My first few weeks on the road.
31.12.2015 - 18.01.2016
So… it’s been over a month since I left home already. Time has flown by, but at the same time I somehow feel like I’ve been traveling for ages. Living out of a 45L bag takes some getting used to, but even so, the road kind of feels like home now. It’s been an awesome whirlwind of emotions and experiences so far, constantly meeting new people and moving from place to place. But time to sit alone, reflect and write (and blog!) has been scarce, so it’s about time I share some of my thoughts with all of you.
In my first post I touched a bit on the topic of fear and how change can be jarring and uncomfortable. “I have to admit that I am a little scared” is what I said about my personal feelings leading up to this trip. Now, there’s an early candidate for understatement of the century if I ever saw one. After a fun few weeks in the Philippines with my family (which I’ll touch on in a bit), I found myself teary-eyed in the Manila airport saying goodbye to my parents and sister. Turns out throwing some crap in a bag and leaving the familiarity, comfort, stability, and safety of home to fly alone to the other side of the world for an indefinite period of time is more than ‘a little’ scary. The flight from Manila to Auckland was a strange mix of excitement and fear that made me sick to my stomach. And there were more tears to be had in my first couple of days in Auckland. Running around doing paperwork (tax, bank, mobile, etc) was not the most effective way to try to calm my nerves.
There’s no rationalizing your way out of fear. I thought about my reasons behind this trip so many times that I convinced myself there was nothing to be scared of. Nope. I could not have been more wrong. The fear was there. In the end I just had to jump in and go for it. I’m only a month in, but I can say with full confidence that this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I feel like a completely different person. Empowered is the best word I can think of to describe how I’ve changed. I came to New Zealand alone, scared, and shitting my pants. But I’ve already made awesome friends from all over the world, seen so many beautiful places, gone on awesome hikes, thrown myself out of a plane (again, and not for the last time), and most importantly, my underwear is poop free. I feel like I can do anything.
A quick shout out to all the friends that I’ve made so far. We’ve had some great conversations about our cultural differences. Trading English, German, Dutch, etc words/slang has been a lot of fun. We’ve shared some great meals, a couple beers, some wine, enjoyed stunning views, jumped out of a plane, and a lot more. You’re all awesome, genuine, lovely people. Thank you for everything. These crazy experiences wouldn't have been possible without you guys. I wish you all the best and hope to cross paths with you again. If you’re ever in my corner of the world (wherever that may be) let me know and we can share more of the same.
Some of the highlights:
15,000 ft jump over Lake Taupo.
Short hike ending with a spontaneous swim in a super refreshing waterfall.
Mt. Urchin summit group selfie!
Now on to some lighter material. Though this is mostly going to be a New Zealand blog, my trip actually started in the Philippines. The Philippines is and will always be my favorite place to travel to. It’s only right that I give it the attention it deserves. There’s so much beauty to see. On this trip to the Philippines we visited Batanes and Palawan.
Batanes is a group of islands in the northern Philippines. They're actually closer to Taiwan than they are to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. Batanes is super picturesque, but it's not really about the pristine beaches people imagine when they think of the Philippines. Its rugged coastline makes for some dramatic scenery.
Tayid Lighthouse, Mahatao, Batan Island.
Sunset at Chawa view deck, Mahatao, Batan Island.
Rolling hills with Mt. Iraya shrounded in clouds behind.
On January 9th I summited Mt. Iraya. A bit over 3000 feet of climbing. Not the highest I've ever climbed. But definitely one of the harder hikes I've done. The trail is super overgrown (jungle basically), and with the constant rain there's no sure footing. Much of the time you're on all fours literally crawling and climbing by grabbing rock, vine, tree branch, whatever you can find.
Selfie at Mt. Carmel Chapel.
Sister at Fundacion Pacita.
Mom enjoying some traditional Ivataan rain gear (sorry mom I had to).
On the other hand, Palawan, located southwest of Luzon, is exactly what people imagine when they think of the Philippines. Think island hopping to remote, white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, great scuba and snorkeling, wreck diving, and all the seafood you can imagine. Island life at its finest. For this trip we went to Busuanga and Coron Islands, slightly northeast of the main Palawan Island.
But more importantly, the real reason why the Philippines is my favorite place to travel is because it’s where my family is from. It’s so cool to see my roots and be exposed to Filipino culture, especially since I feel so out of touch with it at home. My biggest regret in life is not speaking/understanding Tagalog. So much of a culture is held in the language, so there’s a huge gap there for me. I will learn in time, but it’s not in the cards at the moment. For now it’s enough to visit every few years with my parents. I still have tons of family in the Philippines too. Hopefully I'll surprise them all by showing up and speaking Tagalog.
BABIES ARE CUTE
Grandma with new addition to the family. So adorable!
That's it for now. Next post, I’ll actually talk about some of the things I’ve done in New Zealand.