Saturday, March 19, 2011

high and low

Traveling is not always easy, but it is always transformative.

You think you come back the same person, but you don't. You always take impressions with you, and these little indentations in your consciousness change the way you see the world and spend the rest of your life.

The most recent local trips I made - 10 days and 3,000 altitude meters apart - proved two things:

(1) I can thrive even in unglamorous circumstances, wearing polyester.

(2) A good swim top gives me cleavage.

Way up there

It was the last week of cold month of February. After a total of 12 hours of land travel and nearly 5 hours of hiking, we reached the summit of the highest mountain in Luzon, and the 106th in the world - Mt. Pulag.

(At the summit of Mt. Pulag, almost 3,000 meters above sea level, waiting for sunrise)

Climbing a mountain is not so much about physical strength than it is about tenacity of the mind - the ability to push on, to deal with a completely new environment, and to survive on whatever you manage to carry with you.

I already knew I could trek for long hours. My running prepared me for that. I was worried about other things:

(a) the cold weather + altitude
(b) not showering for 36 hours
(c) bad coffee
(d) sleeping in a small tent
(e) peeing in a disposable urinal

The summit and sea of clouds

Amazingly, I did all these and survived with dignity and grace. It really takes very little to get by. All you really need is good company and a sense of adventure. That said, I still missed my big fluffy bed.

Down below

Pandan Island

Less than two weeks later (and after panicked days of beating deadlines), I found myself in Puerto Princesa, getting a tan. As usual, I stayed near the sand and floated around the shallower parts of the beach (thanks to my personal life vest). I will swim one day, perhaps almost as well as I run.

Down in Palawan, everything is cheap - lobsters, fresh seafood, transportation. The relaxed pace is sobering for someone used to Manila's hurried and overpriced lifestyle. I hope it stays authentic and doesn't turn into Boracay.

Next on the list

There's nothing on my travel itinerary for the next 6 months. It's time to focus on work.

(Our own brands have been neglected. But because of short-term financial goals, it's very hard to get out of slavery to clients. I KNOW it's time to concentrate on our own brands. It's time to think longer term. I shouldn't be spending my life making someone else's business flourish. It's depressing.)

Come October, I'm packing my bags again. I will finally get to see Laos, completing my French Indochina adventure. There are hotels and sleeper train tickets to be booked. Planning is going to be a little more complicated than usual.

And then it will be 2012 - possibly the end of humanity. I wonder what my last thought would be. Whatever it is, I hope it's unapologetic.



Blogger ennui said...

i'm glad you joined our Pulag hike. you guys gave me the push i needed to get back on track with my health. you're right, traveling does leave indentations in our psyche ... i'm hoping to be able to push myself too and plan for the longterm. ☺

10:23 PM  
Blogger mussolini said...

glad you're starting to run. wag ka tumigil, ha. we have to stay healthy so we can continue to travel cheaply - you know, sleep in trains, walk instead of taking cabs, eat high-cholesterol street food.

4:59 PM  

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