Inspirations, Japan

夢 (Yume)

Lying in bed and trying to ride out the tropical storm currently threatening to put Manila underwater, I suddenly realized that I need to finally throw caution to the wind and book that long-awaited (and long-prayed for) tickets to Japan.

I’ve been in love with this country for as long as I can remember — yet I kept putting off seriously considering or planning a trip because I was afraid of getting a Japanese tourist visa and being rejected. I was afraid that I will never have enough money to fund my travel. I harbored too many “but’s” and “if’s” stricken by the fear of not getting a visa, first and foremost. The sad thing is — I never, even tried.

I was too scared of facing my fear of the Japanese visa, but I have managed to get a visa to South Korea and Taipei, a month or two before the Taiwan-Philippines row exploded. I kept saying I didn’t have the money but I kept on going back to Hong Kong and Singapore, even co-shouldering my parent’s first overseas trip.

I realized that the reason I am still dreaming about seeing my dream country is because I am just too scared by things I can’t predict.

Today, I realized that I just have to throw all preconceived notions, all premature fears and just eff it and go. To be blunt about it, I stand in the way of fulfilling my own dream.

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So next year — on my 35th birthday — I vow to spend it underneath the trees of Kitanomaru Park. With His blessing, with the blessing of the universe and buoyed by your kind prayers and wishes, my fellow travelers — I am claiming it.

I have to do it next year because after that comes motherhood and plans for the future, like leaving the country for good to pursue a better life. So unless I am heavily-pregnant and about to pop, nothing will stop me from stepping on a Tokyo-bound plane by next year.

To do this will never be easy or cheap. But I spend too much money on comics and clothes anyway, I’d rather divert the fund to something important (understatement of the year, my friends). As someone who have an obsession with research, surely I can do the same thing for this trip.

I made a quick check: booking a return flight bound for Tokyo via JetStar Asia is around PHP16,000.00 — this is within a four-month booking schedule, while tickets via PAL costs roughly PHP30,000.00 (same schedule). Tokyo backpackers hostels meanwhile go for as low as Y3,000 or Y8,000 for a nice double room in another 3-star hotel. A budget of Y100,000 is I think, more than enough.

It will not be easy–after all, this trip will be solely funded by what I earn from my work. But whoever said the journey towards your dreams is ever easy?

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Inspirations

Where do you want to go and what are you doing about it?

Maybe it’s that place where you vowed to tick off a great deal on your bucket list, or maybe it’s the place that only makes sense to you. Whatever might be your reason, there is one place that you’ve been raring to see, that just thinking about it and how to get to it consumes your every waking hour.

This though came to light after reading an entry in CNN Travel where some of their best correspondents were asked their “dream destinations.” It was an inspiring piece, considering that most of these people probably have been everywhere with the jobs they have. Yet, in spite that, it is inspiring to read their plans in order to see their dream destinations, like saving for it or maintaining a separate bank account specifically for the purpose

Their reasons are varied — from the expected: like love of travel or being in the midst of a foreign culture and language, to the deep: like knowing that a piece of you will always be part of that country and you know that you just have to go. For some, it can be a lifetime obsession leading you to learn the language and study the culture, which is both foreign and oddly familiar to you.

Obviously, the cross I bear is the Land of the Rising Sun. This so-called obsession to go to Japan has reached a new low following my sister’s trip to Tokyo last September. I was given the chance to go, but knowing that I don’t have enough in my bank account to truly enjoy Tokyo, I put my foot down and said no. It’s a decision that continues to bring me heart ache till now. However, I knew then that it wasn’t the time for me to go — I have limited budget and there’s just so much of Tokyo that I wanted to see.

After missing Tokyo last year, I vowed that this won’t happen again. Hence, the obsession to fatten the bank account and build up my financial portfolio. Tickets going to Japan can be had for cheap, since there’s a plethora of budget airlines available. It’s the hassle of getting a visa and assuring the consulate that I will return to the Philippines after the trip that’s killing me. I wish I could convince them with a 1,000-word essay of how much I’m in love with their country and their culture, but something tells me that a strongly-worded essay will not actually give me a tourist visa.

In preparation for my Dream Destination, I’ve started a bank account where 30% of my current salary will be deducted and sent directly to the fund. I also vowed that all extra cash I’ll be getting this year (bonuses, leave payments) will automatically go to the travel fund. Save for the upcoming home rental and insurance payment, I lost interest in many of my inane hobbies including the need to buy shoes and bags every month.

The funny thing is while my sister was there, I was the one arranging for the whole trip, while here. I would point out every street, every building, every tourist hot spot a thousand of miles away from the city I love most. It was both pathetic and funny at the same time.

This year, where are you going?

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Inspirations, Travel Diaries

Why I Travel

One day, while I was having a quick noontime break with my colleagues in the work place, one of them said to me, “You know you must be freaking rich or your salary must be big…you’re always going somewhere eh…” I didn’t know if I should get offended or not. But in my mind, I wanted to correct his misconception.

First and foremost, I am not rich nor do I have a trust fund stowed somewhere funding my travels. Second, (and unfortunately) I really don’t earn much from my work as a manager (enough but not too much, I guess) and third, yes I am always going somewhere.

I really don’t get it. Might be in a conversation somewhere and someone will quip why I always choose to travel when travel is very expensive. And when I am lucky, some wise-ass will remind me that “at the times like these, maybe I should save instead of spending hard-earned money on a trip.”

I couldn’t blame them. Life is hard, and today’s economic climate does not make it easier.

But then, I see them splurging money on night outs an shopping trips and then I ask myself, aren’t we any different at all?

I agree that one must save for the future. For that, there should be a savings account or insurance or pension which you know will accumulate benefits for you when the time comes. I also agree that there the basic necessities should be prioritized.

But, what if one of these basic necessities is the need to explore and see the world?

pic not my property (from http://garyandcourtney.com)

finding my way — and loving it. (KG in HK)

For me, I travel because the world is too big, too vast, too pretty and diverse — that choosing not to see it is an abomination. I travel because I believe, that there’s just so much out there that I needed to see it.

I always say that traveling has and will always be my escape from the realities of corporate rat race. I have never felt more alive whenever an out-of-town, or an overseas trip is looming in the horizon. The intricacies of preparing a trip, the stress of bringing things together, of planning and haggling and trying to raise money.

Allow me to be honest, I am just a lucky girl who always manages to make things fall into place. A cheap flight and an equally cheaper lodging. A few bucks into my pocket budgeted for four days. Eating in holes-in-the-walls and discovering delicious yet sinfully cheap street foods. Hearing a cacophony of languages you don’t understand. Navigating the local train station and learning the ropes. Eating something you never thought you would. Learning a way of life that is vastly different from yours. What can be better than that?

I agree, I really should devote more energy and money in making my savings account healthy. In fact, I have decided to assign two accounts — one for travel and the other one for the rainy days. Figured out that the two should never overlap or intertwine at all.

When people tell me that traveling is expensive, I just shrug. Yes, it is expensive if you will insist on regular, last-minute rates, stay on five-star hotels and insist on taking the cab everytime. Yes, it is expensive when you prefer fine dining and shopping for things that can be readily available when you get back to your hometime.

Maybe indeed, it is expensive. But we all know that education nowadays doesn’t come cheap.

Leaving with a quote from one my favorite writers:

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

(from “WHY WE TRAVEL”, PICO IYER)

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Inspirations

No Reservations to air final season

One of the shows which inspired me to get off my butt and see the world (with whatever my money can afford) is “New Reservations”, with my “old guy crush”, Anthony Bourdain, definitely one of the coolest guy currently seen in cable channel.

the hottest guy in cable TV. bar none.

All his Filipino fans definitely felt a swell of pride after the much-followed show finally landed in the shores of Manila and provincial Philippines! When Tony raved about how good Filipino lechon tasted, every Pinoy must have felt a collective surge of national pride.

…though I am not really a fan of Augusto’s story. I felt like Tony could have done a lot more in the Philippines, minus the burden of the back story of a returning “balikbayan.” But that’s just me.

Anyway, the ninth and final season of the Emmy-award winning and highly popular show will debut on September 03 at the Travel Channel.

I’ll definitely miss seeing Tony and his various culinary adventures–both exciting and the weird–when the show finally ends. (SOURCE)

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