Three years ago I made a list of “100 Things I Wanted to Do before I Die”. It was a combination of childhood dreams like riding an elephant in Thailand, petting a kangaroo in the wild, French kissing someone under the Eiffel Tower; crazy ideas like jumping from the highest bungee in the world, sky diving, white water rafting grade 5/5 rapids, sunbathing on a nude beach and simple goals for myself like conquering my fear of snakes, becoming a vegetarian, working in the United Nations, owning an organic farm, taking my parents on a trip overseas, falling in love and as many other silly things as I could think of.
Most of the things on my list require travel for me to be able to experience them while some simply need determination, hard work and discipline. I showed my list then to one of my colleagues thinking they were impossible to achieve anyway, especially stuff like seeing penguins in Antarctica and joining an expedition to the Galapagos Islands. I expected her to laugh at my silliness and wishful dreams. Instead she told me, “You have a lifetime to work on these things. What if you complete the list, something might happen to you?” I smiled with the thought that she was actually sincere that I could complete the list. I revised my list anyway, being superstitious as well, and added two impossible things just so I would be assured of never completing all the items and meeting an early death as a consequence.
( I finally rode an elephant in Bangkok and treated my mother to an overseas trip)
I’m still terrified of snakes though.
You see, you can’t really blame me for doubting myself even if I’m an optimistic, positive and driven person (I think). Three years ago, I had never been on a plane or even on a ferry boat. The farthest place I had been north of my hometown in Albay was Quezon City – Diliman and Katipunan area to be exact. Ok, maybe I had been more adventurous than that and had explored further all the way to SM North EDSA (extreme diba?) Three years ago, Fairview was still a mystery for me. I always wanted to ride those buses from PHILCOA and just go to Fairview with no itinerary, but I wasn’t always that adventurous you know.
Three years ago the farthest place I had been east of EDSA was Megamall or was it Robinson’s Galleria – whichever you think is farther. I had never even been to Sta Lucia East Mall, but who wants to go there when you can get everything you need from these two malls, not to mention Greenbelt and Glorietta in Makati. But, at least before that, I had already made it out of Luzon – umm well almost. We drove a relative once to the ferry terminal in Matnog, Sorsogon and there was this welcome arch there that says, “You are now leaving the land of Luzon” and then when I looked back from the other end, it says, “Welcome to the land of Luzon”. So there, that was my only claim of almost making it out of Luzon and probably the farthest place I had been south of my hometown.
Once in a while, we all need a break from the mundane routines of our lives, whether it’s pursuing our passions, living our dreams or simply doing the things we like. Just like everyone else I had my own dreams of traveling, seeing beautiful places and meeting people from different cultures. I had always wanted to travel, learn photography and do adventurous stuff- but, but, but, but – I have no time, my friends are busy, it’s hard and dangerous, I have no budget, I can’t do it, I have other important things to do, I can’t do it alone, it’s a waste of money, it’s expensive, I have no one to travel with, I’m scared, I need to wash my clothes on weekend, I need to finish watching my pirated DVD series collection, I don’t think it’s possible, maybe when I win the lottery, maybe next time na lang. These are the things that stopped me before and perhaps even you have your own version of “but, but, but”.
Looking back now, I think I have come a long way from the hermit and anti-social me who watched too many travel shows on National Geographic and Discovery Channel, spent too much time at Powerbooks reading Php3000 worth of books and magazines in one sitting and sometimes even working on the weekend by choice for the lack of better things to do. I finally found the guts to get a good camera, start taking pictures and start going to the places I wanted to visit without if and buts. I went out of my comfort zone, became more open to other people and tried new things. There is really no magic formula out there. Just do it and just follow your heart. If you believe you can you can, if you believe you can’t you can’t. The phrase “You can do it if you just believe” is so watered down but it’s true for me at least.
Now I have finally ridden a plane thanks to all those piso and promo fares from Cebu Pacific and other low-cost airlines around the world – every Juan can truly fly now. I had been to FAIRVIEW and I think I have accomplished almost half of the 100 things on my bucket list. I am glad I took that first step – it brought me wonderful friends, unforgettable memories and great lessons about life.
Here are some of the things I learned from my adventures and misadventures.
1. From my first solo weekend trip to Puerto Galera, I learned that I could do it on my own and I discovered the joys of solo travel as well.
2. From my first solo overseas trip to Vietnam, I learned the inherent goodness of people and how similar we are despite our differences.
3. From my trip to Mt. Pinatubo with 3 people I had never met before, I learned the importance of the DIY trip and sharing the expenses with a group to make travel cheaper than the cheapest package tour.
4. From joining my first package tour to Mt. Pundaquit and Anawangin Cove with 21 people who were also strangers to me except for a few, I learned the comfort of a worry free travel. I met my future travel buddies here and later on some of their friends and the friends of their friends, and my weekend has never been the same.
5. From my trip to Coron, I learned the importance of research and planning in finding the cheapest place to stay and eat, as well as the cheapest way to see as many sights as you can in the shortest possible time.
6. From my hiking and camping trips, I learned how to appreciate more life’s daily comforts, the beauty of nature as well as the importance of supportive people to help you achieve your goal.
7. From my trip to Cebu and Davao, I learned how to get one of those Piso and promo fares of Cebu Pacific and other low-cost airlines. The secret is to just do it and book even in the absence of a travel mate or an itinerary. Sale period is short and they sell really fast. It wasn’t hard for me to convince my friends to book a Php999 round trip ticket to Cebu and Php1700 round trip ticket to Davao. If you’re really determined you might even get a Php98 round trip ticket to Boracay on low season. Just remember if you see one, choose a weekend in the inclusive month and book! And if you’re generous, you can even buy your friends a round trip ticket too
Anyway, what the heck am I doing here writing about this nonsense when I only have a few hours left before finally disqualifying myself as a twenty-something? I’m supposed to sky dive today. It’s my last chance to complete the “5 Crazy Things I Did before I turned 30”. I completed 4 of them so far and I think I could still make it. Maybe I’ll just substitute sky diving with kissing a total stranger on the street to complete the list. It’s crazy enough for me . But for now, goodbye, sayonara, arrivederci, au revoir, adeus. I need to start working on another visa. Life is too short. It’s never too late to do what you want. Live well, love passionately, laugh hard and conquer all your dreams.
And just in case you’re curious of the other 4 crazy things I did …..
Zip Lining upside down in what used to be the fastest Zip Line in the Philippines
Bungee jumping in Macau Tower
Rafting the Tully River in Queensland (grade 4/5 – close enough)
Sun bathing on a Nude Beach
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for the month of March 2012, with the theme “Leap of Faith: When Travelling Changed My Life” hosted by Reiza Dejito of Wander If You Must.