Hi, I'm Mel.
Welcome to illumelation.
I created illumelation to inspire others to see the world. This is my travel diary, comprised of personal adventure stories relived with meaningful words, beautiful visuals, and dollops of gratitude.
All content on this website is original, unless otherwise mentioned.
Recent travel adventures:
Hanoi, it turns out, is a riot.
We make it up the mountain to the freezing peak. We catch the beautifully misty pastel sunrise, I feel at peace.
Picture this: a cluster of islands boasting turquoise seas, powdery white sand, crystal clear lagoons, zero phone or internet signal, and barely any other humans around.
I haven’t really been to San Pablo since I was a little girl, and because of my age, of where I’m at in my life, having the chance to spend time in my father’s hometown means more to me than ever.
Katerina Jeng of Scratch the List shares her stories and photographs of Colombia's energetic city, Cartagena, where salsa rhythms and soccer games permeate each colorful street.
At a wooden window by the engine I perch, reverent, away from the bodies, the beers, the noise.
Skin still brown and hair still wild, I live an anxious existence in the concrete jungle, hands clutching for leaves, for sand, for water, for humanity.
At the Kuang-Si Falls in Laos, a tense, sticky morning trickles quietly into a blissful afternoon.
Flecks of gold glimmer across the open ocean; the yawning orange sun burns brilliantly in the sky. A little way from shore, beneath hovering cirrus clouds of lilac, a bamboo raft floats at sea, beckoning us to watch dusk fall from its wooden cylinders. We have no choice but to yield to its irresistible call.
Through the eyes of a fiercely independent young spirit at sea, this extraordinary coming-of-age documentary forced me to reassess my life's ambitions.
I grew up in West London, between Queensway and Westbourne Grove. Every summer, the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's biggest street festival celebration, was right on my doorstep. These images, documented using black and white film on a vintage Canon-AE1, represents a vital part of my summer memories in the UK.
Our first few days in Vietnam have been wild, involving bumpy nights on sleeper buses and hour long treks around mountains, but somehow we get the energy to head to Phong Nha.
This weekend I passed my PADI Open Water diving course. One step closer towards exploring all that this gorgeous world has to offer.
If you’ve ever stayed for a while in rural Asia – especially in certain northern regions of the Philippines where Ifugao or Bontoc tribes reside – chances are you may have seen the many of the natives chewing happily on something that stains their teeth, lips, and mouths a bright shade of red.
Dawn is creeping into the sky. Teal mountains yawn in the distance above fields of mossy green; thick clouds of silver fog snake across the landscape, misting the window.
My latest hotel reviews:
After a few days of sleeping rough in nipa huts without electricity or water, our stay at Sea Cocoon Hotel in El Nido, Palawan felt like bliss.
Ubud Raya Hotel is nestled in a backstreet in Sayan, an area about 10 minutes away by scooter from Ubud Central.
A detailed review of May Kieu's Homestay in Ta Phin Village, Sapa, Vietnam.
Costa Pacifica is one of Baler's cleanest, most peaceful, and well-decorated resorts.
Review of the newly opened Sultan Mediterranean Grill in San Juan, Manila.
My latest travel guides:
Wondering where you can eat Filipino food in London? Here's my guide to London's Filipino restaurants and street food.
There are world famous oceans, beaches and volcanoes only 1 to 5 hours away from Manila - depending on traffic, of course!
If you need some eat/surf/chill R&R from Manila's chaos, check out Baler.
Here's a guide to living in London like a local and what to do in London in spring.
Manila is one of Asia's most vibrant cities. The place draws very mixed feelings from travellers. Some love it, some hate it - especially in comparison to other Southeast Asian cities nearby.
To download or screenshot the a phone-friendly version of the instructions, CLICK HERE. For my detailed version of the journey, read on!
Apes (including gorillas, orang-utans, gibbons, and chimpanzees) are amazing creatures. They're dexterous, intelligent, and cute. (Apart from gorillas, who are cute in a terrifying way.) I've put together a few practical tips for chimpanzee trekking that I hope will help you out when you go forth and frolic with these wild, beautiful creatures.
When I went to Uganda earlier this year, I had the adventure of a lifetime doing wild chimpanzee trekking through Kibale National Forest. The minute we entered the forest, howls and shrieks of wild chimpanzees echoed all around. Leaves and branches rustled above us as the apes bolted from tree to tree. For three amazing hours, I was able to observe these magnificent creatures live their lives freely in the wild.
Get in touch:
I love getting letters :) for collaborations, inquiries, travel recommendations, say hi - firstname.lastname@example.org