I skipped writing a year-ender last year even though my 2014 was filled with travels - as it was the year I finally fulfilled my decade-long dream of visiting the country of India. Like hitting three birds with one stone, I also crossed out the location where Richard from Alex Garland’s “The Beach” discovered a secret spot. A paradise on Earth indeed, but in real-life, is anything but deserted – crawling with tourists holding selfie sticks partaking in tourism’s sometimes unpleasant effect; the world renowned Maya Bay in Thailand. I also ventured into the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka where I counted five UNESCO World Heritage Sites situated within 5-6 hour train rides from each other. 2014 was also the year I thought I had found a lifelong travel companion.
|Jump for joy: with Mica (Philippines) and Maria (Greece) during the #KeralaBlogExpressII (March 2015)|
The high stemming from that romantic part of my life spilled over to 2015 and like a free bird it carried over to more ‘couple-travels’ and then some. I was chosen to be part of the #KeralaBlogExpressII in India – a two week Kerala Tourism-sponsored trip across the tropical state of Kerala in India. During the trip I met 26 other travel bloggers from all over the world, with the other two being Mica, whom I already formed a friendship here in the Philippines for several years already and Alexa, whom I met both here in Manila and in Bangkok three years ago.
Two weeks of chartered bus,
luxury hotels and long lines of buffet food to go along with the crazy merriment
of the whole gang created a one-of-a-kind experience of a lifetime. Until now, we still get in touch with each other through WhatsApp and promise to see each
other once we end up traveling to each other’s respective countries.
|with other travel bloggers during Cebu Pacific's FamTour in and around Nagoya, Japan (Oct 2015)|
Going back to the aforementioned ‘couple travels’ with my then girlfriend. We kicked off our journeys together during the last quarter of 2014 when we went to Puerto Princesa and the Ilocos Region while continuing in 2015 with jaunts to El Nido, Palawan, Calayan Island, Mount Pulag, Baguio City, Cebu City and in her hometown of Legazpi, Albay. Life was a combination of exploration and love-induced cajoling. I get the chance to travel and at the same time, show her around and introduce this kind of lifestyle amidst her busy corporate career.
But life has an idiosyncratic way
of unraveling the painful side of losing grasp of the one you hold dearly, or
in my case; someone I thought I will never lose in my lifetime. Things turned
to worse and all of a sudden she was gone from my life. I kissed the ground while
humbled by my fall from grace – as much as I became bitter with the breakup I
recognize also my shortcomings, as one wouldn’t stray when one is happy and
contented. I realized I became unaware that we are already living inside a wet
cardboard where we can’t punched our way out anymore. We thrived yet both of us
became complacent and I own much of that responsibility.
|Top loading with Gael, Mary and Marcos at Banaue (Feb 2015) photo credit: Marcos Caratao|
That aspect of my life suffered, but my wanderings went on; with a trip to Japan courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air and a few other writing gigs to Leyte, Camarines Norte, Cordillera Region, Surigao del Sur, Siquijor sandwiching personal trips to other parts of the Philippines further enriched my nomadic experiences of the year. I learned new culture, tasted new cuisines and formed new friendships along the way.
|During happier times. @Pope Francis' Manila Visit (January 2015)|
I imagined what life would have been for me if it weren’t for traveling. Being consumed by wanderlust has made it easier for me to go through the hurtful process of being broken emotionally. It gave me at least a familiar road to thread my mind into. When the weeks passed after our unfortunate parting of ways, the places I wanted to visit gave me consoling thoughts, and a realization that maybe life knows me better than I do. As if telling me that “isn’t this the life you want and not the conventional one?”
As I pulled the horn of the
departed year, I ride the back of the incoming year with gusto. Picking myself
up, I welcome the year 2016 with wide eyes open and my love for traveling still
burning passionately as before. I guess, after what’s said and done, nothing
can ever clip my wings apart. On the road is where I still point my finger.
|Looking ahead at better days in 2016. @Lanuza, Surigao del Sur (Dec 2015)|