My Life Could Be Short: How Terminal Illness in my Family Inspire me to Travel More

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“Enough!” I usually get this comment when people around me learn that I’m packing my things to leave our small town to travel again. My sister would even spill the tea to me about our neighbors and family friends including my older brothers saying that my lifestyle is such a waste of money. I got used to all of that and just try to understand since I am raised in a culture and environment where young people like me are getting a career, building their own houses and starting their own family so I just shrug them all off. I used to think like that too before I discovered my love for traveling.

I first got into traveling to break that boring work, party routine I have in my early 20’s. I booked a long weekend getaway to Thailand that turned out to be so much fun. There were many spontaneous things that happened including life changing experiences. Traveling opened my eyes and changed my perspective in many different ways. I learned a lot of things I never had in 4 corners of a classroom. I got so much to be thankful because of traveling. I matured, became open minded, more accepting and totally became non-judgmental.  But I must say I have bigger reason why I am continuously traveling.

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This is something personal and actually the main reason why I’m traveling none-stop. I don’t have good genes to begin with and three of my immediate family passed away due to terminal illness. With that, I decided to invest in two things my health and experiences on the road.

In May 1991 I was just 5 months old when my father passed away because of liver cancer. I never got the chance to meet him but I heard from my sibling that he is a kind-heart man with alcohol problems. In 2009, I just started university when my loving mother left me so I became an orphan. The same with my father, she died due to liver cancer. She’s not alcoholic but they said that her mother also died in terminal sickness. It is probably some sort of genes. The year 2015, I just got into traveling when my 37-year old sister finally said goodbye after 8 months of battling with lupus. She’s a very health conscious kind of person. She neither smoked nor drank and she loved vegetables. It just happened that she’s born with that illness.

Every time I go to doctors to get different vaccines for protection against diseases and boast my immune system, they ask me why I want to get this vaccine. I always mention to them that both of my parents died in cancer. They don’t ask any follow up question but instead they usually end up giving me recommendation for another vaccine. Recently I just finished my Cervical Cancer vaccine one of my gynecologists suggested me to get an MMR vaccine while the other wants me to get IPV also known as Polio vaccine.

Before my sister’s death, both of my parents live until their 60’s. I thought I might live that long and that’s enough for me to graduate from university, get a stable job, build a house and start a new family. It’s a very typical life routine. However because of this, I realized that my life might not be as long as my parents. As a result I started to invest in experience through traveling because if the heaven up above decide to just give me a short life at least I filled it with a lot of memories and worthwhile experiences.

WHAT HAPPENED IN MOC BAI BORDER?

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Photo by vietnam-service.com

Whenever people asked me what my most memorable experience on the road is, I always mention them what happened on December 17, 2016 while I was crossing the border from Cambodia to Vietnam. Although it happened years ago my memory of this event is still clear.

Warning: This could be a bit of a horror story and you might see it as a negative side of Vietnam. I am asking you to look at my story as a travel experience and not as a backlash.

Disclaimer: This post is not in any way throwing shade or negativity against Vietnam. I love Vietnam! It is one of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia and honestly I am looking forward to living there again in the future. I am just simply sharing my experience in crossing the Vietnam- Cambodia border.

The Border

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Photo by sunrisehotel.com.vn

Mộc Bài is an international border gate between Vietnam and Cambodia located in Tây Ninh Province, Vietnam and Bavet border gate, Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia. It is a popular and the busiest gateway from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and vice versa.

I crossed this border thrice. The first two was when I was living in Vietnam and the most recent one was when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia.

For Philippine passport holders, we are visa free for both Vietnam and Cambodia for 21 days. If you are not applying for a visa on the border then your journey will be smooth sailing because the bus assistant will do the job for you. He will just simply collect you passport, guide you with immigration procedures then finally return your passport with entry stamp. However, if you are applying for a long term visa then that’s a different story.

My Story

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I was living in Vietnam for three months with a business visa. When my visa was about to expire, I am advised to renew it thru exit/ visa run. As per my agent’s advice to leave the country and go back after few days because it will be more costly and complicated to extend my visa without leaving Vietnam.

A month before my scheduled exit my friend told me that she paid $50 for her single entry business visa in the border. I got confused because to my knowledge it should only cost $25. I entered Vietnam thru Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi with the same visa and it only cost me $25 with a receipt. According to my friend she doesn’t have a choice because she was scared that her bus will leave her on the border. This alarmed me so I contacted my agent immediately. I told her about the situation that my friend had and she promised to look into it. Two weeks later I received a call from her. She notified me that my invitation letter is ready and reminded me that I should only pay $50 in the border.

*To obtain a business or long term tourist visa you have to get an invitation letter from a travel agency. The price varies depending on what visa and the duration of your stay. As for my second visa, I opted for 3 months multiple entry business visa which cost $200 invitation letter and another $50 for the visa sticker.  It is processed in the visa desk by the immigration officer in the airport or border.

*The fees are collected in USD.

The morning before we board our bus to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after spending 3 days in Phnom Penh, we had a chat with my friend’s housemate over breakfast. We talked about the difference of extending visas between Vietnam and Cambodia. He mentioned that in Cambodia, it is cheaper to extend your visa in the immigration office without leaving the country. He also mentioned the small corruption that is going on. According to him he should just pay $30 but he paid $40. The $10 is for the immigration officer’s tip that is pretty common. I suddenly remembered my friend’s story from last month so I quite expected that I could be charge more in the border. I decided to screenshot an English phrase in google translator to Vietnamese language, “give me a receipt”.

 At 8 a.m we took the bus to Saigon. As usual, the bus assistant collected our passports. We also gave him our invitation letters. When we reached the border at 11 a.m, he called us to take the two motorbikes waiting for us. He told us in broken English that they are his friends. They will take us to Vietnam border to get our visas. Confused, I asked him why we are going with these guys and our stuffs are still in the bus. He explained that while other passengers in the bus eat, we should go ahead because our visa application will be take some time.  My friend who is with me starts to panic and doesn’t want to go on a separate ride so we squeezed ourselves in one tiny motorbike. It was a 15-minute muddy and dusty ride. We exited the Cambodia border pretty quick but when we entered the Vietnam border that’s when the drama happened.

As soon as we entered the building our driver nodded to some guys who are waiting by the stairs. Three guys approached me and the other two went straight to my friend. They started mentioning visa so I thought they were there to assist us. But judging the way they look, I don’t think they are immigration officers. They are wearing a dirty utility or construction suit. Even though I was doubtful, I still followed them. They led us to the side where the filthy lockers full of web are located. It looked so creepy but I tried to stand it. They collected my passport and invitation letter along with my 2×2 ID picture. One of them is filling up a form with the details on my passport. The form was in Vietnamese so I don’t understand what it said. When they were done they asked me money. I asked them how much. The guy with the form wrote “$70” on his palm. As expected I am being ripped off. I told them it should be $50. I also heard my friend having an argument with the other two guys to pay $50 when it is supposed to be just $25 for her Single Entry visa. I explained that my agent told me that I should just pay $50 but these blokes can’t speak English so they gestured that my visa is Multiple Entry. I insisted that I know everything and mentioned that the airport charges $50. One of the dudes argued in broken English “Moc Bai Border different. Airport $50, OK! Moc Bai $70.” It was an endless tiring debate until I raised my hand and loudly said. “OK OK OK. $70! Fine but give me receipt!” The three guys got confused. “Receipt?” They looked at me wondering what I’m talking about. I took out my phone out and showed them the screenshot of the translator I had before. “Give me receipt!” One of them responded quickly, “No receipt. Moc Bai, receipt no.” I looked at the three of them with my roundest eyes, my resting bitchiest face with my both hands on my waist and I screamed, venting all my frustrations. “NO RECEIPT?! NO $70!” They instantly realized that I am not here to be deceived so the man holding the form said in a trembling tone to give him $1 for the form. My face didn’t change as I hand him the $1 bill. As he intimidatingly received it, he pointed the small immigration office near the creepy lockers where we were. He told me to submit all my documents there. When I turned around I saw around 40 people looking at us. They must have been bothered with the commotion I caused considering how loud my voice was. I smiled at them as a sign that everything is fine.

I lined up to the small booth. The motorbike driver followed me and asked me to pay him for the ride. With an irritated tone I asked how much. “$3” he replied I gave him 3. Instead of leaving he asked me for another $3 for my friend’s ride. “$3 for you, $3 your friend.” He said. My eyes got rounder again and place them closer to his face. Before I start saying something, he took off at the speed of light. People around me noticed it and started laughing. A co-Filipino told me that’s how it is in the border so I have to be extra careful with people approaching me because they usually take advantage of foreigners. A second later there was a tap on my shoulder. It was our bus assistant. He handed our backpacks to us. I was baffled. I held his hand and asked “Are you leaving? Wait for us. OK?” He just smiled and left. A foreign guy answered on his behalf “Don’t worry they will wait.” But that didn’t calm me because I can’t see him. Disturbed with the situation I asked around if there are buses from the border to Ho Chi Minh. Gladly, some people answered, there are and they don’t cost much but they advise me to be vigilant again of whom to inquire because some sees the situation as an opportunity to charge me three times more than the fare. After an hour or processing and waiting we got our new visa. We walked outside the building and good Lord our bus was parked on the side waiting for us. We walked in and saw dozens of annoyed people. We smiled and apologized for taking so long at the immigration and delaying the trip.

The Visa Process

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The whole visa process from standing in line, submission of documents, waiting up to the releasing of visa took more than an hour. I am considered lucky because some people had to wait longer. One of them even complained to the officer when I had mine since he had been waiting for three hours already. I felt sorry for him and I understood how he felt but I am also not sure what the process is like as they just collect all our documents and we were asked to wait for our name to be called. While waiting I had a chat with some Filipinos whose been crossing the border many times. They told me that Asian passports are given more privilege and processed faster than the others. I don’t know if it is true since I only applied for a long term visa in that border once.

 

The Scam

Regarding the scam that I almost fell into, just in case I paid $70 they will submit my documents to the immigration officer and they (scammers) promised it will be piled on top and will be the first to be processed. That is what I heard as they desperately try to deceive other people when I was observing them. The building was quite small so I can pretty much see the movement of the people. Also, I ended up paying $60 to the immigration officer without receipt. I didn’t argue since I am already tired, hungry and just wanted everything to be done.

 

My Thoughts

You might think it is only $20 and that’s a dirt cheap amount of money. However in Southeast Asia $20 is a huge amount. You can do a ton of things with that money. I’m a budget traveler so my fund is limited. If we give in paying them $20 for me and $25 from my friend, imagine how much bucks they can get in a day considering the number of people applying for a visa in the border. It will also encourage them more to continue this kind of business and corruption.

My Struggles as a Traveler during the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown

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Hooh! Where or how should I start? So, we have this pandemic that unimaginably shuts down the world. I never imagined this coming. I must admit I am one of those who took this virus lightly at first. Although I have been reading and asking my friends from the medical field about 2019 Novel Corona Virus. I must admit that I am a bit bias. I relied on sources saying it is not as deadly as SARS or MERS or at least that’s what I want to believe as I still continue to travel days before the outbreak. I even find it absurd when people online suggested a city lockdown. I thought it is not going to happen until March 16, 2020 when the Philippine President announced the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. That is when the tables turned and my most unexpected event happened.

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I live in Benguet Province which is part of the Luzon Island so obviously I am affected by this lockdown. In our humble Municipality of La Trinidad, we are under 24-hour curfew. That means no one is allowed to be out wandering around the streets and public area with the exemption of frontliners and essential workforce. Each barangay (district) is only given ONE DAY in a week to go out to attend to their groceries, banking and medical needs from 8 am-5pm. In my district, our schedule is every Tuesdays. On Sudays it’s total lockdown. NO ONE is allowed to go out unless it’s an emergency or medical circumstance. Walking around is also not allowed as this will be considered as grounds for “Loitering” and you will be arrested when caught. When you are arrested you will pay a fine or you will be in jail for two weeks. Yes! That’s how strict it is in my hometown.

My initial reaction is quite fine. I didn’t panic and took it positively. “It’s just one month.” I thought. But that one month was extended to one and a half up to two months as of this writing and only God knows until when. There’s no assurance that we’ll all go back to normal even the lockdown is lifted. So as days and weeks pass by I noticed how I struggle a lot and raised some issues I never thought I would have when I still have the freedom to roam around.

Financial Lost

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I believe that most of us are experiencing this. In one snap, we are out of job or have our paychecks cut in order for our companies to survive. Although I am lucky to land on a project and work in-house for few weeks with a company during the quarantine period plus I have some savings aside for months of being unemployed, that didn’t give me any assurance at all. My livelihood depends on travel and the industry I am in is badly affected by this crisis. My plan to launch my business has to be put on the back burner and it is so heartbreaking since it is months of sleepless nights, hard work, and labor. I totally don’t have idea when will I get a job again and for the first time in seven years I felt financially unstable.

Being Unmotivated

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Travel is my number one source of motivation in life. I can go through months of hard labor and saving up thinking at the end of the season I’ll be packing my bags and exploring new places. But with the increase of positive cases everyday, it is uncertain when can I do this again. For almost two months of being lockdown with very strict implementation of quarantine policies I must say 70% of the time I was not productive. Before, whenever I feel unmotivated I usually go out for a walk to get some air and reward myself with milk tea but this simple joy of mine has been taken away. With that being said, I end up not doing much. My brain just shut down wasting my time looking at the ceiling for hours. I felt like I got too much time on my hand so the things I am working on can wait until I feel motivated again but that never happened. As a result I did not accomplished much.

Depression

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As a traveler, I am in my happiest when I step outside going on adventure but during the quarantine I felt caged. That’s the exact way to describe it. I have never been this sad since my mother and my sister’s passing way back years ago. It felt doomed for not having a breather. I sometimes find myself staring outside the window crying without any reason. My sleep pattern was badly affected too. I am wide awake at 2 or 3 a. m which gives me more chances to entertain my 2 a. m. thoughts. The worst part is my nightmares. I usually have nightmares about me and my loved ones caged in a hospital. It is so scary.

Communicating

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This time the best alternative to hanging out with our friends and our loved ones is through video call. I sometimes had Face Time with my friends overseas and my family for a bit catching up. However, I also find myself having difficulty talking to them. When I talk to my loved ones I just want to share positivity and good things. But, what can I share at this moment? There’s nothing going on with me compare to when I was traveling. The fact that the lockdown is such a toxic time from news, social media to people has added to my difficulty in reaching out. Some of the people that I adore are just so opinionated since we have so much time to be involved. And these ones are the main reason why I distant myself to them.  I don’t want to vent out my frustrations or rant to them. Some of them have different opinion from me and I don’t want to argue especially talking on the phone is quite different from face to face conversation. There are more chances of being misunderstood.

Dealing with Social Media

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Social media should be a good medium for information sharing, fun and inspiring others. At least that was how I see and use it during my traveling days. However, I noticed that few days before the lockdown it started to be toxic and became worse as quarantine approaches. It was full of negativity with a lot of bad news and overflowing fake news. I saw a post of a friend raising an argument regarding how deadly COVID19 is and yes, she’s up for a fight while another would always post the increased number of cases then followed by criticizing the government. I am not exempted when I made a six-word sentence comment on an article. Someone came for me throwing harsh words even criticizing my looks. I ended up deleting my comment and promised myself to NEVER give any of my two cents anymore. I also logged out but since social media is my only source of news I logged in again two days after and just unfollowed those undesirable people on my feed. Gladly, I am doing fine.

Boredom

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Admit it! Eight weeks of quarantine is too long. Even though you are the most productive person in the planet there are times that you get bored too with too much time and nothing to do. Although there are trends that went viral on the internet to ease boredom it wasn’t enough for me since I am living a complete different lifestyle before, waking up in different places doing various outdoor activities.   I am not used to following certain routine.

Fear of Missing Out

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Now this is pure selfishness you may say. I know this type of feeling should not be present during this time of crisis. The first weeks of lockdown were really bad for me. I hated it. I hated the situation and the atmosphere of it. It even added whenever I check my friends’ ig stories and posts from overseas. They say they are on quarantine but how come they can still go out and play golf, some of them would go hiking and cycling for the whole day and others don’t have lockdown in their cities at all. At that point, I started questioning how the government is handling the situation. How come other countries are not having a lockdown and their citizens are free to move around while we are locked up in our home. But then I realized we have different situations, facilities and approach from other parts of the world. I should just start trusting the process of this and do my part. To stay home! I stopped snooping at my friends’ posts and just focus on my well-being during this quarantine.

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Overall, it is not that bad at all. On the positive side, during the lockdown I learned to slow down, pause and appreciate things. I start noticing the beauty of my neighborhood which I just ignored the whole time. I made productive daily routine which includes allocating time to do household chores, watch travel movies (to keep me inspired), k-drama, read books, and work out. I turn off my phone data from time to time and only use it for a certain amount of hours per day to attend to my e-mails, updates regarding work and to check in with my friends and family. I learned to be kinder to myself. I start accepting that if I didn’t accomplish anything today so be it. There’s still tomorrow to do it. I constantly remind myself of my life mantra “If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

*Bonus part, I deep cleaned my room and collected more than a kilo of dust (not a joke) which will not happen if it were because of the quarantine. LOL!

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM TRAVELING

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Experience is the best teacher! I heard this for the first time when I was in high school. At that time, I just thought it is the normal cycle of life. We are born, study in school, graduate, get a job, build our home, start a family of our own, send our kids to school, grow old and eventually die. Coming from a small town in the countryside I must say my knowledge and experience in life was very limited. All the life lessons I learned are from the experience my mother, my teachers and what the church I used to attend taught me. However, things turned into 180 degrees when I started traveling. I got to learn things I haven’t learned from school and experience things I could have imagined. Some experiences are good while some are not but one thing is for sure it made me a better person.

*Disclaimer: These are all from my personal experiences that I am sharing. You may agree or not but just saying that we all have different experiences and situations in life.

Keep an Open Mind

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I was raised in a conservative environment where certain standards serve as guidance on how to live and how to act in order to fit in. As a result, I was always confused on why some things are unacceptable when I can’t see anything wrong with it. Along my journeys I met the most amazing, accepting and non-judgmental people who would say nothing but good things. I learned to see the good things in every place, people and culture. Through them I learned to be more understanding on everything whether it is cultural, political, religious belief or personality difference. We are all diverse and that is beautiful. I realized that as long we are sensitive to people around us and respectful to our unlikeness we can all get along just fine.

Being Independent

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Being independent does not only count on traveling alone but also taking good care of myself that includes some adulting stuff. Traveling to new places, living overseas and exploring the unknown taught me to be resilient and to step out of my comfort zone without depending on other people. I walk places alone, eat by myself, take care of my finances and do things on my own without worrying what other people think.  It is the best and most liberating feelings I ever had.

Cultural Sensitivity

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It irks me when people would drop comments about something better in their country versus the country or the place they are visiting. Sure, it’s very common to compare but do you know what this place or people are coming from? I heard a lot of people being so judgmental on others’ cultural practice but have you dug deeper or talked to the locals about it? Remember that these cultures that we mock were practiced millions of years ago and people are just doing fine before we even encountered it. There are cultures that are deemed unaccepted to the culture we are raised to but it would be helpful to observe and learned first before opening your mouth.

 

Proper Etiquette for Travelers

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Putting your dish away in the hostel, asking permission before you take photos on sacred sites, people and with other people, observing proper dress code at sites, greeting and smiling back at locals, asking your fellow travelers if you can upload or tag them in your photos are some examples of right conduct while traveling. Not only to leave them a good impression and being polite but also to show sensitivity to the space we are sharing and acknowledging their presence.

 

Experience over Material Things

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You must have heard this from many motivational speakers and read it from many travel bloggers but it is true and I am living by this statement. In my first year in the working world, I used to go shopping every pay check to relieve my stress and be happy. Yes, the material things I owned gave me sense of fulfillment but only for a short time. When I embarked on a journey of packing my bags and catching flights I realized that the experience I have on the road, meeting new people and learning new culture are lifetime happiness and fulfillment that I need. I also gave up my old lifestyle of collecting things and choose to collect experience that would last a lifetime. Experience, I will share to people and to my future offspring hoping it will inspire them. Experience, I will cherish and will never regret when I reminisce in my grandma days.

 

Travel Responsibly In Terms of Environmental Consciousness and Exploitation

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Something that I learned from people I met along the way and from what I see with my own eyes. Environmental deterioration is such a huge problem right now and admit it tourism play a big role in this. Being sensitive and caring for the environment is a responsibility of each and every one of us. We only have one world and we don’t wish our future generation not to witness its beauty. We have to be responsible even to our small gesture like keeping your litter until, you find a trash bin. Through the years I learned how to travel sustainably such as using eco-bags and bringing my own reusable straws, spoon, fork and chopsticks until I incorporate them to my daily life even when I’m not traveling. I know it is a bit of an effort but I consider it as doing my part to our world.

 

Another issue that we should be concern about is the exploitation of animals and people for entertainment and tourism. Most people are not knowledgeable about this dark side of tourism. It pains me whenever I see photos of elephant riding in Southeast Asia. My heart is also broken when people patronize tourist trap tours in villages run by third party agencies. I felt that I have the responsibility to educate people about responsible tourism. To my dear friends and readers anything involving animals and people in an unethical way for the sake of tourism and entertainment is not acceptable and should be banned. I am asking you to skip these activities. If it is a package tour do not choose these ones because if there are no consumers then there won’t be producers.

Disclaimer:  I am not in any way against village tours. They are worth visiting however, be sure to choose your tours well and do your research before going. Some tour agencies give very little money to the people of the village or they don’t give any benefit at all. Some ethnic minorities also are forced to do something they are against their will to attract visitors. They don’t have proper health benefit, income and education and most of them depend on the tip or “dollar money” given by tourists.

 

Realizing How Lucky and Privilege d I am

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Being able to travel is a privilege. That’s a fact especially coming from a developing country. Not everyone can be able to step outside and see the world. In my culture, most of us are obliged to help our family financially so we prioritize to support our loved ones. I am grateful for having a very understanding family who supports my decision in traveling the world. This alone is a privilege of mine. For years of backpacking, I witnessed people who wish to travel and live a similar lifestyle of mine but couldn’t due to responsibilities. I saw people having no roof above them and struggle to make ends meet day by day. I also talked to someone who gambled everything he had to leave his troubled city and trying to survive doing dead end jobs. I seated next to locals on a train ride putting a smile on their faces while batching their products to be sold in the market despite the fact that 2 minutes ago they almost pass out carrying the 60 kg sack of vegetables into the train. I chatted with a very wealthy young heir who has all the material things he wants however he is not given the time and freedom to explore the world because he is pressured with responsibilities to run his father’s business. I had numerous encounters with women crying on a plane because they have to leave their family and their children as young as 1 year old in order to work overseas and make money for their future. These situations impacted me to be thankful with what I have in life. I will quote a statement of someone when I complained how life has been rough on me in the past. He said “Stop comparing your life to others! Think about those who struggle and unprivileged who wish who has your job, your experience, your health and your ability. All your experiences on the road could be equivalent to their lifetime experience or none at all because they are stuck in something they can’t go out.” Those are the words I live by up to now. I must say I am purely happy and contented with my life right now. With these privileges that I have, I promise to stop complaining, be kinder and be more emphatic to people’s situation.

 

 

HOW TRAVELING CAN’T MAKE ME KEEP A RELATIONSHIP: Confession of a Traveler

 “When are you getting yourself a partner?” asked by concern family members and friends of mine during get-together since I am away most of the time. They haven’t heard about me dating anyone nor see me post on social media being with someone so they are excited to know if I already brought home a man to be with and will soon settle down. To their dismay I always just smile at them as a respond whenever these types of questions would arrive at a lunch or dinner table during occasions. But these types of awkward situation make me entertain questions in my head “Bakit nga ba?”(Why?)

 

When I attended my childhood friend’s wedding she introduced her husband as her “travel buddy” in her speech.  It is interesting to see her post about their travels and vacations on social media. Then I thought “I have been traveling for almost six years and I haven’t found my travel buddy yet”. I laughed at that thought but some realizations also made me think why I am single and cannot keep a partner.

 

Traveling Can’t Make Me Stay

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I am a traveler and when you say traveler, it is not only going on a trip or a vacation. It is also constantly moving and seeking places. I travel for work, leisure, and experience. But the most important thing is that travel is part of my life. It is something non-negotiable that I can’t live without. I am so grateful and privileged to travel and keep my job at the same time. This gives me opportunity to be away and explore other places and try new things. However as I progress in places I visit it also signals the downfall of the relationship I have. Most of the guys I met wouldn’t want their girl to be away from them for quite long. That means it is either I have to let go of my travels to pursue a man (which is not going to happen) or find a man who will understand my lifestyle (which is not the case with a lot of guys). As a result, I am going solo.

 

I Can’t Afford To Date

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The cost of dating can be sometimes unbearable on my part.  Do you know how much would it cost to go out, go on vacations, buy gifts and celebrate anniversaries? Being raised as independent, I am a firm believer that women should also pay a fair share of financial responsibilities with their partners. My experience backpacking for years and being with the company of fellow travelers, I am used to picking up my own bills. The same is true with my dating, believe it or not every time I go out on a date even if it is the first one I always offer and insist on paying at least half of the bill. That way, when my date and I didn’t turn out to be compatible at least he won’t resent me because I paid my part. Dating and traveling could be both pricey to keep up but I would rather spend my money surfing or hiking than dining with someone.

 

Dating On the Road Usually Ends Up Going on Separate Ways

 

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Living overseas and being on the road enables me to find love and potential partners. However such situations will not make it permanent most of the time. The next thing you know, you are both bidding your goodbyes. I heard a lot of stories of finding their forever while traveling but not every traveler has similar fate as them. I know to myself that it takes a lot of time, effort and compromise for their relationship to work and that is something I am lacking. Not that I’m stubborn but I just don’t want any of us to give up our hard earned ambitions to follow the other. Especially if our goals and own growth are heading to different directions. This is just too much for me and I don’t want to be neither selfish nor selfless. Therefore, it is better to let go than being resentful to each other just in case the fire stops burning.

 

I am ONLY Interested in a Guy Who Travels

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Some of my friends call me picky or has high standards but that’s not the case. It’s better to say I have a specific standard. I am always attracted to guys who see travel as a way of learning the unknown, appreciate new culture, keep an open mind about the different beliefs, tradition and always up for a new adventure. Unfortunately, in the place where I am from most of the guys there sees travel as luxury, waste of money and couldn’t understand my traveling life. Although, I tried really hard to show them and prove their opinion wrong about traveling, it is not working. So I decided to give up because I don’t want to force myself to a man who is obviously very different from me.  We are two different people, having different mind-set, priorities and lifestyle. So, K! Bye!

 

I Haven’t Found My Travel Soulmate Yet

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Some of you might have thought while reading this article to find a man who has similar lifestyle and go on adventures together. I did millions of times and I did everything I can to keep him too. I tried my luck with guys who are in traveling industry, travel junkies and simply travel enthusiasts. But in this journey called life, we all have our own bucket lists not just of places we want to visit but also achievements we want to reach. It takes a lot of hard work to touch them down. As a traveller I also have my own big dreams of where I want to be and so they are. When your plans and goals don’t support each other then it is better to grow individually than being together. It is heartbreaking to cross path with someone with the right feelings but can’t stay at each other’s lives. Sadly, we have to go our separate ways in the end to fulfill our dreams and our travels.

 

Of course, I won’t blame travel for everything. There are also other factors why I can’t keep a relationship out of this context. But I know to myself whether I stay single or find my lifetime travel buddy, I will continue my journeys. Travel and I have a solid bond. For all those years traveling I learned one thing “Finding love could be easy but keeping it would be the most difficult part.”

That “Pinagtagpo Pero Hindi Tinadhana” Situations While Traveling

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You probably heard a lot of traveling couples on social media finding their love while on the road. Well, I also dreamed of that one point in my traveling life. Being on the road gives me a humongous amount of opportunities to meet new people and probably meet my Mr. Right A.K.A my-hopefully-Mr.-Travel-the-World- with Buddy. Those chances come in different plots and twists just like movies and drama. As an avid traveller but a little bit “marupok” (weak) when it comes to love and attraction, I encountered endless beautiful and unique connection while going on adventure by myself. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances they didn’t end up into fate. Here are some of my epic fail love (or maybe not) stories while on the road.

 

We Were Both Expats

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I was on a day trip in Vietnam when I met this guy on a day tour. I was currently working and living in Hanoi and he was having a 5-day lay over. He’s a Turkey based pilot who regularly flies in Hanoi and Saigon twice to thrice a month. We clicked so well since, we both love to travel and we love sharing our experiences to each other. During the tour we were inseparable probably because we are already attracted to each other. We are also no longer focus on what the tour guide was saying because our attention is both on our stories. For me, that time and place was magical. I thought to myself he could be the one. After the day trip, we decided to grab some draft beer in Old Quarter, Hanoi. After that night, he asked me if I want to see him again the next day before he leaves. I said “Yes.” He added he’ll be back after a week and it would be nice to meet again. Of course, I agreed again thinking it could be my destiny. The next thing, we regularly hanged out and go on trips whenever he is in town. Until the sixth month, my company back home called me telling me to pack my bags because the contract is over and it is time for me go home. Few hours later, I received a call from him saying he is being transferred to South Africa and we couldn’t see each other for a while. I stopped believing in romantic destiny after that time. LOL!

 

I’m Heading North, He’s Heading South

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Back when I was backpacking in Southeast Asia few years back. I met a guy in a border ride to Laos from Cambodia. We are both traveling alone and heading to similar place, Si Phan Don, Laos. As soon as our eyes met it started an infinite conversation about our travels, hometowns and more until we reach our own hostels. The next day, I accidentally bump into him again in Li Phi waterfalls. We had lunch together and continued to explore the tiny island by bike for the rest of the day. We discussed our routes and destinations too. After Laos we are heading to the opposite direction. He’ll be going to Vietnam and I will be continuing my journey in Thailand.  Despite that we still agreed to chill in the hammock and swim in the river the next day. We even caught the sunset together. I also encouraged him to go all the way until the North of Laos which I already pass through so he can see the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. On my last day in the island, he told me he can adjust his travel and come with me in Thailand. I refuse because he’s been there already and I know how much it would cost him to rebook his flights, cancel his hostels and how complicated the process of entering Laos again since his passport is not visa-free. Also, I felt burdened to ruin his plans and I don’t want to take any responsibilities if we suddenly realize we are not really into each other in the middle of the journey and end up arguing. So it is better to go our own route and let our memories be just a part of our beautiful history in our travels.

 

I Forgot to Get His Phone Number Though

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This one is unexpected. I was planning on sleeping the entire flight from Mandalay, Myanmar to Bangkok, Thailand when a cute and tall guy who is just my type seated next to me. It was the tail end of the plane and the whole row is only the two of us. My plan on sleeping didn’t happen when the stewardess asked us both who needs an arrival card. I said “Me.” He looked at me and asked if I was Thai. I said, “No!” That’s the start of almost 2-hour conversation, exchange of smiles and looking at each other’s eyes. We were talking about our home country. He is from Malaysia and I have been there a couple of times so we had a long chat about it. He also mentioned that he’s been traveling often in Manila because they have a branch company there. He’s an engineer and currently deployed in Myanmar so the flight we are taking is only his connecting flight going home to Kuala Lumpur. I was thinking of getting his phone number already before we say goodbye however fate must be picking on me. When we took the bus going to the arrival area of Don Muang airport it was full of passengers so we rode different buses. As soon as I reached the arrival platform I tried looking for him but he is nowhere to be found probably he is in his boarding gate already. I never saw him again. And I regret not getting his phone number earlier.