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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Four Weeks into the Big Trip and Feeling ‘At Home'


Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Nearing a month into the Big Trip now. We went to see the Fatehpur Sikri yesterday, a one-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Agra.

While in the bus I somehow felt ‘at home’.


At home like I was back in the Philippines, just riding a public bus from Baguio City (my hometown) to La Union. Now, more than ever, I appreciate the way my parents brought my brother and I up. A modest upbringing which is why I think I don't mind riding public buses. Don’t get me wrong, the roads here are worse than in the Philippines, but they’re manageable. Yes, they can be tiring and stressful at times, but it’s not that bad. I’m also glad that my hometown is a 7- sometimes 9-hour bus ride from Manila, which makes the long bus and train rides here in India quite normal for me.


At home, somehow, in India. I’m not surprised anymore when I see monkeys up on the trees or on the roof of the houses we pass by. I’m not scared or freaked out anymore, not as much as on our first day in India, with the crazy driving. I’m not bothered or irritated anymore with the honking. The poverty still gets to me sometimes, but I’m slowly learning to look past it and just pray that things improve here somehow. But yes, I feel quite at home here in India. And I’m actually considering going back here early next year, if the travel fund permits, instead of backpacking Southeast Asia. There’s just so much to see here in this huge and amazing country.

Girl, Streets of Old Delhi India

At home with traveling.

Moving from one place to another every four to five days. And getting to see such beautiful sights and grand structures.

Taj Mahal-1-2
Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Dharamsala 11
Dharamsala, India

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Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Meeting people who share the same passion for travel and adventure.

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L'Armada Guesthouse, Melaka
Photo by: Thomas Dohn

Kota Kinabalu White Water Rafting
Padas Whitewater Rafting, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


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Jeepney Ride from Fatehpur Sikri to Agra


Getting out of my comfort zone and just being spontaneous.

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Dharamsala, India

Letting go of small things and knowing that eventually everything will work out. And learning that things do happen for a reason – missing our Jaisalmer train and going to Dharamsala instead. Getting to see the Dalai Lama in person and an awareness of the state of the Tibetan community.

Tibetan Prayer Flags in Dharamsala
Prayer Flags, Dharamsala, India


Living a relatively minimalistic life – all that I essentially need are in two backpacks, how easier it gets to let go of stuff you don’t really need, or my hair just tied up in a bun , chipped-off toenails, and not caring that much how you look or how crappy your clothes are as long as they’re comfortable.



Tolka, Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
And eating three meals a day, and good food at that! Back in Manila, I normally just eat lunch. Breakfast would be a cupcake and coffee; and dinner is just cereals or a decent one when out with friends. Here I seriously eat three full meals a day, and they’re cheap!

Dharamsala - Vegetable Korma
Veg Korma! by German Bakery, Dharamsala, India

Haldirams
Sweets by Haldirams, Delhi, India


And constantly and continuously discovering that despite all our differences – race, color, religion, culture – we have two important things in common: love and faith. Especially here in India where there is Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Catholicism. Of course there are still minor conflicts, but people from different religions here co-exist. Like spending Diwali in Amritsar (a predominantly-Sikh City), with the Golden Temple lit up just for the celebration of a different religion. And a Catholic Indian guy sharing ‘In India, there’s Unity. The love that you share with everyone and respecting all kinds of religion.’ during one drinking session with a Norwegian (Oisten aka the Captain) and a New Yorker (Max).

Tibetan Prayer Wheels - Dharamsala
Prayer Wheels, Dharamsala, India

City Mosque 2
City Mosque, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India



And enjoying my youth. Back in the office I used to work at, there were only two of us under 30. Almost every lunch all I hear about are family responsibilities, how much a box of milk and diapers cost, marriage, and all other things that I just had a hard time relating to. In my almost four weeks of travel, I get to talk to people my age and about things that matter to people my age. And do things that people my age normally do without feeling guilty about it.

Old rusty train, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Preparing for the Whitewater Rafting, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia


And the freedom. The freedom to decide how I want to spend my day – go out or just stay in and be lazy. The freedom I prepared and saved up for.

Singapore
Little India, Singapore


Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments when I think about what my life is going to be after all of these. But, so far, the uncertainties, judgments, and fear, have been and are all worth it.

I have had so many attempts to change my life. Somehow, He never granted them to me. Except this, this wonderful, crazy, magical four weeks (and counting) of my life. He wants me to have this, and I’m so grateful.

Dharamsala Temple

I’ve found home here and now. And I’m so happy, genuinely happy. :)