Jan/Feb 2019 Loot Box from Aileen Adalid
During the past few years, I’ve been on the look out for various travel blogging sites and have been following a few in particular. The reason behind this was mainly to get an idea of where travel bloggers are heading off to so it serves as inspiration for where I want to go next. Additionally, I wanted to gain insight as to how these bloggers were able to make a living from this while having fun. Although I like technology (IT to be specific) and being able to use it to help others, I didn’t like being stuck behind a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So, this was motivation for me to figure out how to travel the world, even if it means going on business trips.
Because I also had a curious mind, I came across Business Insider’s article about Aileen’s travels (I believe I also read a different article that’s dated even earlier because I was stuck in a job that I hated before 2016), which fueled me even more to be a travel blogger. At this point in time, I realize that I wasn’t in the position just yet to quit my job and do this full time since I simply do not have the funds to sponsor myself. Fast forward to today, I’m still stuck behind a desk and realized that I needed to invest in myself a bit more to be able to make this happen. Thankfully, I got a new job back in May 2018 that allowed a bit more flexibility in my use of time and training, which seems to be paving the road ahead of me without disregarding my tech skills entirely.
With that aside, because I was following Aileen (iamaileen.com) and Tanj’s (brockandtanj.com) Facebook group “Ultimate Travel Group”, I happened to stumble upon Aileen’s post on creating a Patreon page, hence why I am writing this blog post now. Becoming a supporter on Patreon, you’d get some exclusive perks based on the tier you are supporting. Although it’s quite obvious which tier I am in, note that I’m not going to influence you to be in the same tier (or even be a supporter at that; that’s your own call). I am simply writing this in support of all the creators out there and to encourage you to support those that you believe are important.
Enough of me babbling, let’s get to it and see what’s in my mystery box!
Welcome to Canada (Calgary, AB to be exact). No, we don’t live in igloos. No, we don’t get around on dog sleighs. And no, we don’t have winter all year-round. What does this have anything to do with what I’m about to talk about? Well, it’s because in addition to not being home to pick up the package (I had to drive through all the snow to the post office to retrieve it), I wanted to clear up some of the many misconceptions people have about Canada for those international readers that don’t know as much about as us. It was a bit snowy and slippery when I drove out that evening, but obviously it wasn’t a big deal since I was used to it, and thankfully, the local postal and international airline delivery had no problems. In fact, Aileen told me it was going to take 2 to 6 weeks for the package to arrive (that was February 7). I got it 5 days later, which included not being able to pick it up the day before. We were both pleasantly surprised how quick it was!
If you followed me on Instagram and on my Facebook page, you would have seen me tease about the contents of the package. You’ll see from above that I’ve been spoiled with a bunch of treats that’s neatly packaged into a decently sized box. Spoiler: Although I love edible treats, my favorite was the book (more to follow).
As you can see above, I have been spoiled with a bunch of tasty treats from the Philippines, some of which I have tried before. For the sake of this post and because I haven’t tried them in a long time, I’ll try them out again and will go into a bit more detail below. Because they are mostly sweets and being a bit conscious about my health lately, I wasn’t going to stuff my face, so I sampled everything in moderation.
Risa is a specialty chocolate shop in the Philippines. It’s name comes from the Spanish word “sonrisa”, which means “smile”. The chocolates that I recieved are South Cotabato and Pastillas de Pili, which is 60% dark chocolate with caramel and roasted white chocolate with Pili nuts, respectively. I have a bias towards (very) dark chocolate, but I’ll be keeping as open-minded as possible when tasting this.
I have a very particular taste, no matter which kind of food I eat, and chocolates is of no exception. I found myself surprised that neither the dark or white chocolate were particularly sweet, which is a bonus for me, especially when it comes to chocolates and other similar sweets. Although I know with this type of food that it will likely be really sweet, I don’t particularly like it when it’s overly sweetened, so this chocolate recieved a thumbs up in my books. I noticed that with the dark chocolate, although they mentioned there was caramel in it, I didn’t particularly taste a whole lot, which was suitable for my taste buds. The white chocolate tasted smooth, which also recieved a thumbs up from me. The added nuts gave it a good crunch to it, which helped dampen some of the sweetness that I would have expected if I had tried some other brands of white chocolate.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had dried mango (since I was a kid!), so this dried mango from Cebu Best brought back memories. As you would expect, the flavor of mango doesn’t change, and it’s especially convenient to eat when they’re dried (less mess). I did find that this brand seemed to have a bit more sugar on it that what I previously remember, if my memory serves me correctly. Nevertheless, I was happy to find a package of this in the box! Because the bag it came in doesn’t have a ziplock seal, I simply transferred it to a small container, although I guess I could’ve used a rubber band.
Next up is the Manila Polvoron powdered milk candy by Chocovron. I’ve seen this around, but haven’t tried this before, so I was looking forward to it. As its name states, it’s powdered candy packed into a oval-ish cube, so this can be a mouth full, especially if you eat the candy whole. So, be sure to slowly savour it. When I first bit into it, it actually reminds me of other types of Asian sweets and cookies. The most surprising thing was that it tasted like the green bubble milk tea that I’ve always had when I was a kid.
Finally, I got Pastillas de Leche branded from Sitsirya. This is made from carabao’s milk, jackfruit, and sugar, and is wrapped with wax paper and tissue paper. There are some Asian candies that use an edible wrapping paper which looked awfully like this wrapping paper (i.e. White Rabbit candy; note: that’s just the brand, not actually made from rabbit!), but obviously this one is very different, so be warned — don’t eat the paper! As for the flavor, it tastes a bit smooth and like actual jackfruit, which I find pretty tasty. The texture is slightly powdery/crunchy, almost as if you can feel some of the sugar as if it hasn’t fully dissolved. I’m not saying this as a bad thing. Since these are sweets, so it was a good expectation.
A coffee blend is what I’d enjoy, especially on a cold day like today. I haven’t tried the Baraco Blend coffee by Gourmet Farms (from the Philippines) before. To be honest, I couldn’t really try this because I don’t have a French press (I do a Starbucks run most of the time), so I quickly ordered one in so I could try. According to the instructions, you should put in 1 tablesppon of ground coffee for every cup. Since I wanted to drink more, my French press holds up to 1L (1L is approximately 4 cups), and I like stronger coffee, I threw in 4 tablespoons but added less water. That way, I could have stronger coffee but still be able to savour it later as well.
When I try something new, especially something like coffee, I don’t like to add extras to it so that I could taste the original flavour. I like my coffee black anyways, so I didn’t put in any cream or sugar. The taste of the Baraco blend was not bad. There was a very slight smoothness to it, which pleasantly surprised me. It also gave off a pretty good aroma of a good coffee. I’m sure this flavor would satisfy most people’s taste buds. However, I would have preferred it to be a bit stronger. The instructions did say to put 2 tablespoons per cup if you want a stronger taste, so I will consider that for next time (i.e. 8 spoons instead of 4 in my French press).
With my treats in hand, I can sit back and enjoy the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (Amazon.com here). I was considering getting this book a few months ago, but ended picking up other books instead, as you can see. Luckily, I just finished Richard Branson’s “Screw It, Let’s Do It”, so it was a perfect time to start this book without having to drop (and potentially forget about) another book. You could say this book came at a good time, but at the same time, judging by the title, I could have used the advice a bit sooner. I guess I’ve already learned some of the lessons from the book the hard way before reaching this point in my life, so I believe this book would be a good read, and I’ll likely finish it before I even know it.
Being travel-minded, I also received a travel charger from Aileen. This one is branded from ILAHUI. To be honest, I haven’t heard of them before, so I don’t know how reliable it is or what the performance rating is. I’ve worked at a consumer electronics tech review site before, so I was slightly inclined to do a bit of testing, but since I’ve left, I opted out from doing that (plus, this isn’t a tech review article/blog!). Nevertheless, I’m glad I got one of these since I’ll be bringing my laptop along on my next trip (which will be coming up shortly in a couple of months; stay tuned!). However, I did do a very quick test with it to make sure it actually works with my USBs before I find out it doesn’t work when I’m on my trip (better safe than sorry). I found that all USB cables that you use for charging (i.e. Apple cables, USB-C cables, micro USB cables, etc.) will fit in, no problems. But when I tried to stick in my USB stick, it was a very tight fit, so I had to wedge it in slightly for it to be able to fit in properly. Regardless, this would be a good mini travel USB hub, as it is able to transfer data between devices in addition to simply charging your devices.
To be honest, I had a souvenirs phase when I was younger (embarrassingly, I was collecting to the point where I was almost a hoarder…). Thankfully, I grew out of that and learned how to appreciate souvenirs that I’m given and let go of things when the time is due. Although I might not be using them as often as I like, I’ll be keeping the t-shirt, jeepney figure, and the Philippines flag pin in sight as a reminder to travel to the Philippines as a way to experience the world and to keep my promise to my grandma to travel.
As for the glasses, they are made by Sunnies Specs Optical. Whether or not they look good on me, I’m not so sure myself, so I’ll let you decide!
And on that note, thanks for having the patience to read through my first travel-related blog post (although I didn’t actually travel myself). Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram! Until next time.