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Experiences, Travel Blog

What makes an adventure an adventure?

July 25, 2013
Adventure

What’s an adventure? Is it something that needs to involve an exotic place or a dangerous activity?

It came to mind when Nigel Clifford, a traveler and the founder of Adventure Underwear, asked me to test their product on my next adventure.

I went through my travel plans to see if I have something on those lines planned. With neither Inca trails to climb nor neither oceans to explore, I had little options.

Finaly, I decided to test it at Belgium’s Rock Werchter festival.  While it may not fit the classic definition of an adventure, being in a crowd of 85,000 all jamming, jumping and singing, it sure felt like one.

And so begs the question, what really counts as an adventure?

25Travels - Adventure 1

I believe that an adventure is something that shouldn’t be limited by a place or an event. Being in the Himalayas can be an adventure, but so is walking on a neighbourhood in your city that you haven’t been to. For me, it’s about finding excitement into being in different places or doing different things.

 

25Travels - Adventure 2

I believe that a great adventure is not only about the places or activities you do but the people you do it with. On my travels, there are places that in terms of sights have not a lot to offer. But because of the people I was with, these places were often the most memorable. I believe that when you are with the right people, you can easily create moments that last forever.

 

25Travels - Adventure 3

I think an adventure should be something that will make you appreciate spending your time doing it.  It’s an activity that should push your boundaries and challenge fears. It’s an activity that should bring you learning and valuable experiences.

 

25Travels - Adventure 4

Our life is one big adventure. Each day, regardless how exciting or mundane it went, should be treated as an adventure. Our everyday moments shape who we are – our perception, values and attitudes. I believe that each moment, no matter how simple it is, should always be treated and regarded as an adventure.

 

25Travels - Adventure 5

In the end, it’s about living the life that you want to live. It’s about striving for your dreams and making sure that it happens.  I believe that if you aim for reaching your dreams – may it be climbing Mount Everest or learning a language – the journey to get to your dream IS an adventure in itself.

So instead of asking what is an adventure, your question should be what WILL BE your next adventure?

I got inspired to write this post thanks to Nigel and his innovative product – Adventure Underwear. They are currently raising funds on their kickstarter project.

It’s a simple concept – your normal boxers with a couple of pockets big enough to hold money, credit cards and even your smart phones. It’s waterproof and made from one of the finest wool. It’s comfort and usefulness in a small package.

It’s definitely one of the innovations that us travelers will never take for granted again.  It has a potential to be a classic travel gear with its simplicity and ingenuity.

I’ve been given a sample and been asked to review the product.  All opinions in this post, however, are all my own. 

Travel Blog

The Blogger Rises Again

August 16, 2012
beach

Inspired by Batman/ Bruce Wayne climbing up the prison pit in the Dark Knight Rises (geek!), I decided that it’s time to rise from the ashes and keep the blog alive again – and with a self-made promise to keep it going.

The prequel, or the reason why I stopped blogging in the first place, will be in a blog post soon – so as not to have a ranting post as my first entry in weeks.

But while my blog had remained quiet for the past weeks, I actually kept on travelling and boy did I travel a lot.

And so as not to spoil everyone, here’s a short summary on what I’m doing in the past few months and the posts I expect to write in the next coming weeks.

Finished my 25-country goal

Stockholm, Sweden

Lisbon, Portugal

Yes, you heard it right, I finished my goal last June!

While the blog didn’t have any post (yet) to celebrate the culmination of the goal, I had my Facebook and Twitter updates with photos and status updates. I conquered a surprisingly snowy spring weekend in Sweden for my 24th and finally capping it off with weeklong tour of Portugal and a big celebration at Festas de Lisboa.

Thailand and my brief return to Asia

Bangkok, Thailand

And three weeks after I finished my 25travels goal in Portugal, I headed into backpacker’s mecca – Thailand. It was my first trip back to Asia after leaving the Philippines at the end of 2011.

We travelled for two weeks long across Thailand hitting the rowdy streets of Bangkok, then partying it “half-moon style” in the island of Koh Pha Ngan then to putting our adventure gear on in the northern hippie city of Chiang Mai. Lots of great stories for sure!

In London 2012

London 2012

 

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed history as I became part of the thousands who had made it to London 2012. With the Olympics happening only every four years and the games happening a mere three hours from here, I knew that I have to make this one. From getting tickets, to being at an actual game and to making London as one of my favourite cities to be in (and live in too) – it was short yet very memorable experience.

And of course, I will be writing about what will be the next journey for me after my 25-country goal while still continuing to write about finding the balance between travel and working full time. So be sure you refresh your RSS feed, follow me on twitter and facebook, cause the man on a mission is back on the road!

Asia

So I Went Alone: The Beauty of Solo Travelling

December 1, 2011
chiang Mai

“You’re someone who loves being with people, travelling with friends” was how one colleague describes me. And my latest trip – a three-day solo trip in Chiang Mai  – defies this belief and pretty much every fear I have of travelling alone.

Writers and bloggers the world over have romanticised the idea of solo travelling since time immemorial. It connects you to your deep self, it’s a good check of your map-reading skills, they would say. You know the motherhood statements that those narratives give birth to. I used to read those testaments with complete detachment – loathing the overly dramatic tones even – until I found myself in the middle of Wualai Road in Chiang Mai, walking along a sea of people scouring the Saturday market for tribal goods and found myself all alone. Ah, the freedom is overwhelming.

Chiang Mai, 31/01/10

I had not imagined myself writing this, really, waxing poetic about the joys of travelling alone, until I’m trapped in the middle of daily deadlines and found myself wishing that I were still relaxing and sipping hearty banana shakes in Thailand. For someone whose day job involves double-checking that all things are in place (grammatical and otherwise), it was a bit difficult for me to be as spontaneous as I hope I would be. Some of you out there may echo my sentiments: with only several days of granted leave a year, a depleting savings account and responsibilities that range from the emotional to the financial, we get tangled in our daily checklists. Every single day is a quagmire of must-dos and most likely, travel plans are the first to become collateral damage when ‘needs’ battle ‘wants’ (or as I used to say, when our wallet is at war with our wanderlust).

My weekend trip last month was my first attempt at going solo, and in a way, a small inch closer to spontaneity. I’ve stepped into the plane with only two things confirmed: I have booked a guest house (so my mum and dad would not worry where I would spend my nights) and I’m going white water rafting on my second day. Where would I eat, where would I go after dinner, who would I be with most importantly, deserve some big question marks in my head, which I had totally ignored.

Armed with semi-free tickets from a lucky draw (which got finalised less than 24 hours before my trip!), I told my parents and friends I’m going to Thailand alone. My parents and sisters are the most supportive surprisingly, with one of my sisters even telling me to also go to Koh Samui or Pattaya after Chiang Mai, and my mum is not as worried as I’d predicted. But my friends’ reactions range from surprised and worried (Why are you going alone? Is it safe?) to condescending (What is there to see in Chiang Mai?! Why there?) to that of awe (Can you do that? Are you gonna be okay alone?) At times, my petty concerns surfaced: What if something happens to me? What if I get sick during this brief period? What if I get lost? And the most superficial of worries: Who’s going to take my pictures?! (That’s why camera timers and tripods are invented, go use ‘em!) The trick is to get past the overthinking: pack your bags, hop on the plane and just wait for things to happen. Trust me, it’s all going to be okay.


Chiang MaiSo I went, I survived – albeit with a few bruises and whole body aching after falling from the raft  – and I’m here to tell the tales. There’s only one harsh truth about going solo: the first day is the most difficult, it’s like the backpacking rite of passage. The transition from your socially fine life at home and the lone backpacker mode before you is always hard. The moment I landed, I realised I’m really alone. The first meal is the most lonesome, since I am not used to eating lunch all by myself. But being free from the familiar is one the best things that happened to me this year. There is always something liberating about standing in the middle of a crowded street, looking for your next meal while grappling for the right words to say, as the people around you are speaking something alien to your ears. There’s no hassle of eating quickly, since I had no travel mate to worry about. The absence of an itinerary is also overwhelming; I can scoop the glass noodles of my pad thai with no ticking clock and printed schedule to always look at.

Back in the guest house, Wi-Fi has been my salvation, and not in terms of connecting with friends and telling them I’m okay, but because I realised I had not packed any maps or guidebook with me. I found a note on my phone saying that I should go to places called Love at First Bite and Mike’s Burgers (I forgot to list down the addresses!), both of which I haven’t had the chance to visit because I ended up ordering roti egg outside the Saturday market (It is love at first bite, too!) and having beef noodles and banana shakes with a fellow backpacker (concidentally named Mike) in a small corner of the walled city.

For some of you who have done an RTW backpacking trip alone for months or year, my concerns may sound petty, amateurish perhaps. But it’s a big step for someone like me who’s so used to being organised. And I loved every single minute of it. I was able to stop and stare at the nice views, and look at the souvenirs without someone nudging me to walk on. No one’s asking me to check my watch because we’ll be late for the next thing on our itinerary. I’m on my own time, reaching for my own targets (or lack thereof).

The truth is when you go out there, you are not alone, especially if you go anywhere near or along the Banana Pancake trail. Backpackers are everywhere and you just have to overcome the initial shyness and go talk to them! After all, the beauty of travelling is not on how we followed our itinerary by heart, but it’s the people we met, the stories that get swapped, the tips we take from those brief encounters with backpackers, who, after long days on the road, are reluctantly heading home. It’s those surreal moments when we are not defined by our jobs, by the gadgets we flaunt, by the clothes we wear, by the way we carry ourselves. It’s just you and the world, and the backpackers doing the same as you: exploring, leaving  the routine and the monotony of safe lives for a taste of the unknown across the border, or in my case, within a three-hour flight radius. Solo backpacking teaches you how to rely on yourself more, but more importantly, it connects you to strangers, to the places you only see in magazines and travel blogs, and you know, nothing can replace experience.

So before you roll your eyes (like I did, and I apologise) at those who continue to wax poetic about how they trudge along life’s offbeat paths alone, I suggest you go grab your backpack and step into the wide wide highways leading to your next great adventure. And if you can – actually you must, at least once – do it all alone.

Some of you have done an RTW for months or even years, but there’s always the ‘first time’. Where’s the first country you’ve been to alone? How was it? I’m so excited to hear your stories of “When I was in_____ alone, I_________… Hit the comment boxes and share your ‘travel firsts’! 

Cheers,

Nelly

from my sunshine spot north of the equator, wondering where and when my next solo trip would be

This is a contribution from Nelly Hernandez. Photos used from jrbubaker and Woody Shakti under creative commons license.


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.

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