The Lone Traveler Got His Own Site

I’ve been thinking of getting my own site and finally, I have decided to make it a reality. So, I am glad to say that, The Lone Traveler got his own site. If you’ve been following this wordpress site, you already knew that I’ve started blogging from 2010 and I treated my blogsite as my baby, a diary of my life and travels. So I am hoping that you will follow me also on my journey to my new web address, www.thelonetravelercarl.comTh

This New Year, I have moved all of my postings to the new site. I will still keep this old site active since this account has a lot of memories when I was writing travel and life stories. It is a great start for me this year 2018, I hope it goes awesome to everyone, too.

More travels and a great New Year ahead to everyone!



To B2 Or Not To B2

I’ve been out of the country and away from my family for almost a year. I have missed them so much even though we have constant communication like video call every non-working days. But long distance video call ain’t enough when homesickness sinks in and that being rational and making decisions are too difficult to do. I just broke out and can’t hide my longing feeling to see my family again especially my mother who has single-handedly nurtured and took care of me and my older brother. Thus, I have decided to bring her in the United States. I told her about my plan and she is in agreement with me. She loved the idea of visiting the US since she is also like me, a traveler. For her to get accepted in the US, she needs to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visa for tourism purpose is categorised as B2. So, I have written a blogpost on what we had gone through to get that elusive visa and I entitled it, To B2 or not to B2.

First step, I told my mum to get all the necessary documents. We even tried to seek assistance with a travel agency for requirements but we never thought of teaming up with them because we know that we can do it by ourselves. These were the requirements she needed to get;

US Visa Photo
It is usually a 2×2 photo but you still need to inform the photo centre that it is intended for US visa application since most photographers know what they need to do.
Original Passport
It is a plus if your passport has a stamp from other countries. It will help put an impression to the consul that you love to travel when getting a US visa.
NSO Birth Certificate
Make sure to bring this document. The consul might ask for this but in my mum’s B2 application, the interviewer never ask for it.
NSO Marriage Certificate
For married applicants.
NSO Death Certificate for Widow/Widower
My mother is a widow for long time already, so, we have decided to add this document.
Bank Certificate
Since she is applying for B2 which is for tourism purpose, we opened a bank account under her name. Honestly, the money inside the bank that I have put up for her was just PhP50,000. That was the only amount I have saved up for her while I am still working and paying my debts such as car loans and other monthly dues. I’m not sure if the consul really look on this since the consul didn’t ask for it too.
Certified True Copies of Assets
Good thing when I was still in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I helped my mum paid off her home loan. So, she owned the house and lot now and got the title for both.
Original Employment Certificate
Having a job to return to is another sign of close ties to go back home. The interviewer always ask for the reason of going back home. An applicant must establish that, so, he/she can have an approve verdict.
Income Tax Return
Just to see if you’ve been paying taxes and a law-abiding citizen.

Then, I got my own requirements, too and these were;

Original Letter of Invitation
Since I am inviting my mother to come over the US, so, I wrote a letter of invitation and this is what I wrote:
(US phone number)

(my mother’s name)
(her address)

Subject: Invitation to visit me in the U.S

Dear Mom:

I would like to extend this invitation for you to come and visit me in United States for a month or two. It sure would be nice to see you celebrate your birthday here. During your stay, I will show you the town where I live and some other places in Southeastern Ohio.

I will cover all of your financial responsibilities including travel to and from the United States, travel to and from destinations we will visit, meals, and housing. You will be staying with me at my home located at the above-mentioned address when we’re not on the road. I want to spend more time with you and compensate the year missing that we haven’t had our mother-son bonding.

You are going to love it! And I can’t wait to see you.


Employment Certificate
I asked for an employment certificate with letterhead and make sure the Human Resource Generalist put the phone number for contact information.
Included 3-month payslips
Photocopy of Passport and Green Card
To show that I am a legal resident in the United States.
NSO Birth Certificate
A document that will show that the applicant is related to the inviter.
Original Bank Certification
This is one of the requirements for me but I didn’t provide this document since I’m new to my work and I am still starting to get financially stable and creating a good credit score.

After my mum gathered all her requirements, we were ready to apply online. We visited this site, Consular Electronic Application Centre and filled out every questions that were asked truthfully. All applicants must complete the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application. Make sure to print a copy of the form with the answers you provided since most of the consul’s questions comes from that form and the most important thing is to print out the confirmation message of your DS-160 application since the embassy will ask for that during your interview.

ds160 confirm copy

DS-160 Confirmation

When we have her DS-160 confirmation, we were on the step of paying the application fee. For non-immigrant visa applicants, we are required to present a U.S visa application payment slip to pay for the application fee of machine-readable visa (MRV). To get the slip, visit this site by clicking here for Philippine applicants. Just make sure to select the deposit slip that matches your visa application fee from the list. To get the list, visit here. For my mum since she is applying for a tourist visa, we need to pay US$160 for B-type visa. So, we got the $160 MRV Fee Deposit Slip. We have two options of paying the deposit slip, either thru cash at the bank or making online payment. For online payment, an applicant can do it either BPI or Bancnet. But in my mum’s case, we visited the nearest BPI branch. My mum presented the deposit slip that we printed out and got a copy of it in return. Another important reminder, keep the receipt because you will need the receipt number printed on your receipt.


Customer Copy of MRV Deposit Slip

We have checked three bullet points for my mum’s visa application;
-DS-160 confirmation
-MRV fee deposit slip receipt

Next step was to schedule for an interview. There are two options to get an appointment for interview;
first, to call (02) 976-8500 to 02 for calls within the Philippines and other countries aside from mainland United States or (703) 520-2235 for calls from mainland United States. The call center is open from 0800H to 2000H, Monday through Friday, GMT+8 Manila time, except on U.S and Philippine holidays.
or, book online through apply for a U.S. Visa site.

My mum got hers thru booking online. When setting it up, it only asked for the DS-160 application number and the receipt number. Once we secured those information, it showed us the calendar with dates open for interview and she got her scheduled interview last January 11, 2016 at 0730H.

us vusa

Interview Schedule

Then on January 11th, she went to her scheduled interview in formal attire to U.S Embassy located in Roxas Boulevard. My mum told me the whole interview process and she said, it went smoothly. When she got to the most nerve-wracking part which is the one-on-one with the consul, she just answered his questions confidently. Questions asked were:
-what is your name?
-date of birth
-what is the purpose of your travel in the United States?
-how many months will you be staying in the U.S?

Few minutes, the consul congratulated my mum for getting the U.S visa. My mum just told the consul, thank you in numerous times and went directly to the courier to have her visa mailed in our home address within a week. I got her call few hours after that and I was crying with joy. I am so proud of her. Now that my mother has her B2 visa, it is time for me to plan her travel in coming over to the U.S. and I can’t wait to see and say to her, Welcome to Stars and Stripes!

As what we have gone through the entire process, it was a teeth-gritting and leg-numbing experience but it didn’t hinder us from climbing into that barrier that separates me and my mother from getting reunited in a foreign land. And this is just a beginning. To those who are planning to get a B2 visa, you can do it. Just believe in yourself. 😉

On Its 5th This 2015

If you have been following my blog, well, I have started blogging last 2010 in a small district in Tagbilaran City. It commenced on the 17th of October and I never thought that I’ll get this far. It began when I was reading other blogs and I have decided to make my own blogsite. Setting up the objective and purpose of the blog was hard but since my point of interest is into traveling, thus, I have featured my travels here and there. I have titled it, THE LONE TRAVELER. I do travel alone. It’s difficult but it’s fun.

Through this blog, I was able to see other parts of the world. I got to experience other cultures firsthand. I was able to help other people by giving information by the use of this blog. I got also a ticket to be featured in a local show in the Philippines but it didn’t happen anyway since I was abroad exploring.

At the beginning, I only had like a hundred of followers and readers on my first year, then, it went up and received a lot of traffics these past years. I’ve got followers who even inspire me to write more and they’ve been counting and looking for my next post. I am so grateful for everyone who visited my site.

On its 5th anniversary this 2015, I have decided to go the capital of the country where I’m at before winter comes. It would be my first out-of-state travel alone, thus, I’ve been researching on what to do. I’ve been asking also a lot of people and I’ve visited places to get idea for my trip to be a success.  I did spend most of my time planning and so far, the web has been of great help providing me all major key points and even minute details.

I did find out these very helpful information and I am also giving it out for everyone who wants to travel in the United States:

Greyhound Line, Inc – check their site and you will find their location and what states they are providing transportation service.

Greyhound Line, Inc contact details

Greyhound Line, Inc contact details

Barons Bus Lines – is also a bus company but serves most of the cities, towns and counties within the state of Ohio and some neighboring states such as Maryland, West  Virginia and Pennsylvania. They work hand in hand with Greyhound Line, Inc.

Both of these bus line companies you can purchase your ticket online. Once you have your ticket printed, you can head to the bus station stated on their website. Mine is in Cambridge and I got to see this.

Cambridge County Courthouse

Cambridge County Courthouse – I’ve been using this site for quite some time from my trip when I was still in the Middle East to my Southeast Asian tour. It has been very useful for me to find the most affordable hotel to stay.

Maps.ME – is an offline GPS tool which I have installed in my phone way back long time ago. It has been my partner when traveling to unfamiliar locations and with its help, I never had the time to get lost. It is detailed and updates are constantly generated.

With all the help I got from these sites and application, my 5th anniversary trip won’t be so terrifying and my anxiety level will not be that high since I have a clue of what I am doing. So for my fellow travelers, it is best to be always ready and to have a knowledge and idea before embarking on your new journey. I know it is an adventure to get lost and walked on a roadless track but if you have limited time, then, getting lost is not an option. Just be safe always.

P.S. I’ll be posting my journey in a few days time.

A New Beginning Has Come Forth

Lately, I’ve been troubled on what I’ll do with my life. I’ve got a lot of plans in my head but somehow also feared for what consequences I’ll get in taking those decisions. But as a freewill individual, I have the idea that those decisions that I’ll be making are uncertain but on the other note of it, I will learn.

First, I used to plan to have a life on the go. At that time, I have decided to do some backpacking trips in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. But due to some restricting rules in one of the countries I have mentioned, I made revisions and that route is to go to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei instead. Later, it has changed again. It was then when I was just staring blankly on the four walls of my living room and I concluded to going more farther, thus, I got an Armenian visa. Few months before my tentative date of my trip, an emergency suddenly came that needed my utmost attention thereby delaying all of my plans. It was a situation that could shape my future. I’ve waited for years for this opportunity to come. So, I went out to new places to think and then lingered more days at home, waiting patiently for it to be finalised. As I was devoured in complete darkness of uncertainties and no back up plans, a light sparkled amidst and then I saw the great path. A new beginning has come forth to my door.

The backpacking trip to ASEAN countries was already out of the plan and thus, I did a backpacking trip in the Philippines instead. Before I used to have this Armenian visa but now, I’ll just have to keep it unused then. It was really a big deal for this new beginning of my life. If you haven’t known, I’ve waited for this to come for almost 7 years. The genesis of my new life will start once I board in to the plane with the luggage fit for years to come. It will be a new country to explore but this country will offer way better than the nation I used to work with.

My application started last 2008 when I passed all the licensure examinations needed. On 2009, I got an agent and an employer who will help me process all the paperwork. On 2010, I was getting all the documents ready to be submitted. On 2011, I got my application submitted. Since it was a long wait, my agent told me to apply for a job while waiting for the long process of my application. For about 3 years I’ve waited and just this 2014, I got a reply from the agent and the country that I applied that they were accepting and processing my application. This year 2015, I made appearance and have been interviewed by a consul officer regarding my application. It was a bit in a hurry because there were big changes that they were trying to implement, so, for me not to be affected by the changes, I had to expedite my interview schedule a month early. Even though I re-scheduled the interview, the consul officer told me a very bad news. He gave me a ‘NOT NOW’ verdict due to limited availability of visa. I was saddened and depressed since I’ve waited for this for too long, I’ve resigned from my previous job, and got no other plans to follow. I was just staying at home feeling low and no direction in life. Then one day, a package was delivered.

A miracle happened. As I opened the package, I saw my passport stamped with the visa that I was praying to get. It happened during the days I least expected. I leapt out of joy and called my mum. I told my agent and my employer that I got the visa and they were happy for me, too. Few days, I got my flight details and I had to set my mind that I’m leaving my family again.

My Flight Details and Passport

My Flight Details and Passport

The day came for my flight to enter the new journey that I have to overcome. I bid farewell to my family, relatives and closest friends. Then, I boarded the plane that’ll take me to this new land of opportunities. It took about 28 hours of layovers, changing planes, waiting in boarding gates but all those were keeping my hands and feet sweaty. I don’t know what I was feeling. I felt a little bit excited yet missing home. I felt I am about to throw up, well, I can’t understand it at all. After the grueling almost 2 days of travel, finally, I got to my destination.

I passed 4 different airports just to get here. It was exhausting but when I got off the plane and took my first step on the US soil, everything I’ve been through paid off. I was all smile even though I am uncertain what my life will be here in this new land. I just kept myself optimist and I have thought that God will guide me all the way.

Boarding Pass

Boarding Pass

Customs and Border Protection form

Customs and Border Protection form

As I was on my way to my new home, everything flashed back from the days I’ve cried, burnt candles to pass my exams, paid dollars to get eligibility, worked my ass out to get experience to waiting for almost a decade. Now, I’m in the Land of the Free or the Land of Milk and Honey and a new beginning has come forth to my door.1

My Diary for the Year 2014

The start of this year, I posted quotes on how to live a life so memorable, click here. I was kinda skeptical to do those things or activities since I was currently residing in one of the most strict countries in the world. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been tagged as the country which has the most difficult to decipher laws, practices, rules and regulations. Not because this is the centre of the religion Islam but maybe because they lived a life like this way long, long ago. So even though, the local authorities are too stringent in implementing those rules, there are still few that are doing it and I believed I am one of those.

Based on those quotes I posted few months ago, basically, we can round it up as living a life without regrets and to live it so fully. For me to accomplish those, I need to break some rules but those are just tiny little crimes 😉 . These are the things I have done to make my existence worthwhile.

January. On the 15th of January, 2014, I had a friendly encounter with one of the locals in Saudi Arabia during my wandering days in the beach. His name is Fawaz, 23 years old and works in Saudi Aramco. 2014-01-15 21.08.27We had a conversation about his country. He verbalised how he is sick to be staying in this land but still he prefers to live here than go to nearby countries like Bahrain and UAE. I thought that only the expatriates felt like prisoners here in Saudi Arabia but also the locals as well.

Another day of the first month, it was the 23rd of January, I wanted to do something really fun that I can say I have enjoyed my life in the Middle East even though it is a close country from all the things that come with the word, ‘FUN’. Basically, my motto in life now is to live life to the fullest. On that day, I was wandering the city, met friends and co-workers on the sidewalks, talked, dined out at restaurants and even stayed in a hotel for a night, a way for me to relieve stress. I felt that day like I was a happy-go-lucky person when suddenly a Saudi local approached me and took my things. In my bag, I have 105 Saudi riyals and my iPhone 5. I didn’t bother to follow him since I might end up behind bars because the way justice works here in Saudi Arabia is different. If you are an expat and the situation involves with a Saudi local, whatever happens, you will end up to be the felon. The law protects their own people even though they were the ones committing the crimes. That’s the truth and I know it hurts. But for me, life must move on. I will not dwell anymore on what happened to me that day but definitely it was worth remembering not because of the incident but because a lesson was learned in a hard way. I learned that for a person to live life to the fullest, he also needs to encounter sad and hurtful events. It was my first time to get robbed and I know now how it felt and be more vigilant. To add fuel on fire, on the 27th, the robber took a selfie. Since the phone was linked to my Dropbox account, I got the photo and the name.salehThis is the face of the robber named  Muhammad Saleh Al Bashri.

February. I forgot about last month’s happenings and I was just in tune with the month of February. As you can still remember on my 2013 Bucket List that I wanted a Lasik eye surgery, it only happened this year. It happened on the 6th of February, I had my eyes checked with one of an eye specialists in the hospital. Reports showed my visual acuity on -4.75 on my left and -4.50 on my right eye. Surgery happened at exactly 12 noon. After the nurse gave me ophthalmic anesthesia drops on both eyes, I laid down on the surgery table and the action began. It was just a minor surgical case. I even went back to work after that, only wearing a pair of sunglasses to hide my reddened eyes.

Two days after, I had a follow-up check-up with my eye doctor named Dr. Mazen Al Kadi. The report showed for both eyes at -0.50.

2014-02-08 09.24.17Dr. Mazen examining my eyes

March/ April/ May/ June. By month of March, April, May and June just passed me by unnoticed. But, I lived thru it traveling in different towns in the Eastern Province.

July. On July of last week, I got a new mobile phone. I bought iPhone 5S and it is now my new traveling companion along with my Samsung Galaxy Camera which is just a point-to-shoot type of camera. I am not into heavy duty DSLR and besides, I am not a PRO photographer. I’m just doing this for fun.

I also sat foot first time in the town of Al Qatif last week of July and been snapping photos on the road since the temperature outside was a scorching hot at 42 degrees Celsius. Check my blog post about Al Qatif, click here.

Al Qatif steet signage

Al Qatif street signage

August. By 3rd week of August, I took a day vacation. I went to Kingdom of Bahrain thru the bridge only. I was thinking that there will be a heavy traffic going there but there wasn’t. Read my blog, the Bridge That Links Two Countries.

2014-08-18 10.56.50Bahrain – Saudi Arabia borders

Also on August 18th, I got the most memorable experience in my life here in Saudi Arabia. I got the chance to drive without a license, of course with a supervision of a Saudi. It was really nerve-wracking since most Saudis drive cars like there is no tomorrow.

2014-08-18 18.37.32

First Time Driving in Saudi Arabia with a 2013 KIA Rio

September. By September, I visited The Zoo in Ad Dhahran. I saw wild animals but I was somehow teary-eyed because of the current condition of the captive creatures. The zookeepers and zoo owner didn’t maintain and take care of those poor creations of God. Check it out here.

2014-08-18 17.06.14

First Time to See A Lion Up Close

October. I said farewell to my friends and co-workers. It was indeed the hardest thing to do. Saying goodbye and not seeing them crushed my heart. I was crying for about 4 days since I was attached to those people. I’ve created a life with them for 3 long years and it ended in the 10th month of this year. I made two blog entries for my farewell speech in different languages, English and Arabic.

2014-09-26 08.36.44

My Saudi Arabia Family

 November. Second to the last month of the year was one of my most favorite memories and experiences. I’ve got to travel to different countries. As what I have written on my 2013 Bucket List which is to at least visit a UNESCO world heritage site, I did that on this month and it was memorable. I might be doing that again next year. I’ll keep my fingers always crossed to that.

Countries I have visited

Countries I have visited

December. After 5 years of not spending Christmas season at home, finally I got the chance to have it celebrated there. I was kinda busy of the Yuletide season. But the good thing about it is I spent the season with my family.

Hope you had a great year guys. Another year has come to an end and I just wish that this coming year will be a good start to everyone. Have a Happy Christmas and a Fruitful New Year! Cheers!

In addition, I have the year-end summary for my WordPress account.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Guide to First Time Out-of-the Country Travelers

I’ve been traveling in my home country for quite some time and it is easy. But traveling to other country is another story. So, I have written a guide for first time travelers who will travel outside the country. I’ve been to other country also but that was for work and not for leisure, making it a big difference. And since we are talking about traveling the first time, the stress of immigration procedures, travel itineraries, hotel bookings and packing all necessary things may end you up being ill and not wanting to travel anymore. Thus, we can make it simple and easy by making a list.

I planned my Asian Invasion a year ago. All my tickets were purchased on sale on one of the leading airline companies in the Philippines. I always checked their website every time they have a seat sale. I bought the tickets ahead of time and that’s the reason that I need to have a list of things that I need to bring and the guide that I need to follow. I have a checklist of all the necessary items needed for the tour and that includes but not limited to:

1. Passport

Of course, it is your life when you are traveling abroad. This should be the first and the last thing to check. Always remember that the passport is the key to your every journey.

2. Flight Tickets

Just make sure you have a hard copy of your tickets coz most of the airports are asking for printed flight details. And when you are for international flights, you need to be showing it a lot of times.

3. Company ID

Since you are up for international destination, immigration officers always ask for this. In my situation, my mother, cousin and I were asked for our company IDs. They need to have a proof that you are coming back to the country and you are not seeking for employment in the country of destination.

4. Travel Itinerary

I also made a print-out of all the stuff we will be doing in the countries that we will be visiting. This is to aid that you are there for leisure and not for any other business.

5. Hotel Bookings

I have also booked a lot of hotels for the entire duration of my trip. Make sure to include the address of the hotels that you have reserved since it will be needed during your travels. I have mine written on my travel itinerary and placed as a separate paper whenever I have to show it to the receptionist of the hotel.

6. Writing Pen

I thought a pen won’t be needed but I was wrong. When I got to the airport, I found out that I need to fill out immigration card. When I was crossing borders, I found out also that I need to write the departure and arrival card. It is OK to borrow from your seatmate but it’s better to be prepared.

7. Money

Of course, money should be enough for your trip. Since it was my first time to travel outside for leisure. I made sure I brought a lot. My trip was for 12 days, crossing borders, making foreign currency exchanges and moving around. So I need to have a big chunk of cash. But if you don’t have a lot, well, you can always check the cost of living on the country you are traveling and take note of the daily expenses for you to have a guide.

8. Credit Card

When there is an emergency, it is better to be prepared when you run short of cash. At least you have a safety net. You can also use your credit card for booking hotels or even just arranging for airport pick-ups, limousine service or for tour reservation.

Ensuring this checklist has been all marked. Now, you need to be following the steps on getting to your flight. These are the things I’ve gone through during my first out of the country trip:

1. All you need to do now is to check-in for your flight. You need to get an Immigration Card or Departure Card which you can get through an airline representative at the Check-In Counter. They will just hand it out to you.

When you come back from your trip overseas, you will need to fill this arrival card out.

Arrival Card 2014 Edition

Arrival Card 2014 Edition

2. After you filled out the form, you need to pay the Travel Tax at the travel tax counter located near the Philippine Airlines ticketing office along with other counters for OFW, Quarantines and etc. if you happen to be in NAIA Terminal 3. You need to shell out a whooping PhP1,620/ person. When you are in the counter, they will ask you for your passport and flight tickets. Once you paid the amount, they will give the receipt and a second copy. Keep it because you will be needing it later.

Travel Tax Counter

Travel Tax Counter

Travel Tax Rates

Travel Tax Rates

3. If you are lucky that the counter is open, you can go ahead and check-in for your flight. When you get to the check-in counter of the airline, you need to give your passport, your flight tickets and travel tax receipt. Have your bags checked in as well. Sometimes the agent will ask when you are planning to return which in our case he did. I just presented my other flight tickets since I’ll be coming back with another point of exit. Then the agent will hand to you your boarding pass.IMG_1059

4. Make sure you are at International Departure Area. Go ahead and purchase a Terminal Ticket. It is for PhP550 per person. Just give your boarding pass and they will just staple the ticket at it.

Terminal Ticket

Terminal Ticket

5. Now, it is time to head to Immigration Booth. Approach the Immigration Booth confidently. Just go to the Immigration Officer, hand your passport with the filled out Departure Card. Be ready with your supporting papers. In my case, the agent asked me if I worked somewhere overseas since I have a VISA there attached in my passport. I told him yes. He asked me of my company ID and I showed it to him. After that, he stamped my passport without asking for travel itineraries and other documents that I brought with me. Same thing goes with my mother and cousin. They only asked for company IDs.

Immigration Booth

Immigration Booth

6. After we passed through Immigration Booth, we went to the final security check. Removing all metals such as electronic gadgets, belts, wallets, coin purse and even shoes.

Security Check Area

Security Check Area

7. Once you are cleared, you can go ahead to Pre-Departure Area. You can buy some items from Duty Free or have a quick bite before your flight. Check your boarding pass on what gate you will be waiting for your flight. All you need to do is wait for your boarding call.

Pre - Departure Area

Pre – Departure Area

Boarding Gates

Boarding Gates

I experienced all of those but when I got to the country of my destination. I was relieved and it was all worth it. Now, it is time for you to travel the world. It’s not too late coz we know everyone has his/her own first time. Mine, I just conquered it. Now, it is your time. Have a great flight and vacation everyone!