When people think about travelling, they consider a whole range of things in all sorts of chaotic order. The flight. The accompaniment. The restaurants. The excursions. The hotel. The price. The layover. The luggage. And the never-ending packing list.
[the difficult part]
The very moment you’ve clicked on that button that sends you your booking tickets, a range of feelings start to set in – surrealism, excitement, stress, and feeling pumped. And then you realize, now the difficult stuff starts.
When the travelling process begins, you start making up a list of places to go, eat, and discover. Some say that it is one of the best parts of the trip, and others might say that it is the most strenuous part. Whether you’re travelling with a buddy or a group of people, make sure to coordinate who does all the planning because not everyone likes it. It takes a lot of researching and it can also be stressful for some people to have that kind of pressure. In my case, I love the planning process. I won’t necessarily make a strict agenda of the trip because I much prefer to take it day by day depending on how we feel when we get there and how things go, but I still do plan out places to visit and eat.
Next, you start making of a list of things you want to bring. Although you know it’s impossible to bring every single thing in your room with you on vacation, you try to narrow down your list until it becomes more and more realistic. If you’re a girl like me, you definitely feel like bringing your entire closet with you but will find it extremely difficult to pick just your fave five tops.
When the big day slowly approaches, you start to pack and, trust me, it is quite a difficult time for me because of my little one. When I travelled to Korea back in November last year, it was hard to leave my puppy behind for a whole month especially since he’s always had a hard time actually letting me go by interfering with my packing. He always starts to get a little nervous every time he sees big bags near our front door and he always tends to lie inside my luggage as I’m filling it up.
Finally the day is here, and you’re done the difficult part. Now, you’re free to enjoy the rest of it. You’re dropped off at the airport, you’ve checked in, and as you slowly approach your terminal, you begin to see all the planes parked outside by their individual tarmac. That surreal feeling you had when you first booked the tickets starts to finally fade and you realize that it’s actually happening. There’s a seat on one of those planes with your name and destination on it.
Once boarded and settled, I start to browse through the media screens to plan out the films I will delve myself into for the next “x” amount of time.
With all the flights that I’ve been on in the last two years, I started to really enjoy the takeoffs and landings. It is absolutely intriguing and such a great feeling when you leave the ground and land back on it – the speed, the liftoff, the town beneath you getting smaller and smaller as you reach altitude.
Once the seat belt light goes off, you already know what’s coming – the food/drink cart. I definitely know I’m not alone on this because my friend agrees with me, but I get ridiculously excited when I hear those carts coming. As a foodie, I know that airplane food is not necessarily top notch quality food (mostly if you’re in coach), but I still enjoy it – the excitement of finding out what beef or chicken meal it is. When I would fly with my travel buddy, we would purposely order different options so that we’d try each other’s meals.
The flight itself can sometimes feel like forever because it’s just a waiting game. You can’t sleep, you’re restless, and you’re just stuck on a plane in the air for an “x” amount of time. In my case, I’ve done so many Asia trips that I’ve gotten used to the very long flights of 12+ hours. I usually try to equate that to about 18 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition, or basically someone’s entire day on the ground going to work and then even having time for dinner afterwards. The best thing to do is to not check the time. I let myself get carried away with the occasional cart rounds and the movies/tv shows I try to indulge myself in.
Every once in a while, I’ll also let the feeling sink – the feeling of being like on a magic carpet. I look out the window and gaze out at the majestic landscape (skyscape?) of the sky.
I’ve flown during the day, the night, and was even lucky enough to witness the first break of light along the bleak horizon. It was one the most mesmerizing scenery I had ever witnessed in my life.
Another thing I get so giddy about is my stay. I usually opt for Airbnb because a hotel seems like such like cookie-cutter decision. I find my accommodations are just as important as my travel excursions. After all, I call it my home for the time that I stay in a certain city. And honestly speaking, views like this make it really feel like a vacation.
Besides the exotic foods that you venture out to find and eat, realistically speaking, you don’t necessarily go out to eat for all three meals in the day. When you get to your destination, you need basic food and basic drinks to get by the day for when you’re at the airbnb/hotel/hostel. The day that I land, I usually venture out to the nearest convenience store to get these basics.
I don’t know about other wanderers out there, but I get so much fun out of visiting and discovering all sorts of stuff that these convenience or grocery stores has to offer on their shelves. It is so intriguing to find such foreign foods, exotic drinks, and such a vast variety of something as simple as milk. Pictured below is a total of four shelves dedicated to various types of milk – banana, strawberry, coffee, and melon-flavoured – all in a tiny convenience store just around the corner from our Airbnb.
*On a sidenote, here’s an interest fact: Oreo O’s cereal was first launched in 1997, and then taken off the shelves all over the world in 2007 when Post Cereals and Kraft foods ceased their co-branding – with the exception of South Korea where it continued to be produced by another manufacturer with half of the legal rights of Kraft. For anyone who’s ever loved this cereal, due to its popularity, Post restarted its production of the Oreo O’s cereal, so now you can get them in your local grocery store.
Besides the grocery store visits, assembling a proper meal at your airbnb (if the length and nature of your stay requires you so), is again another strange but fun adventure. You basically assemble a meal that you normally would back home, but with whatever you are given.
In this case, we were lucky to find a jar of Nutella and the good ol’ Philadelphia cream cheese, so we were able to get by having breakfast at our airbnb.
There is a constant debate in the air that never sleeps about whether technology brings us closer or not. Although I am guilty of falling on both sides of the argument, when it comes to travelling, I thank the advanced technology we are so fortunate to have because it allows me to see my loved ones back home. Facetiming and Skyping are a regular thing for me when I travel. Although I do enjoy being swept away in wonderland, I do miss home every now and then. Thanks to video calls, it allows me to spend quality time with the people I love.
Exploring a foreign place feels like a new type of chill, but the the good stuff. The chill that takes over you instantly and makes you jitter with excitement running through your body. But besides the chill, there’s also that peculiar sense of both the unknown and the familiar that you encounter.
You walk through these unfamiliar streets, and see a strip of stores and restaurants. That’s when you start to compare this little strip to what you’re usually familiar with back home. You see people like the ones back home, but they speak a different language. Yet, you know that we’re all the same and unique at the same time. You see cars on the streets, but they vary in size and type depending on where you are. You see people living about their daily lives picking up a baguette on their way home after work in Paris. We have the same stuff, but in different cultures they might hold a different significance to the people who live there.
And it’s these things that make you realize how vast the world is and how multi-cultured we’ve become. And let me tell you, it is a triumph of humankind.
When I wander alone in the streets of the unknown, whether it’s quiet in the alleys of Malaga, or whether it’s the hustling cities of Seoul that never sleep, I fall into a trance and become dazed by what I see, hear, and feel walking through there.
Every aspect of the beautifully aging architecture of age-old buildings to the chatters of strangers striking up a conversation with their friends is, to me, an orchestra. I wander around the streets, not just to see, but to feel the life of the city – the heartbeat and what it’s beating for.
When the trip nears its end, you look back at what you did, didn’t do, and what you’ll save for next time. As you get on that flight back home, your entire trip feels like the sun is finally setting over the horizon. The day is over, and a new day is about to begin tomorrow. It is a bittersweet moment of looking back at the good times of the wander and the feeling of homesickness as the time ticks closer to your arrival back home.
[the journey – the past, present, and future]
From day one when you decided to take off to an unfamiliar place, you set your heart out to explore the world. Your heart is the drive that pushes you to meet life in other parts of the world and to pay homage to our ancestors who built this land and sculpted our cultures.
When you finally set foot, you breathe it all in. You let your mind process the smell, the sight, the sound, and the emotions that run through you. You wander hoping to find something new, foreign, and rich in culture. You allow yourself to be swept off and transported through time to witness how beautifully today’s city became nestled within historic sites.
Finally, you’re home. And although all that you can think of is wishing to go back or booking your next journey, you can’t help but feel that you’ve come back a different person – more rich, plentiful, and whole. You connected with the world by setting your heart out to explore it. By venturing out, you’ve accepted life out there beyond yours back home. We are all constantly shaping ourselves with every trip because it makes us grow a fuller and more understanding heart. It makes us whole and gives us, as a human of this planet, a purpose. By wanting to learn more about the world, we become responsible beings of our planet that we fruitfully cherish, grow, and love.
Never give up on wanting to feel what makes you human.
It’s why we’re here.
– tiny wanderer, xo