My Memorable Vacation in Asia

Every year I look forward after Easter. This is because I usually plan to have my annual vacation during this time. This year is quite different in many ways and in meaning. There are many good reasons why I wanted to see my family again in the Philippines, and at the same time feel excited about traveling back to Norway thereafter, which for the first time I would be calling my primary home.

Longest vacation so far.

I had over three weeks this year. Significantly longer than last year. I used the time judiciously to be with my family and friends, at the same time travel outside and within the Philippines. Each day was unique. Generally, the vacation started busy, but ended very relaxed. Fortunately, the plan I drafted was implemented well and almost everything went smooth. It gave me the experience and learning I needed for my next travels.

Most number of airplane rides.

It was a total of twelve plane rides I took. (1) Oslo-Istanbul, (2) Istanbul-Manila, (3) Laoag-Manila, (4) Manila-Butuan, (5) Butuan-Cebu, (6) Cebu-Singapore, (7) Singapore-Kuala Lumpur, (8) Kuala Lumpur-Cebu, (9) Cebu-Butuan, (10) Butuan-Manila, (11) Manila-Istanbul, (12) Istanbul-Oslo. Planning was not mistake-proof. I made a costly mistake with the plane ride from Laoag due to negligence in my part. AirAsia suddenly rebooked my plane 1 day after from Malaysia to Cebu, affecting my another further flight. Both my travel insurance company and the airline company did not care to cover some of cost related to this. I learned my lesson on this. Certainly, I would think twice before booking a flight with AirAsia. AirAsia's customer hotlines are not existent, so one should not expect any valuable help. Hopefully, no airline be allowed to cancel any flight at least three months before the supposed scheduled flight.

First twin Asian crossborder city family tour.

This is my first time to embark into traveling to two Asian cities at one time. This is made special because my grandfather and niece never traveled outside the Philippines before. I suddenly made major adjustments with how I plan day-to-day. My grandfather can no longer tolerate long walks which could last several hours. Both of them never went through immigration before both in a Philippine and an international airport. I need to guide them, and make sure that I make the least mistakes as much as possible.  Lastly, I could say they enjoyed and satisfied, especially with the comfort of a four-star hotel in Singapore, and five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, both of them saw another perspective of the world and other cultures.

Traveling way up north in the Philippines.

I have longed dreamed of traveling to two of the northernmost provinces in the Philippines -  Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Since I come from the southern island of Mindanao, it is very seldom that those coming from my place would opt to travel so far north. That requires so much time and resources. However, the provinces are quite unique that my interest overrode all other disadvantages. It is the stronghold of the controversial Filipino political family Marcos. From that alone, there is so much history in the place, added to the unique landscape and preservation of ancient Spanish colonial houses. Moreover, the people there speak another language, which I categorically can not understand in its purest form.  With this trip, I was with one of my closest friend who I trust so much. It was one such unforgettable experience.

Short stopovers in Manila and Cebu.

I had three short overnight stopovers in Manila and one overnight stay in Cebu. I did not get the chance to roam around like a tourist in the city. I pampered myself in all of those hotel stays. I opted to have experience staycations. From my experience, there are still a lot to improve regarding Philippine hotels treat their guests. Hospitality business is very competitive and a serious endeavour. One should not just expect guests could understand even "minor" discomforts. The tourism industry relies not just courteous hotel staff, but efficient service with up-to-date facilities. A hotel is paid service so everything is seen on its real value, not just what is advertised. I wrote feedbacks for all hotels I stayed with.

Period of martial law in my island Mindanao.

It was unfortunate that some terrorist activities broke out in one of the cities in Mindanao. This has resulted to the declaration of Martial Law in the island, just few hours after I arrived in my hometown. I was ofcourse anxious, not primarily for myself but for my family. Whatever happens in the island does not affect me directly. I am supportive of Martial Law in the island. I think it is appropriate measure for such violent ruthless attacks. I had originally planned to have a car travel to Cagayan de Oro, perhaps have a little stopover in famous tourist destinations with the whole family. This plan was canceled due to safety reasons because the city is quite near from the affected city. Well, that gave me more time for my family. That was a better alternative I guess.

Most meaningful personally to be with family.

Before I began my vacation, there had been major changes in my life. Those are permanent changes that I have to live with the rest of my life. Preliminarily, I coping well. However, I must admit that I really wanted to be with my family thereafter. This vacation is something I can say I need more than I want. When I came home, my family made me feel very welcome. That helped me a lot. I was expecting differently. I got reminders but the usual ones I have heard since my childhood. But I admit I forgot them recently. I did not however forget my roots, but the values and virtues a Filipino stands for. The changes was part of integrating into the new society. So there is really great need to be with the family, greater than it was before.

New home, opportunity, life back in Norway.

As of now, I am writing this blogpost in the airport in Turkey, waiting for my plane to Oslo. I will be starting working in Monday. There are anticipated better and positive changes in work. That is great. I am done with my requirements to permanent status in Norway. Moreover, I am looking forward to get further studies in the university. All of these will provide me the needed stability. My sister on the other hand, is getting more stable. That is something I am thankful for. And recently, I chose to rent out a new place, a place I could say my own and not sharing it with others. This would be the first time I would be living alone. It is a challenge but I hope I find the private-social balance soon.

There are things I wish to change in my travel. I would love to have extended for at least one more week. However, doing so may not even guarantee that would be enough. The part I would prolong is being my immediate family, and know more about what they do. Before I traveled in Asia without them. Now is just the beginning of traveling more with them. This provides me the motivation to travel back for vacation next year.

As I am writing this, I am quite nostalgic. I would want to hug my parents and my grandfather. They mean allot to me and I am very sorry for not being there with them, and all the mistakes I made that hurt them. I know they do not deserve them after all the sacrifices they made to bring me up the way they wanted me to be. I am imperfect but I hope my mistake is not seen by them as act of not appreciation of what they did for me. I did what I did and I solely bear the consequences of my action.

So much with nostalgia. The memories of my recently-concluded vacation will remain in me forever. I hope those memories will be cherished by my family as well. I know I was not able to give more time for others. However,   I appreciate the unconditional love my family is giving me. Time would never be enough, but I look forward for next year. Certainly, better than this year.


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