found out that it had closed down. I genuinely felt my heart break a little. Because, four hours may seem like a nanosecond in the realm of the universe - but wouldn’t you rather spend one fleeting nanosecond creating a meaningful connection and memory with one human being, than have one hundred nanoseconds with people who won’t even make an impact on your life?
My cosmic connection and movie moments in Seoul will take a separate book altogether, especially since I escape to that city once a year. I’ve gotten lost on a mountain hike where I’ve befriended grandpas and grandmas (who would embarrassingly overtake me on the trail), gone clubbing with a rag-tag Benetton team of a Korean guy, a Norwegian girl, an African-American French girl and myself, waited on the streets for the subway to open for its first morning train (because of said clubbing night), got picked from the audience to participate in a standup comedy street performance, and unexpectedly bumped into Korean pop stars while walking around deserted streets by myself. I found myself having conversations with random strangers, locals and tourists alike, on the subway, by the sidewalk, in cafes, in parks… I’m not kidding. Traveling alone, especially in but not just in Seoul, has made me quite the open target for new, strange, accidental, or maybe fated encounters and (mis)adventures that seem like scenes straight out of a coming-of-age John Green or Stephen Chbosky book. Or a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants sequel. Or - a romantic Korean movie. Oh, believe me. 2013, Manila, Home.
The magic of traveling alone is not in making the perfect itinerary - on the contrary, it is an act of letting go. You have to let the experience take you by the hand, let your feet take you where they may. Revel in the thrill of uncertainty, the looming sense of adventure, the guts needed to make friends with strangers, the possibility of many firsts. Open your eyes, look at everything, refrain from using your earphones, take your time, don’t get too caught up in taking photos, and push yourself to seek adventure. One of my personal challenges is to initiate conversation with a stranger at least once on every trip - the adrenaline rush it gives me is immediate and long-lasting. This is the closest thing I have to an addiction: I get a high from that feeling of being stripped of all that is safe and familiar. Because what that means, is that the whole experience is what you make of it. Literally. Maybe all I’m saying is, traveling alone can make you feel strong and vulnerable, small and big, scared and fearless, and nothing and everything, all at once.
Many people find my hobby of traveling alone to be a weird quirk, but I see it as a necessity. Part of it is because this is how I recharge, both creatively and emotionally — and the other part is because the freedom it gives me makes me grow at a faster rate than if had I stayed on the same shores. I always get asked: But don’t you get scared? I do. I get absolutely terrified. Aside from Czech Republic and South Korea, I’ve also explored Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and domestically, some places
in Visayas and Mindanao. Yet my heartbeat doesn’t get any slower or quieter every single time I step out of the airport alone. But the tradeoff? Braving a foreign country alone is the closest you can get to ultimate freedom. No parents to tell you what to do, no friends to take forever to decide where you want to eat, no tour guide rushing you through places that all turn out to be a blur and just a bunch of photos on Facebook that don’t even trigger any memories. You can be anyone you want, wear whatever you feel like, go anywhere you desire, walk however slow you must, take however long you need. Absolutely no judgment.
Published on Oct 26, 2013
Fashion issue with fashion illustrator Daryl Feril on the cover. Also featuring Sunny Gu, Karolina Debosz, articles on routines, introspecti...