I relate everything to running. My career… motivation… my goals… Travel.
I've gone back and forth on what type of blog I wanted to make this out to be. An informative blog on culture and the details of how we are making this two year trip possible or a personal blog on the emotional transformations that occur throughout the journey.
I believe writing is personal. I believe is important. It is one of the most valuable things a human can have; the ability to articulate them self in an appropriate way. A way that feeds energy. And a way that tells your truth. Writing this blog is very personal – and I intend for it to tell my truth.
I began my journey in the Philippines with a calm spirit, but with many internal transformations already brewing. The first few weeks were rough. Nothing can prepare you for a true culture shock and lifestyle shock. No matter how positive or how prepared you are.
When we landed in Manila I was overwhelmed. WE were overwhelmed. The city is chaotic. With 14.8 million people, the streets are littered with taxis, jeepneys, motor bikes, habal-habals, and poverty. It is a diverse city rich with Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and American influence, a melting pot of cultures - and the most densely populated city in the world.
I wrote up the first Manila post for my blog our first night. Internet, laptop malfunctions, and exhaustion all came into play as to why that post never made it online. We spent over three weeks in ten cities, six provinces, and countless hours on buses, boats, and flights. I created several excerpts and write ups that never made it online during these weeks. Rounding the end of our island hopping I still couldn’t put anything together about the Philippines that I felt was of meaning. All I could focus on was that the thought of coming back to Manila was morbid. But we had to. Our flight out to Hong Kong departs from Manila.
The first part of the trip I was stuck in the first mile of a marathon. No scratch that. I was stuck in the first week of marathon training. I couldn't catch my breath, my strides were off. I completely forgot why I loved to run. The thousands of people surrounding me were taking me out of my own game. I got sick. Twice. I couldn't mentally pass “the wall” I so quickly built. Every time I restart a marathon training plan the first two weeks are brutal. They are exhausting. Every second is like death. But it passes. I knew that. Note: this is why you should never stop running. I already knew that one, too.
I hate writing when I don't feel enlightened. It took me about twenty three days in the Philippines to feel enlightened. It took me ten cities and hundreds of new experiences to finally shift my mindset. It took me this long to finally remember, “There is No F*cking Wall.” I had a conversation a few months before leaving with my good friends' boyfriend from Australia. He told me the first time he went traveling he was ecstatic – he couldn’t wait to get out the door. His first stop was Rome. His expectations of Rome were off the charts. He knew it was going to blow him away. When he got to Rome he was utterly disappointed. He said the city was trashed and in ruins. It shook him for the remainder of his journeys, but near the end he decided to go back to Rome – and he loved it. He appreciated it for what it was.
When we first landed in Manila I was overwhelmed. When we first got to Coron, Palawan I was disappointed. When we continued to El Nido I got sick. I allowed my initial shock and disappointment of the Philippines to create this mythical wall that every marathoner fears. I created my own wall during these first few weeks that I couldn’t get past. I wasn’t enjoying myself the way I normally do. I didn’t have the giddy thrill of travel, the butterflies of new places. It was such a foreign feeling. It was like being mid stride of a 10 mile run on my favorite course and suddenly hating it. Suddenly completely forgetting that I love to run – I know how to run – that running soothes my soul. I couldn’t correct my own mentality until over three weeks in.
When we landed in Manila the second time the lighting was completely different. The city looked completely different. I felt completely different. Initially, our plan was to hibernate during our last three days in Manila, do some research, post photos and rest. But I remembered this conversation about Rome. I wanted to be enlightened. I was ready to move past my own wall. We reached out to some friends we met in Boracay who lived in Manila. They did exactly that – they helped move me past the wall. Spending the day in their city, admiring the views they love to see, hearing their pride about their culture was the moment I needed. They reminded me that the reason I am traveling is not to have my expectations met, but to have them enlightened.
This is about appreciating all things for what they are. Beauty and sorrow. The Philippines taught me that – and I am forever grateful. I’m glad I didn’t post my initial blog on Manila. But I will now. Because this is a story of travel and how I experienced it. A new blog on Manila to follow.
AS - @ travelingsnow