the bedbugs decided they wanted to stick around. Anyway, so I spent a few days in Georgetown (Penang) and now I’m currently in Melaka.  Both places are beautiful – tons of unique colonial architecture through out both cities etching them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both Georgetown and Melaka are pretty small cities so you definitely can walk or bicycle through the entire town center. Being in Asia for months now, I still get confuse on the roads. Just today on a bike, I found myself chanting  “keep left, keep left”….lol – I won’t be surprise if I get back to California and start driving on the other side 🙂 but yea that wouldn’t be good.

Birthday shout out to my good friend Jillann Malabanan. Sorry, I just had to put your full name…couldn’t resist lol 🙂  I’m sure you’re having a blast without me… Love ya and see you soon.