Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Southeast Asia, The Philippines, Travel

“Happiness Is Only Real When Shared” -Into The Wild


I arrived back in Manila with a day to spare and decided to spend it at Friendly’s…I was hoping to have one last night to catch up with Guillaume, and well, it was wine night at the guesthouse. I got settled in, got some laundry done, repacked my bags and chilled out. I got chatting to Bruce, an American Unicef worker, whose specific job revolves around disaster relief. He definitely had some stories to share about his job, but we also got to talking about life abroad and how it changes you as a person, and how when you return home, whether it’s for a holiday or a longer period of time, you are never quite the same person as you were when you left.


I asked Bruce how it was when he goes back to the states now. He is in his 40s and single, and spends some time at home each year, visiting family and catching up with old friends. He said to me bluntly, “people just don’t get it….you have been on this amazing journey, seen things many people only ever dream of seeing, seen another way of life. You feel you have grown so much, and you go home and your buddy wants to show you his new flat screen TV he just bought. You realize that life just goes on.”


This is one reason why I think friendships formed on the road are so special and why they are so easy. I’ve never met one traveller who doesn’t have the time of day for another traveller’s tale. The excitement a traveller has about his or her journey is palpable. And after a conversation with someone on the road, your list of things to do and places to see can double, simply through their enthusiasm for what they have seen and done. These friendships are fast and easy, because you already know that what you have in common with this other person is something so unique…you already know you are going to have a blast with this other person, simply for the fact that you are so like-minded, you crave that sense of adventure, and you are open to anything.


I spent my last evening reflecting on the past 3- 1/2 months since I had returned overseas and been travelling solo. I thought about Lorne and Dragan and our crazy scooter excursions in Langkawi. I thought about Jena, my friend in Hong Kong, who took me in and showed me her bussling city. I thought about Flo and Marty, our adventures climbing Rinjani, our happy hours, and our promise to have a reunion one day in Paris. I thought about Aaron and our never-ending journey to seek out this faraway island I had my heart set on seeing, and our conversations about life. I thought about Kate, my boisterous dive buddy from Sipadan, who I continued to run into throughout Malaysia, and I thought about my early days in Borneo with Kat and Doris, the three of us crammed into little bunkbeds sharing our most horrific stoires of stomach problems on the road, and giggling away. I realized that as much as I thought about the places I had been and the adventures I had experienced, I thought more about the people I had met and shared the journey with.


I finally found Guillaume around this time, and was glad for his company. I can’t describe the feeling I had my last night sitting in Manila at that guesthouse. It was certainly bittersweet and sentimental. I guess you could say it was surreal. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how the last 3-1/2 months passed so quickly, and what about the last 2 weeks since I had arrived in the Philippines? All I know is that I was leaving on a high note. And although I was sad to leave, I was taking some irreplaceable memories with me.


Bruce came back from the store with ingredients to whip up some truly authentic mojitos, Benjie (the owner) was popping open bottles of wine left and right, the music was blaring, and everyone sat around talking over the music, sharing stories and making plans. For some people, Manila was a starting out point, for others, it was a return trip, but for me, it was my last evening abroad (until the next trip), so Bruce, Guillaume and I toasted. This already had the makings of another memorable night!
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