From One Wandering Sole to the NextTuesday, January 17, 2012
Dear Sole Sisters,
A few months back, one of my Facebook friends posted a link about this garage sale you were arranging for brave travelers like you- people who were leaving everything behind so they can begin living the lives they’ve always wanted. But until now, I still can’t put a finger on what exactly brought me to your amazing story.
Was it destiny or just the wonders of social media?
What I do know is I chanced upon your story at a time when I was starting to fall completely in love with traveling. I was an exchange student in Singapore then, wanting to have my own adventure in Southeast Asia. But before I read your blog, a part of me was a bit scared about doing all the traveling I wanted to do. And isn’t a part of us always scared or at least hesitant when we’re falling in love?
Was I really going to spend this much money on travel? Was I really okay with coming back to the Philippines with an empty pocket because I traveled so much? Can budget airlines be trusted? What if my flights are delayed or, God forbid, cancelled? What if I miss my exams because of cancelled flights? Will I still enjoy traveling even if I’m on a shoestring budget? What if something happens to me while I’m away? Was I ready to take all these chances? And I used to be the kind of person who’s scared shitless of taking a chance. This Southeast Asia trip I was fantasizing over- it was a huge chance!
But then I met you, sole sisters. And you are my heroines.
I learned from you that I shouldn’t be scared that something happens to me. Instead, I should be scared that nothing happens to me! I should be scared that I won’t have stories to tell. That I never got lost and desperately asked for directions. That I never got on the wrong bus or paid too much for a tuk-tuk ride. I should be scared that years from now, I’ll regret that I didn’t take the chance to see a part of this world only because I was scared of cancelled flights. Come on!
I realized then that never again would I be that young and be able to travel. I realized that I might be wiping out all the money I saved from missing meals and cutting down on shopping (and Singapore is a shopping mecca!) but that’s okay.
I will have money again in the future. But the luxury of time? The chance to see foreign countries on my last year as a teen, with the kind of hopeful outlook characteristic of someone still in college? Never again will I have that.
And so I took the plunge.
I traveled to Cambodia, Bali and Malaysia before coming home and finishing my exchange program. I did all that in less than a month so it was crazy in a kind of amazing way. In a span of three weeks, I experienced sunrise at the Angkor Wat, in the rice paddies of Ubud, and inside the plane on the way to Kuala Lumpur. I walked through the Pub Street in Siem Reap, the Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, and the charming, old streets of Penang. In a span of only three weeks I took six flights and slept in five hostels. I met countless travelers carrying their homes on their backs. I became one of them and I couldn’t be happier.
I came home to the Philippines with my pockets empty but with my backpack full of souvenirs, with stamps on my passaporte and with 2000 photos on my hard drive.
I made the right decision.
But happy as I was, it wasn’t easy adjusting back to my life here when I came home. For weeks, I was stricken with the dreaded post-travel depression. (My dear sole sisters, I’m sure you can relate) Many times, I found myself staring longingly at my fridge adorned with magnets from everywhere that I’ve been. And for many weeks, I couldn’t begin to write this letter.
I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what to write. But what I did know is I didn’t just want to tell you about how majestic the Angkor temples were or how peaceful Bali was or how KL is my favorite city second to New York City. That’s meant for my travel journal. And you’ve already been to those places so you already know how amazing they are. And then it came to me that I simply wanted to tell you my story.
My story isn’t about what I did in the countries I visited or what I liked or didn’t like as a traveler.
My story is about how I faced my fear of the unknown, my fear of taking a chance. It’s about how I learned that I’m the kind of person who can be brave enough to leave everything behind so I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live and do what my heart tells me to.
And my story began a few months ago, I saw a link to your blog on my Facebook homepage, clicked on it and met the two of you in cyberspace.
|Photo Credit: Justin de Jesus|
Waiting for her next big trip,
Angel Bombarda is a Filipina to the world. She made her own Eat Pray Love journey (Asian version) and traveled to Cambodia, Bali and Malaysia where she was seized by a serious case of wanderlust. Now, she's back in the Philippines working on her dream to be a writer/storyteller. Follow her adventures at Chasing Columbia.
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