I love Matt’s blog and I recently discovered I Am Aileen, a Batanes-born Filipina traveler who temporarily calls Belgium as her home. She was featured in Nomadic Matt’s travel blog and I love her Antwerp piece which appeared on NatGeo.
And I am currently reading Tim Ferris The 4-Hour Work Week, it offers fabulous life-hacks on travelling (I have a pdf file and willing to share but it’s available on amazon if you have the bucks and on if you don’t).
When I started blogging and bribing friends to visit this site, a colleague at work told me she was inspired by Just One Way Ticket. It was an inspiring blog site and her blog about Japan really inspired me to visit that country, I told myself: very soon because she’ll wait for me.
These travel bloggers continues to break the stereotyped mindset in bold letters: one can travel to places even if you are not rich.
When I traveled solo to a faraway province in the Philippines, I found out it can be done. It is indeed possible! And travelling solo is rewarding. One only needs to rely on resourcefulness, instinct, common sense and contacts.
When you are on a tight budget, 1 km is just a jog on the track. What you need is all jammed on a backpack. Them? They call themselves backpackers.
But if you are the type that stays at plush hotels, used to fine dining and travels on business class or a bmw, can’t take the dirty toilets at bus stops or dug-outs in small towns or you bring the comfort of your home everywhere, then travel would really cost an arm and a leg. You belong to the le richè.
Travelling had always been a dream for me, a passion that burns stronger than ever. As a child I’ve never been on any trip to the beach, to a museum or any other historical sites but don’t be mistaken, my childhood had been full of laughter and simplicity. I grew up in a decade where travelling is only for the rich. I grew up in a culture that is not yet open to that way of life (even now, family would sarcastically tell me ang yaman mo naman, lakwatsa ka ng lakwatsa). And who can blame them? I grew up poor where food on the table is a priority and travelling is an out of this world idea.
But after a few years, a lot had changed. A new way of life emerged, new or old ideas about how one should live a balanced life started to occupy a space in people’s mind. In parallel with the fast changing technology came the boon of people exposed to the idea of travelling, of You Only Live Once phrases. People are upping the ante of their lifestyle, even in the third world country.
We work to live and not live to work…
But this is all possible because of several contributing factors, airlines nowadays are offering very cheap plane tickets as low as Php1.00 as base fare. One can stay at dorm-types hostels at Php500/night, homestays as low as Php250/night or coachsurf (this is free). With travel and tour companies sprouting like mushrooms, one can also choose the cheapest travel packages that can suit one’s budget. These packages most often include transportation, meals, hotels, fees and the tour itself. One just needs to find a tour operator who has a passion to share the joys of travel and stick with them. If you have travelled with them for a few times, they offer discounts. I have met several and they indeed are sulit.
And then there is Do-It-Yourself or DIY, popular to couples or solo backpackers. DIY’s cut your expenses to almost 3/4 of the normal travel money. And true, your 50 peso bill can go the distance in the Philippines.
Now, travelling is no longer for the rich but also for the average Juan and Juana.
Most often, I do DIY’s but it is not often applicable. On some travels, I join a group or require the help of a tour operator for practical, safety and financial reasons. Travelling in a group or with friends reduces travel expenses and shared experiences deepens connections.
I started travelling a few years ago and recently because I am climbing a certain mountain. In that short span of time, I experienced a lot of struggles but I, too, can fill this page with what travelling and mountain climbing had contributed to my life.
The books I have read since I was a child described a beautiful world, travelling was like stepping out of those books. My eyes opened to a wide landscape of ideas, a whole new world of struggles, accomplishments, laughter and experiences one can not attain while walking at malls (spending the same amount of money that equals a day hike) or sitting on a sofa watching soap operas.
I learned to love myself more.
Overwhelming as they are, those experiences has to be put down to words, to inspire and join in breaking the stereotyped mindset.
Writing is a gift which was helped nurtured by a lot of people when I was in college. So I started a blog site in 2011 to write about my travels but it became inactive for three years, my travels went undocumented.
I started blogging again after my Mt. Apo climb. I wrote an account of that experience, from there someone triggered something inside me that made me write again. He is a blessing in many ways and his kind heart will continue to be so.
The entire aim of this blog site is to convey to the heart of the reader the scenes, the experience, the emotions, to inspire. Not just on mountain climbing and travel but of books and random thoughts. That is why I often refrain on giving detailed itineraries. Mark the places you want to go but snap up whatever adventure that would come along the way, those unplanned detours usually become the highlight of the trip. Even an inconvenience are all part of the adventure. Ask locals of the places they enjoy or visited.
Yet, when I walk the streets of a new town or a new city, I yearn for my job. I miss my desk, my computer and even the smelly building plans. The adrenaline rush, the time consuming meetings where everyone bickers back and forth, the ‘high’ when a project is starting to get interesting, the lows when everything is running smoothly and the constant pressure of the job.
I get the adrenaline rush when an adventure starts but I also get excited when its coming to an end. It meant I can plunge head-on again in the world of building buildings, anticipating its rigors and challenges. Meeting technical people and learning how a simple machine works. In the construction industry, learning never stops. You learn about how a doorknob works, how LED lights are manufactured. In short, how things are built and how they work.
Someone once told me “…change career ka na lang, magtravel blog ka; ang galing mo eh” it was supposedly meant to be a compliment but somehow I took it as an insult.
Right there and then I realized living a travel life day in and day out for this lifetime is not for me.
Born in an underprivileged family, I literally fought tooth and nail to finish my education. Getting that bachelors degree was the most precious gift I received from myself and from those who helped me (and they count to a handful).
Like other provincial pumpkins, I tried my luck in the city where jobs are too many. Since then, I had became a part of teams that had built several structures in the metropolis.
When I pass by those structures, the feeling of accomplishment assails me I was part of the team that made it possible and it is a beautiful emotion. Psychologist calls it the feeling of importance.
I am not quitting on travel and adventure, I will continue to embark on them, dream about it each day and tighten my belt to make it happen.
I will continue to walk on trails up the summit of a mountain and watch the new day as it unfolds slowly. Laugh at the silly jokes of fellow climbers and write their stories. I would probably cross a swaying bridge that spans the length of a lake. I will continue to meet people of different mentalities and mindsets. Hoping to meet more angels that makes one believe in the innate goodness of the human soul.
I will continue to discover cultures, walk on historic cities, eat a cooked snake or a fried insect, listen to dialects and music foreign to my ear, taste spices that buoys the spirit, survive an unlighted alley, look upon a statue sculpted by a person long forgotten by history, receive a warm smile from a stranger, swim on blue colored lakes and seas, sit on a pristine beach and watch the sunset.
I shall walk the Road to Santiago, step on the ground where the great empire of the oldest civilization on earth once stood and thrived. See the arts and poems of the great minds that changed the course of history.
But I guess I will always go back to that 8-5 hour job with it’s mundane tasks, love-hate relationship with the boss, electronic beeps, unpaid sacrifices, office gossips and politics, heels and make-ups.
Because it gives me the feeling of accomplishment on a much deeper level. It gives the meaning to my life. Ain’t that what we all aim for in life? The feeling that we are making a difference. Travel and mountain climbing gives vivid colors to it. Like a book, my life is meaningful but more interesting and enjoyable with all those vivid pictures of places, sunrises, sunsets, people I’ve met who touched my life on it’s pages.
If I hadn’t worked since I was a child, it would have been different but this is the course of my history and for so many others who grew up in the jaws of poverty. Pity if they haven’t found or experienced yet the joys and beauty of travel and climbing mountains just like you and I did.
We join in hand to help them, too. Everyone deserves to see the beauty of the earth, to hear the music of the cultures that makes up the world, to discover the sound that balances nature, to be mesmerized by the kindness of the human heart.
Poverty is not something to be ashamed of, yet it is also not something to be bragged about.
I am the woodcutter, my 8-5 hour job is the firewood and the adventure is the fire. Whatever is cooking, it definitely smells and tastes delicious.
Now, let the adventure continue.#