Rarely do I feel genuine happiness, but these travel experiences taught me that I am at my happiest when I explore nature, when I’m away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and when I’m away from all the stresses of being an adult.
If I stick to the small ways that help me achieve a clearer state of mind, eventually, I’ll get there. I just hope that it isn’t too late for me and the people around me.
It took me four years to finally find inner peace and happiness, so I guess, four more years isn’t such a bad thing after all.
If it’s your first time to travel to a foreign country solo backpacker style, here are some lessons I’ve learned the hard way that I hope will help you in your trip.
It’s Thursday, so here’s another throwback for you. This post written four years ago makes me feel so vulnerable because it documents the beginnings of my sinking into depression. Episodes still come and go, but working out has helped me a lot. This post was never finished, and I don’t intend to continue it. Instead, I’d rather write about my life today. It’s a struggle, but I’m starting to feel more and more positive about it.
When this semester first started, I told myself that I was gonna work my ass off so that when my birthday arrives in August, I feel deserving to have at least a few days off to have fun. Little did I know that August was the start of my “hell” months, not that I’m complaining.
To start off, I lessened my hours in my other part-time job so I can concentrate on writing my thesis proposal so that I could (hopefully) defend it this semester. I tried focusing on my academics, going to the university to do some lab work on human remains for the first part of the day, and going home early for my part-time job. It was tiring because I had to travel for at least 3 hours a day each time I do this. Valenzuela to Quezon City sounds really near but it’s not. The fare was also getting more costly because I pass by NLEx and sometimes would reach UP via cab on days that its too hot. Yes, blame it on me for being maarte. Haha.
Anyway, I was only able to do this for 2 months.
Come August, someone tried to hire on oDesk. Everything just snowballed from there. I started doing 3-4 jobs a week as a freelancer and it even reached a point that I couldn’t sleep regularly anymore because of all these multiple jobs I was trying to juggle. I capitalized on being a writer and once I edited my oDesk profile, a lot of job opportunities came my way. And I said yes to most of them. It’s funny because these are the jobs that I did not apply for. Those I did apply for never even gave me the chance for an interview, which makes me more thankful for all these money-paying endeavors.
My thesis researching started to suffer because once again, I couldn’t go to the university to study with my fellow graduate student friends, which was sad because it really is inspiring to be surrounded by people who are equally productive as you are. For once, I thought I was going to have a normal graduate life. But I was wrong.
I’m still waiting for her to come back anywhere in Southeast Asia. If she does perform again, maybe in Singapore, Taiwan, or Hongkong, I will spend money to visit any of those countries to see her again.
It’s a Thursday, so here’s what I dug from my treasure trove of unpublished blog posts. Four years later, I’ll finally finish my series of posts on our first mountain climbing experience.
So there we were, at the Timpohon Gate, finally waiting for our suffering to end. We had to wait for another 15 minutes or so for the bus to arrive and take us back to the headquarters. Believe me, you do not want to walk that route. We thought the previous night’s climb was scarier but apparently, the bus driver’s driving is scarier. He never seemed to mind the zigzag road. It’s as if he knows all the twists and turns by heart. But really, Mr. Driver, we did not survive the night just to die in your bus. He took us back safely, don’t worry, and once we unloaded from the bus, our mountain guide just walked away without even saying a word and headed to his quarters. I wanted to say thank you despite the bad experience but he never gave us a chance.
We thought our problems were over, but in reality, they weren’t. The first thing that greeted us was that we will be having a difficult travel back home since it was already late and buses that go back to the city only travel until 6pm. It was nearing 7pm when reached the headquarters. So we dismissed that idea for a while since we were starving and decided to make the most of the buffet dinner that was included in our package. Food wasn’t so great, but hey, we paid for it. It was expensive. Might as well make the most of it, right?
After dinner, we went outside and waited for a ride back home. For like 2 hours. Okay, an hour and a half, perhaps? We looked like freakin’ hitchhikers waiting to be picked up on the side of the road – in all our mountaineering gear and clothing…and wooden sticks. No one would dare mess with us. It was around 9pm when we decided it was hopeless. We were gonna take a private car back to the city and just pay that (inhale) 200RM ride. That’s around Php2,800 for us Filipinos.
The road and view at night was priceless though. It was like Baguio, except a little colder. It was an hour or so of straight driving before we reached our hotel and we had to withdraw to pay the driver (who was really nice despite having to drive all the way back to Mt. Kinabalu HQ at that late hour, with no passengers at all) since we ran out of cash already. As soon as we arrived, we praised the universe, took a shower, and paid 15RM for a 30-minute massage at the hotel lobby. I can’t even remember if we had eaten a decent meal that night.
So what have we learned from this experience?
First is that suicide never cost this expensive. Our parents were worried, yet at the same time, berated us for spending so much on this obviously suicidal mission. We were crazy, as what everyone said. Deep down I’m sure they were just happy we got home safely. We returned with as much pride we could muster. We were like kids on our graduation day.
Second is that this physical and mental challenge made our relationship stronger. Sure, we’ve gone through a lot. But man, this was our make or break situation. This would have defined the course of our relationship. Had we fought, argued, and blamed each other during the entire climb, we knew it would take a lot of time to repair our relationship – if it will ever be fixed. This was that one challenge that tested two of us. How we dealt with this is a preview, or rather a reflection, of how we will face future trials in our lives and in our relationship. No one is as thankful as I that we made it. I am the proudest girlfriend for being able to pass this with flying colors. How Love and I supported each other throughout the entire ordeal only proved how much we value, respect, love, and commit to each other. I never thought it possible but it is.
Finally, this experience seemed to be a sneak preview of all the “firsts” I am about to experience this year. What “firsts” those are you will have to watch out for.
Here are a few more photos that made the whole experience actually worth it.