Kicking off the Life in Transit series of posts with Chapter 1 – a first of 5. Here’s to hoping you get to know more about the inside stories of this trip and everything else that has transpired in between this crazy yet fun adventure.
I’m the type who never settles – for anything less, for second best, for mediocre work.
And most definitely, I never settle in one place. I’ve realized over the years that I can never replace that high I get whenever I travel, so I promised to at least travel once a year (minimum). And if possible, have a solo trip if my budget permits.
I’ve done the usual week-long trips to famed places – Hokkaido, parts of Europe, Hong Kong, and Australia. I also traveled (semi) solo earlier this year at Singapore. But I’ve never traveled for a month – let alone live out 30 days on a backpack.
Although I’ve always wondered when I’d actually get to explore the world on my own terms, I’ve never expected to meet someone who had the same mindset on traveling. And I admit, it’s rare to find people I can resonate with, considering I’m a complete introvert (forced to be an extrovert because ~social duties~) with a pretty much quiet disposition.
Then there’s Tricie, one of the most unlikely people I have become close friends with last year (I am forever grateful for that ADE-COM class) – who suddenly says “I want to go backpacking” during our first we-are-officially-friends dinner (obviously I seconded the motion and everything stemmed out from there) and eventually, wounded up being my travel buddy this year (and future business partner, wink wink).
We’d schedule random brunches and dinners over the course of a year – booking flights, looking for the cheapest lodging places, reading up on travel blogs, planning our itineraries. It was fun, scary, unreal (I’ve never visited Agoda or TripAdvisor prior to this trip, lol) nerve-wrecking, crazy, but exciting.
We chose Southeast Asia because we knew it would be inexpensive and of course, interesting. I’m one who travels with an intent to immerse myself in local culture (and not as a tourist), and exploring the different countries in this Asian region sparked interest in both of us.
Although my goals for the year have not yet been mapped out (really, this is my daily struggle as a graduating student back then), I knew I had to set aside a month (!) for this, whatever the circumstances may be.
I still remember patiently convincing my mom to say “yes” every time I brought up this “adventure” – it seemed so unreal back then. Scoring tickets and finding the right time to seal the deal for this trip was one of the highlights of my year.
As I’m writing this, it’s been a year since we laid out initial plans for this. It’s also been a year of changes, opportunities and growth for me. It’s actually been the wildest whirlwind of things for me – the good kind of wild, of course.
There’s just something about traveling. Of course, there is fear – but also, there is that hunger to see parts of yourself and parts of the world that are yet to be discovered. There is also that irreplaceable freedom from leaving the comforts of your own home, as you head out to settle into the unknown and trust that things will be alright. There’s that unfamiliarity I love, and getting to see things with your own eyes for the very first time.
I can ramble on and on with the reasons on why I always love to travel, but I’m not one to tell.
In fact, I don’t even know why I’m writing this – most of these are already things I don’t need to say. Let’s just say it’s every time that I leave that I feel most alive. It’s like I’m constantly searching for new things, new experiences, and trying to work my way into unfamiliarity. I’m too comfortable here in Manila, and while it’s on rare occasions that I get to spend a long time out of my own city, I realize how precious this short time is. I realize how escapes can be short but sweet, that there is always a “home” I can head to after every adventure I take.
Call me selfish for not caring about the people who would worry about the decisions I’ve made – me, a Chinese girl, 21 years old, kind of crappy at navigating, traveling for a month to (most) places I’ve never been before, living off hostels, cheap guesthouses, only armed with both a thirst for new experiences and a hunger for adventure. It was hard to leave, not because I couldn’t – but because others didn’t like the idea of me “leaving” and being away.
But I’ve been working so, so hard for the past four years that I forget I am twenty one. I forget that I am still young, fragile, and free – and that there are things I still need to do to build on my own growth as a person. 90% of my days are spent doing things for others – working at my day job, selling my artworks at bazaars and fairs, prioritizing freelance work for clients, giving talks and seminars and workshops, and much more. Not that I don’t enjoy it; I do – it’s just that I rarely think about myself now.
Going back from Life in Transit was such an adjustment for me – most days during our trip, I spent thinking more about myself, and how I overlooked and sacrificed most of myself (in Manila) for the sake of surviving deadlines, making each day “Instagrammable”, struggling to find the balance between work and (more) work and a bit of leisure time, and all those things. In short, my life has never been in order ever since – although I am still trying to figure out that “balance” as I’m writing this.
It’s a toxic thing, being me. Being a blogger. A letterer. An “influencer”. Someone people look up to. It is out of passion that I’ve grown to be this way. Getting all these roles is a different story. Taking it all in is still a work in progress for me. I am still learning. I am still “getting there”. And just like most of us, I am still lost in my own little world that I needed to see what was out there.
And this is why I left. Even for just 30 days.
* * * * *
We’re giving away (2) copies of our Life in Transit 2014 e-book. I did mention in my last post that two copies got lost in transit – well, finally, they have arrived at my doorstep. And since Tricie and I both have copies already (and we are not looking into selling this book, mind you), we decided we could just give it out to people who might be interested to use it as a reference for their own future adventures.
In order to qualify, you must be a Philippine resident and complete the tasks below on Rafflecopter. Best of luck! I’ll be announcing the lucky winners next weekend on my Chapter 2 post.