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Your manang's thoughts & sojourns spewed into words.

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Chasing Doves and Monkeys at Batu Caves, Malaysia

3/19/2017
batu caves selangor malaysia

Serene.
Mystical.
Gigantic.

That's how I pictured Batu Caves in my head when we're on our way to Selangor, Malaysia.

It was the second day of our Southeast Asia backpacking trip and we've decided to have a quick stroll at Batu caves before heading to Myanmar.

Batu Caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines located in the north of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It features a large statue of Lord Murugan beside a steep stair and several Hindu temples. Every year, thousands of devotees visit this sacred site to celebrate Thaipusam, a Hindu festival.

Batu Caves can be reached through a 30-min train ride from KL Central. But for convenience, we've just decided to book an uber ride from our accommodation (Bintang Warisan Hotel) straight to Batu caves. And right after finishing a playlist of around 7-8 songs, we've finally arrived. It was a just quick ride. And a very relaxed one.


THE STATUE OF LORD MURUGAN


Batu Caves is best known for the giant golden statue of Lord Murugan that stands radiantly beside the 272-step concrete stairs of the cave. It is the tallest Hindu god statue in Malaysia and the second tallest Hindu god statue in the world.

A visual treat of this majestic statue welcomed us upon arrival. What we didn't know is that there's another welcoming committee waiting for us on the site.

batu caves lord murugan malaysia
batu caves malaysia


THE DOVES & MONKEYS OF BATU CAVES, MALAYSIA


Surprisingly, we were welcomed by flocks of doves and were ushered by monkeys on our way up the 272-step staircase of Batu Caves, Malaysia.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia


There are lots of doves flying around the site and they were actually nice to look at. You can easily bypass them by going directly to the spot where the large statue stands. What's impossible to ignore are the monkeys who seem to have been waiting for some action and snacks.

Batu caves is swarmed with monkeys. They are basically everywhere, on the foot of the cave, on the stairs, swinging on rails and playfully chasing each other around. They come up to people for food but thankfully they do not attack. They are only triggered to snatch if they see you carrying food in your hands. If they see none, then they'd leave you alone. So it's best to not feed those little ones.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia

Despite the chaotic vibe brought by the playful and quite troublesome monkeys, the journey to the cave was actually not that tough. There's a great view waiting on the top. Inside the cave, we've found several praying temples and another stairway up. There were some Indian pilgrims performing rituals, it was a beautiful act. We saw how religiously devoted they are to their faith.

Truly, Batu Caves is a majestic place of worship where nature and religion meet, a place definitely worth a trip.

batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia
batu caves malaysia

Myanmar at a Glance

2/17/2017
Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar

Golden.
Hospitable.
Unassumingly beautiful.

These words barely describe our travel experience in Myanmar. One needs to physically go there to actually make sense of the place. We have allotted 5 days to explore its two cities, Yangon and Bagan, and it was definitely nothing short of awesome. From its temples, accommodation, food, clothing, to meeting its people, it was a totally different experience.


PEOPLE OF MYANMAR


Myanmar is golden. Not only because of its multitude golden pagodas but mainly because of its people. They are kind. We have not encountered even a single rude Burmese. They are not fluent in English but you can feel that they try their best to communicate and they are exceptionally helpful.

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar


DRESSING UP IN MYANMAR 


The majority of people, even men, wear Longyis in Myanmar. Longyi is a traditional piece of cloth that gets wrapped around the waist, like a sarong or malong. People visiting temples in Myanmar are required to cover up their knees so one needs to wear a longyi. I actually enjoyed wearing one! Pants and skirts are also allowed as long as they're below the knee.

Longyi Myanmar
Exploring Bagan Myanmar
Longyi Myanmar



EXPLORING TEMPLES IN BAGAN, MYANMAR


Bagan is home to thousands of temples in Myanmar. It has a remarkable array of pagodas in all forms and sizes.

Exploring Bagan can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many temples. There is so much to see but basically not enough time. But one doesn't need to see all. A visit to few interesting temples will get you satisfied.

Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Bagan temples Myanmar
Exploring Bagan temples in Myanmar
Exploring Bagan temples in Myanmar

There are lots of ways to explore Bagan. You can explore by car, horse cart, bicycle, e-bike or by foot. Riding an e-bike is the best way to go, IF AND ONLY IF you know how to use it properly. If not then don't take the risk. We saw some western tourists on e-bikes and they had difficulties navigating the road. We also saw someone drive out of control and crashed some parked e-bikes outside a temple, good thing no one got hurt. It's best to use an e-bike if you really know how to drive but if not, then don't risk it and just find another way to explore the area.

We requested Sky View to arranged our Bagan tour via car and didn't regret it. Our driver cum guide was informative and took us to the most interesting temples and places in Bagan. It was tiring but we had so much fun.

TIP: Bring plenty of sunscreen and water as it can get hot and dusty in Bagan. Also, wear slippers or sandals (easier to take on & off) because footwear is not allowed inside the temples of Bagan.


SUNRISE & SUNSET IN BAGAN


The most spectacular moments in Bagan happen when the sun rises and sets. Make sure you don't miss that.

I can't recommend a particular viewing point as I honestly don't remember the names of the temples we've gone to (they were so many). Even the view from our hotel rooftop was so good. What more if you're atop those beautiful pagodas?

Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar
Bagan Sunrise, Myanmar
Bagan Sunset, Myanmar


ACCOMMODATION IN MYANMAR 


We stayed in Winner Inn Yangon for a night & three wonderful nights in Sky View Hotel Bagan. These are budget accommodations but the amenities and services are great. Myanmar accommodations generally have lower prices than the hotels in PH and other Southeast Asian countries so staying in Myanmar won't break the bank.

One thing I didn't expect to see in Myanmar is its wide carpet flooring. I haven't seen carpets used so abundantly until I've set foot in Myanmar. Myanmar seems to be fond of carpet flooring. From the floors of Yangon International Airport to the floors of our room accommodations in Myanmar, they are all carpeted!

Aside from that, the reception in Myanmar is also great. They really provide impeccable service to their guests. From arranging custom tours, getting a ride, and to suggesting good dining places, they are all very keen on making sure that we have a comfortable stay.

Yangon International Airport


GETTING TO MYANMAR


There are no direct flights from the Philippines to Myanmar. One has to go to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore and take another flight to get to Myanmar.

We availed AirAsia's ASEAN PASS and booked a flight to Myanmar via Kuala Lumpur. We also used it to book for flights to Bangkok & Singapore. A cheaper option for backpacking Southeast Asia.

BUS FROM YANGON TO BAGAN


Traveling by bus is the most common way to get around Myanmar, especially if your destination is Bagan. Travel time from Yangon to Bagan is approximately 8 hours.

Tickets are available at bus stations or arranged by your hotel reception, but it is recommended to book early for the major routes such as Yangon to Bagan, Mandalay or Inle Lake. I did an advance booking with JJ Express for a night trip to Bagan via their FB page. They were accommodating enough and reserved us 2 tickets from Yangon to Bagan. The travel from Yangon to Bagan was quite an adventure. Blankets, bottled water, and pastries were provided and a mini tv was available in each seat. It was a comfortable night journey.

jj express bus yangon to bagan
jj express bus yangon to bagan
yangon to bagan bus



MYANMAR VISA

Entry to Myanmar needs a travel visa. But there is an exemption for passports holders from the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Brunei. We can enter Myanmar without a visa and stay for up to 14 days. For Singaporeans, they can stay up to 30 days.


AFTERTHOUGHTS


Myanmar is a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern cities. It is unhurried. It exudes an innocent and unpolluted vibe. It is still developing and it isn't perfect. But it's refreshing to see a country with a culture so rich but remains so grounded at the same time. Witnessing a glimpse of Myanmar is surely an experience I will treasure for a lifetime.

Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan temples, Myanmar

10 Red Flags to Watch Out for when Applying for Jobs Online

11/16/2016

Earn dollars.
Work from home.
Spend more time with family.

Sounds inviting, right?

Inspired to live a more lucrative lifestyle, you have finally decided to join the work from home bandwagon. Welcome aboard! What a great time to dive into the freelancing world. It's a growing market and there are lots of opportunities available for tech-skilled people online.

BUT, don't put your hopes up too high. I must warn you that freelancing is NOT GOING TO BE EASY and job opportunities in the freelance marketplace are not always what they seem to be. For every legitimate job posted online, there are also jobs that are fake! Scammers are getting more creative nowadays. And they prey on newbie freelancers with little to no knowledge about the freelance industry.

Having been in the freelancing industry through Upwork for over 5 years, spotting dubious clients has become a no-brainer to me. I have experienced working with a variety of clients. And I've learned how to be selective and be wary of projects that are just not worth the hassle and waste of time.

If you're a newbie freelancer, you may want to be careful when applying for jobs online. I am sharing with you the most common RED FLAGS to watch out for when looking for jobs online, specifically on Upwork.

10 Red Flags to Watch Out for when Applying for Jobs Online

1. PHISHING guise as SHORTENED URLS/LINKS


You have a job invitation and you're excited! The client is asking you to click an obscured link and download something. DO NOT DO IT.

Be wary of job posts that contain obscured/shortened URLs and ask you to download a fishy software or document. This may redirect you to a login page that looks like a legit (Upwork, Gmail, Paypal etc) account but is actually NOT. It's probably just a copy of a login screen that aims to steal your username & password. So be careful on clicking obscure links like these:

http://ow.ly/(randomletters&numbers)
http://x.co/(randomletters&numbers)

Legit clients post actual URLs and not the covered ones like the above links.

So don't click unknown and suspicious links. And don't enter your login credentials on unfamiliar sites.


2. PAYMENT FOR SOMETHING (REGISTRATION FEE/SOFTWARE TO USE)


A company offers you a job but you need to pay for a software or registration fee to get started. This DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Whatever reasons they may tell you, you should never ever send money to a prospective employer.

Legitimate companies don’t ask for money. If you’re asked to pay for something, beware.


3. EASY CAPTCHA WORK


SKIP it. It's not real work. It's actually used to automate SPAMMING.


4. FREE SAMPLES


Don't do samples unless paid.


5. TO MANY PEOPLE BEING INTERVIEWED BUT ZERO HIRE


Don't trust employers who send out too many invites, accept a lot of interviewees but hire no one.

They are just probably marketing something or just splits a project up into smaller ones and gives it as test projects to all applicants, thus gets the output for free.

So, check the number of people being interviewed against the number of people hired. If it doesn't add up then just move on to the next one.

10 Red Flags to Watch Out for when Applying for Jobs Online


6. PAYMENT METHOD NOT VERIFIED


Clients with an unverified payment method are either first-time Upwork users or scammers. You can give first-time users a chance but be very careful. Never start working until the client's payment method is settled.

Personally, I don't apply to jobs with no verified payment method. Freelancing is already a gamble, don't make it more difficult by working with clients who have no capacity to pay. Not worth the hassle.


7. VAGUE JOB DESCRIPTION


Good clients can clearly state what they want, what qualification they require, their payment policy and the project duration upfront. If a client just beats around the bush and doesn't clearly state the above things, don't bother applying.


8. LARGE QUALIFICATIONS, DEMANDING JOB but RIDICULOUSLY TINY BUDGET


These are job postings from clients with unrealistic expectations that pay PEANUTS. They will give you too many responsibilities, require too many skills but will pay you for a few bucks only. Not worth it.

You should know your worth.


9. SEND IDs


Don't send IDs or other personal documents. These can be used to empty your account and steal your identity.

Only verify your Upwork profile directly through the platform. Never send out personal IDs/documents directly to a prospective employer.


10. SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE


Job listings that require no skills, give easy work and promise to pay a ridiculously big sum of money. No business in their right mind would actually provide that. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. STAY AWAY.


KEY TAKEAWAY


Before diving into something, READ & RESEARCH first. Before applying for a job post online, read the job description in its entirety and check the client's history. You will easily notice if something is not right.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCT and use your COMMON SENSE. If you feel that something is off then SKIP and move on to the next one. It will save you a lot of time and from a lot of stress.

Remember, you have skills to offer. The competition may seem fierce but it is possible to make money from freelancing, you just need to learn how freelancing works and filter the bad apples. Be vigilant and think twice when red flags show up. Freelancing is rewarding but can be scary if you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Good luck and be careful out there!

5 Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork

11/04/2016
We live in a rapidly changing world. Whether at home or work, technology has revolutionized a lot of things, including work. Believe it or not, work is now gradually shifting its landscape from corporate to gig-economy (time & location-independent type of jobs). Thanks to the internet, most work can now be done remotely. So if you're someone with relevant skills, someone extremely creative to not be boxed in a 9-5 job, someone who wants more flexibility, and someone who's not afraid to maneuver his career in his own hands, then you may want to take advantage of this rising industry - the freelance industry. And one great way to kick-off your career in the freelance industry is to penetrate one of the biggest freelance platforms in the world, UPWORK.

UPWORK.com is the biggest online platform where business owners and skilled freelance contractors connect and collaborate. But acing quality projects on UPWORK is a pain in the ass. Particularly if you're a beginner. With over a thousand of registered freelancers on the site, expect your applications to get rejected multiple times. And this is frustrating and disheartening most of the time. I know the feeling because years ago, I've been through that phase as well. Competition for projects on Upwork can be tough and you can just easily back down if you're not determined enough. But do not give up. If you could just invest time to MASTER how the PLATFORM WORKS, winning projects on Upwork shouldn't be that rough.

Armed with over 5 years of freelance experience, I have developed effective ways to winning contracts and retaining repeat clients online. These are SIMPLE and STRAIGHTFORWARD strategies that if done right, can work wonders in landing your future Upwork projects. You never know, you may be the next freelancer to receive project offers from Upwork enterprise clients.

Upwork Tips Effective Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork

1. FIRST THINGS FIRST, COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE


No client is impressed with an incomplete or mysterious profile. Clients are searching for trustworthy freelancers to work with, so complete your profile and make it look LEGIT. Make sure that it is 100% complete and authentic. Make it certain that the information you enter is true. Publish your true identity and be proud. How can a client trust you if you don't even have a decent photo? Upload your high-quality profile photo. Write a SIMPLE and PRECISE JOB TITLE, keep it to less than 10 words and make sure that it highlights your SKILLS. Take Upwork tests and aim to be in the TOP 10% of people who passed. Also, add a portfolio that is related to your niche. Improve your profile and ensure that it showcases your skills and expertise in the best way possible.

An impressive profile is important to landing jobs on Upwork. Having a 100% complete and well-written profile is critical as it represents YOU, your SKILLS, and what you can OFFER to prospective clients.

2. APPLY TO RECENTLY POSTED JOBS


Refresh your job feed and apply to the newest job postings. When clients post jobs on Upwork, they will most likely see and notice the first few applicants. So try to be one of the first few people to apply. Jobs that have been posted for hours or days will most likely have 100+ applicants in it and the chance of getting your proposal read is weak.

You can still apply for jobs that have been posted for a while but check if it has a few number of applicants so your chance of getting seen is still high.





3. GRAB ATTENTION BY STARTING YOUR PROPOSAL WITH THE CLIENT'S NAME


You only have a few moments to stand out from a pool of applicants so maximize it. 

Include the client’s name in your cover letter and you will have the client wondering how in the world had you known his name.

This attests that you paid attention to READ their JOB DESCRIPTION and researched even further. Also, addressing them by their name makes the proposal more PERSONAL.

So how do you get the client’s name?

Check the client’s Upwork history and read the reviews written about them. Other freelancers may have addressed them by their first name or company name in the feedback section. Use that. Sometimes the client's account will be used by multiple hiring managers. Still use a name that you can find. It will CATCH the reader’s ATTENTION.

I have gotten a lot of responses to my proposals due to this method. It's effective, use it.

Here's a sample of a client's work history and feedback which can be found at the bottom part of a job post.

5 Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork


4. KEEP YOUR COVER LETTERS SHORT & TAILORED


Keep your proposals SHORT, on point and conversational.

Read and take advantage of detailed job descriptions and customize your cover letter accordingly. You can prepare a template cover letter and use it to save time, but make sure to TAILOR it to suit the client's job posting. Most clients will give you clear information on what they're looking for so let them know that you have the required SKILLS and AVAILABILITY to do the job. Echo the client's needs and let them know how you can help.

Also, look for filters. Some clients set specific request to be fulfilled during the application to help them FILTER "copy pasted" applications. If you’re asked to include a keyword or answer specific questions in your cover letter, make sure to include it, else your application will be ignored.

Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork


5. DO GREAT WORK & TURN 1-TIME CLIENTS INTO REPEAT CLIENTS


For me, getting the job is just the start. The final goal is to deliver quality results and offer a good working experience so they can partner with you again.

Once you land a job, make sure that you don't just work, but DELIVER A GREAT WORKING EXPERIENCE. Communicate, ask questions and adhere to the set deadlines. Be pro-active and responsive. This way, you can turn your clients into repeat customers who will keep coming back because you are so DAMN GREAT TO WORK WITH.

Once you've established yourself as someone who knows what he's doing, dependable, competent and easy to work with, clients will want to work with you more. They will likewise recommend you to others. Thus, CUTS the JOB HUNTING TIME TO HALF. You don't need to search for jobs over and over again.

upwork top rated freelancer profile
just celebrated another year top rated :)

Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork
upwork profile review
Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork
Proven Ways to Winning Jobs on Upwork
Winning jobs on Upwork, one of the biggest freelance platforms in the world, can be a STRUGGLE. But DON'T LOSE HOPE. Keep UPDATING YOUR SKILLS, keep IMPROVING YOUR PROFILE and keep applying to jobs. Try these strategies, mix it with your own methodologies and find what works for you. It is not going to be easy, but eventually, you will get better at landing jobs on Upwork.

Turning Passion into Profitable Blogging

10/30/2016
5 years ago, blogging was just a hobby, an online journal for my musings and travel escapades. But a lot has changed in the past few years. From having a personal blog way back in 2011, I am now managing two promotional websites. This provided me extra income alongside my full time freelance work online. It's been an exciting and challenging journey but it's all worth it. Blogging and freelancing have gifted me what I needed most, a somewhat balanced lifestyle. I get to work from home, spend more time with family and share my creative skills online.

BUT CAN ONE REALLY EARN FROM BLOGGING? 


It’s POSSIBLE to make money from blogging, but it’s important to have realistic expectations. It's NOT EASY and it doesn’t happen overnight. Blogging is NOT a get-rich-quick kind of work. Making a decent income from blogging takes a lot of TIME, PASSION, and HARDWORK. Truth is, I haven't earned anything from my own blog until after approximately 3 years.

When I started blogging, I didn't intend to make money from it. Blogging was just an outlet for my ideas. My sole focus was on my freelance projects on Upwork (formerly oDesk). I was already happy juggling 4-5 contracts on oDesk. But life is unpredictable most of the time. One thing I learned from freelancing is to never be complacent. There is no such thing as STABILITY online, in your regular office job, or in LIFE. Clients, companies come and go. Contracts end, and sometimes, clients fail to pay. So never depend on a single source of income. I once experienced drought in freelancing and it's definitely not pretty. From having long term contracts that ended abruptly to receiving 30+ declined job proposals online, it was a very trying phase for me. But I didn't stop. I used my downtime to learn new skills. These include Graphic Design, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Google Adsense/Adwords, a bit of Web Development, and Stocks Trading. I've used my time to upgrade my skills. I may not have come out as an expert but I've learned fundamental skills that helped me upped my game in the freelancing and blogging world. I continued applying online, created new websites and started monetizing them. And before I knew it, I was already back on track. New contracts have started and I've generated profitable websites on the side.

So where am I heading you at?

To let you know that it is very important to have an ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF INCOME. And how does one actually do that? Easy, INVEST IN YOURSELF. Update your skills and learn new ones. Read, research and take skill-building courses. Don't just wait for companies to pick you, create your own platform and put yourself out there. There are so many ways to create an alternative source of income. Fortunately, BLOGGING worked for me.

blogging make money online

Here's my approximate web income (from Google Adsense alone) since I've started to really work on monetizing my websites.



Today, I am sharing my 4-STEP GUIDE TO BUILDING A PROFITABLE BLOG. I am not a marketing guru but I do KNOW how to CREATE, LAUNCH, DRIVE TRAFFIC, and MONETIZE A BLOG. If you're seriously planning to start a blog, read on.

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BUILDING A PROFITABLE BLOG


Click the photo and link below to read more about each step.

STEP 1: FIND YOUR BLOG NICHE


PASSION & MARKET: 2 Important Things to Consider in Finding Your Blog Niche

STEP 2: CHOOSE A BLOGGING PLATFORM


BLOGGER vs WORDPRESS: Choosing the Best Blogging Platform

STEP 3: MARKET & GENERATE TRAFFIC 



STEP 4: MONETIZE YOUR BLOG


5 BEST WAYS TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG

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