Dear family and friends,
I must admit, I was kind of The Grinch this Christmas weekend as I am not in a non-Christmas country but anyway, I am out of the grinch cave and thought about dropping you a line.
I am writing to you today to say THANK YOU for a very fruitful 2016. From South America, to back home in Asia and now in the Middle East — your love and support have been very genuine, I don’t even know how I can ever repay you! Thank you for keeping up in the crazy in me and for always reminding me that I don’t have to justify my “poor” decisions in life. The idea that you are always happy for me in whatever I want to do in life keeps me going!
Here are the best moments we shared in 2016.
January – the impulsive move to Hong Kong (with Southeast Asian country visits in between)
I come back here after 10 years and I knew I would want to write a story set in Hong Kong. The drama, the charm and the beauty, the chaos, the breathless energy, the rude but welcoming people. The word for #HongKong is FREE. #TrishaVxHongKong #Asia #AccessLayover #travelwithaccess #danielwellington AccessBites 📷 by @angelydub
It wasn’t the sex and drugs rock-n-roll-kind-of-thing. It was being re-acquainted to a city you thought you already knew. That kind of rock ‘n roll. For the first week I was interacting with expats, I understood why they wanted to live here: there is a feeling of belongingness that the city is offering you for free. It is embracing you with all its heart. You can be whoever you want to be in Hong Kong and nobody will give a fck. Hong Kong transcends cultural and language borders — this is the most beautiful discovery I was able to feel and experience.
February – more spiritual encounters in Siem Reap
New article: Please stop judging your friends who use #Tinder when traveling. (Link on profile) •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Note: Some names mentioned in this article were changed to respect their privacy. Exhibit B was one of the results of swiping right. A very intelligent, young and decent boy from New Zealand called Cooper. Not his real name, obviously. He was traveling for business — Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap were the highlights. As random and funny Juan Carlos is, with his very thick Peruvian English accent, he asked: “How did you guys know each other?” I think by sitting down with us, he was expecting that Cooper was someone I met while traveling. “Tinder.” I said. Juan Carlos and Cooper looked at each other and the golden days of awkward flashed before their eyes. #grammasters3 #gltinstagram
Traveling Southeast Asia always makes me feel like a child again. Though my formative years wasn’t here, Cambodia gave me the feeling of being young again. I honestly don’t remember much but one thing is for sure: all of it were nights I won’t remember with the people I will never forget. I definitely recommend Cambodia for first time travelers!
March – opening summer in the Philippines x rekindling home in Boracay
You are very sick of it, I know. But I never will. Boracay is one of the best days of my life and believe me when I say that I will always come back. My visits here were always in a span of 2 -5 weeks minimum. I have family and friends here — this is sort of one of my homes! Believe me when I say I will always come back here. It’s a pact. It’s a default setting.
April – The ultimate destination wedding: Guimaras
First time to experience an extremely beautiful and off-beat island in the Philippines. In the beginning of 2015, I made a pact to myself: if a person is important to me, I will always be a part of the biggest events of their life. One of my good friends got married and all of our friends were coming so I had to go. I realised that this life has the tendency to pull away from relationships and it’s never good. I should invest and put effort in making the people I love feel important. So there I was, riding on top of jeepneys for hours. Guimaras is truly an amazing island!
May – A little bit of Cebu that made me unplug in Siargao for 5 weeks
You said you can’t do what you want because of financial reasons. That you don’t have enough savings to travel. That you have to bury your face in the cubicle for longer hours just to have extra. But I am willing to bet you are reading this from a Macbook, a savvy iPhone6s Plus or the new waterproof Samsung S7. You’re probably on your way (in an expensive Uber ride) to some club because it’s a Friday night. Nope, I’m not promoting these brands. I actually don’t have a phone or a camera. I won’t lie about having a Lenovo phablet tho. It’s okay. You have the right to spend your hard earned cash on gadgets or going out. You are also entitled to staying in a very stable 9-5 job and I will never ask you to quit. Remember I used to believe in that? Now the feeling is gone. You can still have an office job and be happy. Stable is not a bad thing. What I want to ask you is to never lose your passion and enthusiasm. Do not go through your daily life just to get by. Do it right and do it with all your heart. Getting by will eat you alive! Whatever it is that you do, passion is essential to happiness. No matter how big or small, as long as it feels right, it will fit. It’s about the strong feeling towards a certain thing you want to pursue; not if the choice is wrong or right. You don’t believe me? Think about all the people you admire who are good at what they do. What is the common denominator they have? PASSION. Don’t just live vicariously through them. Join the club. <3 Smile. Soon enough, you will find something you will be passionate about and it will make you happy for the rest of your life. That’s a promise. May the force be with you. Photo: @meowrang #Siargao #Philippines #TrishaVxPhilippines #psimintheph
So I went to Cebu for a media trip with Philippine Airlines but then I ditched my flight to Manila because I was really close to Siargao. For years, I’ve been dreaming of visiting and that was one of the “if-not-now-then-when” moments of my life. After the media trip in Cebu, I informed the organisers that I will not be going back with them to Manila and blindly booked a ticket to Siargao. Surprisingly, a very good family friend of ours lives there (I didn’t have any idea, I swear!) and the Universe unfolded its wonders before me. I was meant to go to Siargao. I was meant to realise this was an island that I can possibly choose to live in.
June – back in Hong Kong
I came back with the hopes of finding the feeling of living there long term. But then again, I didn’t feel it. I knew I had to be somewhere but my love for Hong Kong never faded. I don’t know how to explain this — I love HK but I didn’t want to settle there at the time. I am actually very lucky to have the ability of putting my shit together. Some of the people I met who are way older than me are very confused. Sad. Lonely. Unhappy. Even if I knew Hong Kong will not be a momentary bliss, at one point, I believe it could be. It might not be now but Hong Kong and I will be together in the future. Later is okay, right? It doesn’t have to be now. So I am telling you this, with so much truth in my heart, I will be back. You should be ready for when it happens.
July – left Asia to travel long-term again. First stop: Indonesia
Once again, my Indonesian family invited me to come back and do a 12-day trip with the Ministry of Tourism. This has always been my favourite press trip of the year because I get to unplug and enjoy a country as stunning as Indonesia! I hope to come back again in July 2017!
August – Finally landing the Middle East: Dubai
First stop of the great Middle Eastern journey: Dubai. It’s been 5 years since I last visited and I was really happy to see a different Dubai in a different perspective!September – Joining the Vibe Israel trip
September – Joining the #VibeIsrael trip
Together with five (5) other online influencers, I was fortunate enough to be selected to be part of the 2016 #VibeIsrael trip!
September – A quickie to Jordan
Since Jordan is just a neighbour, I decided to cross and have a little exploration… And man, was I surprised! Jordan is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited!
October to December – The super maximum awesome impulsive move to Tel Aviv
You want me to be honest? Life is tough here. I keep writing about my experiences in Israel like it’s all rainbows and unicorns but let me tell you that IT’S NOT EASY TO BE IN ISRAEL. I think that goes for anywhere else in the world. I didn’t say this is the best place in the world to live in. In fact, there are no places in the world that can be labeled best. It’s up to you, wherever you choose to live in this world. No job opportunities? Create it. You want a better traffic system? Create it. You want parking to be easy? Create it. You have an idea in mind? Put it to life and create it. Last week was too overwhelming for me. It was still hard to believe that I am making a life here, creating relationships, having neighbours you can share meals with, going to a bar where everyone addresses you with the first name, etc. These are all new to me. I never had this in a long time. I always come and go. My line of work is not also recognised here which made everything more difficult. I was in shock. But I asked myself: “am I willing to do what I need to do in order for this to work? Do I still have the energy and heart to love and accept everything that is happening around me? Above all, am I still happy here?” The answer was YES. All the time, YES. 100% YES. It really is true. Life is what YOU make of it. #TelAviv #TrishaVxIsrael #Israel #VibeIsrael Photo 📸: @giladmashiah
Then, out of the blue, something crazy happened. I moved to Tel Aviv. You all know the story! Three outrageous months and finally finding a place where I truly belong. This is it! I swear it’s Tel Aviv!
December – winter wonderland in Georgia
After three months, my visa in Israel expired so I had go out. If I were to be asked to choose between having a residency visa in Israel and doing visa-run, I will always choose visa-run any day because I’m sure I will never leave Tel Aviv if I have the legal papers. This is good. A visa-run is good because it will force me to travel and refresh. I can’t be stuck in one place forever though I could be.
Today, I am in Georgia, freezing to death but very happy with the new culture and environment I am getting to know. In the next three months, I will be traveling to Armenia, Sri Lanka and India, and I am really really excited!
In 2017, I promise to build more useful and inspirational content for you. I am actually going to do a visual content level up! Big thanks to all of you as you always continue to inspire me to be great in what I do.
2017: WHAT I HOPE & PRAY FOR ALL OF US. For you, most especially.
I pray this will be the year you stop telling yourself that you are not good enough — for that job, that boy, that life, or that family. You should believe you are worthy of anything! Of everything!
I hope you’ll embrace your imperfections and ignore the screaming insecurities in your head. There is no greater thing than self-love. I hope this will be the year that you say and believe: “there is nothing you can say to make me feel bad about myself.”
I pray you won’t be scared to shine in your own light. Do the things that really make you happy, unleash the artist in you — paint, sew, write, draw, all those little things — they matter.
I pray for 2017 to be your year. To finally do what you want: leave everything behind and travel, move to a new city, start a new life with new people around you, kiss a girl, kiss a boy, do something you’ve never done before, take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain, get high and dry, go on a holiday with the love of your life, eat without worrying about getting fat, walk proudly in the direction of your dreams, fail, get up, try again!
I hope 2017 will be the year you will be able to raise your middle finger to those people who always point out your flaws; to those people who always think they know better and treat you like sht.
Above all, I pray that 2017 will be the year you will never forget to appreciate and thank the people who have always been there for you no matter what.
I am so happy to be kicking 2017 knowing you are with me and I can’t wait to celebrate more successes with you in the new year.
Sending you warm holiday wishes from Tbilisi,
who is traveling, writing, living and loving