Personal · Travel Tales · Two Cents

2013: A Year in Travel

If 2012 was the year when I rediscovered this repressed wanderlust, then 2013 was when I pursued it.

I went to more places in a year than I did for a whole decade prior. I went on a road trip with my family and passed through Maguindanao, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, eventually ending up in Lake Sebu. I went swimming with whale sharks in Donsol.

I went to Palawan and finally saw ethereal El Nido and the wonder that is the Underground River. I saw fireflies and bioluminescent plankton on Iwahig River. Not a week later, I finally went to Ilocos Norte and Vigan.

View from Matinloc Shrine
View from Matinloc Shrine, El Nido, Palawan

I went straight to Thailand. I went to crazy Bangkok and saw the ruins of Ayutthaya. Then I rode on an overnight train to Chiang Mai, perhaps my favorite city of the lot, and bathed some elephants there.

And this is my awesome photo with Mintra (I think?). She got her sloping back from a childhood accident. Also, she got hit by a car at four years old while begging in Bangkok's streets. She's better now. :)
Washing Mintra in the Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Then I went to Myanmar, a place with the nicest people and the most golden of all pagodas, and finally fulfilled my dream of seeing the sunrise in Bagan. I went to Malaysia afterward and hopped from Kuala Lumpur, to Melaka, to Penang, and back again to KL.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

A week before work for the new school year started, I went touring Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Apo Island alone. I also went scuba diving for the first time, and I still feel that it was such a life-changing trip.

Apo Island
Apo Island

In August, I went to trek with my friends in Daraitan, Taytay, Rizal. I conquered my first mountain — Mt. Samit — here, in the middle of monsoon rains! It was the most challenging trip I’ve ever done, and this is going to sound cliched, but I couldn’t have done it without my friends.

In October, I went to see my first “legit” festival — the MassKara Festival in Bacolod. A week later, during the semestral break, I went to Surigao del Norte and Siargao and saw the beautiful Sohoton Cove. And I learned how to surf!

Brgy. 16 also won best in costume
MassKara Festival 2013

Sadly, a trip to Camiguin was dropped at the last minute (no thanks to PAL Express, but that’s another story), so there were no trips for me this Christmas break, aside from a day in Enchanted Kingdom. But considering the fact that I’m smack dab in the middle of the Filipino middle class, that I have a permanent job that requires me to be energetic (read: busy) for the most part of the year, and that I had a thesis proposal to present (and I passed!), I sure did go places.

So what did I learn in 2013?

I learned independent travel. It sounds too late to say this as I turned 29 in 2013, but I only recently learned how to interact with strangers in a strange place when I’m alone. I learned how to trust them with my life, while at the same time keeping my wits about me. As a daily commuter in Metro Manila, I had learned to always be on the safe side of things; as an independent traveler, I learned to be open to experiences, even when alone.

I learned about money. I learned how much a thousand pesos is worth in other parts of the country and of Southeast Asia. I learned that I can steel myself from buying a piece of clothing because it could translate to two days in Chiang Mai (though to be sure, I did buy a lot of clothes this year…during sales). I got myself a credit card, and I learned how to use it wisely.

I learned that I can make my dreams come true. I wish I could say that all I needed was to take a deep breath and go, but it did take some planning and a lot of guts. And yes, a bit of money didn’t go amiss. But mostly, I just needed the guts.

I don’t think I’ll travel as much in 2014, especially in the summer months, as I have some things I have to take care of as an “adult”. However, I consider this as a year of saving up for grander travels to come. 😉

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8 thoughts on “2013: A Year in Travel

      1. I’ve always wanted to go to Palawan. Never had the chance last time I visited the Philippines but your photo has ignited the passion to travel there sometime soon 🙂

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