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Friday, April 25, 2014

The Oftentimes Blissful, Sometimes Unbearable Red Pill of Travel


A lot of factors help us psyche up our upcoming travels. From movies, to novels, to travel articles, it all paint an image in our mind of how our trips will go down. Most of the time we end up experiencing a series of bumps on the road, sometimes the polar opposite of it, depending on which you expect, either such adventurous epic failure-filled wandering or a walk in the park stroll throughout the path you drew on your itinerary map. During my recent 25-day trip to India, I actually expected the worst, I bought along dozens of anti-diarrhea medicine and a mosquito repellent (my first time ever to buy one). You wonder how I came into that expectations? well, count the number of films, books and travel articles that depicted India as one big chaotic nation BUT with cultural, religious and gastronomical offerings to provide feasts to all senses. I got the last part right, the rest? I was surprised to experience no unnecessary trips to the bathroom even if I feasted on Indian food, almost nary of a mosquito bite and was never harassed nor scammed. 

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Traveling in real life is not as romanticized as it is in the movies. The chances of meeting missus perfect on the road or at the beach at Palawan are not that high, nor do you sit beside an Emily Blunt doppelganger on the plane. Most of the time you end up being sandwiched by an overweight guy and a woman who complains a lot each time you will excuse yourself to go to the comfort room. Though, sometimes something wonderful happens while on the road when you least expect it. Sparks of romance, however briefly is felt between you and someone, buoyed by the long bus rides and scenic surroundings, whispers of conversations between each other sounds like phrases from a romantic movie. I've written some of it herehere and here.

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Real-life traveling also doesn't guarantee you will end up on interesting places all the time. This is not some travel show on TV where it was already edited to show the juicy parts. Long hours are spent on bus terminals and airport lounge waiting for the next available trip out. Travel for me is brutal, for the manner I travel, which is more of a backpacker type. However, it is that daunting process which make it more satisfying when I finally reaches my destination. This is the part you see on travel shows, the best one where all good expectations are either realized or even top it off. 

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So, next time you swear all profanities to the universe and blame yourself for how things went on to suck while traveling, cursing the bad karma on how it turned out to be a nightmare and a total contrast of your expectations. Do not fret, because you actually experienced the unknown joys of journeying, only felt by travelers who have dared to exceed and prove their expectations wrong. One thing that my recent India trip have taught me is, that whatever fear you have inside you, it will remain there until you learn to step out of your comfort zone and shatter your best and worst expectations of travel.

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This is my entry to the PTB Blog Carnival April 2014 - Traveling: When Fact is Really Fiction hosted by Kaiz of Where Have You Been Lately?

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