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Asia, Challenges, Destinations, Experiences, Travel Blog

Bumps on the Road: Why It’s Important for a traveller to Be Flexible

November 3, 2011
Travel-flexible

Here I am – three days before my flight schedule to Bangkok, a trip that supposedly will tick off country #22 of my 25-country travel list.  However, the trip remains to be a big question mark.

I’ve booked my ticket to Thailand five months ago and next week will be my first holiday after six months. And now, most likely this trip will be cancelled unless the flooding situation dramatically improves.

As you may have seen,  most parts of Bangkok are still underwater and are showing no signs of returning to normal in the next couple of days. The flood water was from accumulated monsoon water coming from the north in the past 2 months and has so far claimed more than 400 lives and billions worth of damages.  I’m watching the news 24/7 and the situation more or less looks like it’s going to remain in the next coming weeks.

Splashing on the StreetMy original plan was to spend a few days in Bangkok and then work my way to Chiang Mai just in time for Loy Krathong before heading back again to Bangkok.  Another option is to fly to the south to Krabi or Phuket.

To be honest, I am very disappointed about not pushing forward. I’ve been looking forward to going to Thailand for a while now – fuelled by excitement from reading various travel blogs and sorting out advice from fellow travel bloggers. And to add that this is the third time that my trip to Thailand will be cancelled. (once in 2007, second in 2009)

But who am I to complain? My rant and worry are nothing compared to the problems the floods have caused to the Thais.

It’s tough to accept but I have no other choice but to suck it up and face these changes.

As a traveller, we are bound to have our plans change.  Plans are mere guidelines.

Things will not always go our way.  It can come as an unexpected detour, a delayed flight, or a personal tragedy and we have to be prepared to face it.

For example, how many times have  have we hesitated on visiting a place but end up staying there longer than we expected.

Or planning an itinerary then ending up changing plans last minute because some of the people in the hostel wants you to join their road trip.

But what is an adventure without being ready for the unexpected. Changes and spontaneity make travelling exciting. Often it’s the spontaneity that brings the excitement and thrill of travel – the offbeat path, the hidden thrills and the spontanous night where you get drunk and hooked up with this hot Swedish chick 😛 . those are the experiences that, as travellers, we often best remember.

Changing plans test out our capability to adapt to a situation and seek alternatives if needed.

As for me,  I’m looking into a Plan B for my trip – the current list is between Hong Kong or travelling locally in the Philippines to the beaches of Siquijor, Boracay or Coron. I have yet to make the decision and may leave it to chance come this weekend.

And still, there’s a possibility of going to Bangkok on Sunday and braving the floods. Ground reports are saying that the situation in the center remains to be normal and other cities such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi are unaffected. So why not push forward with it?

Lille

Who knows what will happen? Even I can’t even make my mind and I’m going to decide maybe in a couple of days.

Life is not constant. Events will pop out that will and can change our lives. And travel has taught me to be flexible and accept these changes whole-heartedly. Change will come, sometimes when we least expect it but it’s up to us to face it and make the best out of it.

* Thailand flooding photo from Flickr norsez and is used under Creative Commons license.

Challenges

You don’t have to be rich to see the world

August 11, 2011
25travels - rich to travel

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest. – Henry David Thoreau

Vietnamese Dong

Somehow, the phrase ‘luxury to travel’ have been used as if each word reciprocates the other. Our understanding of travel has been confined to the idea that you need to have lots of money to do it. Does this mean that travel is only reserved for the rich?

NOT AT ALL.

 

Travel is a lifestyle and a mindset. It’s not money that fuels that desire, but travelling comes from the desire to live life to the fullest, to go beyond the confines of our own space and get out and see the world. Travel is a state of mind – and you don’t need to have all the money in the world to do it.

And while having the ‘luxury to travel’ is true for some people who are lucky enough, the fact is that at this time, travel is not limited to those with deep pockets anymore.

The travel industry is continuously moving towards adapting business models that fit budget travelling – with flights, accommodation and transportation prices kept low – that normal people like you and me can now afford. We are living in a time where travel has been open to everyone – and that the idea of going out to see the world has been made easier and more importantly, cheaper.

I admit that my job allows me to earn more than a peer my age earns here in Manila and it is definitely an advantage that I’m lucky that I have. But I’m not living life like a millionaire. Like you, I pay bills and debts, I work 8 hours a day, and do public transport. And I save, too.

But I can say I live a life that I want and I’m sacrificing a bit of myself in order to make this a reality. AND YOU CAN DO IT TOO! And often, I have to get rid of material ‘wants’: instead of an iPhone, I booked a flight to Vietnam; instead of buying new shirts or shoes, I saved that money to pay for Angkor Wat entrance; and I’ve taken jeeps/buses instead of a cab, so that I can pay for a boat ride on the rivers of Loboc, Philippines.

That is how I travel – I work and save. And I feel happy because I know that this is a kind of long-term investment I want for myself. I’m sure I’m not going to remember when I’m 50 that I have had the newest Blackberry or the latest shoes or jeans during my youth, but rather, I’ll look back to the places I’ve seen, friends I met and experiences I had.

Morocco - Circle of friends

For me, it all boils down to motivation and passion. I am passionate about travel – and I work hard to keep the passion going.

When I do get on the road, I travel not with my wallet but with my eyes, ears and nose. I stay in hostels or ask for free hosting. I take public transport even if I’m scared of getting lost sometimes. I eat street food as if my mom cooked it. I’ve slept in airports, train stations, places of strangers, fast food chains and coffee shops. I’m a sucker for low-costs flights, too. I’ll take a flight that is 1000-2000 pesos cheaper even if I have to wake and leave at 2am or travel to the ends of the earth to catch it. This is the life I chose to live and I aim on getting the best out of the experience.

And there more people who are doing more with less – hitchhiking, volunteering for free accommodation, couch-surfing, walking thousands of kilometres just to see the world and live their life.  I admire them, and want to join their ranks soon.

That’s actually my aim for this blog: to let people know that there’s nothing that limits you from seeing the world, be it money, your job, your family, your phobias or your allergy to insects. There are more ways to travel, and all you need is to keep your desire and dedication to see the world.

Live your life now. Go and see the world.

Thank you to my travel heroes too for the inspiration behind this post

 

Challenges

The Burger Prince in Singapore

April 3, 2011
giantburger

Chicken rice, kaya toast and prawn mee are shoo-ins in any must-try Singapore food list. But let me add one more: a giant burger.

Fresh from our food trip in Malaysia, Jerick and I rode a Delima bus from Melaka Sentral Station and headed for Singapore. We went straight to Chinatown, had chicken rice and prawn mee at Maxwell Food Centre and decided to say hello to the Merlion the next day. We met two backpackers: Dennis, a German traveller roaming Southeast Asia; and Apple, a fellow Filipino traveller. Yes, we saw the Merlion, but we had a detour:  a Giant Burger Challenge. No biggie, you would say? See for yourself:

From the outdoor theatre of the Esplanade (the best spot for stunning views of the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, the hotel with a surfboard-like rooftop resting on three towers), we walked for about five minutes to reach New York New York restaurant located at City Link Mall, adjacent to the City Hall MRT station. And that’s where Dennis, egged on by Jerick, Apple and I, summoned all the hunger in him to take down the Giant Burger.

The challenge is to wolf down an 8-inch-wide, 4-inch-thick burger with tonnes of fries. Sounds easy? The restaurant’s Honour Board shows that 10 extraordinarily hungry individuals have done it before, but here’s a caveat: you have to do it in an hour. Eat it within 60 minutes and it’s on the house; if your intestines couldn’t handle it, the restaurant will charge you S$40! With a ticking clock beside the huge plate (it’s distractingly pink, by the way) and fries the size of our fingers, this challenge is really for the hungry souls.

Our dear friend Dennis started off good. Too good, really. He quickly finished a quarter of the burger, then half of it. He took gulps of water in between bites and he felt full really fast. But the fries became his Waterloo: he couldn’t eat ’em all.

He tried all the ways to make the fries more appetizing: added salt, put lots of pepper and even showered them with catsup. But starch was not easy to take in. We requested for cotton candy to provide a contrast to the salty combo, and the cotton candy even became our makeshift pom-poms as we cheered him on. Sixteen minutes left in the clock and a quarter of the giant remaining, Dennis decided to give up. (Oh, and it  didn’t help that a song called Impossible was played during the challenge!)

The timer hit zero seconds and with Dennis’s wallet weeping, he handed over the S$40 dollars to the manager, who by the way, offered some insider info on how to successfully overcome the challenge  (holler in the comment box you want to know his tips!). Dennis considered it an an epic failure on his part and he refused to be called the burger king yet (hence, we’ll use prince for now). But he promised to do it again, when he returns to the Lion City in the future.

Sure, Singapore may be the land of chicken rice, chilli crab and kaya toast and it’s not famous for its burgers. But travelling is all about finding surprising tidbits of places you go to, right? Ditch your desires to take a burger challenge in other parts of the globe. This Singapore Giant Burger Challenge is really one for the books.

 

 

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