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Ticket to Life: How Traveling Changed Me

“Traveling changed me to a person I hadn’t thought I could become.”

Growing up in a strict conservative family, it has always been my fear to be alone. There are a lot of things I cannot do on my own, like commuting from one place to another via public vehicles, crossing the road due to fear of being hit by cars, and many more. I should always be accompanied by either my mom or dad or someone older. I know you will laugh if I tell you I only get to do such things alone when I was at 3rd-year college, 19 years old. Weak isn’t it? I know, right! This also limits me from tagging along with friends or classmates.  I can only count on my fingers the people I trust and am good friends with. But, I strived hard. I am a late bloomer, yes, and little by little I search for myself. I thought this was only a phase of growing up, but it doesn’t end here.

Back in 2014, this is the time I started suffering a quarter-life crisis. My life is literally a mess. I am out of focus. Can’t deliver work well. Basically, I don’t know what to do with my life. I feel stagnant, but on the other hand, I am not actually doing anything about it. I blame myself over and over again. What sucks is that you can’t even tell the root cause why you are experiencing this. Probably there are a lot of people at my age or maybe younger or older that can relate to this phase of life I’m in. We are all in this together, aren’t we? Kidding aside, being an adult is never easy. When we are little, we are wishing to be grown up already. The moment we are an adult, we want to go back to being a child. Life is complicated, isn’t it?

My struggles continued up to this year, but everything happens for a reason as they say. God has shown the light. Indeed, his word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). One day, I woke up with a positive mind. All my fears were left behind. I begin to trust myself more and God. I pack my things, book a ticket and accommodation, then voilà! I go solo traveling. I feel I am the bravest and that I am always safe anywhere I go. This isn’t just about braveness and independence but, there are so many things traveling taught me that I want to share with you. Everywhere you go, there is always one outstanding lesson you will learn, and that is what makes traveling so unique.

Booking.com

RESOURCEFULNESS

January started my 2016 with a confused self. Career-wise I felt unhappy, stagnant, not growing, and everything negative you could possibly handle. Not a good new year, is it? Anyway, this time of the year I had the taste of my first out of the country travel and my first solo traveling experience. This has changed everything for me. Phuket, Thailand is an amazing place. Good food, nice people, rich culture, beautiful sceneries. I had a hard time communicating as mostly don’t speak English, but all in all, it was a great experience! I’ve never been that happy, free, and relaxed. It made me realized that there are so much about the world, about life that I forgot existing.

My first elephant ride. (Phuket, Thailand | January, 2016)

My trip to Phuket has taught me so much of resourcefulness. I can say that this is the most outstanding among all the things I’ve learned from the travel. I didn’t even know that I am resourceful not until I traveled there. I remember writing this blog entry entitled “Hitting Off Your First Solo Travel”. I learned to improvise, make use of what I only have, and come up with techniques on how I can make my solo travel easier and fun, which is commendable for a first timer, I think.

BE RESPONSIBLE

I still had the hangover of my solo travel feelings in Thailand so, February 2016 I made a plan to explore Bali, Indonesia! Indeed, Bali is a perfect place for retreats. I am a beach lover, so I enjoyed the beaches there too, so much! My Bali experience was extra memorable because my helpfulness was put into test…

Pandana Guesthouse in Lembongan Island, Indonesia (February, 2016)

On my last two days in Bali, I decided to stay in Kuta. That was really out of the plan because right after I went back from Lembongan Island and Ubud, I was supposed to visit again in Seminyak Beach since it is quieter and less crowded there. But then again, my plan was changed, and I don’t know why. I just thought about it out of nowhere.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia (February, 2016)
Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia (February, 2016)

In Kuta, I met a fellow Filipina. I was happy! I can speak Tagalog freely, no more nosebleed! You know, God will lead you to somewhere out of your actual plan because he has a purpose for it. I was brought to that place because someone is in need of my help.

Along with our conversation, I learned that she lost her wallet in Legian Strip. She was a victim of pick-pocketing. I read about those things to remember and be careful about when in Bali before I travel so, I am kind of aware of that and became extra careful since I am a solo traveler.  I felt bad for her because all her money was in her wallet, she said. She already contacted her family back in Manila, but help isn’t arriving yet. I only have 2 days left staying in Bali, and yes, I’m also on a budget so I can’t give much. What I did was share what I have to her. We shared food, drinks, transportation fares just for her to survive that two days while I am there. When I came back to Manila, I also contacted her to know how she was. Good thing, her help arrived already. I also had peace of mind.

In times like this, it feels really good if you were able to help a person in need. You can’t totally resolve her entire problem but being there and extending what you can share to the person is a big thing. On this experience, I learned that it is always better to be responsible at all times, of all your important belongings. Be careful all the time so we cannot experience the same thing. And of course, prayers are very important whether you are faced in a difficult situation, or you are so blessed. Always remember to pray and give thanks. God is still listening. He is always there.

APPRECIATION AND CONTENTMENT

There will always come a time in the life of every person that they are either overwhelmed with so many good things happening to them or, there are so many burdens on their shoulders that they can no longer contain. At these times, we tend to forget appreciating simple things. We fail to notice the beauty of everything. We always complain. We have so many never-ending wants and needs. People never have contentment.

Traveling lets me see the importance of appreciation. It made me realize that life is beautiful, and the world is our treasure that we need to take care the best way we can. It lets me meet different people from all walks of life. I learn from them and am able to engage myself in their culture. It really feeds my soul. I am happy.

May 2016 I continued exploring our own country—Philippines. Traveling opened my eyes to reality. It guided me to appreciate my beloved country more. There are so much about the Philippines that even me, a citizen, didn’t know. I was a stranger to my own country. But, traveling lets me grasp how rich our culture is, how beautiful the Philippines, and how nice the people are. I get to appreciate the simple living we have, especially when you visit the province. Simple living but full of happiness and contentment that you can see in every Filipino’s eyes. This made me feel more proud to be Filipino.

BOHOL (May, 2016)

Striking a pose at Chocolate Hills, Bohol!
Virgin Island, Bohol (May, 2016)

CEBU (September, 2016)

Swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu (September, 2016)
Kawasalan Falls, Badian, Cebu (September, 2016)

DAVAO (October, 2016)

Kaputian Beach, Samal Island, Davao (October, 2016)
Hagimit Falls, Samal Island, Davao (October, 2016)

BICOL REGION (November, 2016)

Sumlang Lake, Albay (November, 2016)
Mayon Volcano view in Cagsaua, Daraga, Albay (Nov., 2016)
Manlawe Sandbar, Caramoan (November, 2016)
Rawis Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur (Nov., 2016)
Vera Falls, Tabaco City, Albay (Nov., 2016)
LA UNION (November, 2016)
Tangadan Falls, San Gabriel, La Union (Nov., 2016)
San Gabriel, La Union (Nov., 2016)
San Juan, La Union (Nov., 2016)

In July 2016, I decided to formally come up with my own travel website which I called Filipina Nomad. Through this blog, I’d like to show to the world that the Philippines is worth visiting. Here I am writing my experiences for you, and I hope you guys are liking it! 🙂

PATIENCE

Moving out of my comfort zone was the best thing I’ve done so far. I wouldn’t be able to know other things I am capable of if I didn’t risk doing it. In general, traveling is a lot of fun. But yes, there are times you will feel tired and can experience difficulties understanding other culture, people and tagging along with them. You cannot please everybody, remember?

The first week of December 2016 I flew from Manila to Hong Kong. I can say, I was able to explore Hong Kong and Macau the best way I can. Hong Kong is a great destination. I unleashed the Disney Princess in me, and I felt I was 15 to 20 years younger when I visited Disneyland.

Hong Kong has so much to offer. It is very diverse with Chinese and British culture combined! I had a lot of fun times, but I would be honest that I missed the Philippines during my stay.

Being in Hong Kong was a test of patience for me. It is the first time I experienced difficulty getting along well with people. If you know me well enough, you can say that it has never been my problem, but here I had a hard time being Miss Congeniality. It was my first time being shouted at by a cab driver due to communication gap. English isn’t widely in use there. Also, I was tricked by another cab driver. So much first times in Hong Kong, I know, right! I took a cab from East Tsim Sha Tsui going to my hotel in Kowloon. I gave 500HKD to the driver. I’m waiting for my change, and then he asked, if I have a smaller bill, I said none. What I have is 50HKD which lacks the amount he charged me. He said it is fine. He returned the 500HKD, and I gave him the 50HKD. I looked at the money, and it’s 500 written. It’s a bit dark inside the cab. I got off the vehicle and said, thank you. Later on, I checked the money I have, and the money isn’t the 500HKD I gave. It is a different currency from Peru, a 1987 Peru banknote. No value now, at all. I was thinking the guy was kind because he gave me a discount but, I was wrong. In just a snap, I lost 550HKD. Felt so stupid at that time, but instead of feeling bad, I just shrugged it off. I don’t want to ruin my stay because of that. I chatted some friends about it because I really need to rant it to feel better.

My friend Billy said… “It’s a lot of money, but it’s only money. It’s an expensive lesson, but this kind of thing is probably impossible to avoid without it.” I am treating this as a lesson, so when I get back to Hong Kong or wherever I go next time, this won’t happen again. In this experience, I learned to remain calm and patient all the time, but at the same time smart, wise and extra careful. All in all, my stay in Hong Kong as well as Macau was a blast! I would definitely come back because I still want to try hiking in Hong Kong!

HONG KONG (December, 2016)

MACAU (December, 2016)

LOVING YOURSELF

Looking back at how I was before the person I am today, I usually just smile. It gives me an unexplainable feeling. An excellent feeling. Traveling has influenced me so well. I became independent, more observant, appreciative, satisfied, patient, loving, and a lot more. Traveling has been an opportunity to loving myself. I can say that it is one of the key things that helped me improve my relationship to myself. I believe that when you get to love yourself and accept your flaws, that is the time you will achieve a fulfilled life.

Traveling changed me to a person I hadn’t thought I could become.

Andrew McCarthy once said…

“The farther I travel, the closer I am to myself.”

Solo traveling for almost a year now is one of the things I’ve done and will keep doing, that I am really proud of. I am really proud of myself! I strived hard to be the independent woman that I am today. It was never easy. Life is like a steep hike, difficult and tiring, but everything is worth it the moment you reach the peak! 2016 has been a roller coaster ride and at the same time, the most memorable year for me because… I finally found myself.

 

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