Travel Memorabilia

Hello friends! It has been more than a month the last time I have made an entry here. I just came from yet another pretty tiresome, but definitely fun-filled series of travels. I will try to post some of these recent adventures sometime soon. In the meantime, here is a short sharing of what I love to buy and bring home during travel.

Traveling is a very rewarding experience. After a trip, one goes home with innumerable mementos — from incomparable life lessons to new found friends, to of course uncountable photographs, and memories to cherish a lifetime.

Aside from these, I have also developed a habit of bringing home a physical memorabilia that comes in different forms. Before, I would make sure I get to buy at least a keychain or a fridge magnet as a souvenir from my trip.

Today, i have gone beyond these usual stuff. Whenever I go on a travel, I alot a certain amount of my money to buy some of the things I personally collect. Some of these include miniature building decors/displays like an Eiffel Tower from France, a Burf Khalifa and Burj Al Arab from my Dubai travel or a Milad Tower I bought in Iran from a recent trip and many more.


Also, I make sure that I have a paper bill and some coins to spare for my currency collection. Some of my friends actually like these as my pasalubong to them since some of them also have this kind of colkection. I happen to collect also Starbucks tumblers and diecast planes. I am even starting to collect some books and dolls unique to a certain place I have visited. And lastly, I also bring home some paintings which I plan to use as wall decors when my dream of putting up my own cafe comes into fruition.

I know these are just material mementos and the memories that go with the travel are still far more important. Nonetheless, it feels good to see tangible reminders as to how awesome one particular trip was.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Captivating Auckland City


From among the cities I have been the past 12 months, I have left a piece of myself in the City of Sails. The moment I have set foot in Auckland, I knew right there and then that I would love the city the way I have always loved my ex-girlfriend. I tried my best to think through the reasons why I have been enamored by Auckland but I almost always end up lost for the right words.

Because of this dilemma, I just opted to let you see this beyond alluring city through my lens. Here are some of my uncountable Auckland City photographs.





Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village (New Zealand)

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.                     – Mahatma Gandhi

When I am being asked about which 3 things I enjoyed the most during my New Zealand trip, I usually enumerate the following: my Hobbiton trip, the sunset, and ganet experience at Muriwai Beach, and the visit at Whakarewarewa, a Living Maori Village. (And yes, the challenge when you have to say the name of this village).


The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand who are said to have originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia and arrived in New Zealand by way of canoe voyages. They come in different tribes, and in the town of Rotorua, a tribe called Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao have welcomed local and foreign visitors into their village and has openly shared their way of life, including their land’s geothermal reserves.

Whakarewarewa, the Living Māori Village, allows every visitors a chance to experience a genuine Māori Village wherein the people live on a daily basis as they make use of the natural geothermal resources to bathe, cook, and even provide warmth to their homes.

The village features the renowned Pohutu geyser, several boiling mud-pools, steam vents, and even bubbling pools. During the village tour, I also saw how the residents prepare Hangi meals in using in-ground steam boxes and cook corn in the bubbling water of their geothermal hot pools.


Hāngī food is said to be traditionally wrapped in flax leaves however, the modern Hāngī is likely to substitute the leaves with cloth, aluminum foil, and or even wire baskets. The baskets are placed on hot stones at the bottom of the hole. The food is then covered with a wet cloth and a mound of ground that traps the heat from the stones around the food. It is left for about three to four hours, depending on the food (whether fish or chicken) and quantity being cooked. I tried their hangi pie and it was surprisingly good.


Our group was very fortunate to have a highly enthusiastic and informative Maori guide during the village tour. It was a great avenue to understand the history of the area, how the people manage to live in a challenging environment like Whakarewarewa Valley, and of course get to know more about the different historical landmarks within the village. This includes an active Marae (a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds that belongs to a particular iwi or tribe), a World War II Memorial Archway, two historical churches, and tapu (sacred) burial grounds.


The most exciting part of this visit was the cultural show wherein performances happen at 1:15 am and 2:00 pm. It was such a delight watch and listen as the Kapa Haka group of performers sing and dance some beautiful Maori song and dances. It was such an entertaining show.


Fast Facts about Whakarewarewa Village:

  • Opening hours Daily (except for Christmas Day) 8.30am to 5 pm.
  • Guided tours on the hour from 9.00am with the last tour at 4.00pm.
  • Maori Cultural Performance times are 11.15am and 2 pm.
  • It is best to book online.

Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village

Phone:    +64 7 349 3463


Physical Address: 17 Tryon Street, Whakarewarewa Village, Rotorua, New Zealand

Postal Address: PO Box 6148, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, New Zealand

You can check their website for booking and for more information.


Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJUAN.


Hobbiton (Matamata, New Zealand)

I’m going on an adventure!” – once uttered by Bilbo Baggins to a farmer who asked about his rush while running through Hobbiton.


Despite not being a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” movies, I am definitely a person who loves to go for almost any sort of adventure. So, when a window of opportunity to see the famed Hobbiton movie set came about, I didn’t have second thoughts (despite the quite pricey fee).

Hobbiton is actually a 1250 acre active farm (Alexander Farm in Matamata, New Zealand. Despite being more known as the home set of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, it also houses roughly 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle from which mutton, wool, and beef are their primary exports.


The way to Hobbiton was beyond picturesque… verdant, rolling hills with seemingly limitless numbers of cows, and sheep. Every corner is really postcard-worthy. Upon reaching the set, visitors are transported to a bus going to The Shire. Again, the view along the way is beautiful!

Upon arrival at the entrance, you will already be greeted with hobbit holes. As you go on with your walking tour, one will get to see more hobbit holes that come in various scales according to where they were seen on camera. According to our guide, the smaller ones were in far-away shots while the larger ones were used for the close-ups. FYI: Most of the hobbit holes are just frontages with more or less 4 feet in size.


It is worthy to listen to your guide for some very interesting stories. He told us that during filming, those hanged washings were changed every day so that it always look fresh. He also said that moss we see around the farm isn’t actually real, they are instead made of paper. (It looks real to me, though). One of the most interesting things shared was the creation of the tree atop Bilbo’s hobbit hole. Had not we were informed, I would never think it is a fake one! I must say that the touches for the film are extremely detailed.

The highlight of the tour is definitely seeing Bag End, where I had a few (not so good) shots. (By the way, another interesting fact shared was about the sunset scene – Bilbo and Gandalf smoking together in the movie — wherein it was actually taken here during the sunrise.

The tour ends at the Green Dragon Inn (this is where Bilbo Baggins met Thorin Oakenshield prior to their adventure) where each visitor was given a mug of beer of his/her choice. I tried the ginger beer and it was surprisingly good.

It was an almost 2-hour sauntering through the emerald set. It may not be the cheap kind of visit, but it is definitely a one for the books kind of experience. By the way, it is much cheaper if you just book a ticket online than going for a package tour. This is exactly what I did (with a little help from a good friend of mine). So there…


Hobbiton Movie Set
•    Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
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