It felt like a dream. The islands of Coron in Palawan, Philippines-- I was in love with all of it-- and I wish I could go back right now.
Everything they say about wanderlust is true...the excitement, the fulfillment, the adrenaline rush, and finally the feeling you are left at the pit of your stomach when it all ends. I still can't describe the exact feeling I got when I knew my days were counting down to zero. All I remember is that moment I was on my 15-hour flight flying backward into the Eastern time zone and I was hit by the realization that this was it. There was no turning back. I'm stuck in this window seat with two snoring individuals and not a single tissue to wipe the snot flowing out of my nose. Yes, that's a lot of information that I'll get to in a second.
I didn't feel like sleeping, and I saw nothing outside the plane except the faint grey clouds below me and the fading sunset sky. So I turned to the movie collection readily available a tap away. It was the latest batch of movies currently playing in theaters. I had already seen half of the list on my flight going to Asia, so I decided to watch the one movie I avoided tapping during that initial flight. I avoided watching The Fault in Our Stars because I knew what a sob fest I would become-- and I let that sob fest become me that very flight home. I let the waterworks devour my eyes and although I deeply wished to blow my nose, I couldn't bring myself to tap the man peacefully asleep next to me, and awaken him just so I could grab toilet paper to control my mucus. I think I was more embarrassed to have him see the emotional mess I was. Imagine waking up to a tap on the shoulder by a sobbing woman in her mid-twenties?? Scary. I knew that I wasn't just crying about the inevitable death in a beautifully flawed love story that was playing before me on a little screen. I was crying because this trip was over and I didn't know when I would be able to go back again!
I realized this wasn't just any vacation. This was a journey that I wanted my soul to experience. This was an adventure of a lifetime. It began with a visit to see my Grandma in Taiwan, a trip to my roots. But, then my journey led me to the Philippines where my heart opened up to another side of the world that I've only read about in textbooks and seen photos of on travel blogs. For two decades I yearned to see another world through my own eyes...through my own vision. This was just the beginning because the flame inside me has been lit and I won't let it burn out here.
It took me 23 years to finally see blue water for the first time. My first time was earlier this year when I visited Cartagena, Colombia, and boy does it thunderstorm when it finally starts to rain. Not only did I cross that blue water dream off my bucket list earlier this year, but I got to cross it off with an extra bold, red sharpie after this trip to the Philippines. These are the bluest most beautiful waters in the world...dare I say prettier than Cartagena. My eyes tear a little just reimagining that vision I had only a month and a half ago.
That's right. It has been over a month since I came back from the Philippines and all I can think about during these chillier New York days are warm, sunny skies, toes in the sand and the sight of infinite blue in the horizon. My appetite was satiated with high cholesterol dishes and the most sour drinks I can ever sip. My Vitamin-D deficient skin turned sun-kissed. My spirits were uplifted. And, of the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines, I went to 7 islands during my 8-day trip.
All was uplifting and rewarding. Money was spent in all the right places and not a penny lost was regretted. This post took awhile to write because I couldn't bring myself to look at my photographs right away. I needed some time away from the memory because every sift through my album sprinkled a little salt in the wound. I think aside from my jetlag and inability to spring back to my New York routine immediately, I was also afraid that looking through my photos meant my love had ended and the dream was over. I was scared because I didn't know when I would be able to visit the Philippines again. There are so many places in this world that I want to eventually visit, but I am one person who can only explore one country at a time. I had let my fears get the best of me.
Just like that fear of watching The Fault in Our Stars because I did not want to cry a river, I was afraid that my wonderful memories of the Philippines would only ruin my less blue and warm reality. But, of course I knew deep down that it wasn't and isn't really over. I will travel again and I will fall in love as I do when I fall asleep...slowly, and then all at once.
Here's the first entry of my trip to Asia. I'll be dreaming of this trip tonight. Back to the days I would eat, sleep, swim, and repeat.
For my full Philippines album, visit the page under the "Places" tab (click here), which I recommend, or scroll through the preview down below: