My decision making skills were thrown aside last year because I wanted to get away. I had no idea how I was going to afford any of it, but I had to. There were things in my life that I didn’t want to face, so I had to leave. I told myself I can afford maybe 2 trips, and the first one was already planned in September 2010 when Lau and I decided to terrorize Singapore and Malaysia. Early January, my aunt told me I had to go to London with my grandma for something. I took it as a free pass, and told myself not to spend a lot so I can squeeze in another trip. As you all know, that didn’t go through and I’ll tell you why later.
Trip 1:Singapore and Malaysia (for 3 hours, btw) with Laurene. (End of March-Early April)
It was a trip where we planned everything while waiting to board the plane. We just blurted out places we want to see and stuff we want to do. Most of them were experiences and out of the way museums (try out Siloso beach, Red dot museum). We ate like every hour (and gained a profound appreciation for the toaster), we stayed at a hostel, made friends with a lot of people (WE HAVE A ROMANIAN FRIEND U GAIS) and got lost once (Singaporean buses, stop it). We looked like two girls who needed guidance.
A few months before the trip, I was browsing Jetstar’s website and I saw cheap tickets to KL. I called Lau, asked if she was game to spend a day there and then we agreed. Booked it 5 minutes later. It was crazy.
I have never had a flight get cancelled before. This was the thing I feared the most (don’t all travelers? Especially if you’re going to be stuck in Charles De Gaul in Paris, ugh) because hello, we were only supposed to be in KL for 9 hours. If that gets cancelled then our plans on having a crazy adventure goes kaboom. Well, as I said before, it did get cancelled. We got moved to a later flight though, which gave us approximately 3 hours to roam KL. As much as we hated it (and gave us paranoia every time we think about booking a flight on Jetstar), we had more fun that we ever imagined. Sure, I can insert a lot of Amazing Race jokes here, but that’s kind of how it turned out. Everything we thought we knew about traveling, we had to throw out the window because how do you get the best out of any city in 3 hours? We just did the best we could, and I have no regrets.
I know a lot of people think there’s nothing new for me to see in SG, but every time I go there with a different person, I get to see the city-state in their perspective. Thing is, Lau and I kind of think the same way, and that made it all the more better. I can’t wait to get lost somewhere with her again.
Trip 2(also known as the first trip from my intense month of travel): India with my grandmother (1st week of May)
During this time, I was supposed to be in London. A lot of things happened, and we decided to call it off. We were so close to leaving, and I didn’t want to waste my time so I asked if I could go to India instead. It was the best decision I ever made. Even though we planned the trip like 2 weeks before the actual departure (that impulsive), it all worked out in the end.
We went from Delhi to Jaipur to Agra and then back to Delhi again. It was crazy. I regret the fact that I only stayed for a week, because India is the kind of place where you need to scour every inch until you’ve had your fill. You can’t measure the time, because you can’t really tell when you’ve had enough. There are places wherein you will never get enough, and you always have to go back. I don’t know exactly if India is that for me, but I want to go back and see. I want to see if it would pain me to have to leave again.
I have been to a lot of places and I have seen some of the most incredible wonders this world has to offer, but nothing, NOTHING, compares to seeing the Taj Mahal. I don’t think there’s even a word to describe the feeling you get when you can see it peeking through the archway, and your heart does this amazing quickstep because you know, you actually know, that you’re about to be in its presence. You keep asking yourself if you’re really there, if that’s the Taj Mahal right in front of you. You just doubt everything because you yourself cannot believe that you were lucky enough to travel all the distance and see it with your own eyes.
It was the most heartbreaking thing, to know that you will never get to feel that way again.
Trip 3: Singapore with my family ( 2nd week of May)
I never talked about this trip, because I found it very difficult to travel with my family in Singapore. I was used to riding the trains and buses (cabs are fucking expensive lah), but since there was a lot of us and my mom has no patience, we had to be touristy and hire vans. I couldn’t deal, because it was so expensive and I didn’t want my mom to pay a ton of money. They didn’t need a tour guide even because I was there (ANG KAPAL, pero in fairness naman kase kaya ko) but my mom opted to do things the easy way.
I wasn’t very pleasant at all, and my mom became very upset with me. I told her I was sorry because I’m just not used to traveling with a lot of people (especially kids!!!) and my mom apologized as well, because she knows how I do things and this trip kind of got me out of my comfort zone. In the end, we made a compromise: we take cabs but we go to places that I know. Towards the end, everything became easier for me and even my little sisters cooperated with me.
Also: I was supposed to be in Australia this time (I even got a visa and all) but my mom begged me to postpone it so we could travel together. I guess that added to my already boiling temper then.
Trip 4: Hong Kong with my grandma (3rd week of May)
If you noticed, trips 2-4 were done in a month. I intended that. I didn’t want to be here at all during May. I have no idea why, I just wanted to be away. I didn’t want to be near Manila at all. There was something wrong, and I guess it’s because home didn’t feel like it should anymore. I wanted to wander, to get lost, because I knew that all I needed to do to find my way back is to leave.
This was a trip that I wanted to do by myself, but if I bring my grandma along I would only pay half the price so I did. Good thing about my grandma is that you give her food and directions to the nearest park and she’ll leave you alone. She only asked that I bring her to Disneyland, and that’s it. We got it over with and for the rest of the week, I was practically alone. I lived a life, traveled to distant places and got lost quite a few times (but I did find a lot of amazing neighborhoods that I see myself in).
I was looking for a place to replace Manila, but I knew from the beginning that I would fail because let’s be honest, not even New York can hold a candle to MY Manila.
I left Hong Kong feeling better about what I wanted to do. It was an important trip (all of them are, but HK was crucial) and it made me realize that alone is something I like to be.
Trip 5: Saigon with my grandma (1st week of September)
I wanted to go to Vietnam because why the hell not. I had no reasons, to be honest. I just got up one morning and said “I am going to Vietnam this September, I don’t care how!! I just have to!!!”. I scrimped my allowance so I could afford the trip, then lo and behold, cheap tickets and accommodations!
I loved it. I just, I loved it. It was so laid back. I have Tony Bourdain to thank for this, because god damn Asian Food Channel kept replaying his trip to Saigon (I think it was the only episode of A Cook’s Tour they had). As you all know, I am obsessed with him, and would do anything to be near him. He loved Saigon and the Mekong very much, so I thought “hey why not up the creepy level and go there so we can be one”.
Tony and I became one, and I fell in love with Vietnam (planning to visit Hanoi soon). That’s a lot for one trip, ah.
So, 2012 just began and I just came back from Singapore 2 days ago. I’ll be back next month for Laneway. If that’s not starting the year right, then I don’t know what is.