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.

The Time with Becoming a Cliché in Thailand: It’s Easier than you Think!

The mid-jump-on-the-beach shot. Biggest cliche of them all.

Thailand= budget. backpacker. big time.

(Sorry, I should have really given you a heads up before I just start diving into those kinds of sweeping declaratory equations.)

With Suvarnabhumi International Airport seeing hoards of self-declared nomads, appropriately-insured adventure-seekers, and a whole bunch of people on those gap year thingys, there isn’t much to write about that hasn’t been covered already.

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The Time I wasn’t Lonely at Lonely Beach

How does one go about renaming a beach?

No, seriously. What exactly is the protocol here?

Do you write a letter to the mayor? Do you need loads of people to sign some sort of clipboard petition? Or, do you just go around the beach guerrilla-style, spray painting the new name everywhere? I mean, would that even work? Or would that just end in a jail-term…and fingers smelling of aerosol cans?

The reason why I’m asking is this;

Lonely Beach in Koh Chang, Thailand should seriously consider a name revision.

Or at least give me a couple cans of spray paint and I’ll just do it myself.

 

Because when it comes down to it, Lonely Beach isn’t really that accurate of a name.

I mean, I spent a WHOLE WEEK on this beach and not a second went by where I felt alone. Not a minute passed where I didn’t feel like I could talk to just about anyone and they would at least act a little interested in what I had to say. Not an hour passed where I was horrendously bored or thought “What’s next?” Not even a day went by where I worried about the perfect opening liner with hostel strangers in an attempt to find a common shared interest. An interest that was undoubtedly related to fruit shakes. Or drinking. Or drinking fruit shakes.

Anyways, you get the idea.

When I was on lonely beach for a WHOLE WEEK (that’s like, a really long time…), I was far from lonely.

But then again, that probably had a little something to do with the company I kept.

And I’m not just talking about any kind of friend, here. I’m talking about those kinds of friends which motivate me to the brink of vandalism. The kind of friends which make a future in a Thai prison seem like sort of a good time. The kind of friends made pre-travel. The kind of friends that already know I like fruit shakes. And drinking. And drinking fruit shakes.

Yeah, those kinds of friendships are a really special breed.

Like travelling with the kid you sat next to in kindergarten. The basis of a friendship which had little to do with shared interests and a lot to do with alphabetical-ordered seating arrangements. And the fact that he shared his snack-pak with you when all you could offer were some lousy ol’ grapes.

Like travelling with your pals from university (not predetermined by your last name but valued all the same), or your friends-of-friends which were only really your friends-of-friends for like, a second before they became your friend-without-a-connector-friend-friend.

Like travelling with your prom date. But without the awkward slow dances and awkward corsages and awkward everything else related to prom that makes most people feel nostalgically ill.

Yeah, those kinds of friends are definitely the exception.

Anyways, what I’m getting at is that Lonely Beach is far from lonely.

And if I had my say, the name “Lonely Beach” would be out the window all together. Instead, that Koh Chang beach at the far far FAR (it was really far…) end of the island, would probably be renamed something like a-place-to-reunion-with-all-your-childhood-friends-and-your-friend-of-friends-now-real-friends-and-your-university-friend, beach.

Okay, so maybe it would be kind of a pain to spray paint that on every sign.

But at least it would be a little more accurate.

Exposure Therapy in Boracay

Most people are afraid of your general run-of-the-mill scary things. You know, things like spiders, deep waters, your landlord, serial killers.

I am afraid of the above mentioned things (mainly serial killers), but I also have another deep-seated fear that causes a state-of-shock paralysis, even if I just think about it.

I am really afraid of masseuses.

 

 To me, a massage table may very well double as a coffin.

 

 

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