Thursday, April 18, 2013

Filipinos On Long-Term Backpacking: The Great Depression (Part 1)

We came. We saw. We conquered.

Conquered our fears. Conquered our doubts. Conquered financial hurdles. We quit our jobs, booked those irresistible seats on sale, traveled on a shoestring for months and finally saw the world beyond glossy magazine pages. Beyond Facebook timelines. We ignored all that bull people said about us, especially the one that goes: "Oh that's career suicide!". And oh, in my case, "She's a selfish mum!". Against all odds, we trusted our guts and — cliché ahead — chased our dreams. 

La vida no es un camino de rosas. Same is true for our so-called grand vacations. We knew it won't be a path of roses. Aside from the constant fight for that one-dollar discount, we battle that sneaky feeling called homesickness. Then there's also heartbreak and believe it or not, jadedness.

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The lowdown (edited photo from WeKnowMemes.com).

There's grief that lies beneath some of our snapshots, even though they seem to evoke joy. And we don't shed all our tears for the whole world wide web to witness because our domain is a only a fraction of our refuge.

Or sometimes, we just try to see the good in everything.

I keep saying "we" because a handful of fellow long-term Filipino backpackers are peeling themselves before you to expose their lowest points while traveling overseas. Because we travel junkies don't just snap at withdrawal, we also go nuts while at it.

Here are our travel wounds. Healed but not totally forgotten. 


Paul Xymon Garcia of Walk Fly Pinoy

Diagnosis: "All it took was a lousy hostel experience in Hue in Central Vietnam, yet another long sleeper bus ride to Hanoi in Northern Vietnam, and a stomach needing gastroenteritis meds every 12 hours. It probably did not help that Hanoi was cold, cloudy, and drizzly when I got there. I felt down the next few days. Traveling all the time meant nothing felt new and exciting anymore. I used to relish that feeling. It was gone. So I cancelled my train ticket to Lao Cai, Vietnam's border crossing with China, cancelling the entire China leg of my journey altogether. I was not up for anything at that point, definitely not something as big as a month-long trip to China."

Green Lake Park, Kunming, Yunnan, China
"Traveling all the time meant nothing felt new and exciting anymore." 

Treatment: "Thankfully, after a cold yet still enjoyable trip to Halong Bay, a 10-peso mug of Hanoi's local brew Bia Hoi, meeting fellow travelers fascinated with and eager to travel to China again and again, I came to my senses. The next day, I booked a flight to Kunming leaving that same day. That evening, I emerged as the only foreigner from that Vietnam Airlines flight. At the airport, nobody spoke English. To top it all off, it took me more than three hours to get to my hostel as it took me an hour to find an ATM, an hour more to find a phone and call my hostel to ask for their address, and another hour to queue at the taxi rank. I felt like a newbie backpacker again. I'm thinking I made the right call to travel to China."

Bino Caiña of Frameless World
 
Diagnosis: "My lowest point while travelling long term would be saying goodbye to strangers who became my friends. It’s true that one of the best things about travelling is all the people you meet. I remember the last time I was in Cambodia, I volunteered in a Wat (Buddhist temple) to teach the abandoned kids residing in the Wat. After three weeks of going there everyday, I quit to continue my journey in Asia. The thought of leaving those children was unbearable. On the other side of the story, it would also be more difficult for those children to feel being abandoned again by volunteers that they get attached to."

binocambodia
"The thought of leaving those children was unbearable. On the other side of the story, it would also be more difficult for those children to feel being abandoned again by volunteers that they get attached to."

Treatment: "On the other hand, travelling removes my inhibitions and taught me the importance of letting go. There is simply no time to think about sad moments when you constantly deal with finding new adventures, new place to wander, and experience new things. I also keep in mind that every time I experience loneliness because of saying goodbye, it means that I’m blessed to have met wonderful people and be forever grateful for the small time I had with them. I learned that when we say goodbye, it is simply because we are going towards something new."

Flip Nomad of uhm, Flip Nomad

Diagnosis: "I could remember two instances wherein I felt intense sadness while I was overseas. First one was when I was on my solo backpacking trip in Varanasi and I got news that my grandmother died (last 2009). She's like my second mom and she practically raised and cared for me for the longest time. Despite the fact that I had to cut the trip short and might not be able to return backpacking, I still went home to see her for the last time...

IMG_2782
"I learned that sometimes it's ok not to be ok and it's ok to reach out to family and friends for support."

Second lowest point that I can remember happened last October 2011 (my 8th month on the road this trip) and I was really running low on money. My Paypal was *limited*, my blog got hit by Google update and all advertisers that I already closed some deals with cancelled those deals. It was devastating and I really thought it was my last month on the road. I wrote an article about it and got immense support from fellow travel bloggers. I also got a lot of support from firends back home."

Treatment: "From those experiences, I learned to stand up despite of all the trials that were thrown my way. I figured that I need to keep moving on and nothing should deter me from continuing what I have set forth to achieve. Shit happens to anyone and sometimes it happens a lot at the same time. I learned that sometimes it's ok not to be ok and it's ok to reach out to family and friends for support."


Up next... Part 2 reveals broken hearts and growing pains.

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30 comments:

Kaiye Pallarco said...
April 18, 2013 at 11:20 AM

The art of letting go. Maybe this is the reason why the universe lead me to traveling...
Looking forward sa Part 2, Ms Gay :)

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Ahh, yes. The universe led us to an awesome path :)

Lakbay Diva said...
April 18, 2013 at 11:38 AM

yay, nakaka iyak naman...

Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com said...
April 18, 2013 at 11:46 AM

One reason why I haven't chucked up everything and traveled indefinitely is that I know I will get homesick. If shorter trips lang (like weeks and months at a time only) I know I will get over it kaso pag aabot na ng years, mahihirapan na ko. Unlike you who can bring your baby doll with you, I can't bring my babies with me. Hindi mahilig magbyahe ang mga pusa :)

Alfred Millar said...
April 18, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Ditto this.

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 12:56 PM

I think I lost my comment. LOL. Anyhoo, yes you got that right. Having my family with me eases the homesickness somehow. When we're gone for months, I mainly miss Pinoy food and my suking manicurista. Who looks after your kitties when you're gone?

markyramonego said...
April 18, 2013 at 4:48 PM

I've to try it first. I easily get homesick, but the most I've been away is 10 days. Maybe if I keep the dice rolling and amass months on the road, I might enjoy it. Just the thought that anytime I could go home would be enough. Still, I wanna push my envelope in terms of getting away from my comfort zone, and experience strange places feeling like home.


That said, I always admire Flip, Bino, you hippie mum and the rest who've endured months and years on the road.

Arnie Monacillo said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Face of reality, common and unique
experiences, more and more people we have met. Perhaps that’s all we wanted. Nakakalungkot talaga minsan pero nanjan ung passion eh. Fullfill ur dreams ikanga. Ansarap kaya ng mga unexpected challenges behind unexpected journey. Sabi nga A good traveller has no fixed plans.

[thekidwanderer.blogspot.com]

Lyndsay Cabildo said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM

So cool! I was gonna write my long term travel blues na, then I saw this on your wall...Laging may + and - kahit saan... Anyway, be safe mga byahelers!lol

Lyndsay Cabildo said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Haha natawa naman ako sayo! Ang kulet lang! hehe

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Haha. Ako rin. May "yay" tapos biglang naiyak. Yan ang nag-iisang Lakbay Diva!

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM

What if you travel long-term with a special someone? Ayiiii.

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:45 PM

"No fixed plans" is how we roll :)

Gay Emami said...
April 18, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Oh wow, would love to read that, L.A.!

ian l www.brownmantrips.com said...
April 19, 2013 at 1:19 AM

Love it....... medyo mabigat lang... but found inspiration and maybe the answer to some of my questions why I do all of this.... will wait for part two....

Journeys & Travels said...
April 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM

this is by far, the sincerest showcase of the realities we all live in when we choose to be on the road for the longer time. I have yet to experience all these as I have learned from Plif when I briefly met him in Siem Reap, and let let me share this: "To where dust gather onto our soles, so must our spirit fly higher from within!"

Gay Emami said...
April 19, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Hope you get to try it someday soon!

Gay Emami said...
April 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Oh I love that line! Thanks for sharing it :)

Kate Mina said...
April 19, 2013 at 11:30 PM

can't wait for part 2. :)

http://www.ktlifestyle.blogspot.com/

Micamyx|Senyorita said...
April 21, 2013 at 2:50 AM

Homesickness is my main concern when it comes to traveling long-term. Either I visit my grandparents or see my mom and brother. I think kaya ko naman, pero it will be a bit hard at first. I think though the biggest challenge is going back to the 'normal' set-up learning that nothing changed except you and your perceptions in life. Kung hindi lang sana magastos na pabalik-balik sa Pinas sa RTW lol

JR Riel said...
April 21, 2013 at 4:21 PM

What an awesome post. I'm half-Filipino, but born and raised in Hawaii and raised as a Hawaiian. I have recently been learning what it means to be Pinoy, and have made so many beautiful friends who are OFW in Taiwan. They are my closest friends here, and I have come to love the Filipinos emotional depth and ability to balance their strong sense of cultural with necessary adaptability. It was enlightening to read of the struggles and depressions that you go through as individuals and collectively. I'll be looking forward to the next part of this series!

JR Riel said...
April 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

I am so tweeting this.

Gay Emami said...
April 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Verrry exhausting at some point, yes.

Gay Emami said...
April 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM

"the biggest challenge is going back to the 'normal' set-up learning that nothing changed except you and your perceptions in life" - Sooo true!

Gay Emami said...
April 21, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Oh wow! How awesome that must be, to learn more about your roots :)

Pinoy Travel Freak said...
April 26, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Aww...sad and inspiring at the same time. I have yet to embark on a long-term traveling but reading all your experiences really inspires me to follow my dream.

Ding | The Pinoy Explorer said...
May 4, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Long-term travels do not augur for me now...but if I have the means and time to do it, I will! Reading these stories makes me gauge myself if I am really inclined to it! Being away for 10 days makes me miss my two rascals--and I did not even have issues with finances since we were provided by the sponsors. How much more with money issues? and sickness? Ayayayay! That is the most dreaded part of it.

Antoinette B. said...
May 5, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Long term travels definitely have their ups and downs... And I mean A LOT of both, yet it always balances out in the end. No matter how lonely I've gotten during my solo travels, I've also met some of the most amazing people/travel buddies just shortly after or before. I think those "lowest" points in our travel experiences make us appreciate everything about long-term travel, because let's face it, we do get jaded at times.

Kat O said...
May 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

i really wanted to read all stories so i googled them :)

Geejay Travel Log said...
August 31, 2013 at 8:48 PM

This inspires me! I'll keep on writing!!!! :]

http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/

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