10 Reasons to Travel

Truer than words —  TRAVELING. IS. MANDATORY.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I get reaaaal antsy if I’m not traveling a couple times a year. This year particularly, I hit — Hong Kong (again, that’s home), Cambodia, Washington D.C, and soon California. Los Angeles will probably be my last stop for this year so I can save up for another major trip.

– 10 Reasons to Travel –

  1. Challenge yourself
  2. Getaway from reality for a minute — Heal & recover
  3. Meet new people
  4. Get lost
  5. Experience new things
  6. Learn more about people, places, and history
  7. Find inspiration
  8. Re-spark your childlike wonder
  9. Find and understand yourself
  10. Have a story to tell

 

Important Travel Tips —

 

 

Tips and tricks to traveling alone based on my own experience!

Passport, Visa, and Immigration documents

This will be your LIFE. The worst thing that you can possibly do is misplace your passport or immigration documents! Those are what allow you to get in AND out of the country you are traveling in. Some countries don’t require a visa but most do! Depending on where you are traveling to, some hotels will hold your passport, some tour groups will also require you to hand over your passport.

Money exchanges/Budgeting/Traveling Credit Card

While there are many countries that accept US currency, many do not. You should always bring more than you need in case of an emergency. It’s better to have left over foreign currency than to run out of money before your trip ends. Plan out your most expensive purchases and then everything in between. Get an idea of how much you will spend per day. I recommend getting a traveling credit card and by that I mean a credit card that is accepted everywhere. I’m not saying travel and splurge with it but bring one with you for emergencies. (Mine saved me twice)

Bring a scarf 

Whether you’re on a freezing plane, a freezing bus, or must adapt to a particular cultures dress code — BRING ONE. It’s stylish, it’ll come in handy, and it’s easy to carry.

Comfortable shoes

As a traveler, you will do much exploring. Bring comfortable walking shoes! ‘Nuff said

Portable Charger

Buy a portable charger before you go! But be careful as to which one you purchase. Many of the smaller portable chargers are not allowed on carry-on bags for the plane.

Photography — Fish eye lens

If you’re a budget traveler like me that doesn’t want to purchase a $2,000 camera, buy a fish eye lens to attach to your iPhone/Android for amazing photos. The majority of my travel photos/videos were taken with my iPhone 6s + fish eye lens. The lens helps widen the picture on your phone so you can get more in one photo. And plus, it looks like a top quality photo/video.

Blend in 

Although foreigners are easy to spot, try your best to blend in. Don’t make yourself a target by wearing excessive jewelry or wearing spaghetti string tank tops and short shorts to a religious site. Be cute, be conservative, be respectful.

Bring an open mind 

You’ll be traveling to places you’ve never been and seeing things you’ve never seen before. You might be surprised, you might be disgusted, you might be in shock. But BE OPEN MINDED. It is unbelievably crucial to not be that ignorant tourist and think your country to better than someone else’s just because they do things that you would never do. Respect the land, respect the people, respect the culture.

Have fun. Be safe. Happy traveling!

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling Alone — Cambodia

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Recently, I traveled to one of my bucket list destinations, Cambodia — by myself. Can you imagine all of the criticism I got for traveling alone to a third world country as a young female? The answer is, a lot.. But I also got a lot of praise for doing so as well. I was seen as “brave” which was really odd to me. Whenever I told a friend of mine who is Cambodian that I was going alone, they would say something along the lines of — “I’m Cambodian and I would never go there, it’s not safe. People can kill you. I have family there and I’m still scared.” “Too many bad things happen” BUT.. Let’s be really really real. You can get hurt anywhere at anytime. I live in the United States and although this is a developed country, I could easily get robbed or assaulted just for walking to my car at night. I think it’s just a matter of being aware of your surroundings and taking the necessary precautions. (AKA when I rode the tuk tuks in Cambodia, I always kept my bag wrapped around my body/arms)

Was that intimidating? My bad. I wouldn’t want to sugar coat anything when it comes to being safe. But let me tell you how liberating traveling alone is. I LOVE IT. I loathe tour groups.. They take way too long, there’s too many people, and there are too many limitations. Traveling alone, I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was great. You learn a lot about yourself. I will admit that there were times when I wish I had a companion to talk to for the down time and for the times that I was off exploring the local area alone.

Highlight of my trip — My tour guide, Saven and I bonded a lot during my stay in Cambodia. I told her about the work that I do with my community back home and she had mentioned that she volunteers at a local orphanage in Siem Reap. On my last day in Cambodia, we were able to go to this orphanage called the Children’s Improvement Organization (CIO) home to 39 orphans. The kids gave me a tour of their home, showed me their school area, watched them prepare dinner, and taught me some traditional Khmer games. I was really taken back by everything. I had an absolute blast spending the entire day with these kids. They are a blessing. If I had been with a large tour group, I would have never been able to meet these kids.

Everyone needs to travel alone at least once in their lifetime.

What’s Next?

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One of the things that I am extremely proud of about myself is being an Asian-American. I am half Asian and half Caucasian. However, due to conflicts in my past I have gravitated more towards learning about the Chinese culture and history. When I was in high school, I hung out with mainly Cambodians. From there, I immersed myself into the Cambodian culture. I fell in love with the people, their history, and their culture. Currently, I sit on the board of the Cambodian American Rescue Organization (CARO) I am so honored to be a part of this team and I look forward to seeing this non-profit grow.

My next project for my second year of service with AmeriCorps will be focused on providing more opportunities for Asian-Americans and bi-racial youth. It has come to my attention that there are very few places and opportunities where Asian-American youth can connect in a safe area. I’d like to change that. My next mission will be to bring back the Asian American Club in the high schools. I want to keep these students engaged about their culture, history, and identity. It is imperative to stay connected to your roots. The next generation coming in will be all bi-tri-multi racial (that’s a whole other story that I will blog about) where it’ll be easy to lose touch with your roots.

Did I mention that I will be traveling back to China this year? While also fulfilling my dream to go to Cambodia? The countdown starts now!

 

Belle of the Ball 

The Principal of RPS (Resiliency Preparatory School) and I took a few of our Seniors to Boston for Belle of the Ball. It was heart-warming to see our girls light up when they found their perfect dress, shoes, accessories, and a bag of make-up for their big day!

What is Belle of the Ball? “Belle of the Ball distributes cleaned prom dresses at no charge to high school junior and senior girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their school’s prom.  Unlike other prom gown collection drives, this program culminates with a day-long boutique where deserving girls are invited for a day of personal shopping and pampering.”

Art Therapy 

I thought it would be a good idea to switch up the group discussions with a little art therapy.

The girls had the opportunity to show their creative sides and discuss healthy coping mechanisms that they use for stress.

All Corps Day

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Shout out to Social Capital, Inc for featuring this photo of me and my little Corgi artwork. My fellow SCI AmeriCorps members and I discussed what civic engagement is and debated what we consider to be the most/least civically engaged.

One of the questions asked was — “Are you civically engaged? If so, how?” I had to really think about this question. I encountered a few reasons why I would say no–

  1. Time — There’s always things that need to be done, things to rebuild, people with basic needs, etc that there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. I recall my supervisor telling me, “you’ll never leave the office if you try to get everything on your list done”
  2. Are we really making a difference? — This is a tough one. As we are all dedicating our time and effort serving our communities, we have to wonder, “are we really making a difference?” “Am I actually having a positive impact on people?” In my opinion, there will be times where we feel hopeless and that our work is going no where. When in actuality, it is…
  3. More — Similar to the first reason, there is always something that needs to get done. I believe that anyone who has a passion to serve the people aims to be well-rounded and asks themselves, “what more can I do?” There’s also life… It’s easy for us to get caught up in other engagements in our lives whether it’s school, family, friends, etc. In the back of our minds, we are well aware of what we want to learn more about or what we want to do. But we are only human. We can’t always do everything at once.

The reality is: All AmeriCorps members are civically engaged.