Makiko's Fav Quote

The world is for me to explore. There is so much to see in a lifetime.

Makiko's Fav Quote

Great success requires great effort.

Makiko's Fav Quote

Why aim for the peak of a mountain if one can reach the sky?

Makiko's Fav Quote

Excitement is always in the journey we take, not the destination we reach.

Makiko's Fav Quote

Opportunity comes prepared.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Travel Europe | Exploring Southern France

One of my favourite places to visit is southern France, along the Spanish border where the Pyrenees Mountains form dramatic scenery and wine villages buzz with the seasonal activities associated with harvesting the wine. This area is known as the Maury wine region. And it is located just west of Perpignan France. 

The Maury wine trail is a road that goes due west through the town of Maury and the other wine villages. Driving along the Maury wine road, there are tall and enormous trees that were planted during Napoleon's era that create a beautiful landscape as your car takes you further west. On one side of the road is the Maury River that feeds the vineyards and on the other side are the foothills of the dramatic Pyrenees Mountains. The terrain is chalky and wine vineyards zig zag along the edge of the hills. Each village has numerous wine tasting rooms where you can stop and try the wine. 

Every so often along the top of the ridges of the mountains, you see a ghostly castle draped in the fog and clouds that swirl along the landscape. The castles are the remnants from the Cathar era and they were built to protect their citizens; who lived in this rugged terrain, from the religious wars that engulfed Europe during the 12th Century. 

As a single woman traveling alone through this area, I never had any problems driving and visiting the sites on my own. There were never any unwanted stares, glances or creepy remarks or conversations. I enjoyed zipping through the countryside, tasting wine, exploring landmarks and meeting new people. 

However, being an American did put me at a disadvantage when driving. One evening, I was driving back to where I was staying, I stopped at a roadside park to enjoy the view of the countryside. I stepped out of the car so I could walk along the road while looking out over the mountains and turned my back to the car. I immediately became distracted by the sound of gravel being crunched under the weight of the tires. I had left the car in neutral and it was slowly making its way down the hill without a driver. Panic set in as I tried to stop the car by sheer force while hanging onto the door knob and digging in my feet. The car did not even slow down. My next attempt was trying to out run the car and get into a position to where I could open the door and jump inside. For some reason this worked and I slammed on the brakes and for good measure added the parking brakes. 

There I was, half on the road and half on the shoulder. Luckily, it was a remote area and cars were not common. Being parked in the middle of the roadway did not present any immediate danger. I gathered my wits, and drove back to where I was staying the night. And that evening, I had a great story to tell during dinner.

Written by Linda Jenkins
Linda Jenkins is the CEO of A travel website with vacation properties located in Italy, France, Spain and England
Makiko Saba is preparing for solo backpacking adventure across Asia & Europe. Featured posts will share a glimpse of countries that will be covered along the year-long expedition route. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Every Woman Should Travel Solo: Makiko S | Blog | Sedunia Travel

In conjunction with the Asian Women Empowerment 2013 (also known as #aweasia13), the Why Every Woman Should Travel blog series is done by Sedunia Travel. The blog series features amazing women who are living their dream - independent lifestyle. Almost all key speakers of this exciting event have had experience in solo traveling (just like me). I am actually honoured to be 'slotted' in this blog series alongside with these amazing ladies. To read more on my story, check out >> Why Every Woman Should Travel Solo: Makiko S | Blog | Sedunia Travel

One of the biggest advantage of traveling solo is the freedom to meet and start new friendship many other fellow travelers. I have met so many awesome traveler friends along the many solo journeys I have taken. Prior to my decision on going out to solo traveling, I have gone to numerous holidays - as a tourist. During those fine times, I have seen more people come and go as I roam around places, but never I get the chance to actually make friends that I could keep in touch. I supposed going for a fancy holiday provides little room for me to reach out to the people, mainly because the focus had always been rest and relax - rather than mix and interact.

As a traveler, catching up with fellow traveler friends means bumping into each other along the road as well. Although I know few travelers who are based in the same city as mine, often we will end up meeting at a random destination. I must say, with the help with the technology, it is easier to track fellow travelers and allow me to have a 30 minute coffee chat in Hanoi with them.

For the next couple of weeks, I won't have to travel outside the my home city because the awesome women travelers will be flying into Malaysia for #aweasia13. It will be an exciting gathering and I really hope that I could strike more new friendships during that event.

If you all are wondering why am I so excited about AWE Asia '13, check out the stories on the 'sure-come' speakers >> Do I need more reasons than these?

Lois Yasay
Anis Ibrahim
Nila Tanzil

So, if you are free from 8-10 November 2013 and happened to be in Kuala Lumpur, why not join us. Click on the link to the AWE conference (above) to register.

"It's never too late or too old to learn something.." 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

MakikoStory : The day I quit a promising career to travel the world

Growing up in Asia, boys and girls are ‘brain-washed’ with the idea that you need to be one of the very few successful executives (who works in big companies) if you want to travel the world. Naturally, I ended up working with an international company. That job did bring me onboard a plane where I painstakingly spent an almost 24-hour before reaching the other part of the globe.
“I never said that life as a full time travel writer is easy”

The day before I was supposed to depart for my business trip, I was still at work until late afternoon. Since it was a morning flight, I was rest assured that I could have the whole evening packing and perhaps a little rest. Just as I was going through my checklist and stuff, then I heard a loud scream, “Fire!! Fire!!”

I tried my best to keep myself calm although I had all reasons to be panic. I quickly put everything in the luggage and ran outside the house. My house was not on fire, but unfortunately the raging fire engulfed the next-door house. Five hours of packing and resting were gone.

With no sleep and a brutal seven plus sixteen hours of flight, the moment I reached San Francisco airport, I realized how stressful business traveling can be. Despite of the excitement that I was finally in California, I could not help from consoling myself to try and enjoy that business trip.

That one-week meeting in California became a significant turning point for me, both professional- and personal-ly. I sat foot on the Golden Gate Bridge, saw the famous tram and the steep hills of San Francisco, ate lunch at the Pier 39 and sailed passed the notorious Alcatraz (it so happened that we arrived on the weekend after Thanksgiving). On a personal note, all the places and things I experienced during that business trip slightly had influenced the choice I made today. Unfortunately, the real story behind my actual decision to leave a promising career in that company had also begun during that first business trip to California.

In less than two years, my journey at that said company became a burden physically. I began to wonder if there is any logic behind people saying, “Oh, I am so jealous of your work. You get to travel and make so much money at the same time. You must be very happy.” 

Psychologically, I was about to become a victim of my over-ambitious career. I was so obsessed with professional accomplishments that I had also become greed – I was famished of finding ‘happiness’. At about the same time, I came to a realization that it was too much pressure of trying to be someone else – thanks to the surrounding ‘support’.

The California business trip made me go back into writing. Every detail of that journey was jotted down in a journal. I found much satisfaction reading a story behind my travels since then. Writing was no longer my therapy; it (has always and) became been my passion.

“…so much of life ahead, I will find a place with room to grow..”

It took me another two years after California before I finally quit.

Albeit people blaming me for leaving a promising future in the so-called corporate world; I am now definitely happy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Empowering Women in Asia - AWE '13 is here for us!!!

Breaking away from the stereotypes of being an Asian woman is probably the hardest challenge of to date for me. Ever since I decided to drop everything that was so-called important in life, I have been constantly critiqued for that choice. 

I enjoy life in my own way nowadays - still single at this age and without employment commitment to worry much. Whenever I feel like exploring a new place, I would just pack and leave. Every moment I encounter will be an opportunity for me to write and tell. 

It is never easy to choose this kind of lifestyle, though. Over the past couple of years, painstakingly I have been searching for information and knowledge so I could supplement this so-called 'unconventional lifestyle of mine'. When I first stated out as a solo female traveler, I must admit that it was not an easy journey. Although Mr Google is there to provide, I could not find anything sufficient to help with the decision made. Of course, over the years I have met with few other female travelers from Asia who shares the same passion as mine.

So, when I was introduced to AWEAsia, I was happy. In less than a month, AWE '13 will take place in Kuala Lumpur. Not only I would like to be inspired, I wish that the event would be a platform for me to build a better network as well as to find people of same interest - I am looking for someone as a consolation to this challenging path.

If you are asking this question, "How could you choose to become an independent traveler?" then I would recommend you to come and join me (and many other successful women) in the quest to finding the right answer!!!
Are you a freelancer, world traveler, non-profit starter, blogger, creative mind,
and mostly, woman with a passion to make change in your world?

AWE ‘13 is here for you!

If you are seeking for inspiration, here’s your change. With the lead of fourteen inspiring speakers, AWE ’13 will help you to find the missing key in your life to happiness. 

Purpose of AWE conference
AWE ’13 is for empowering Asian women to follow their dreams and thrive in an independent lifestyle. Breaking the mold, and standing out is tougher for Asian women in a male-dominated society. We are restricted by culture, religion, and social convention. Many ambitious women have been going abroad, where it’s easier to follow their passions in an unconventional path. The world is changing, and Asia is slowly participating in the movement. While it is still difficult to choose your own path in Asian society, there are more inspirational Asian women who are impacting our global world. AWE Conference will present models of successful Asian women, and discuss participant’s current life goals through workshops while designing the roads to success. 

Who is this conference for

AWE Conference is designed for Asian women and expatriates in Asia who want to:

✦ Thrive with unconventional life choices
✦ Acquire ideas of diverse ways of success
✦ Belong to a community of inspiring women
✦ Seek more opportunities in life
✦ Get inspired to achieve their dreams
How to join
     Save your seat at this link: Online Registration
Regular Registration: US$42  (Student discount is available)
a.      PayPal
b.     Bank Transfer (email for the bank detail)

What do you get from your ticket

Two Meals and Beverages
Pre-AWE KL Food Tour
Attend All Sessions
AWE Organization Community Pass
Official Party
Access to AWE Members Profile

AWE ’13 Program

What we want to achieve
To spark inspiration, initiate action. Ideas will simply remain ideas if not connected to action. Through the AWE Conference I want to not only spark inspiration from successful cases of Asian female trailblazers, but also initiate action by offering practical information. Support systems for Asian women who want to step aside from the common path do not always exist. Freelancers, world travelers, non-profit/ngo starters, and creatives are struggling with the lack of support. 

Furthermore, women from underprivileged backgrounds are not encouraged often enough to be involved in society’s hierarchical system. Against all these odds, there are women who have followed their passion, and have achieved enormous success. I have invited some of the most inspiring of these women to my conference. They will share their story of success with participants. They will share their stories of struggle and success with participants, providing real-world guidance and inspiration. They will also answer questions and offer practical information to participants so they can begin creating their own unconventional success stories.

Our speakers

Official sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Giveaway Sponsor

EXPO Sponsor

Special thanks to:

 Official Website:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

[TIPS] How to travel and contribute something with Ecoteer?

The year was 2002 and I had turned twenty of age. As soon as the calendar changed from 2001 to 2002, my life was upside down. Every day was a torture. Since then I vowed to myself that I would never be a weak person anymore.

“If you dream hard enough, it will eventually come true!”

As I was trying to get rid of the pain from being a sexual harassment victim, one of my dreams came true. It was the turning point of my life. I was to embark on a journey that will forever change my life. Just before 2002 ends, I had the most memorable journey of life. Travel means so much and little that I knew of how that voyage had redefined my current life.

SSEAYP – the Ship for Southeast Asia-Japan Youth Program was a God sent gift. Not only it gave me the opportunity to set foot overseas, it also brought me special friendships; during that said program. In addition to that, it completely changed the way I see travel and people all together.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of traveling on Nippon Maru, with over 300 youths around Southeast Asia, for me is ‘the realization’ of that giving back is better than receiving. Thus, upon returning from that meaningful journey, I promised myself that I would do my best to always give back. Hence, every time I embark on a travel expedition, my main intention has always been “to reach out and enjoy”.

Since 2002, there have been numerous opportunities for me to contribute while I enjoy traveling. I cannot remember of when and what had I contributed, but it was certainly never money (unfortunately, I am just as average person like most of you). Nonetheless, each occasion that I spend time and energy often is rewarded with much satisfaction and a big smile on my face.

If your idea of traveling equals to luxurious hotel stays, service pampering as well as lazing around doing nothing, then travel with a cause is not your cup of tea. However, for those who wish to expand their travel experience to be something very special for you and (at least one) more person, then you should start considering to travel with a cause.

Like travel agents, do you know that there is an organization that helps travelers at finding opportunities for you to travel and volunteer at the same time?

When I heard about Ecoteer, I was ecstatic. Ecoteer allows you to travel with a cause. Choose any destination in Asia, Africa, Australia or even an exotic location you have in mind, you probably ends up paying so much less for an extended stay in your chosen location. The whole concept of ecoteer responsible travel is matching traveler to a meaningful volunteering project.

“Ecoteer is a unique volunteer opportunities agency - offering a directory of cheap volunteer work opportunities, volunteer jobs abroad and working holidays. Our volunteer opportunities are cheap because we have eliminated the middleman slashing the price to volunteer abroad for gapyears, careerbreaks and working holidays. Ecoteer is changing the volunteer and working holiday industry.”

As someone who loves to mess around with the locals while I explore a new place, a chance to be part of wildlife conservation would allow me to get up close with the animals rather than seeing them in the fancy cages; or a chance to participate in a community development activity will surely brought me closer to the people of a different culture and country.

Want to know more about what have I written above? Check out Ecoteer homepage for more info. Also, if you are looking for immediate travel volunteer opportunity in Asia, scroll down this page to see what’s available from Ecoteer responsible travel program.

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