Wade is getting ready to go to the Philippines. Find out where he plans to go and what he intends to do.
I am getting ready to board a flight from Xiamen to Manila. I will then spend the next week traveling in the hills of Luzon — Baguio, Banaue, etc . . .
My wife and I have been talking about this being our last year in China. My wife enjoys her work, but she’s ready to move on to another country. China grates on her. It always has. She’s wanted out since the first time she set food in the country. I remember her walking out of that crappy hotel in Pudong for her first look at China. She looked to the right, she looked to the left, and said, “No way.” Her position hasn’t changed since. She’s met some good people, had some good jobs, but she is really ready to get moving on.
As for me, though I still really like China, it doesn’t take much prodding to get me to move across the planet.
We’re talking of far Eastern Europe (Georgia, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, etc . . .). I like Asia, my wife likes Latin America. These are pretty typical positions given our respective genders. When you can increase how physically attractive you are just by hoping on a plane, why not? So as one of us wants to go west and the other wants to stay east, I’m proposing that we compromise and shoot for the center. That’s Eastern Europe.
The realization that this may be my last year in Asia for a while hit me rather askancely: there are still many countries here that I haven’t been to before. I always just figured that I would hop on a plane to Singapore, go south go Cambodia, hang out in Malaysia naturally, without much effort. But it just wasn’t happening. I just kept traveling in China. I could have just kept on like this — there are more intrigues to chase in China than I could ever catch. But there is a value of going to many different countries.
I know the value of crossing borders. Traversing those seemingly arbitrary geo-political lines is always a shock. One side is always observably different than the other. Even in culturally similar countries like Ecuador and Peru, you can see stark differences immediately upon crossing the line between them. The same goes for Guatemala and Mexico, Laos and Thailand, Croatia and Montenegro. To cross a border is to experience something new.
There is a value to even short stays in countries — even those of even a day or two. New frontiers bring new impressions. Country counters have nothing to be ashamed of.
Even though I know this I’m still a horrible country collector. Though I concoct big plans of moving across many national frontiers I often just keep going back to the places I’ve already been. It is easy to go to 50 countries, getting more than this takes effort and intention. After you’ve seen a good swath of the earth, you start to know what you like. You start getting these memories that provoke feelings that tell you to go back certain places — sometimes again and again. When I’m in Mexico I wake up in the morning feeling the impulse to go to China, when I’m in China I get the feeling to go to Mexico. When I start thinking of where to go next I get all of these sweet memories from dozens of lands, and it often leads to me retracing my steps.
Some travel purest say that this is alright and you shouldn’t want more, but I have to ask how anyone could get the feeling to return to a country they’ve never been to? It’s not fair to have 3/4 of the world off my radar for no other reason than the fact I’ve never been there before. So I needed to buckle down and intentionally set out to countries I’ve never set foot in. So I went to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and I’m now heading to the Philippines.
When in the Philippines I don’t really have much of a plan. I will probably head north from Manila to Baguio, then to the rice terraces in the highlands. I realized that I’ve spent a large portion of my life around rice cultivation but I have no idea how it’s really works. It was always just something I looked and and regarded as normal, almost taking it for granted. Now I’m wondering how it all happens — how do those green stalks produce the mounds of little white grains in my bowl?