On dangerous travel destinations

There are so many beautiful places in the world hidden behind the ugly image that news media would like to paint of certain countries. Not to say that there aren’t any dangers in traveling to those countries, but most of the time the clash and conflict are between governments and not the people. A lot of citizens living in perceived danger zones are victims of generalization brought upon by the unfair portrayal of the entire nation based on decisions made and actions done by political actors and fundamentalists. I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia for most of my life.  When I returned to the Philippines to complete my studies, I was swamped by questions about my – and my family’s, safety. Surely, those questions are not unwarranted – one of the places my family used to frequent was bombed by apparent terrorists and I am not at all a stranger to bomb threats but those things can happen in any country.

One of the most frightening experiences I have ever gone through was when I returned to the Philippines several years back and as I was waiting for my uncles to pick me up from the NAIA Terminal 1, a piece of luggage that was suspected to be a bomb was left in the middle of the waiting area. Oh, how hard I prayed that it was a false alarm. Security guards and policemen surrounded the luggage and feared opening it. Thankfully my uncles arrived and picked me up. When I got home, it was already in the news! I never found out what happened to that piece of luggage, but let me tell you this: I’ve never felt that frightened for my life in Saudi Arabia.

Dangerous things can happen anywhere you are. We can never predict when something bad is going to happen. Many people fall victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but often times the perceived dangers are preventable. It’s all a matter of common sense and respect, which a lot of people also have trouble grasping. Common sense is going to a less developed country and not wearing any flashy jewelry. Common sense is not walking in the sketchy part of town by yourself, whether male or female. Respect is going to a Muslim country and not engaging in public displays of affection. Respect is following the rules that the government places for travelers (that you should have read before going to that country!).

A few nights ago, I watched a documentary about Iran. It was a documentary that focused on the people, the culture, and the beauty of Iran rather than the political strife and misunderstandings it has with the United States. I had always wanted to visit Persepolis but I never knew that there was actually more to Iran than that. It’s actually an overall beautiful place, and one day I hope that I can visit it. There are many other places I would love to go that my parents would never approve of because of their international reputations. Let me list my top 5:

1. Iran

(Persepolis, Shiraz)

2. North Korea

(Monument to the Party Founding, Pyongyang)

3. Libya

(Leptis Magna, Tripoli)

4. Syria

(Citadel of Aleppo)

5. Yemen

(Socotra Island)

One day.

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On Blogging

I was having a discussion over Facebook Chat with my good friend and favorite food buddy Jared about how deep and thought provoking discussions with friends could play a big role in shaping what we decide to blog about. That’s when I realized the great impact that blogging has had in my life. Sure, I’m not a popular blogger with a hoard of followers who eagerly await my every update, it would be so cool if I were. I’m just a regular 23 year old girl with a lot of things going on in her head in need of a medium to verbalize it. I’m in a specific situation wherein I don’t get that opportunity often in my everyday interactions with people, so blogging has definitely been a life saving experience for me. It has saved my sanity more than once. I mean, even if nobody reads what I have to say, it’s just very therapeutic to have an avenue wherein I can express my thoughts. It’s also doubly rewarding when you find out there are actually people who read what you want to say and are actually inspired by it.

Of course nothing beats the long, passionate, or even random, conversations about life and the universe but I will take what I can get. Blogging has definitely kept my mind on a continuous cycle of thought and no matter how many days, weeks, or months life keeps me busy, I find myself always running back to a blog.

It’s kinda funny- in the same conversation, I had mentioned to Jared how I found it difficult to find an inspiration to write because I rarely get to talk to people about my deepest thoughts and therefore I’m unable to process them properly to form a coherent idea on what to write about. Apparently, talking to him about my lack of ideas on what to blog about has given me the idea to blog about what we blog about.

On getting older

A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post by a 15 year old girl complaining about how old she is now. I’m 23 and I’m turning 24 this July. At first, it really hit me. Here’s a girl almost a decade younger than I am complaining that she is old. How dare she? But after some thought, I realized: what is the big deal about getting older? Why do we keep letting an inevitable part of life bring us down?

Someone told me that she understood why Peter Pan wanted to be a kid forever. I used to agree with that sentiment as well but now I don’t. Sure, being an adult involves a lot of responsibilities but being an adult also opens us up to more experiences. I guess sometimes we’re just scared because we feel that time is running out. But hiding behind the denial of our inescapable increase in age would just result in a greater waste of the already limited time we have in this world. So, instead of complaining that we are getting older and wishing that we could be kids forever, we should embrace our aging selves.

I want to live every day with the full acceptance of the knowledge that I am indeed getting older. I want to constantly remind myself that right now, while I am getting older, I am not old. One day, I will be old; but when that day comes, I want to remember that I spent my days doing what I had dreamed to do instead of just dreaming of what I could have done.