I was deep into making an Osaka-Kyoto itinerary the other day for our upcoming Japan trip this May when I realized that I was actually falling in like with the country during my research. I’ve always been curious about Japan, but I’m not one of those people who just really want to go there. I mean, sure, there was a time when I liked my share of anime, and I tried to learn some Japanese words, but those faded away, and I didn’t really put Japan in the places I really must go to.

Then my friends booked us a flight, and as with almost all my travels, I just went, Hey, why not? Let’s go. 

So there. I started planning an itinerary so we had options, and as I did my research, the excitement grew. I know nothing about the country except for what my friends who have been there told me, and as I read and read and read and figured out their train systems (I loooove trains) so we could get from one point to another, I started looking forward to it. So much that I was already thinking that I would probably go back, just so I could go and experience the other things we might miss.

And then I started thinking about how some people I know have that one place. You know, the one place they keep on going back to, the one place they would always visit and come back to. It doesn’t have to be another country — it could just be another province — but it’s their place. Their own place, the one that feels like home even if it’s so far away from their real home.

Then I wondered: where is my place?

Image from we heart it, edited by me, words from Kristen Hubbard's Wanderlove

Image from we heart it, edited by me, words from Kristen Hubbard’s Wanderlove

Sometimes it feels like I’m so late in the game, especially since I know of younger people who really pursue their passion to travel. It’s not that I’m really old, or that I didn’t travel when I was younger. I mean, if there’s any time that’s easier to travel, it’s now, with all the seat sales and travel blogs and such. It’s just that sometimes, I feel that maybe I should have started a few more years back — perhaps when I started at my first job or something like that. Which wasn’t really that feasible, now that I think about it, because I didn’t earn much back then. I only get to travel now because my job pays me well. I just wish that I could have been to other countries and places when I was 23, 24. That I was brave enough to go on my own, or that I could have dragged friends and family to go with me wherever back then.

But then again…it’s never too late, right?

Ramble, ramble. My point is, I want to have my place, too. That place where I would always go to, the one that feels like home even if I didn’t grow up there. The one I would always return to, and the one that would be my default place to travel whenever I feel the itch to go and still be amazed at the new things I discover despite the number of times I’ve been there. I want to have that.

I wonder where it is. That place. My place. Could it be in Japan? Could it be Thailand, or Cambodia? (Hello, October Indochina trip! Thank you, Cebu Pacific seat sale! :D) Australia? NYC, perhaps? (Haha, why not. :P) Or maybe it is in Europe? (Oh, I would go back in a heartbeat, if I can!)

Or maybe it’s just in the next province? Palawan? Batanes? Davao? Ilocos? Dumaguete?

Hmm. I guess the only way I’ll find out is if I go there. :)

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For moreness. My best friend coined this on the trip we took on the weekend before I turned 28, the one where I asked them to join me because as much as I enjoyed traveling on my own, I realized that I didn’t really want to spend the last few days of a wonderfully crazy year not surrounded by the people who have seen me through not just in last year but also the year before that. And the year before that. And the year…well, you get my drift.

So off we went to Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte with Travel Factor. For moreness.

From a sleepy bus ride to a choppy 2-hour boat ride that left none of us dry (and taught us an important lesson on waterproofing our things — don’t worry, my phone is still alive and safe from saltwater), the island welcomed us with this:

Long bus ride? Scary, choppy waves? Here, have a beach.

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It happened again on a Tuesday. I was at mass, and as I knelt down to pray after receiving communion, some sort of movie reel started playing in my head. Or maybe the more accurate term is movie clips, because they were different scenes from a certain time in my life, one that I really didn’t want to remember that time. (Or anytime, really.)

As I walked back to the office after the mass, I tried to think of other things to stop the movie reel of memories from playing. But when that proved to be a bit futile, I sighed and muttered, “Nostalgia’s such a bitch.”

I have a sharp long-term memory. I remember small moments – as in really small moments – so randomly, sometimes, that I think it freaks others out because they cannot remember the things I was talking about. But I remember them, and if it was a happy moment, I keep it. I used to write about it (and a friend told me that’s why I remember most of it), but later as I grew up, I didn’t have to write about it. I just remember it. I keep it, and it seeps into me, and I remember it, remember it, over and over again.

So much that sometimes, those memories feel a lot like reality.

And when your memories are happy, it’s fun to relive them, and maybe even hope that those memories happen again.

But things happen, and life changes. No matter how happy those memories are, they turn bitter when you know that they can never happen again.

Nostalgia can be such a bitch.

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