manila, manila…

After 2 years, I visited Manila once again. Going to Manila has always been stressful for me. I do not consider it as pure relaxing vacation, but a duty to maintain ties with family and friends. For this trip, the main purpose was to attend Cookie’s wedding. My schedule worked with her wedding date and it was just the right length of time to spend it in Manila. I wished I have a weekend though so I could have traveled somewhere else. It will be something I will consider in my next trip to the PH.

Some notable things that happened in this trip

  • Cookie’s wedding was beautiful! I wish the weather was less humid during the day though!
  • it was sheer luck that Trisha is also in Manila during my trip so I was able to spend some time with her and the other Dabuzz folks.
  • I was supposed to head to Baguio with the parents, but they begged off form it. It was probably for the best because my aunt passed away that Sunday. If we pushed thru with the trip, we would have headed back earlier.
  • I stayed in an AirBnB in Ortigas and a hotel in Makati during some of the days where I know I will be spending with friends and I might get home late. The two places I found were pretty good and I will most likely repeat the same thing when I visit in the future.
  • I probably gained a bit of weight and lost some muscle because of my diet and the lack of any gym workout.

NYC and Authenticity

I had an awesome time in New York. I was able to explore NYC before and after my training in Crotonville. I still cannot see my self living there because of all the chaos and expensiveness but it’s a city that has everything indeed. I still have a lot of things to do so I will definitely return here some day.

My training was so great. Even if it’s a leadership training, I learned a lot. Usually, I feel like these kinds of trainings are good for exposure and networking. However, this training really made me face things that I didn’t want to hear and learned some things new. If I can sum it up…

– my decisions are shaped by my personal values.

– my self-perception can be different with how others perceive me.

– realizing my values, strengths, emotional triggers can help me be more successful as a leader.

I feel so energized and ready to get back to work. There are concrete things that I need to face and work on and I am happy I was given the opportunity to face them and ultimate address them.

New york

I'm off to New York for my first GE Crotonville training. I decided to go on a Saturday so I can have an extra day in NYC. Irene and I will meet up on Friday after my training for more NYC exploration.

I'm very excited about this training because I know it's going to be an experience. How I will play this out is the unknown. As a natural introvert, dealing with people drains the hell out of me. This is magnified with new people because my brain goes overdrive to make sure there's no dead air, and I don't look like a loser.

Anyway, that's tomorrow until Friday. Today, I will meet up with Eric and get my Shake Shack fix. That's already a big win.


When I left Montreal today, I was ready to go home to Cincinnati. It's not because I do not like Montreal because it's such a beautiful city. But, I never felt at home here. Maybe because I knew it was a solo vacation and I felt like a stranger in a sea of French-speaking Québécois.

Food & Sights

The trip was mostly driven by food. I would look for places to eat and hope that there's some touristy stuff do there. I think the only place that I really went out of the way was the Olympic Park where there's really nothing much to do but see a sliver of history. Two of the places were the gems of this food trip. The first was Le Robin Square, and the other was L'Avenue. Thank you Yelp for the recommendations! I also tried poutine in Poutineville but my low expectations held true. Potato dishes are not my thing. On my birthday, I almost panicked because my planned Italian place Amarone was closed for business. Boo Yelp! I tried 2 other places but they were either closed or too busy. Good thing I found one near my hostel in the Gay Village and I had linguine for dinner.

What I like about Montreal is that there are just really a few places to go to so the amount of time I spent in the city is just right. On Thursday, I walked a bit in downtown and Notre Dame until I settled at Le Robin Square. On Friday, I walked to L'Avenue for a brunch lunch. Then, I walked to Mount Royal and to the Museum of Fine Arts. I walked around downtown until I reached UQAM area for my pasta search but ended up deeper in the Gay Village. On Saturday, I had my poutine and then rode the metro to the Olympic Park area and then returned to Old Montreal. I just went out Friday and Saturday night in the Village. Friday was to check out Sky Dance Club and Saturday was just walking around St. Catherine with all the street performers! It was such a treat.


It's my first time to stay at a hostel. Alexandrie was one of the more economical options I had in the Village. I procrastinated booking my place so I ended up here. It's not that terrible because I booked a private room where I share a bathroom. The good news is that the folks in the other room left Friday morning, and the next person in the room arrived Saturday night. So I had the place pretty much myself. My days were pretty packed so I did not really mingle much with the other hostel travelers. Would I book another stay in a hostel? If I can find a slightly more expensive hotel option, I'd go for the hotel. I'd pay extra for the comfort and security and do a proper vacation. But, it's not something I will say no to if I'm with group of friends. I think it's more fun with other people.

Solo Traveling

I have always had mixed feelings about traveling solo. I love the flexibility and being able to just control my schedule on my own, but it can also be very lonely because you cannot share the experience, or talk to someone. I'm introversion is such a pain at times because I just put on my earphones and walk around the city. I was averaging 22K steps a day so I did a ton of walking. Maybe next time, I will travel with someone.

Mental note: ask around who wants to travel with when planning vacations.


I'm currently up in the air heading to Montreal via Toronto. It's my first time to Canada so I am pretty excited about this trip. I have not thoroughly planned my trip as well so I will take it one day at a time. I'll probably just have to figure out to get to my hostel there. Yup, first time to stay in a hostel too! Let's see how that goes.

This is officially my birthday trip. I'm 34 by tomorrow. Gosh, that sounds old. I had a nice dinner at Longhorn with Dave yesterday where we had some small discussion on getting older. I have mixed feelings about aging. A part of me feels inadequate. I was using my parents as my reference. When my parents were this age, they already had me and they had their own businesses. I look at that as a measure of achievement of sorts. On the flip side, I also feel blessed. I've done so much by this age that others have not experienced– even my parents. I know that comparing myself to life experiences and successes of other people is not a good basis, but subconsciously it just happens. I need to learn more that each and everyone of us define our definition of success in life and that should not be based on others.

I will probably put up more stuff during this long weekend. Hopefully, it's not all heavy stuff but light ones too! Let's start that… I just had Tim Horton for the first time! I like their coffee! Very smooth. It's also my first time in Toronto!

Feeling inutile

Do you get that feeling that if you disappear from the world, there will be no impact? I’ve been feeling really useless at work, and what I have been contributing to the world. The days of trying to making a dent in human history is over. I do not aspire to change the world anymore. That belonged to the idealistic Ryan during my college days. Now, I just want to amount to something even if it’s small. I want to be able to have some weight to someone/something that can be recognized, and have the semblance that I matter.

Foodie Break

Yesterday, I went to Indianapolis for the day just to escape from Cincy life and force myself to do something new / different. The objective was to try two food places – Milktooth and Kizuki.

I learned of Milktooth through a Conde Nast list of the best restaurants in the world. So being a foodie and the place being so near, I wanted to try it. My first attempt was a fail a year ago because the line was just too crazy. The article also just came out then so that might be a big factor. This time, I went around 12:30pm (so the brunch crowd should have left). Food was good and very creative. I tried the Glazed Bacon, Bread Waffle, Rasberry & Hazelnut Croissant and their Tres Leches Iced Latte. They were very good, but nothing that really made me say “wow” or “this is the best thing I’ve eaten”. So it’s not an Annabel’s, Bella Luna or Mama’s experience for me.

Kizuki is a recommendation of Brian during his usual travels to the area. I’ve always been searching for great ramen but it’s just a pain to find one in Cincinnati. The one near Dayton is probably one of the better ones here. I tried their Traditional Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen and it was very tasty and flavorful… maybe too flavorful. I will have to try the Low Sodium version next time I visit but it’s definitely ramen that I’ll want to try again.