Yes, I’ve been putting aside the recap of my one week adventure to three Southeast Asian countries. If you need reasons, I must therefore explain that the cause must be the sense of not wanting the adventure to end, or that I cannot simply move into the reality of life in the scripted manner that so many of we, dreamers, (employer alert) have a difficulty coming to terms with. Within a rush of crazy ideations minutes before boarding, I even considered to acquire a head cover like what the other Eurasian-looking departees were wearing, to enter the adjacent gate to hop on a flight to Almaty, not even knowing at that moment in time that it was located in Kazakhstan. But my superego was strong enough to bring me to an airline seat beside a lethargic Filipina. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re going home.
(With all respect to immigration laws and regulations, I wouldn’t really do that. But Almaty, Kazakhstan looks pretty decent upon Googling.)
So for the brave lot of travelers reading this post, here’s a list of my thoughts about the trip. — As of November 10, 2011.
- Carry only a few things. Pack lightly and use the most efficient items for the whole duration for your trip. (Alert: The next lines will resemble an advertisement… a fan’s annoying promotion) The iPod touch helped me a lot in taking instant photographs, writing notes, and converting currencies. It also was the most effective way of communicating with family, booking accommodations, and checking maps. Choose applications wisely before traveling.
- Wear something, but not everything or nothing at all. – Yes, fashion is wildly evolving but you still have to pay respect to the host country. It’s odd to go sunbathing (bikinis and mats included) on major roads. Some places may accept your shorts and high heels, but I guess it would be more comfortable for you to wear decently in ancient temples. Go ahead and dress like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones, if the budget can manage. Don’t worry about Bangkok, retail heaven, it appears that on weekends, the city suddenly turns into one music video/fashion show. (Back in a 2008 trip, I’ve noticed that they wore yellow on Mondays to honor the King.)
- Keep your lightweight raincoats in this tropical subcontinent.
- Learn some self defense, just in case. If you can’t bring a katana, keep a pen in your pocket.
- “No worries. You’re on Holiday.” – There might be millions of reasons why you are leaving the country, so try to reduce stress. Leave prepared, but don’t overdo it. During my trip, I’ve realized that adhering tightly to a schedule could be a bother, so also set some time to experiment with new options. If something goes wrong, fix it at once and get back to the usual flow of time. Avoid worrying and let things fall into place naturally.
- Read – Pre-trip: read some history, news about the places you’re supposed to visit. During the trip: KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR ANYTHING! Signboards, restaurant menus, plate numbers, body language, tickets, translations to English. Post-trip: Numbers on receipts (eek!) and also the face your mother gives you when you give her a lovely scarf from Cambodia.
- Act like an ambassador. – Share. Make connections. It would be nice to bring photographs of home in case some of your acquaintances decide to fly over. Our country will always be an eye-opener for its natural wonders and hospitable people side by side with extremes in the wealth bracket and constant political disarray. Try to fit in the Philippines within that global jigsaw puzzle.
- Help if you can. – Support local organizations and establishments that oppose exploitation of our fellow Southeasterners. Buy products that lend to a cause. Educate a few kids over lunch about a topic of interest. Dear reader, you are very much blessed in a multitude of ways, so let’s spread the blessings.
- Document/Report! – You’re coming through a long way alone, so it is safer to keep loved ones updated about your whereabouts in case something goes wrong. They still are right; the world is full of strange things and the last thing you want should be them learning of your accidental leg amputation over international television. If you intend to write about your trip, make sure you pen it at once! Inspiration overflows and a great obstacle is coherently channeling it for a worthy blog post. (Drat.)
- Try to be at peace. You will learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone. When you get back home, make sure you put your resolutions to work.
That ends the first part of One Week. I would like to thank friends and family for graciously sending me to this once in a lifetime quest! It served as a magnificent chapter to independence and the weight of responsibility in order to push through with your goals. I’ve spent nights planning itineraries with a half chance of success, and I’m thankful for having even a week to suffice for my efforts.
For now, let’s see what could be done around town.