Why do you travel? Is it to seek the thrill of being in a new place, or to escape the stress and monotony of a routine you have back home? Do you leave in search of new friends, culinary delights, or just to step out of your comfort zone?…
Life moves fast. Especially, if like me, you live in a big bad city that never sleeps. I find that even within the confines of our homes, we don’t usually allow ourselves to truly rest. We’re constantly bombarded with stimulation from the very moment we wake up. What’s the first thing you look at in the morning? Is it your phone? Do you use it as your alarm? I do. I wake up, make some breakfast, grab a cup of coffee, maybe turn on the TV to catch up with the news I missed overnight. By this time, my phone is already buzzing with incoming emails, texts, group chats. Don’t even get me started on social media.
A little later, I might hop into an uber to get to my first meeting of the day, and usually the radio is playing and someone is trying to sell me a product. Maybe I’ll stick some headphones in and listen to a podcast. More information. Drive down any major highway in Manila and you have dozens on billboards vying for your attention. Some have upgraded to video. I swear EDSA could be a tourist attraction, I’ve never seen anything that resembles it! When my family came to visit me they were just fascinated by the sheer size and volume of ads.
Anyway, you get my drift. The overwhelming amount of stimulation we absorb on a daily basis has to have some sort of effect on us. In fact, our brains weren’t built to handle this much information. Contrary to what seems to be championed as a highly sought after trait, multi-tasking is not only impossible, but can be detrimental to creativity and productivity. No wonder so many of us are stressed, we never get a break! Especially when our smartphones are so closely integrated to our everyday life. We’re literally on-call 24/7. So whilst I’m an avid supporter of getting sh*t done, I think it’s equally as important to ‘peace out’ once in a while, to truly disconnect from all the noise around us and reconnect with ourselves.
I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up in a quiet, leafy suburb, or if it’s because with each year my brain seems to outdo itself by over thinking everything, but I truly struggle if I spend too much time in a city without giving myself a break. Perhaps it’s also because my work is so tied up with social media. On top of that, I’m a one woman show – I book most of my jobs, fix my own schedule, chase after my cheques, create content and manage my online accounts. Probably, it’s all of the above.
Ducking out to a quiet spot for a few days (even if it’s just overnight) has such a profound and immediate impact on my mental and physical wellbeing. I’m less stressed and I’m able to appreciate the simple things that I take for granted every day. Like properly enjoying my meals, or taking the time to do things rather than rushing everything. It’s funny how ordinary tasks can be special when you’re in the right mindset.
My latest trip outside of Manila was to the Farm San Benito in Batangas. I’d heard of this wellness resort years ago, and had been meaning to go for a while. I finally had the chance to visit with my friend Liz, when I was sent on a #LifeMovesFast challenge by Butterfly Twists. We spent our time disconnected from our phones (for the most part – I will plead guilty to the occasional Instagram post) and reconnected with nature, making friends with the peacocks and frogs roaming around our garden.
If it’s not obvious from the recipes I’ve uploaded on my blog, I love making and eating vegan food. Finding decent plant-based food can be a bit of a challenge in the Philippines, although it’s exciting to see more and more of these restaurants and small business popping up around Manila. The vegan meals I had at The Farm were by far the best I’ve tried in the Philippines! The menu was far more comprehensive than your typical veggie restaurant, and by that I mean they didn’t just serve salads (but when they did, they were freaking delicious – baby greens with shaved pears, marinated figs, herbed oven tomatoes, almond feta cheese with creamy lime dressing anyone?). I honestly can’t remember the last time I consumed such a wide variety of fruits, veggies, legumes and grains in the span of 2 days.
The Farm is perfect for those who are looking for a wellness focussed getaway . Although we only stayed overnight, they have 5-7 day programs with activities should you decide to take them (acupuncture, yoga, meditation classes, colon hydrotherapy, flower arrangement classes, walks in greenery… the list goes on).
The highlight of my stay was a treatment I had in their spa. It started off with a full body scrub made from cacao, coconut oil and sea salt, followed by an outdoor bath filled with coconut milk and rose petals. I looked up, only to see the brightest moon and a star-studded sky, listening to the sound on birds and… frogs? That was when I noticed that the bath was surrounded by a pond filled with water lilies and fish… and yep two dozen frogs. I feel like this wouldn’t go down well with everyone (I’ll admit to having a moment of panic too) but actually found them to be rather cute. I also felt like at any moment a crab named Sebastian was going to hop out and start serenade me (yes he’s a crab not a lobster, you’ve been deceived all this time).
Liz and I also attended a yoga class in the most beautiful setting I’ve ever practised in! This is when I discovered that when you are surrounded by a beautiful garden lined with coconut trees, with just the right amount of breeze flowing in, it is dangerously easy to fall asleep.
After a day and a half of a semi digital detox, luxurious spa treatments, acupuncture, yoga and filling my body with all the nutrients it craves for, I walked away from The Farm feeling grounded, re-energised, and at peace. Fully prepared to tackle life, in however form, and at whatever speed it may come at me. So here’s to living with all the zest and enthusiasm we have, and remembering that we can live our fullest when we take care of ourselves too.
As I write this, I’m back home in Sydney to see one of my best friends get married! Believe it or not, this is the first wedding I’ve ever attended… and I’ll be a bridesmaid too! To say I’m excited is an understatement.
As much as I love the Philippines, there’s nowhere quite like home. When I’m in Manila I like to keep in touch with my roots in my own little way… whether it be having a meal at my favourite Aussie restaurant Bondi & Bourke (their salads are really fresh and when I’m feeling naughty I indulge in their burger too… SO. GOOD.) or going surfing, and even by sporting some Aussie fashion brands. You may have noticed that in the past 2 months I’ve been wearing some brands from oz and posting on my social media accounts with the hashtag #AussieFashion. There’s a ton of companies here in Manila from home, from Ever New to Cotton On, and it seems like a few of you were surprised to find out they were Australian!
In case you missed out on the posts, here’s a little recap!
Jacket & Boots: Sfera // Ring: The Artisan Row Accessories
Photography: Paolo Pineda
On the 15th of June last year,
around 10 in the evening, an email popped up in my inbox. It was another work inquiry. This time from a social entrepreneur based in San Fransisco, who was looking for someone to be the face of her jewellery and accessory start up. Hmm. Sounds interesting, I thought. Little did I know, how significant this email would be in shaping the next year of my life….
Shot in Myeong-dong, Seoul.
Photography: Toff Tiozon
Sweater: H&M // Jeans: Sfera // Scarf: Zara // Bag: Oroton // Boots: Sfera
And just like that, Christmas is around the corner once again. You may have seen that I’ve recently teamed up with Pandora to launch their Winter 2015 Collection. As part of their campaign, I’ve been asked to share my Christmas story with everyone. So here goes……