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.

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.

Bucket Lists and Travel

In my last blog entry, I mentioned that I find bucket lists meaningless if we don’t start acting on it now. A few days after I wrote that blog, I was going through the old posts of one of my favorite bloggers, Adventurous Kate. Kate is definitely an inspiration to me. She is currently in her 20s and has established herself as a female solo traveler. I had found her blog while I was searching on solo female travel before going to the United Kingdom. I mainly did the search to prove to my parents that it is normal and safe for girls to travel by themselves. One day I would love to be as well-traveled as her!

Anyway, while I was going through her blog, I saw that she had written a post about bucket lists and I completely agree with it. Her main problem with bucket lists is that: “If your deadline is death – you’re not making it a priority.” And it’s true! A lot of people, myself included, express our desires to go to a certain place or do a certain thing “before we die”. But none of us really know when that is going to happen so rather than saying I want to do this before I die, I will now start saying I want to do this as soon as I can.

What she says is true, if we want to travel it should definitely be our priority. I have been lucky these past few years because I don’t pay any living expenses and I was able to pay for my own travel, but I know that once I start living on my own I would have to practice more self-discipline. Recently, my best friend Vida has been helping me in keeping my expenses (read: shopping) to a minimum because of all the trips I have planned out for this year. I was talking to one of my good friends yesterday and he mentioned I was rich because I spent a large amount of money on my plane ticket for my upcoming trip and I told him that I’m not rich, I just spend my money on travel. I want that to be a continuing trend in my life. I want to prioritize travel. At this age, I am old enough to set my own priorities and young enough to make it happen. I want to get married and have kids one day and although I know I never want to stop traveling, I know that my priorities will be shifting by then.

I thought it would be a good idea to list down my travel priorities just like what Kate did. So here goes:

  • See the sun rise behind Angkor Wat, Cambodia – I have already made plans to go here this year and I hope it pushes through!

http://www.warwickphotographer.com.au

  • Witness the Northern Lights – Also known as the Aurora Borealis. It looks so majestic in pictures and to witness it in person would just be so enchanting!

  • See the Cherry Blossoms of Japan – Who wouldn’t wanna see this? Nature is so beautiful.

  • Visit Russia – Just looking at the pictures, you could see that it’s full of culture. I just wanna walk those streets and just take in the beautiful architecture in the area

http://www.worldwidehomestay.com/

  • Tour the temples of Turkey – Greece is popular for their temples but there are also many beautiful temples in Turkey. The world’s oldest temple, Gobekli Tepe, is located in Turkey.

www.sithsonianmag.com

How about you? Where do you want to go? What are your travel priorities?

Retrospect and Prospects

PicCollageA bucket list is just a bunch of meaningless words if you don’t start acting on it while you still can. I think that is the biggest lesson that I learned this year. I would like to think of 2012 as the year I started trying to take control of my own life – as the year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and actually start acting towards my dreams. I’m not there yet, I haven’t accomplished a tenth of what I thought I would by the time I reached this age but I’m getting there. A few years ago I kept my life on hold because I thought that the world didn’t want me to succeed. Upon much introspection, I realized that the reason I’m lagging behind on my aspirations is that I’ve never given myself the chance to try getting away from my self-imposed misery. I would spend days and nights sulking at how much better my life would be somewhere else instead of working on ways on how I can get myself out. I think it’s because I’m actually really scared that I won’t actually be able to do it.

By keeping myself stagnant, I ensured that I won’t walk into any failures, I secured myself from any damning mistakes that I would eventually regret but I was also keeping myself from any possibilities of success. I wouldn’t try because I was too afraid to fail but I would never succeed because I never tried. Out of my own fear to make mistakes, I was making the biggest mistake I could ever make and it was hampering my own growth. There was no one else to blame for that but myself. Thank God I realized that now.

2012 was the year I finally threw caution to the wind – when I took my first risk – and it was deliciously rewarding. Early this year, I decided I wanted to tour the United Kingdom. This was something big for me because for one, I don’t have a stable enough savings account that would allow me to get through this without it taking a huge hit. Flash forward to a few months later, I sit here typing on my computer, proud of myself for being able to do it ALL BY MYSELF. From the first step to the last, I managed to hold my own and fulfill one of my biggest wishes in life. I had always wanted to go the the United Kingdom as it was the birth place of my favorites, Harry Potter and Doctor Who, and my fan girl fantasies finally came to a fruition.

The whole experience gave me a huge stepping stone towards accomplishing my future plans of continuing to check off things off my bucket list. This mainly consists of travel destinations. I promise myself that 2013 will be a year of travel, that I will be able to go to at least 3 new international destinations next year and many more local destinations. I promise that in 2013 I will take more risks. I won’t stay in my comfort zone. I promise in 2013 I will start living my dreams instead of dreaming of a life I’d want to live. This is it 2013, you’re full of potential and I’m ready for you! Thank you for the amazing year, 2012! You were a good teacher. Now it’s time for me to live up to my promises to the new year. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

On having kids one day

I think the biggest proof that I really do want to have kids some day is the fact that I work with (and watch over) almost 50 five year olds everyday and that is the part of my job that I love the most. I have always wanted to have kids and honestly my greatest fear is to go through life without having experienced the joy of having my own child. I know I’m being dramatic about this. I was just talking to Vida about how legitimately scared I was of the thought of growing old without the chance of having a child of my own.

She called me praning for this, but I’m known to be a television addict who lives in TV Land. Two of my favorite television characters, who both wanted desperately to have kids, had issues with having kids. Granted, these are all fictional stories, their stories really got to me and it really hit me hard that there’s a possibility that someone like me who was really set in a life with kids may not actually be blessed with one.

To do list

Ever since I graduated, I have had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I’m now twenty one, single, and unemployed (But I do have plans to continue my education next year).

I realized there are a lot of things I want to do, but I don’t have the resources to do it. One of my biggest goals is for me to settle down, have a family with two children and be a good mother and wife. Hopefully 2012 won’t be the end of us so I can have that.

But before all that, there are also things I would like to do now, while I’m still single and not tied down by commitment.

1. Watch a Broadway Musical

I have always been a fan of musicals, but since I’m not as privileged, the only live musical I have watched is the Charlie Brown Musical staged in the UA&P auditorium in my senior year. Rent, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Singing in the Rain, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hairspray are only available to me through their movie versions. I felt really sad when Rent announced its final shows last year, so I won’t be able to watch them live.

I would have wanted to watch Rent live, and if it were still running, I would choose it hands down. Unfortunately it isn’t so if I had the chance to watch a Broadway Musical, it would be between Phantom of the Opera, American Idiot, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The last one hasn’t shown yet, so I have no idea how good it will be. But come on, Daniel Radcliffe.

2. Go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter

People who know me well know that I am a Potternerd. Anything Harry Potter related gets me extremely excited. It has been a big part of my life, and I will go as far as saying Harry Potter is the pinnacle of my childhood and a huge part of my teenage years. So now that I’m twenty, Harry Potter still holds a big chunk of my heart, and I don’t think that will ever change. I owe it to the Potternerd in me to have tried authentic Butterbeer before I die.

3. Comic Con

If I’m lucky I will see the cast of my ultimate favorite television series, Psych.

If I’m luckier I will see Doctor Who and  Captain Jack. Of course I won’t  be able to meet David Tennant as Doctor Who anymore, but Matt Smith is fit too.

4. Visit the Cradle of Western Civilization

If there is one country in the world I would want to visit, it’s Greece. It’s so full of culture. I mean, isn’t it just beautiful?

5. Watch a FIFA World Cup Match live.

Hopefully in Brazil. But it doesn’t matter where, as long as I get to see Kaka and Ronaldo I will be happy.

I’m hopeful that the Vuvuzela will never make a come back in the matches, so I can enjoy it when I watch it live. Ah the excitement of being there during the match!

Of course there are more to my list, but these are my greatest wishes. I hope I can achieve at least half of the list. Yeah, I think I will be content with that. But for now, all I can do is dream, and hope I can earn enough money to make these dreams come true. (Cheesy end for a blog. Sry.)

Manic Monday

Today was such a long day. I kinda got into a falling out with a really good friend but I really hope it’s okay now.

Anyway, I’ve been working on something that I will finally reveal on September 1. I’m quiet excited on the feedback. It took a month to have it done, and I hope we reach our goal. After that, I can finally go back to my quiet, facebook-less life. It was quite nice the few weeks I didn’t have facebook. Sadly to get my mission done, I had to return to facebook. It’s for a good cause anyway so fine.

I have so many things lined up for me. I guess I could do great use to my time as a bum until I finally complete my ultimate plan 🙂 So whatever that is, I shall pray for it. Please pray for me too 🙂

Shower me with your concepts.

When I was still a student, whenever my thinking process got jammed, I would take a shower. I noticed that many of my grand ideas unfold themselves to me in the shower. It came to a point that I would bring my notebook and pen or cellphone with me to the shower to record my thoughts before the flew away.

There is that calmness that the water brings to me that clears up my mind and just allows ideas to flow freely in my mind. Yesterday I had a choice to make, whether or not to grab an opportunity that presented itself to me. Eventually, after much thinking, I decided to go for it. Yet I was stumped on how I would have to go through with it. I don’t want to jinx it so I’ve only told two people about it. But here’s something about it: I have to make a topic proposal.

I’ve been looking through my head for possible topics that won’t complicate life for me (and that doesn’t require me to stalk high profile individuals to gather my data. I think I’ve had enough of that). After thinking the whole day, I couldn’t come up with a specific topic that would both strike my interest and fulfill the requirements of said opportunity. I went to have a shower, and then it dawned onto me. Everything became clearer. And I now have a topic. It’s not a perfect topic, but I think it’s good enough for me to get by.

So that’s about it. I’m putting mission impossible aside for awhile to give me time to this mini project, which I shall call Mission: Long shot.

The road to professional bumdom.

I just found out that our cable has 600 channels, unfortunately, half of the good channels,we did not subscribe to. So now I’m going to have to beg my parents to put in the good channels. Like Discovery Channel, E! (I need my daily source of hollywood “news”), and other channels that show the good series (Glee, Community, Heroes, Lost…. ehem: de gustibus non est disputandum.). But I think I’d need to find a job first because that would mean we would have to pay more to get these channels. Meh.

I’m still in my bum mode, although I have started Mission: Get Published which I now renamed Mission: Impossible. I scanned through some journal entries that were published by the journal I plan to submit my paper to. I have to change the whole layout of my thesis if I wanted to be publish. I wanted to know what kind of papers the journal accepted, and I decided to focus on organization first.

I haven’t gotten far, but I am progressing. I’ve outlined what I wanted to do (Well okay, in my head, but that is a start). I plan to apply for another Masters degree in 5 years, so by that time I hope to be published. That’s big dream, I know, but who knows. Anyway, I plan to study Political Communications, probably somewhere in the UK since that’s where they offer it. We’ll see.