Decisions: Things Not to Make While Hungover in El Nido

Don’t make decisions whilst you’re hungover.

And don’t use words like “whilst” either. You’ll sound like an academia failure. And no one likes a failure. Or academics.

Deciding between blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes is difficult enough whilst (see?) experiencing half-bouts of nausea, clouded short-term memory, and almost debilitating waves of regret. So don’t make it harder on yourself by making actual decisions. Especially those related to travel. No one is that qualified.

But unfortunately, these decisions cannot be avoided. So they happen as such:

  • Get the van from Puerto Princesa to…wait, scratch that. There’s already gaps in this story.
  • Get drunk in Puerto Princesa

Feed off your travel buddies’ giddiness and consume buckets of San Miguel like you’re an aged upper-middle class white male “just here on business.” (This is no doubt said with a sly wink  and an even skeezier nod towards a group of oogling local women one-fifth his age.) Order shots of tequila because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu. Reconsider your niche as a “budget traveller.” Disregard the fact that tequila isn’t really necessary at a time like this. Wake up covered in rice and beans. Try to recall if you ate either.

  • Decide to go to El Nido instead

In a moment of clarity, leave your buddies and the predetermined destination of Sabang. Come to terms with the fact that you will never be able to keep up with these males and their pace of drinking. Hear something. Realize it’s your liver. It just breathed a sigh of relief.

  • Take the van to El Nido

Convince yourself that your kidneys are failing. Realize it’s just some minor San Miguel backlash which thankfully, passes before the first rest stop. Try to stomach a package of chocolate chip cookies. They’re stale and smell like tequila. Oh wait, that’s you.

  • Commit to sleeping on a deserted island

Take an easy boat tour of the archipelago of El Nido. Have an “ah-hah” moment when you realize you’ve been pronouncing “archipelago” wrong all these years. Say it quietly under your breath a couple times to commit it to memory. Spot Seven Commandos beach. Learn that you can sleep there overnight, completely on your own. Agree without a second of hesitation. Start saying “yes” to everything else presented that day. Drive a boat with a small piece of wood for a gas pedal. Book a “free solo climbing” thing with a local. Google it later. Pretend the descriptor “if you fall, you die” wasn’t actually written. Give the bartender a rhetorical look at Balay Tabay when he asks if you want another glass of mango rum. After all, a website tells you that you could possibly die by simply climbing some limestone rocks.

  • Go Free Solo Climbing

Forget breakfast. Congratulate yourself for showing up 15 minutes early. Realize your 30 minutes late. Overestimate your ability as a rock climber. Underestimate your ability to tell time. Enviously watch your 18-year-old guide clamber across these centimetre-wide rocks in knock-off Havanas flip-flops. Debate turning around every time your Adidas cross trainers slip from a natural crevice. Turns out you’re actually kind of afraid of climbing tall rocks. Remain silent on the descent. You’re too busy salivating over an upcoming breakfast at The Alternative. Stop at Midtown Bakery on the way. You deserve it.

  • Get to this deserted island.

Sleep the night in heavy downpours and lightning. Hold your breath for that elongated second between hearing the crack of a palm tree branch and the “thud” of it hitting the ground just meters from your tent. Stay warm by sipping gin. Wake up cold, wet, and fantastically giddy from spending the night completely on your own. Realize you still have to take down your tent. Stumble over pegs and plastic. You’re a spectacle, that’s for sure.

  • Take that awful van AGAIN

Don’t make the mistake of buying stale chocolate chip cookies for the second time. Congratulate yourself for choosing the bag of Cracked Pepper Lays instead. You’re a seasoned veteran, after all.

  • Leave El Nido

Recount the decisions that you made in El Nido. Sober, sort of drunk, and especially, hungover. Agree with yourself that yes, they were all perfectly amazing in that my-heart-is-bursting-because-I’m-so-happy sort of way. Wonder why you ever made the absolutely ridiculous decision to get into a van directed back to Puerto Princesca. Oh that’s right, you’re not hungover for this one.

How to Piss Off your Travel Buddies

I leave for the Philippines this week.

It will be my third time there in less than two years.

Now if it sounds like I’m bragging, that’s definitely not the case.

When I think about my time in the Philippines, I can’t help but just sort of shrug a little and talk about that one time I met a tout with 11 fingers. An occurrence which despite the weather, and the beaches, and the papaya-mango fruit shakes, remains my ultimate highlight of the country.

So, just to be clear, I’m visiting a country for the third time. A country which probably doesn’t even get a notable mention in my Cusack-inspired Top Ten Beaches of All Time. A country in which, when visited for a second time, I spent most days trying to decide how I was going to leave.  

So, why, with my mediocre opinion of the country, did I make the decision to go to the Philippines again?

Well, I guess the fact of the matter is, I didn’t.

If someone were to ask me to describe myself as a traveler (but let’s be real, everyone is too self-involved to do that sort of thing), I would probably say I am incredibly enthusiastic about overnight buses.  But if they prefer something vaguer, I would muster up a descriptor like “easy-going” and then go back to talking about nighttime bus rides.  

I generally go along with things. It’s the easiest thing to do. And as someone who struggles to apply myself in situations which do not require it (see: work, dating, separating my darks from my whites), I’m very eager to do what is easiest. To me, all possibilities seem absolutely fantastic and I never want to miss out on one by committing to another. 

When it comes down to it, I don’t have any real hardcore preferences about most topics. (Besides your standard stuff like say, the depleting ozone layer, The Replacements’ Let it Be album, and the Seoul Metro Subway System.)

Well, as it stands, this is absolutely without a doubt NOT the definition of “easy-going.”

Not even close.

All those carefree thoughts about wanting to try every single possibility before committing to just the god-awful lonely number of one?

Turns out, I’m indecisive.

Discovering and coming to terms with your own personality flaws is one of the most miserable things to do to oneself. 

And do you want to know the shittiest part of being indecisive?

No one likes it.

That’s right. Even your Mom will roll her eyes at you when she asks what you are thinking of doing in the future and you reply, “Not sure, Ma. Just see how this travel stuff goes.Well, either that or something else really really cool.”

And do you want to know what’s even shittier than having vague future goals like “something else really really cool” because of your inability to make a decision?

The indecisiveness is intensified when travelling.

From setting out on one route over another to deciding if you want the Dairy Queen employee in Chiang Mai to dip your cone in either chocolate or caramel sauce.

All of it- it’s so hard.

To avoid the complexity of decisions, I just limit all my choices. But when traveling, this just sort of translates into doing less research.

I’m pretty confident (only because others have blatantly told me) that when you travel with an indecisive floater like me, your patience is consistently tested. There have been countless times when I’ve told a travel buddy I will “look into” something and they find me, one hour later, with about 800 tabs open on my desktop- researching anything from to how to get cheap international flights with JetAbroad to the origin of chocolate milk (FYI: it’s Switzerland).

Travel pals in the past have complained about my unrealistic expectations to do absolutely everything instead of deciding what I would rather do. Consequently, they are left with a lot of the pressure that comes along with choice. The success of a plan becomes your responsibility. (Now I don’t mean you as in YOU specifically. I just mean you know, people other than me.)

I am travelling to the Philippines with two dudes from work. For the most part, they have taken care of destinations, accommodation, and looking up sweet stuff to do in a handful of cities.

But anything I have to decide independently? Well, I still haven’t actually got there yet.

It took me something like two months just to book my return flight to Korea. (Perhaps this isn’t really related to my indecisiveness and instead, speaks volumes about my lack of excitement to return to this country.) 

So if you need a reliable way to piss off your travel mates, refuse to make any decisions. “Hmm” and “haaa” over even the smallest of choices. Refuse to mask the hesitance in both your face and your voice when they ask you to commit to absolutely anything. Believe that flight times/ dates/ anything involving numbers, are all just rough estimates.

But since I’m all about things like personal growth, and you know, not pissing off my travel buddies, I’m going to try making some decisions.

I’m going to order the chocolate-dipped ice cream with confidence. I’m going to stop being utterly terrified in the finality of making a decision. Maybe I will realize that some decisions aren’t THAT big of deal. Maybe I will rid myself of this intense phobia of decisions (yeah. right). 

So I’ve decided to go to the Philippines for a third time.

Hopefully I don’t piss off my travel mates. But it’s okay. Because even if I do? Well, at least it was my decision. 

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Toothbrush Disclosure: This post was brought to you by JetAbroad . But don’t blame them if your travel buddies stop speaking to you. They had nothing to do with that.

Farms, Forks, and Foreigners: Eating Locally on the Road

Given the opportunity, I would have eaten palak paneer for every meal while in India.

No wait, that’s not true.

Given the opportunity, I would have self-constructed an IV-drip bag of the pureed green goodness and pumped my veins full of that stuff every time I was feeling low on vitamin D, cumin, or anything else blended into that glory bowl of curry.

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Failing to Meditate: My 5 days at an ashram in Rishikesh

“We’re staying in an ashram for 5 days on the skirts of the Himalayas. There’s no internet. Whatevs. I’m totally going to throw my mind, body, and soul a serious curveball, here.”

I ended an email with this threat to my meditative self, said a mental farewell to shotty internet connections, and made  my way across the Lakshman Jhula bridge in Rishikesh to an ashram in the yogi-centric part of town.

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Falling In Love (again!) in Darjeeling

So remember just recently when I was like, “I’m soooo in love with Pai.”

Come on, remember?

Well, there’s something you should know about me.

I fall in love a lot. Like, all the time.

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The Time I Wasn’t Ready for India (and I Blame it All on Hockey)

Procrastination is a learned skill. A skill not to be undermined. A skill to be taken seriously.

Very seriously.

You should kind of trust me when I say this, too. I’m kind of like an all-star champion, banners-across-the-gymnasium-ceiling kind of pro at it.

But the thing is; procrastination tends to have some serious boundaries and limits.

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Talad Rot Fai in Bangkok (Or maybe, Reasons Why Abandoned Stuff is the Coolest)

Geoje Island is South Korea’s second largest island.

And until this whole toothbrush thing really started, it was also my “home” for a little more than a year.

But beyond that silly lil’ quotation-marked italicized h-word, Geoje Island had something that only a few other places could list under their “must-see attractions” category.

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The Time I Broke Up with “RTW” (and just told you my route instead)

RTW, I think you and I need to talk. (Yes, I want to have “the” talk.)

I don’t know about you RTW, but I’ve been doing  a lot of thinking lately. You know…about you and me.

I guess there just comes a time when I have to be honest. You know,with myself…and with you. And I guess what I’m trying to tell you RTW, is that I just don’t really see a future together.

I mean really, if you think about it, where is this even going? I mean, what do you even want from this, RTW? Surely I can assume you don’t care much for monogamy (or even making this exclusive) RTW. Because if you did, you certainly wouldn’t be gallivanting around with loads of other backpackers.

And that kind of hurts, RTW. Like real bad.

I know you’ve probably already moved on to someone else (actually, judging from the amount of hits you get on Google, I can kind of confirm this).

But before I can healthily get over you, there’s some things I need to get off my chest. ( I told you I wanted to have the talk…)

For starters, RTW, you’re a wee bit misleading.

When most people talk about you, RTW, they’re talking about “Round The World” or more explicitly, “traveling around the world.” But apparently the extra syllable of “a” in “around” is waaaaay too much effort. So then you get shortened to “round the world.” But because “round the world” could also refer to an earth-shaped merry-go-round (and god forbid there’s any misleading information on that one), you are shortened even further to “RTW.” (But seriously, an earth-shaped merry-go-round. Talk about a goldmine.)

 

So I guess what I’m trying to get at RTW, is that I feel like you’re not really who you say you are. Maybe you are on one of those paths to self-discovery. But I know for me, I can’t really be involved with someone that is still figuring out the initials of their name.(And that’s why I would never date you, Samuel L. Jackson. Or even YOU, Ice-T.)

But wait, there’s more.

I’m concerned with your shape, RTW. No I’m not calling you fat (although you did look a little more plump that one summer we briefly dated in Germany…). But I just don’t understand what people mean when they talk about the roundness of you. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that generally mean a circle?

So I’m a bit confused, RTW. Does that mean you don’t have an explicit start and finish? Does that mean that I would never be able to veer off this perfect cylinder shape that has been drawn on an imaginary globe? What if I wanted a triangle, instead? Or better yet, a septagon?

I’ve had enough, RTW. I’m done. There’s nothing left for me to give.

So this is it, RTW. This is the end for you and me. No more long nights spent trying to figure out a route that was true to your name. No more comparing the way that you and me do it to the way everyone else does it. No more “we.”

But in case you’re wondering, RTW, I’ll get over this. In fact, I’ve already met someone. Someone else.

I’ve started seeing a new route (and no, it’s not just a “rebound route”…).

And I can already tell things are going to be different. They aren’t concerned with starts or finishes. They don’t have misleading initials. They are even okay with a little backtracking (which if you recall, you were TOTALLY against.)

I know this is probably not the right thing to do, but because I’m so gah damn excited about this new relationship, I want to gush about it to everyone….including you, my ex-route.

(This is the part in the post where I tell you where I’m going. But because I have an issue with using photos other than my own, screen shots from notable movies filmed in said locations will just have to keep you visually entertained.)

South Korea to Thailand

I guess most of this movie was filmed in the Phillipines. Whatever.

Thailand to India

Three prerequisites for a good film: a ‘stache, a nose, blood.

India to Italy

This film made Halloween annoyingly easy. And no, I don’t have a thing for Wes Anderson. But I DO have a thing for Jacques Cousteau.

Italy to France

I’m in a parasocial relationship with Adam Goldberg. AND Julie Delphy’s glasses.

I understand that things get a little choppy route-wise here. But flights to Paris just seems like the right thing to do at this point. And you know, I’m ALL about doing the right thing. 

Paris to Malaysia to Singapore to Indonesia

I want to say that The Endless Summer was some sort of quintessential something. But I worry that I will sound like an elitist…instead of sounding like someone that uses way too many run-on sentences and commas…just to complete one thought.

Paris to Malaysia to Singapore to Indonesia to ??

Now don’t go rolling your eyes at me, RTW. I don’t need to have an end just yet. My new route knows this. And is totally accepting of my indecisive tendencies.

Anyways, RTW, this new route doesn’t have an acronym, or gets it’s name on plane tickets, or even has any hits on a google search.

But none of that matters. Things are just so fantastic between me and my new route.

In fact, I think this route may even be “the one. “

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Toothbrush Disclosure: This post has been brought to you by Cheapflights.com. But telling you that I chose a route based on screen shots from some of my favourite movies? Ya, that was all me. 

The Travel Plans take a 360. Er, I mean 180.

Even though a small few may actually read my writings, there’s a secret I’ve been keeping about my literary background.

I’m actually shit with words

Read that sentence over again as proof. It didn’t even make sense! But it’s what came to mind, so I kept it and simply got distracted by other word-things that are serious struggles for me:

I have a hard time differentiating between “invisible” and “invincible.”

I have to whisper the word “rural” about three times over before I say it out loud just to make sure I’m saying it right.

I use a disgusting amount of brackets (but you already knew that, right?).

And I refer to the terms “doing a 360” and “doing a 180” in completely inappropriate and sometimes (okay, all the time) incorrect contexts. (A 180 is a circle, right?)

And this morning, my travel plans took a 360.

I think.

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