Kenya Safari Trip

I grew up watching Discovery Channel and National Geographic because my dad is a nature freak so I became an animal lover. Going to Kenya was a dream come true! Whatever you think Kenya is like, it’s even better!

IMG_3222

I arrived in Nairobi City and took a shuttle through traffic to the local airport to take my flight to Maasai Mara. I flew out on AirKenya and said goodbye to the city and civilization. It was exciting flying over the vast African land because I could see herds of animals below. I landed on the Mara Serena Air Strip and I got an idea of how the rest of my trip would be as I dragged my luggage through the reddish dusty gravel – wild, free, and covered in dust! My destinations would be Maasai Mara and Amboseli for my Kenyan trip.

Safari

Every day, our guide would take us out on a game drive in our jeep. We would do 2-3 game drives a day; morning and afternoon, always returning to the lodge for a meal. I spent around 10 hours of the day in the jeep, which sounds boring but was actually incredible and exciting. These game drives were my opportunity to see the animals and find the “Big Five”; Elephant, Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard. I felt like I was in a discovery show because I even found the same pride of Cheetahs that were filmed in a documentary on BBC. My favorite moments of the trip was when I’d spot a mother elephant with a very tiny baby. It was amazing to see them together roaming the land for food and water. We were also lucky when we found a Leopard in a tree on our 3rd day, it was such a beautiful and elegant animal. One of the top moments of the safari was when the sun was going down and we found a beautiful pride of lionesses with cubs. The light was no longer harsh and provided a romantic setting for the experience, and I was able to get beautiful shots.

After seeing the big five, my next goal was to see a predator kill an animal. I know it sounds wrong, but in Kenya it’s nature being natural. I saw lions kill a zebra and feed their cubs and pride. There was a drought in the area, almost no plants in sight, and part of this was due to the large amounts of herbivores. The lions are a key part of the ecological balance.

I was happy to discover that Kenya wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. The mornings and nights were cold and the afternoons were hot. If you plan a trip to Kenya and wonder what clothing to bring, please read my blog “What to Wear in October in Kenya” to get some ideas.

I thought there would be areas where I could walk around in the safari but I was sad to discover that we could never leave the vehicle, our guide said it was dangerous and against rules. I questioned why I couldn’t exit the jeep in an area that seemed open and safe. A moment after I had this thought and as we were driving with no view of animals, a ditch showed up on the side of the road, and inside the ditch was a very large hyena hiding. I thought to myself, “Oh! That’s why.” And realized I probably shouldn’t be strolling around freely here because one bite from that hyena could kill me, and that wasn’t the largest predator out there. We had to return to our lodges before dark in case we came across poachers.

I brought my Canon 70D camera to capture as many animals possible. I wished that my lens was longer and promised myself that the next time I go on a safari in Africa, I would have an extremely long lens and take National Geographic level photos! Instead, I always had binoculars around my neck to get a better view of the animals in action. I can’t imagine anyone going on a safari without binoculars, it would be so frustrating!

The Maasai

While I was in Maasai Mara, I visited a village where families of Maasai lived. As I saw women walking around hunched over carrying pounds of firewood on their backs, I asked the son of the Chief Maasai what the responsibilities of the women were. He told me that they do chores such as cooking and milking, building and maintaining the houses as well as fetching water, collecting firewood, raising the children, milking the cattle and cooking for the family. So then I asked, what the men do and he said they protect the village and deal with trade. At the end of the experience through the village, we were brought to an open area in the back of the houses where the women were sitting on blankets with a spread of Maasai art and accessories for sale.
Not only were the women in charge of everything in the village, they were also in charge of creating products and selling them to create income.
I felt sad to see the men joking, laughing and sitting around while the women were hard at work. There was no balance in genders in this type of community.
As I spoke to some of the Maasai women, I learned of how strong, independent and inspiring they really were with the situation they were born in. I was extremely impressed by them.

Nearing the end of the trip, all of my personal problems and stress seemed to dissipate. Nothing seemed important anymore and I felt extremely relaxed and happy. I never thought that all I needed to have a clear head was to go, see, and experience what real struggle is in the real world – The circle of life.

Julia Quisumbing

Advertisements

Make Your Own Salad Stop

If I come home from a hard workout and don’t have food in my fridge, I go down to Salad Stop for a quick meal that’s healthy and delicious. Salad stop has got to be one of my favorite go-to places. They have all types of salads and salad-wraps to choose from.

SALAD STOP MENU

My favorite wraps on the menu are Cobb Salad Wrap with added corn and Greek Salad wrap with added grilled chicken. But the best part of it all is that you can make-your-own. I recently made my own recipe and it’s now my new favorite so I thought I should share it!

 

SALAD-WRAP RECIPE

  • Cajun Shrimp
  • Lettuce
  • Alfalfa
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Jalapeño
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Ranch Dressing

 

I’ve been trying to eat less red meat and chicken lately so I wanted to try a Shrimp wrap. This one worked perfectly! The mix of flavors tasted Tex-Mex, which I love! Jalapeño is a great option for those spicy food lovers out there but if you aren’t good with spicy you can always try it without.

 

I always get my healthy Salad Stop Wrap with a Just Coco which is 100% Coconut Juice; naturally extracted, bottled fresh, no sugar added, no preservatives. It’s literally “Just Coco”!

Honestly, living in the Philippines is weird in one way – we have coconut (Buko) everywhere yet many places don’t serve it because it goes bad quickly. There were a few stands that I liked that would open the coconut in front of you and pour it into a huge bottle but those stands are nowhere near where I live (BGC). This is the freshest and tastiest bottled coconut juice I have ever had.

 

The salad-wrap plus the coconut juice was a total of around P520.

 

I’m very happy with my new creation and would love to hear what other people think. So if ever you are in a Salad Stop, try this order out and let me know!

 

Julia Q.

Kenya | What to Wear in October

I went to Kenya on September 28 to October 6, 2017 with my family. A few days before my flight I fumbled through my closet because I had no idea what clothes to bring! I checked the weather and it said it would be cold at night and hot during the day with a chance of light rain. I decided to bring a little of everything. During my time in Kenya, I learned that the whole country is elevated 1700 meters above sea-level so it’s a lot colder than I thought. The coolness was a nice surprise because when you think about Kenya, or Africa in general, you imagine it’s dry and hot. From my experience in Kenya, I’d suggest bringing:

clothes africa

 

Below are photos of my family and I in our daily outfits.

 

MORNING

Morning game drives were after breakfast from 7am until 11:30am. The morning game drives were cold, so I wore a top with a September Jacket (Medium/light thickness), pants, closed shoes, and accessories.

 

 

img_3439-1fullsizerender-1

 

AFTERNOON

It gets warmer at noon so when you head back to your lodge for lunch, you can switch to a top with the option of a light jacket or button down shirt as a cover up. During lunch to near dinner you can also wear shorts.

 

View this post on Instagram

I visited a Maasai Village where a group of Maasai people lived. As I saw women walking around hunched over carrying pounds of firewood on their backs, I asked the son of the Chief Maasai what the responsibilities of the women were. He told me that they do chores such as cooking and milking, building and maintaining the houses as well as fetching water, collecting firewood, raising the children, milking the cattle and cooking for the family. So then I asked, what the men do and he said they protect the village and deal with trade. At the end of the experience through the village, we were brought to an open area in the back of the houses where the women were sitting on blankets with a spread of Maasai art and accessories for sale. Not only were the women in charge of everything in the village, they were also in charge of creating products and selling them to create income. I felt sad to see the men joking, laughing and sitting around while the women were hard at work. There was no balance in genders in this type of community. As I spoke to some of the Maasai women, I learned of how strong, independent and inspiring they really were with the situation they were born in. I was extremely impressed by them. #maasaivillage #kenya #maasaimara #africa #experience #learn #travel #world #life #women #strength

A post shared by Entrepreneur | Freediver (@juliaquis) on

 

COMFORT

During game drives you will spend all of your time in the car as it is illegal to exit the vehicle near animals, plus you never know when a hyena is hiding in a ditch nearby. Choose to be comfortable as you will be sitting majority of the time.

Don’t forget to bring resort-wear for when you are lounging around your Lodge by the pool or for dinner.

 

 

TIP

I’d suggest not bringing any jewelry/accessories to Kenya. Instead, you could support the local Maasai people by buying their accessories and wearing their beautiful hand-crafted creations!

 

 

I absolutely enjoyed my Kenya Safari Vacation and prefer this over seeing any city. I came home so relaxed and full of energy as I saw life in action. It’s heart filling to see animals truly wild and free. I can finally cross this off of my bucket list!

Also keep an eye out for my Kenya Safari Vlog! I’ll post it on my youtube channel JuliaQuis soon! Thank you for reading!

 

Julia Quisumbing

 

Surf’n Siargao

My Dad is a travel nut, meaning he can’t stay sane being in one country or place for 1 month. I trust his taste in travel locations since he’s probably seen about 85% of the world already. He kept raving about Siargao in the Philippines these past few months and I kept wondering why. He said it’s a great surf spot but I thought about how we have La Union and Baler, which are only a 4-hour drive from Manila. I got curious so I told him to plan a family trip to Siargao. He agreed only because there are great birds to photograph there.

To see my travel vlog about Siargao on YouTube please click here.

IMG_1079.JPG

We went to Siargao for the weekend on August 24-27, 2017. We stayed at Siargao Bleu Resort. The resort was a great stay and had an amazing pool surrounded by villas. The best part about the pool was the tanning beds in the center. If I would design a pool, it would be just like this, with an extremely deep end of course.

We got there in the morning and were welcomed with coconut water out of the shell freshly opened by the staff. This was by far my favorite welcome drink of all, no added sugar, tropical, and fresh. Most of the trip we spent by the pool just relaxing, drinking wine, and swimming. My boyfriend Gui had a blast taking photos of me (sarcasm). Most boyfriends should be used to that by now with the Instagram era but mine seems to have a hard time adapting. I find it fun to torture him anyways.

IMG_1932.JPG

By the pool, I strutted my Mimosa (@mi.mosa.co) black minimalist One-Piece Swimwear with an Under Armour cap.

IMG_1651.JPG

IMG_1619.JPG

IMG_1399 2.JPG

IMG_2588 2.JPG

The next day, I put on my @meninastyleph_ reversible shibori bikini and went to Cloud 9 to go surfing. I did not have a long-sleeve safe guard top, so I had to borrow a pink one from my Stepmother. That means my total upper body was sun-guarded but my bottom wasn’t. At Cloud 9, we were greeted with very energetic surf instructors. I really liked my instructor because he answered all of my questions very well, was patient and made it fun. Cloud 9 has a very interesting long wooden bridge that goes far out into the ocean. The end of the bridge has a 3-floor viewing dock also made out of wood. You walk to the end, go down the stairs into the water and paddle out to the waves.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 5.08.42 PM.png

This was my second time to surf; I was able to stand, ride the wave to the end, and was even able to turn with the wave! Once that happened all I thought was, “I want to surf more!” And finally understood why people love it. It’s relaxing, there’s nothing else to think about or to feel except for catching the next one. There were these paddle Boarders with oars that were standing, rowing, and riding waves, which I thought was funny in a cool way. There was even this Australian girl who looked like she was around 7 months pregnant that the locals would call out to as “Mama” and “Watermelon”, and she would respond by smiling humorously. Apparently she had been living there for the past few months. I don’t know how good it is to surf when you’re pregnant but she seemed to know what she was doing. Healthy mind and healthy body means healthy baby. That baby is going to have a good life with a mom like that.

I will definitely be returning to Cloud 9 in the future since the vibe was amazing. You can watch my Siargao Surf and travel video on my youtube channel JuliaQuis.

I don’t know what’s happening lately but the sun definitely feels like it’s getting stronger. During the 2 hours of surfing, I got extremely sunburnt that it actually hurt for a week. That type of pain has never happened to me before. I was a wakeboarder before and I grew up in the Philippines on the beach so it was a shock. My upper body was safe since I was wearing a rash guard but the back of my legs were completely red and sunburnt. My surf-instructor told me not to put any sunblock on my legs since it would make it slippery. I shouldn’t have listened because I was laying on my stomach paddling majority of the time and that was for about 2 hours straight. I had to spend the rest of my Siargao trip in the shade, icing and putting aloe vera. 2 weeks later the back of my legs were peeling! I had to wear pants or jeans everywhere, it was so bad. I’ve learned my lesson with surfing; cover your entire body with 3 layers of sunblock or more! My face was a little sunburnt but I used my trusty face moisturizer, which saved me yet again.

IMG_1175.JPG

The second best part of Siargao was the food! There are a lot of foreigners that have bought land, and opened restaurants and resorts. Most restaurants are a fusion of Filipino-European-American. The quality of the dishes tried was a great surprise on this little island in the Philippines. If you want to know where I ate please read, “Where to eat in Siargao”.

I had a great time in Siargao and plan to go back soon, with a lot of sunblock of course!

Julia Quisumbing

Siargao | Where to Eat

Kalinaw Resort Restaurant

This restaurant was lovely and used a Filipino-bamboo style interior design. It was a 3-minute walk away from our resort, Siargao Bleu. You’re right in front of the ocean with a fresh breeze. They had delicious truffle pasta and I really enjoyed the beef Carpaccio. The ambiance was nice and calm there.

IMG_1091.JPG

Kawayan Siargao Resort Restaurant  

Kawayan Restaurant was one of my favorites. It’s a French-American restaurant with delicious dishes that are plated nicely. On the road it looked like a little café but as we entered it was only a bakery and we were told the restaurant was next door. I was very happy when I discovered how good the food was there. I was so hungry from surfing for 2 hours and was feeling the sunburn starting, so I asked for a cool Mango Rum Shake; Mango shake with a shot of Rum. This is my go-to tropical drink when I’m at the beach. The Philippines grows the best mangos in the world, so if you’d like to try Mango Rum Shake anywhere, it has to be here! The restaurant also had a billiards table to play with while waiting for your meal. We ordered Ceviche with sliced mango as an appetizer and it was amazing. It had that tangy, zesty flavor of being marinated in vinegar and herbs, which went so well with the sweetness of the ripe yellow mango. I’ve always loved Ceviche and our Filipino version, “Kinilaw” but I’ve never had it that way. I liked it so much I thought about using that idea for our place in Batangas, Eagle Point Resort.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.00.37 PM.png

I ordered Prawns marinated in orange and whisky with roasted tomatoes. They were very well cooked and there was a burst of flavor. I really loved this dish and wish I could have prawns like that every day.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 7.58.01 PM.png

Overall, I was very happy with Kawayan Siargao Resort Restaurant. We even went back to the bakery after lunch to try a few desserts. They were delicious too!

Kermit

 This place was a tricycle ride through some small streets then a little walk through a small track. We decided to go to Kermit because my stepsister Nikki heard that there was good pizza there. The setting is mostly outside with rays of lights rushing through the trees. The pizza was thin crust and you could choose the toppings, and was pretty tasty. I enjoyed it especially because they had this crazy hot sauce on the table and I used it as a dipping sauce. Little did I know that it was going to destroy my mouth minutes after, and I eat fast! I probably chugged 3 glasses of water after that. I enjoyed the pizza a lot though, great place!

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 8.20.36 PM.png

HARANA

Harana was right next to our resort as well, about a 2-minute walk. It had a very cool beach and bungalow vibe happening. It was nice to listen to live music there with local bands. I only had one drink and was very happy with it; the local wine there, which wasn’t really wine but it-tasted good!

Bravo

What a great place to get Spanish tapas and paella. I went here for my last dinner and the ambiance was great. It was full of an international and fun crowd. We got a table on the sand with short relaxing chairs. Everything we ordered was delicious. I was devouring the patatas bravas (Spanish style French fries) because I had been drinking all day and well, carbs taste the best when your stomach is full of wine. I really enjoyed this spot and would have wanted to spend the night drinking cocktails by the bar.

Emerald Restaurant

We had dinner at Emerald Restaurant, it was quiet, cute and simple. The food was shockingly good as well. I started to realize that most of the restaurants in Siargao had great chefs. I chose the Truffle and chicken pasta. I do love truffle pasta so I will be sharing my favorite spots to get truffle pasta in Manila soon. The pasta was cooked perfectly and flavor was very fulfilling.

IMG_1088.JPG

Shaka

A great spot to grab some healthy bowls for breakfast! I got some crazy mixed bowl with fruit, chia seeds and bunch of other stuff. Everything there is pretty tasty. Just don’t get a smoothie and a bowl, get one or the other as it’s actually pretty filling!

IMG_1160.JPGIMG_1164.JPG

I was so incredibly happy about my food experience in Siargao and cannot wait to return!

Watch my Siargao video below!

Julia Quisumbing