It was not a confluence of unexpected events that made me miss my flight home. It’s nothing that dramatic. But on December 16, I decided not to take the flight back to Manila and end my supposed six-month sabbatical-style break. I booked a Cebu Pacific flight way back in October in anticipation of the skyrocketing airfare during the holidays.
Well, I chose to settle for a while in Vietnam and continue wandering in the next few months or probably years. I have no concrete plan to be honest. But at the very least, I have some vague idea of where I want to be in 2017. But if you have been on the road for quite a while, you know things can change anytime and you have to be open to all possibilities.
Looking back, 2016 was magical for me. I couldn’t believe I was able to take the plunge and leave everything behind to take things slow, breathe, explore, and know more about myself and the world we live in.
My journalism career was blossoming then. My office had been entrusting me with important coverages, one was the assignment to follow Rodrigo Duterte on the presidential campaign trail. Prior to that, I was picked by the US Embassy in Manila to cover the first ever meeting of US President Barack Obama with 10 Asean leaders in California. It was definitely a feat, but even then something was amiss.
Deep within me, I was constantly restless. My friends knew how much I wanted to travel and explore the world. And so after the results of the presidential elections were out, I was unstoppable. Despite opposition from my bosses, I tendered my resignation and flew to India.
For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine how I did it. I didn’t have much money. I left with 2, 500 US dollars and almost half of it went to to the yoga school in Dharamsala where I stayed for a month. But it was exactly the right time to do what I wanted. I have a supportive and loving family. And at that point in time, I had nothing to lose.
“The worst thing that can happen to me was to end up broke,” I told my best friend. “I can always go back home.” It was I who needed much convincing then that all would be well.
Life on the road is never as easy as it seems. It isn’t all about scenic beautiful mountains, beaches, good food, coffee and beer, hostels and meeting fun and adventurous travelers. There were days anxiety kept me awake until 3 in the morning. I felt I was just drifting aimlessly and wasting precious days and months. There were times I wanted to go home.
But I had to be reminded of my reasons why I left in the first place and the things I have accomplished so far. The previous months had toughened me physically (because of yoga) and spiritually. My heart and mind have never been this open and clear. My travels, especially India, had changed me.
The change was pretty obvious, especially in my yoga practice. Compared to six months ago, my forward bend was deeper. My flexibility and core strength had improved astonishingly.
On the last day of 2016, I was smiling while doing the sun salutations and positive thoughts had begun to come in. I was happy and I was myself.
So for now, I will be in Vietnam. Hanoi has that unique Asian beauty, traditional but modern. There is chaos and order. While I get annoyed seeing sidewalks blocked by parked motorbikes and I feel like a scared kitten crossing the streets, I am happy to see that motorbikes are the kings of the road here. Whether you like it or not, riding a motorbike, either with your own or with GrabBike, is the cheapest and most convenient mode of transport in Vietnam. And so I am liking the city.
But after having found a furnished room in a neighborhood close to the scenic West Lake for a price not too far from the average monthly rental rate in Manila, I have to move again to take a teaching job in the province called Thai Binh. I have no idea what the province will be like. But you may call it an adventure and a learning experience. Wish me luck!