So A New Journey Begins

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I've been meaning to tell you a lot of things. Like how my life has drastically changed in the last few months. How I haven't been able to travel and surf since March. Or how my days are spent in the city longing for the sea.

As a blogger, I often have to decide whether I share something online or I keep it to myself. And what I'm about to tell you is something deeply personal. It's not travel-related but it's going to be one of the most intense and exciting adventures I'll ever embark on.

It's called motherhood.

Let's begin where most journeys start, at the airport.

Maternity Malaysia1


My partner Ben and I decided to travel long term together in Southeast Asia without a plan or end destination. We left Manila in November after downsizing most of my possessions to a 7 kg backpack. Little did I know that it would be the last trip for me to travel as a minimalist.

Maternity Malaysia3

Our first stop was to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Asian Women's Conference which was a truly empowering experience. I met so many awesome people and after the conference, a few of us had an interesting discussion: whether we wanted kids or not.

Maternity Malaysia2

We were about 5 women and all of us were over 30. When it was my turn to voice out my opinion, I told them: "I'd have no regrets in life- kids or no kids. I've long made a decision to live my life to the fullest and I can do that by myself, with a guy or with a family."

Maternity Thailand2


After about a month in Malaysia, we decided to travel overland to Thailand. We made a quick stop in Bangkok where we were welcomed by Ben's friend Mike and his fiancée, Sterenza. They showed us the opulent side of the city and we were spoiled by their generosity. On our last evening with them, we enjoyed an indulgent dinner of steak, wine and Roquefort cheese- which is still my last meal with alcohol.

Maternity Thailand5

We decided to rent an apartment in the northern city of Chiang Mai. It's easy to get stuck here because it's a wonderful place to be good to yourself. To breathe, eat healthy, do yoga, get pampered or feel the cool wind on your face while riding a motorbike.

Maternity Thailand6

We would rent a big bike to get to the border of Thailand and Myanmar to do our visa runs. It is 5 hours each way but the roads are smooth and the changing scenery of rolling hills, temples and markets made it worth the trip. On one such occasion, I ended up with such a bad case of burping. I had so much gas in my belly that I almost cried in pain. At the time, it felt strange but I blamed it on my making faces in the mirror while we were going more than 100 kph on the bike. I must have swallowed a lot of air. Or so I thought.

Kay Soy

Thai food can be very addicting. We lived close to a food market where the entire street was lined with food stalls starting at around 5 PM until the wee hours of the morning. So I often woke Ben up after midnight just to get a hot bowl of noodle soup, pad thai or  butter toast. This went on for weeks until I noticed I was gaining weight. Then one day I was surprised to feel a small bump on my belly even when I lay in bed.

We finally decided to go to the nearest pharmacy to get a pregnancy test. I rushed home only to find out that all the instructions were in Thai! We went back to the pharmacy and the guy at the counter had to explain in broken English that if I were to see 2 lines, it meant that I was pregnant.

So I took the test. It was the longest 10 seconds of my life. The first blue line appeared. I held my breath. And then there it was, faint but visible. The second blue line that decided our fate. I went out of the bathroom to tell Ben. But the look on my face said it all. He just gave me a bright smile and said "I knew it all along."

Maternity Thailand3

We went to the hospital the next day. A very polite Thai doctor gave me a check up and an ultrasound to confirm what we already knew- we were going to be parents. He gave me a few reassuring words in broken English and I struggled to take it all in. It felt so unreal. And to Ben he said with a chuckle: "Beware, mood swings!".

Maternity Thailand4

Being pregnant didn't stop us from having a few more adventures. We hopped on a motorbike to go to the scenic town of Pai about 3 hours away. We even ventured out to the Mae Hong Son loop, a road that boasts of a thousand hair pin bends. Ben is a very experienced driver and he didn't take too many risks.

Maternity Thailand7

The most challenging trip we faced was going on an overnight minivan for a 10 hour ride from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos to get a long stay visa. I had felt confident about the trip thinking that I was only 3 months along. I wasn't counting on riding at the mercy of a driving terrorist.

After over 3 hours on the road, I politely asked the driver if we were going to stop for a pee break anytime soon. He ignored me the first couple of times I asked. I wondered if he couldn't hear me or simply couldn't understand. On my third try, he yelled at me "We follow time stop!". Which meant he had to stick to the schedule. I wondered if I had to wait until Laos to empty my bladder. I was very close to tears when I told him "But, I'm pregnant!" He grunted a reply and I had to endure another hour before we finally stopped at a gas station. 

Maternity Indonesia3


In March, we felt the need to be close to the sea so we flew to Bali. It would be one of the last times we could sneak in a surf trip before the baby arrived. For the first few days, I was content to sit on the shore, watching people surf those perfect overhead sets. But on a particularly small day in Padang Padang Beach, I just had to try to surf even for the last time while pregnant. 

Maternity Indonesia4

Ben watched from a close distance as I paddled on a long board to catch a wave. I was careful not to put too much pressure on my belly. I felt awkward and clumsy, like a beginner. I hadn't surfed in months and my balance was off. I struggled to paddle out for a few waves and stand up, but I could only manage to crouch before falling off. After a few more failed attempts, I decided to paddle back.

No more surfing for me for a while.

Maternity Indonesia1

Ben did get to surf on a daily basis. After one session, he took me under a cave, into a cove in Uluwatu. We swam a bit and watched this beautiful red ball of a sunset. Before it sank completely, he smiled this boyish smile of his, took my hand and showed me a beautiful dolphin ring. He asked me to be his wife.

And just like that, I said yes.

Maternity Shoot2

Now we're back in the Philippines playing the waiting game. I'm grateful for family and friends who have been supportive. My younger sister just so happens to be pregnant too and I ask her for a lot of advice.

Maternity Philippines2

These last few months have been the most challenging. There are times when I feel frustrated about not being able to travel and surf for months now. I try to get used to this body that I often don't recognize.

Maternity Shoot

Some days I don't even feel like myself. We're very active individuals who couldn't stay in the city, or any place for that matter, for too long. We're like fish out of water in Manila. But we have to think about what's best for our child.

I've done a lot of crazy, scary things in my life. But this trumps it all.

One night I lay in bed, sleepless, wondering about motherhood, life changes and this squirmy creature in my belly. I felt Ben turn to face me, grab my hand and whisper in my ear,

"Let's make mistakes together, shall we?"

Maternity Shoot1

So a new journey begins...

Maternity Shoot3

Special thanks to Tiara Mejos Photography for my maternity shoot photos. And to Patrick Oronico for my hair and make up. 

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog She's currently in Manila waiting for the birth of her first child. She hopes to have a healthy baby and resume surfing and traveling very soon. 

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4 sole trails

  1. So exciting! Ninang ako ha! See you soon in Europe <3

    P.S. Kelangan may photoshoot talaga? HAHA chos!

  2. I can relate to this... :) So inspiring..

  3. Yes Ninang DJ! Haha Dalawin mo kami ha. OO kelangan talaga ng photoshoot para mas motivated ka mag announce. See you soon dear!

  4. I'm happy you can relate Nor. Thanks for dropping by!


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