I never wanted to travel the world.
Yes, you read that right. I never wanted to travel the world. I was raised in the mountains near the South of Manila called Laguna in the Philippines. Life was simple. I remembered my childhood pretty clear. My paternal grandmother would wake up early in the morning to cook me and my brothers breakfast. My dad would do his best to wake me up at 5AM so I could walk down the hill to go to school. I was around 9, my brothers were 6 and 5 at that time. We had to walk about 20-30 minutes to go to school, that was depending on the weather. I prayed it doesn’t rain because then my black school shoes would be so muddy. Who would want muddy shoes? School days in the Philippines started at 7AM and ends at around 4PM. Like, what the hell? Our class rooms weren’t air conditioned but there was enough ventilation to keep the air in. English had always been my favourite subject. Our fun time used to be just biking using my Dad’s mountain bike or making flower necklaces that we sell in the churches in exchange for P1.00 or just climbing trees to get mangoes, bananas, or other fruits we could get our hands on. Life was simple, and I didn’t mind it.
I moved to a bigger province at 13, and I left behind everything that was familiar to me. Everything was completely different, and I lived with my maternal grandparents. It was fun but kind of sad thinking about how I had to leave my brothers behind. But my grandparents spoiled me rotten! They’d drive me to school and anywhere I wanted/needed to go. They enrolled me to summer school, to music classes, and they hired a music instructor so I could learn how to play the guitar…I was big on wanting to be like Hannah Montana then. My life has been turned upside down. I wanted more and more materialistic things and I grew lazy and a turned a bit snobbish.
When I was 18, I thought to myself that I simply have had enough. I had to go somewhere to completely escape everything and just to be alone. Anonymity has been such a great help for me since then. So I booked a one-way flight ticket to Bangkok, Thailand. I have never travelled outside the Philippines alone so this trip had been a pretty scary challenge for me. But deep inside my heart I was still that crazy girl from the mountains so it didn’t bother me that much.
The whole trip from Thailand to Vietnam had been one crazy ride, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. That trip ignited that spark inside of me to just go out there and explore. There’s more to life than hanging out of your room and being told what to do by your parents.
I returned home after a few months. I was 19 and I was on my last year of university. I was studying Mass Communication with a Major in Creative Writing, and I got so inspired to write my thesis and just felt so energized to finish the school year and just go out there.
At last, school ended. I moved to New York at 20 and my life changed since then.
I loved New York. I fell in love with the city, the vibe, and the people. It made me realise how small I was compared to this big city with its many beautifully chaotic inhabitants. Although my life had been work then home then party then work then home then party and so on. I wasn’t fully happy.
I tried to move to Quebec at 21 to be with the man I used to love. It didn’t work out. I mean, I have a Philippine Passport so it’s sort of tough to get visas and all that stuff. I was forced back into the Philippines but I eventually went back to New York.
I am turning 22 this May and I am currently typing this blog post from my hostel in the Lion City of Singapore. My life has been such a roller coaster ride. I have been all over Asia, North America, and Europe. I have learned a lot of stuff and I know that I am yet to learn many more. Travelling is driving me crazy, to be completely honest.
A lot of people have been envying my ‘nomad’ lifestyle and they’ve been asking me how I do it. It’s actually pretty simple. You need to be fast paced, you need to have money (of course), and you need to be the kind of person that doesn’t get attached. Travelling is hard. I have lost count on how many times I cried in my tiny bunk in a random hostel. I cried because my grandmother died and I couldn’t go home because flight tickets were extremely expensive, I cried because my mother told me I was not good enough for this life and that this will lead to nowhere so I should just come home and go to Law School, I cried when my ex-boyfriend dumped me because I have been denied entry to Canada, I cried when I completely ran out of money that one time in Vietnam, and I cried for many more times with ridiculous reasons that I don’t even remember now. The truth is, travelling is not easy. This nomad lifestyle isn’t easy. I had to work for 7 days out of the week every single damn day in New York before I could fly out. I had to work 12-hours out of 24-hours to afford this lifestyle. I had to sacrifice my personal relationships with my friends, loved ones and family just to go where I want to go. I had to risk not being able to see my brothers grow because I am never home. This is the truth about travelling, and most of the time you’re always going to be alone. It isn’t easy, and as a matter of fact it’s pretty damn hard. Travelling isn’t always as easy as taking that one perfect photo so that you could post it on Instagram and gather ‘likes’. It’s so much more than that. Travelling is like playing with the world. It is attempting to challenge yourself further and learning more about yourself and discovering certain things about yourself that you didn’t even know existed. Travelling is like falling in love and getting your heart broken exactly at the same time. It’s beautiful yet sad (sometimes).
Travelling has opened my eyes to many, many more things that this world holds. I am extremely blessed and thankful to God for giving me this chance. I have worked my bum off to afford this lifestyle, and it may be hard and I may be sacrificing a whole lot of stuff, but I would never want to trade this life for anything else in this world.
It is true, everyone can travel, but you have to make sure that you really want this and that you are ready. Follow your dreams and don’t let society or your family dictate who you’re supposed to be.
Get out there! The world is waiting for you!
P. S. Happy Lunar New Year to everyone who celebrates it!
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Psalm 143:10 NIV