The travel bug hit me early, thanks to my family. As early as I could remember, my family made it a point to see a different place at least once a year. It started with nearby beaches within Luzon when I was four. The cool mountains in Baguio when I was 6. In addition, we would travel to my parents’ birthplace up north at least once a year, to celebrate the towns’ fiesta (feast day of the patron saints of such towns). And then we went abroad, and things got more exciting.
I hail from the beautiful island-country Philippines, a country made up of 7,107 islands. This means that travel abroad involved airplanes (or ships, but this was and still is uncommon). Until recently when budget airlines were introduced, travels abroad were deemed a luxury. Add to the fact that Filipinos needed visas to practically everywhere outside Southeast Asia. This is why our first trip abroad was so hyped up, and until now I suppose nothing is as exciting as during that first time.
My first trip abroad was to Hong Kong when I was 9 years old. As our nearest neighbor to the north, a mere 2 hour away by plane, Hong Kong is the usual first destination for most Filipinos. It was also the first time I rode a plane, and I still remember the feeling of exhilaration when the plane took off. Much more vivid is the feeling of giddiness of being in a new land – the sights, smells, sounds were all so different from what I had back in Manila. It was wonderful. This family trip was followed by a 1.5 month family trip to the United States the following year. Then another HK trip a year after. Followed by a trip with my school friend Aprille to Vancouver, Canada (where my dear tita Mae lived and continues to live) the year after that.
Then, in July 1997, the Asian crisis hit us in the Philippines, affecting my parents’ businesses, and putting my family’s travels on hold for a couple of years. I didn’t travel abroad for a while after that, but that didn’t stop me from yearning for another trip to a foreign land. What could I do? The travel bug had already bitten me.
Why do I like to travel? For the obvious reasons, and also because I believe that travelling is education you can buy. And who says no to more education? 🙂 But really, travelling is the best way to truly see the world as is. You could read as many books, magazines and other materials you want, but you will never truly learn about the world, in my opinion, until you see other places, see how the people in such places live, eat what they eat, and truly feel how it is really like to be there.
Eventually, some years after the 1997 Asian crisis, my parents’ finances stabilized and starting the age 17 I would from time to time travel to North America to visit my relatives. However, I started to travel more frequently when I moved to Japan for work 4 years ago. Being “alone” in a foreign land, what else is there to do but go around? Then in 2011, after a health shake, I made a conscious decision to travel, really travel – that is, I decided to invest in travel instead of a house or a car or other prudent things as the aforementioned. Was it a smart move? I’m not sure. But I feel that in the rare instance when things align and you have time, money and energy all at the same time, you should go ahead and grab the chance to travel. And truly, I feel I’ve become spiritually richer, more cultured, and wiser because of the places I’ve seen, people I’ve met and events I’ve witnessed the past years. No regrets. This blog will try to detail trips I have had and will have in 2013 onwards.