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Lessons from an Unplanned Trip

Travelling solo especially if it’s a woman can sound really cool. It means independence, liberation and courage. However going to Bacolod, Iloilo and Guimaras Island is the most unplanned of all my recent trips that I had a few regrets of being unprepared. I have no contacts, itinerary and I stayed in places suggested by the locals on the spot! The ephemeral friendships I get from people I meet along the way and the myriad of experiences are things that make my travel worthy.

On my Manila to Bacolod flight I was chatting with this police intelligence officer who is going there for a crime investigation as an undercover agent. I arrived late in the afternoon, checked in and woke up early morning to catch the first ferry trip to Iloilo. It was my first time to travel by sea and gosh it’s the worst thing I ever did! I have a very low tolerance in anything inside a slowly shaking or swaying thing like hammock etc. that I felt really, really dizzy and wanted to throw up.

I reached the Iloilo port not feeling well and have no other thing in mind but to find a place to rest. The first tricycle driver who caught my attention screwed me up charging me of P250 instead of P50 for a 10min ride or less. I knew he was ripping me off when he told me the price but I have no strength to argue with him since I feel really bad and the tricycle is running already.

After taking an hour rest, I rushed to Iloilo’s Provincial Capitol Tourism Office for information. Iloilo is blessed with lots of our heritage and culture! I will make a separate post about Iloilo soon. The next day I took a pump boat to Guimaras Island from Iloilo’s port. Again, I hate getting seasick! I feel like it is killing me softly! I hate it when the waves are hitting the boat and we are all shaken inside and I can’t help but scream and the people inside are looking at me!

Though dead dizzy I managed to chat with the woman sitting beside me. Elena is with her two young kids. Her hair is so dry, skin so dark and judging by her appearance she is economically- challenged. I was surprised when she said we’re the same age! She said she quit school, married young and that she envied me. I said to her please don’t. I may have what she does not have but she may have what I did not have like her kids. Then I thought of what could have happened if I had a family of my own early in my twenties? Now that I am 28 and I am enjoying my independence at its peak what is next for me?

Guimaras Island is known for its beautiful beaches and sweet mangoes. Riding in the jeep I see a lot of sturdy mango trees bigger than the usual mango tree back home. I was planning to spend a night but the weather forecast bothers me so I went back to Iloilo in the afternoon.

The next morning I went back to Bacolod and visited nearby cities – the Silay and Talisay. These three places in Negros Occidental are a threshold of so many old houses and museums that represent our heritage and culture even more than what I saw in Vigan, Ilocos which is a World Heritage Site. And they are far from each other so I have to keep running to and back since I only got a day. One of the challenges of travelling solo is you need to keep talking with the locals to ask information and be resourceful enough to take photos of you!

The next morning, I took all things slow preparing for my flight back to Manila. I got a text message from Elena asking me if I was ok. I felt great realizing a stranger gave me some care in a way while I am in the road and I thanked her. I told her to add me on Facebook so we can get in touch but she said she don’t know how to use the Internet. I beg her please to learn to use the Internet for the sake of her kids.

Inside the plane I chatted to the lady sitting beside me. Her name is Zorayda and I got curious about her because she is a mestiza, some sort of half like this and half like that. She said she is meeting her biological father after 15 years (she is 30 now) who is a Swiss and she is accompanied by her half – sister. She shared it was a whirlwind romance when her Mom went in Manila for work. Then for some reasons they separated but she was determined to find him in the Internet. She had no other info of him just his name she typed on Google. So all of those names that is same with her father she emailed them hoping one of them is him.

So there you go travelling solo is sometimes happy because you have all the time in the world. Sometimes sad when you get back to your room and lying down inside that wide bed comfy hotel, all the thoughts come into your mind of what-ifs and what-if-nots.

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