My Travel Confessions and Regrets

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another week of my Travel Blogging Challenge. It feels like it was ages ago since I’ve written my first challenge response. So much has changed since then. Funny how time flies, yet can still be devastatingly slow, huh?

This week’s challenge theme: Confessions. Regrets.

I have many, many things to confess.

I have always tried to live my life as if it were my last days. I want to do things as soon as possible, but with these impulses comes dire consequences.

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I guess it must be something in my personality, I often look back. Wistfully replaying events in my life in nostalgia, wondering what would happen if I had done things differently, whether there are things in my life that I regret.

Time and time again, these are oversights I find myself making…

My Oversights

Not being in the moment

I always look ahead. It is my both strength and my weakness. I don’t wallow in my mistakes yesterday if I know there’s nothing I can do to change it. However, I always find myself eager and worried for tomorrow and whether everything will go smoothly.

To relate, studying abroad in Singapore was such a big and fun part of my life. Between all the tests, studying, presentations, the semester had passed by in a wink of an eye.

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Today, I look back and saw that I participated in many clubs/events, studied abroad, made lots of friends, but it passed by with all the fretting that I did over my curriculum.

You may have seen in my previous post, I am not a huge fan of the constant dead zombie glowed faces from browsing cell phones. I am also guilty of being reliant on technology. Though I am pretty good about self control with social media, because I work online and I keep track of my travel photos, it’s quite difficult to stop myself from using the net. Only when I got my phone and wallet stolen did I finally realize how dependent I was.

Impatience

This is perhaps one of my biggest flaw while traveling.

Once I have a thought planted in my head, I take immediate action– sometimes recklessly so. I am haunted by the fear of waiting- and then losing the opportunity.

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I don’t give enough time to people and places. I’m always anxious to move forward, failing to realize that the now is what makes me happy.

I fail to realize that not everything works out while traveling.

Cultural and Environmental Impact

Looking back, I am appalled at my own ignorance while traveling.

In my first years, I never took the time to research the cultural and environmental impact of the actions I’m taking. Animals are endangered because of ignorant tourists. Locals’ livelihood are affected by my actions. 

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Moreover, I’ve never taken ample time to research the history of places I visit. What struggles they’ve been through, what their culture is like.

Though I’m not doing anything to harm the citizens, I’m not taking enough measures to ensure I’m leaving a green footprint behind. Leaving it a better place.

Luckily,

I made it through and, as always, learned important lessons that help make me a better, more conscientious person. Though I’m not any more perfect today, I am much more aware of my actions and what I can do make myself a better traveler. 


Are there things in your life, decisions, choices, paths that you felt could have been done better?

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Finding Closure: Returning to my Birth Country to Say Goodbye

I left my life, my school, my friends, and everything I knew behind when I was eleven. My parents were refugees from Vietnam, escaping the mistreatment of the communists. They snuck away on a small boat and sailed for seven days on the open water of South China Sea. I was born in a refugee camp in Philippines with poor conditions and corrupt camp officials who pocketed donation funds for themselves. My parents were struggling to feed themselves. At the time, my entire life revolved around getting out of the ditch. Most Vietnamese refugees around us were leaving the camps with an opportunity to seek asylum somewhere brighter, better. United States, Canada, Australia, it doesn’t matter, anywhere was better than the camps. It usually took 2-3 months, our case took 15 years.

When my parents escaped the refugee camp, we created a life for ourselves. We joined a small and close-knit community of Vietnamese refugees in a city called Ilo-Ilo. That city is everything I knew in my life. Slowly, we gave up on the idea of going anywhere else. I made three close Vietnamese friends and all my classmates. My fondest memories were made here. We would take weekend trips as a group to go to the beach, the zoo, the mountains, etc. We slept outside on the sand, listening to music, and looking up at the starry night sky. We had birthday parties where all my friends attended and gave me presents! I was in a dance group and sang in competitions in school. Christmas was the best time of the year, because we would all go to the central park to look at Christmas lights. Everything I knew was here. 

We received notification of our case status approved to immigrate to the States. My parents were overjoyed. They said our lives will be better, that we will have a future. I looked around me, what was so bad about our lives?  I don’t remember much of what happened during the weeks after that. I was eleven. I didn’t fully realize what was going on. Before I knew it, we were on the plane on our way to America. I missed my friends, my teachers, my school, my life.

Fast forward ten years. I graduated college. I made closer friends. I made a set of brand new memories. I have come to love the United States. I also became a traveler, but the Philippines still held a magical place in my heart. I wanted to return, see my friends,… and to say goodbye. When I had the chance to go back, I didn’t hesitate to but the ticket. The country where I was born and raised was something like a mystical dream to me. I was so nervous on the flight there. I spent my life thinking about what I would have done if I had the opportunity to say goodbye. Now that I was coming back, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

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Sitting by myself on the beach we used to visit yearly. Same country, different people. @Boracay Beach, Philippines

The air was the same, the food, the landscape, the school, the beaches were the same. Same country… but different people. Our close knit community broke apart after we left. People moved, went to school, got jobs elsewhere. I revisited my old schools, my old home, stores I used to buy snacks from. People whom I used to bond deeply with are now completely different. The playground I spent so much time on was smaller and emptier. I realized the country has moved on without me. Overwhelmed with nostalgia and sadness, I could only wis that I had appreciated my childhood more at the time. I struggled to keep my mind in the present, reminding myself that I had my friends with me. I needed to be in the now. I had wanted to show my friends my home country. The past is the past, and I can’t change that.

I made my peace and goodbyes with my past. I met new people, made new memories, and learned to love my birth country all over again in a different light. Filipino people are the kindest, most adventurous people I’ve ever met. Having only met for about ten minutes, we had jumped on a pickup truck of a group of Filipino backpackers and had the ride of our lives! What adventures? … to be continued another time. 🙂