Last Updated on November 8, 2017 by

Last week, we wrote about the new direction we’re going to take with this blog. From now on, we aim to be more honest and personal here, and we are going to start by sharing a little bit more about ourselves. Most of you who have followed us for a while now may know all about our travels and adventures; but unless you’ve traveled with us or met us in person, there are probably a lot of things you don’t know about us.

As a first step, we thought we’d share things about us that we have never told you. Let’s start with Nellie.


1. I was an engineer before becoming a travel writer

I spent four years studying for a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering before deciding that it wasn’t what I wanted to do in life. I left to travel the world right after graduation and eventually found my way into travel writing (I’ll write more about it shortly). Thank goodness! I cannot imagine a life without traveling.

2. I have a terrible cat phobia

Ever since I was a kid, I have never been able to be near a cat without screaming and running for shelter. This comes as a surprise to a lot of people, specially since I have no problems with great white sharks and wild rhinos. Cat phobias are not very common so I get mocked by many fellow travelers and people I meet on the road. I remember one time in Egypt when I asked a waiter to shush the cats away from my table. “You scared of the cats? Why?” he said as he grabbed one of them and put it right in front of my face. Needless to say, I had to run for my life.

3. I have a big scar on my hand because of a car accident 

When I was only 13 years old, my father drove right into a truck by accident. I was sitting on the side of the collision and my left hand got trapped within the door’s armrest and it snapped away some skin. I had to do skin drafting and now there’s an ugly scar on the back of my hand. Boo…

4. Even when I’m not traveling, I spend my time obsessing about travel

This won’t come to a surprise to anyone who has read this blog before. I’m a travel addict. I eat, drink, breathe, dream travel every minute of the day.

5. Before I started traveling I was a city girl

I grew up in Singapore, one of the most developed cities in Asia. Before traveling, I had only seen cows and horses in the zoo. My first visit to Spain to meet up with Alberto came as a huge cultural shock to me. It was the first time I went on a hike and the first time I was really in the countryside. But it made me realize how accustomed I was to my usual comforts – and I fell in love with the idea of getting out of my comfort zone.

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6. I used to suck at geography

When I first met Alberto (that was ten years ago!), he asked me to point out Spain in a map and I placed my finger somewhere near South Africa. A lot of things have changed – I’ve acquired quite a lot of traveling under my belt and consider myself a geography expert.

7. I have some freaky sleeping habits

Sometimes I unconsciously lift my arms and scratch them with my fingernails while I’m sleeping. It creeps everyone who has ever shared a room with me. I also grind my teeth quite often while I’m asleep.

8. I have visited all seven continents

After my trip to Antarctica, I fulfilled my dream of visiting all seven continents. Alberto is still one continent behind since he didn’t get to go on the trip. Among the seven continents, my favorite is still Africa. We’ve spent time volunteering in Tanzania, honeymooning in Madagascar, and overlanding in Southern Africa – and all of these trips were special. Perhaps it’s the raw genuity of the people, perhaps it’s the unspoiled land, but there’s something about Africa that draws me again and again.

9. It turns out I am allergic to horses

One activity that I really enjoy while traveling is horseback riding. I have done it a few times in the past and I never had a problem. Only a couple of years ago I started getting allergic reactions every time I went for a ride. The last one in Costa Brava was quite serious and my face swelled like a balloon.

10. I am fluent in three languages 

As a Singaporean Chinese, I have two mother tongues, English and Mandarin Chinese. After living in Spain for four years, I have become proficient in Spanish, I even passed the intermediate DELE exam (the Spanish version of TOEFL). I also learnt French for a few years in university and I took a few Arabic classes in Madrid (granted I can’t really speak much of either but I know the basics).


Valentine’s Special


1. I used to be a computer game developer

I have always been a computer geek and I have spent countless hours playing games like Monkey Island, the Day of the Tentacle or Space Quest. After graduation, I spent one year developing computer games for a small London based company called AxleBox

2. I have a weird accent

Due to the years of living and traveling with Nellie, I have developed a strange Spanish/Singaporean/international accent that can be quite amusing to listen to. Every time we meet Singaporeans, they always look at me with a weird face. I bet they are probably thinking, “is he making fun of me?”.

3. I did not learn how to ride a bicycle until I was 12

For some reason cycling didn’t come natural to me. I guess at some point it started being embarrassing to even try to learn. Now I can drive all sorts of vehicles and usually have a blast doing so.

4. I am a martial arts expert

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but on the last couple of years of university I was into kickboxing and became quite good at it. I have lost some flexibility but I can still kick some serious ass.

5. I’m really bad at remembering names

I usually need to meet a person at least three times before I can associate him/her with a name. This irritating brain anomaly has been the source of countless embarrassing situations. It is something I really need to improve upon, especially since I hate it when people call me the wrong name.

6. I have some strange habits

For example, when climbing stairs I have to start with the left foot and end with the right, even if that means jumping the last few steps. Don’t ask me why, I just have to.

7. My favorite meal is my grandmother’s migas

Every time I think of my grandmother’s home-cooked migas (pan-fried breadcrumbs with a lot of meaty toppings), I start drooling. I know she prepared them with her heart and soul. This is why, after tasting the food from every corner of the world, her migas are still at the top of my list. If I have to choose a second favorite, it would be TGI Friday’s Jack Daniel baby back ribs.

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8. I am a very light sleeper

Even the softest sound can wake me up. I also like to sleep with the pillow over my head so that the morning light doesn’t disturb me. Needless to say I have a hard time trying to sleep in buses, airplanes, etc. Nellie on the other hand sleeps like a stone. This means I usually spend the first few minutes of the day pulling her out of bed.

9. I am the Howard Wolowitz of my family

Both of my parents are university professors with PhDs and are at the top of their fields. My only sister is an accomplished dentist and she is also about to publish her thesis. One could say I am the black sheep of the family. I do have a Masters degree but that doesn’t stop Howard from being the target of mockery.

10. I am terrible at social media (yes, I said it!)

I almost never update my Facebook status and hardly log in to my Twitter account (my 150 followers can attest that). I guess I’m the kind of person who prefers to limit his social interactions to email, phone calls and actually meeting in person. In this regard, it is a blessing to be married to a social media pro like Nellie.