The Actress and I had only two weeks to prepare for our month-long trip. I originally suggested that we push our travel dates and start in April instead, but she didn’t want to postpone it any longer, which was something I completely understood. Procrastination is like this humongous wormhole that sucks your precious plans into another quadrant of the universe, never to be seen in the Milky Way Galaxy ever again. Thankfully, all of the destinations she wanted to visit for her first out-of-the-country trip are places I’ve already been to, so planning this for only two weeks was not really that much of a challenge.
I was so caught up in preparing for this trip that I forgot to tell it to my mother, who is like the biggest worrywart I know. I only told her about our travel plans on a Tuesday morning and we were flying out of the Philippines on Sunday that same week. And her reaction? “Ah, okay. Ingat kayo.” I guess after all these years she has finally gotten accustomed with a nomadic son.
Our first leg of the trip was Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, and Penang) and whenever I updated my status or posted a photo on my personal Facebook account during that first week, some of my friends would message me privately and ask, “Why go back?” And I always replied to them, “Why not?” I know that my friends mean well. They’re just concerned, and most likely wondering, why I am returning to destinations I’ve already been to and why I am wasting money. Bahaha!
Some people say that I wasted money because I could’ve already used the funds to go to a new country instead of returning to places I’ve already visited. But the thing is, I only had two reasons why I wanted to accompany my friend on this trip. First, take a break from my daily routine, which was becoming monotonously deadly, and second, see if I can still do budget traveling because the last time I went out of the country was on a 3-day vacation in Singapore and I spent almost Php 30,000 there and I sooo did not effin’ care about it (Now that is what you call wasting money, friends. Haha!).
I was able to shake up my monotonous routine and I only spent around Php 33,000 for this month-long trip that covered 7 cities and 4 countries. *Palipad buhok* You see? The goal from the very beginning was not to visit a new country.
So if you ask me if I wasted my money, I’m gonna say to you that I didn’t. I accomplished what I had set out to do, plus I met a lot of old and new friends, gained a lot of new insights and lessons along the way, and experienced a handful of new things together with one of my closest friends. That, for me, is more than enough.
It was also nice seeing the whole experience through my friend. It reminded me so much of myself five years ago. I can still remember that guy vividly; that guy who went against what was expected of him and made travel his defiance, who was so eager to pack his belongings, get out, and hit the road, who had his arms wide open, ready to engulf the world―and whatever it had to offer―in this big and tight embrace. I miss that guy. And whether I admit it or not, I kinda lost that newbie traveler perspective somewhere along the way, the one that sees everything through fresh and unfiltered lenses; the one that perennially sees the positives in all things, missed flights and dormmates you want to punch included. I grew up in the last half a decade, unfortunately.
Being with The Actress reminded me that I should try not to lose that; that if there are times I find it slipping away from my grip, I gotta find it, pick it up, and throw it back inside my backpack. It makes a whole world of difference when you see every journey from that viewpoint, I’m telling you.
Revisiting familiar places also made me realize how much I’ve changed for the better, how far I’ve come as a traveler and as a person in the last few years. Gone are the days when I would pack my whole house inside my backpack (In fairness, my luggage for this trip only weighed a total of 5 kilos. Nyahaha!); gone are the days of being anti-social and not speaking to fellow travelers; gone are the days when I go into TV Patrol-worthy hysterics when things don’t go my way. I’ve actually grown. And looking back, I can’t help but be happy where my feet have physically and figuratively brought me.