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.

The Do’s (and More Do’s) of Camel Riding in Jaisalmer

English’s greatest flaw is its use of directive language. 

Well, that and letting words like “irregardless” slide into our vocabulary to replace “regardless” without a second thought that they pretty much mean THE SAME THING.

Anyways, directive language.

I hate it.

And I’m sure you do to. (Or, at the very least, you were once just a little resistant to the whole idea of verbs like do, come, see, and go being your first set of instructions as a child.) And if in fact that’s the case, your youthfulness is calling…it misses you!

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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 Took One Big Breath….And Left with Only a Backpack

As I type this, I’m doing something all too familiar and packing up my stuff to leave. (In actuality, as I type this, I am CLEARLY procrastinating from packing up my stuff to leave. The bullshit is in the details, people!)

I’ve kind of perfected the whole packing-to-leave thing (and consequently, the procrastinating from packing-to-leave thing). I’ve got it down because it is something that has become all too common within the last year. 

Not just a place where you stay overnight, or even for a little while. But a place I refer to as “home.” (In the context of: Taxi man, I don’t think I have enough money to get home. Can you drive me there anyways?). A place where I tossed my dirty laundry on the floor and didn’t really feel bad about it. (In the context of: I don’t have to pretend around other people that I’m not a slob but in fact, a proper functioning human being). A place where I could spill oatmeal all over the floor and not feel bad about it taking me a week to clean it up because it was my home (In the context of: well nothing, really…other than the fact that I’m a self-admitted dirtball). A place where you could light stuff on fire and it would be totally cool. Because you know, it’s your home.

 

There you have it kids, the standard list of what I need for a place to be considered my “home.”

Saying good-bye to Vancouver was tough. The city held my heart hostage since the second I moved there and refused to give it up… even after I drove off on the Trans-Canada highway, watching as Grouse Mountain got tinier and tinier in my review window (this was only a short distance until my Dad harped on me to keep my eyes on the road. Talk about a mood killer!)

And then saying good-bye to Toronto was equally as hard. This was a city that placed so many of my roots firmly in the ground, then redeveloped new condos and parking lots over them, in a desperate attempt for me to stay put. This was a city that could steal my bike, make me wait in an exhausting line-up for brunch, over charge me for some mediocre draft beer, and I would still come back everyday….wanting more.

And saying good-bye to Geoje is well, none of the above. It’d be next to impossible to put any of this last year into accurate words (and I’d probably exceed this blog’s word count limit in an attempt to do so). I can’t say that this city has held my heart hostage (mainly because I do not think Koreans are an overly aggressive hostage-taking type of crowd) nor can I say that this city overcharges for mediocre beer (in fact, Korea’s quite upfront about their lackluster beer…and the price tag only proves this).

I can’t even say that I’ll miss  the island’s mascot. Two unidentifiable figures that look like tic tacs, fat people, or what some middle school students speculate to be pieces of bathroom waste.

Wait, I’ll obviously miss these overweight breath mint #2 look-a-likes.

Oh ya, and the people. Obvs.

And although I can admit that leaving Geoje will be easier than any moves prior (Yes, I’m practically running to Incheon airport right now…3 days before my flight leaves), I still feel some sort of something feeling that is making this slightly more difficult than I actually anticipated.

But that’s probably because my emotional hardware wasn’t designed for a level of intensity past the “catatonic” stage.

In the end, I am fully aware that this sprinting to the airport move is by far the easiest only because of what comes after. It’s like telling a little kid “First you clean your room, then you get the ice cream.” Instead, it’s something like “First you move away from Geoje, then you get to travel…and there will probably be moderately priced beer…and some mountains, too!”

So with that, I should probably get back to packing.

I just have to clean up that dirty oatmeal first….

Novelties at the Base of Mt. Fuji

Getting to Mt. Fuji can be a bit of a hassle.

You wait for buses that never show, you gamble with Mother Earth for beauty weather, you hold your breath for vacancy at one of the two hostels in the area. And all the while, you eagerly shell out a ridiculous amount of yen for overpriced loaves of bread, cramped 12-person dorm rooms, and rickety trains not covered by your once convenient Japan Rail Pass.

But when you decide to venture up to Mt. Fuji post-climbing season, with everyone urging you not to go, and without any adequate hiking gear (converse shoes do not count), then that once small hassle of a trip all of sudden becomes an exhaustive undertaking of train schedules, closed hostels,  stale overpriced loaves of bread, and empty trains which make you question your sense of direction….and fierce commitment to a silly mountain.

But in the end, it’s all okay.

I mean, it is Mt. Fuji afterall.

One of the most iconic (ya, I said it) mountains in the world, this place practically specializes in taking your breath away.

But what if your a mountaineering snob that has seen ‘em all? What if you’re “that guy” that doesn’t stand to be impressed by big Fuji at it’s each and every curve and crevice?

Well, don’t fret my friend.

Because in the end, there’s always something special waiting for you, at the base of Mt. Fuji.