Hello there, thanks for being curious to find out more about me.
To receive an official blog profile from me, kindly leave a comment below with your email or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re trying to find my name or a picture of me, I’m sorry to disappoint you as I prefer to remain “somewhat” anonymous (or at least I feel so). It has been 8 years since I first started travel blogging and I am still not comfortable with showing my face on my blog. My face does show up occasionally in group photos but most of the time, it’s just my lovely travel friends that are willing to pose for me. My traveling bears (Duffy, Paddington & recent addition of Captain Rila) and my hand (sometimes with fancy manicure art) will appear more frequently.
I started blogging since I was 13 (back in the Diaryland/Blogspot days) but the entries back then were more about random musings of school life and song lyrics. Travel blogging only started after I returned from my USA Work & Travel Program back in 2010. It was a 3 months adventure (my longest overseas stint to date) and there were many lovely memories to reminisce about.
As time goes by, I discovered that I really enjoy travel planning. Years ago, I frequent the library to read travel guide books as these books were too expensive to be bought. I do it all the time, whether I had plans to travel or not. Today, everything can be found online and even the maps in these guide books may be outdated. Now, google controls more than half of my online life..
So.. People often ask me what is the motivation behind all my writing; and my answer to them is.. If people like me didn’t exist, will you be able to find the information you need for your own Free & Easy trip? It is kind of like a pay-it-forward mentality. I blog useful information to thank the community which fed me with the useful information which I needed while planning for my own trip. It’s such a simple yet important reason but it is also the only way that keeps this information bank growing strong!
In case you’re wondering.. nope blogging does not pay well at all. In fact, for the first two years of converting my free site to a .com, the amount I ‘earn’ from Google Ads is not even enough to pay my yearly domain and hosting fees. It took me a while to grow my fanbase and after a few viral articles here and there, I am on track to break-even this August 2017, which is my third year of dotcom.
Another sad truth I learned along the way is that it is easy to be a blogger (well anyone can do it for free) but it is not easy to be a full-time blogger. I really respect the many individuals that are able to make their passion their career and (for now) the wanderlust dream will still be a dream for me.
I still do not have the courage to quit my full-time job and backpack around the world. I need a full-time job to finance my travel desires and having the freedom of choice to not opt for the cheapest option all the time. At the end of the day, the travel that I enjoy should be a kind of relaxation/healing and I don’t think that roughing out on a shoestring budget for every single trip is enjoyable. When I was younger, I did aim to scrimp and save every single cent by camping overnight at airports, staying in hostels or eating kebabs every meal but now that I am older with a somewhat stable income, I try to strike the balance between budget and comfortable experience. I guess growing older made me derive more satisfaction from staying in a $200/night ryokan as compared to staying in a $30/night hostel. Maybe one day, these thoughts might reverse again. Who knows?
For profiling purposes, I’ve decided to add some stats:
- Flyhoneystars.wordpress.com (free hosting & domain) started in December 2010
- Website was “upgraded” from www.flyhoneystars.wordpress.com to www.flyhoneystars.com (paid hosting & domain) in August 2014
- Latest Alexa ranking (16 Mar 2017): 826,386 (Global); 9,680 (Singapore)
- Latest Similarweb ranking (16 Mar 2017): 693,300 (Global); 11,916 (Singapore)
- Singapore Best Travel Blog (2016) by Homeaway (Expedia)
- Top 10 Finalist for Best Travel Blog – Singapore Blog Awards 2015
- Third Prize for Master Planner Challenge 2014 by Korea Tourism Organization
- Consolation Prize for Master Planner Challenge 2013 by Korea Tourism Organization
- Participant (Most Active SNS user in Asia) for Asian on Air Program 2012 by Korean Air & Korea Tourism Organization
Sponsored Vacations (Invitation & Contests)
- 2017 Media Trip to Kumamoto & Himeji by Kumamoto/Himeji City City
- 2016 Media Trip to Bangkok by Tourism Authority of Thailand
- 2016 Media Invite for Shipsomnia (Costa Victoria)
- 2014 Bloggers Media FAM trip to Kota Kinabalu by Sutera Harbour & Sabah Tourism Board
- 2012 Asia on Air Program by Korean Air & Korea Tourism Organization
- Ninja Wifi in Japan (You will receive 20% Discount by using my referral link)
- Kkday – Tickets/Experience booking (Headquarters in Taiwan)
- Klook – Online Travel Experience Booking Website (Headquarters in Hong Kong)
- Trazy – Your Travel Shop for Asia (Headquarters in Seoul)
Non-Travel related Invitations
- Nov 16 – Artemis Grill Food Tasting
Top 5 Articles base on views (March 2017)
- [Filming Location] Goblin: The Lonely and Great God
- [Filming Location] Legend of the Blue Sea
- [Filming Location] Moonlight Drawn by Clouds
- Fuji Hakone Odakyu Pass – booking, itinerary and experience
- Goblin Filming Location in Quebec – The Ultimate Guide
Random Fun Facts
Q: What is flyhoneystars?
A: When I was young, I was very skeptical of everything and I was very cautious of not using my real name in any of my game usernames, email addresses etc. I like stars, still do, and most of my older usernames have the word “star” or “moon” in it. The username ‘honeystars’ came to my head randomly when I was 15. And if you’re wondering.. Yes, the name was inspired after my childhood breakfast cereal and the word ‘honeymoon’. So for people who don’t know about the cereal brand, I’ll tell them that it was a ‘nick’ inspired from ‘honeymoon’. The ‘fly’ was added on to showcase the ‘travel’ element in my blog.
Q: What is my favourite country (apart from my home country)?
A: To be honest, I don’t really have one single favourite country as I am quite a fickle minded person and it might be a different answer each time.
For now, I really like Japan (been there 3 times in 15 months) and I would love to visit it again in the near future, as long as the yen remains affordable. Japan has a unique set of traditional values and popular culture. Each time I visit, there’s something new for me to explore and learn about. Often, I spend a long time thinking about how the dynamics work in such a country of diverse interest and varying productivity depending on the industry. The onsen culture, the perception of host/hostess clubs, the suicide forest, the many unspoken rules and the diverse variety of “popular music” (Baby Metal still puzzles me), there’s something new each time. More importantly, I love Japanese food. From the OTORO in Endo Sushi to the Atika Beef that I’ve yet to try, everything tastes awesome.
3 to 4 years ago, this country would have been South Korea as I had many awesome memories and friends in that country. 5 to 6 years ago, it would have been Taiwan as I was a pretty big fan of their dramas back then. New Zealand looks and feels pretty awesome but I can’t declare it as a favourite, not until I’m there to assess it myself 😉
Q: What was my most embarrassing moment while I was overseas?
A: Alright there’s this one classic story which will probably remain as my most embarrassing overseas moment. It was during August 2010, when we were in Taiwan for a stopover after our 3 month long Work & Travel USA Program. On our last night in Taiwan, I googled the taxi rate from Xi Men Ding to Taoyuan Airport and kept that exact amount of Taiwan Dollars. After which, we pooled all our remaining money and I only had enough for bread from the convenience store for dinner. It was late at night and we went around looking for places which accepted overseas credit card but there wasn’t any. There was no moneychanger in sight and I wasn’t willing to do an overseas ATM cash withdrawal ($20 surcharge) since it was our last day. I couldn’t even buy the little twin stars notebook I set my eyes on because the shop didn’t accept credit card. (Looking back on my Fb, I had status update which says “600NT for 30 hours”) Anyway, the next day, I went out to the main road to flag for a taxi early in the morning. After agreeing on the price (which I googled online the day before), the taxi drove in to the hotel pick up area. The driver came out of the taxi and saw our luggage (3 of us) and said he had to charge 100NT more as he didn’t know that there was gonna be that many luggage. At that point in time, we had absolutely no more taiwan dollars left as we spend the remaining for dinner at the convenience store the night before. I told the driver in a pitiful manner that we had no more cash on hand and we were running late for our flight as we took longer than expected to get ready.. The driver was going to reject us and drive away but I pleaded him that we can pay him in SGD and USD for the balance. He kind of scoffed at us but later on obligingly fitted the luggage into the car. In the car (approximately 1 hour ride to airport), he asked if we were relocating and was in disbelief when we told him it was merely 3 months of travel in USA.. Anyway, at the end of the ride, he did not accept our foreign currency as top up. I tried so hard to keep up the conversation with him in the car.. I guess that helped!
Q: What is something that you wish you could do?
A: When I was younger (perhaps 16 or younger), I will imagine that my grown up/retirement life can be spend managing a farmland overseas in Australia or New Zealand. I hope that it can be a strawberry plantation because it will be small and easy to manage but now that I’ve gotten older, the thought of living in the countryside with limited connection of internet and civilization is slowing fading into a forgotten dream of mine. I do hope that one day, I will have the courage to.. go on a sabbatical leave/quit my job to spend a few months in such an environment where my only worry for the day would be on my crops and harvest. I do know the options available but.. it’s really easier said than done. One day.
Q: Do you have plans of doing a travel start-up or full-time travel blogger?
A: I used to play with this thought every time I feel unhappy with my day job and feel like quitting on impulse. Over the years, I have thought of many travel related ideas and solutions but most of these end at the “thinking” stage and few months/ some time later, I will see my idea in the market – by someone else. To be honest, I lack the self-discipline to remain focus on any particular idea and before I start doing anything, I have a new idea in my head. www.itravelnblog.com is one of this failed ideas which is left ‘abandoned’.. To be honest, becoming your own boss requires a hell lot of discipline which I have yet to master. Maybe one day my job frustrations will drive me to it. Till then, all these will remain as “what-ifs” in my life. After all, I’m still.. pretty young 😉
If you are looking into creating a travel start-up and you’re in need of a partner, do contact me and we might just be able to work on something together 🙂
Q: Why are you not showing your face at all?
A: I prefer to remain anonymous/unseen as I dread being “recognized” in public when I have no idea who the other party is. My memory is very bad with faces. If someone changes a hairstyle or, grew older or start to put on heavy makeup over the years, there might be a slight chance that I cannot recognize the person anymore. There was 1 single scenario where someone said hi to me in public (Pasir Ris MacDonalds) and walked away. I spent the entire night trying to recall if I knew that person or not as I know my memory is bad but for all you know, perhaps the person recognized me wrongly.. Anyway, to reduce the chances of me feeling awkward and confused in public places, I prefer keeping my personal life and face private as it is definitely not something that I enjoy. I know it sounds kind of weird since I’m trying to be a blogger but it was a long thought consideration that I had. If you look at the more successful bloggers, all, if not most of them feature faces but.. nope that’s not my cup of tea.