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The Big 3-0: A Backpacker’s Flashback

I turned 30 yesterday. And nope, I didn’t throw a big party nor vacationed somewhere remote and exotic. I would have if I wasn’t 38 weeks pregnant – or more of, if our family elders didn’t disapprove it.

My celebration was very boring simple. With a handful of relatives, we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Tarlac City, about thirty minutes away from a small farming town my hubby and I temporarily reside in. Still, it meant a lot to me for it’s been ages since I last celebrated with my parents.

‘Cave connection’ spelunking in Sagada. Back in 2001, when none of us had digital cameras yet. My first backpacking trip.

Yes I may be 30 now, but for me I started living at 21. I started living the moment I wore a pair of borrowed hiking sandals and used an overnight backpack for the very first time.

On my last semester in college, I finally had the guts to join Nature Knights, the school’s mountaineering org. I wasn’t into fitness stuff. Window shopping for half a day was my only cardio activity. I used to hate my morena (naturally tan) skin, and loathe being under the sun.

Pinay Travel Junkie confession: A bad two-year relationship break up left me devastated that year. I asked myself “Where do I go from here?”. So emo. Eew.

But that’s how it exactly started. I hungered for something rebellious, insane, and almost suicidal. Since I loved my long, black, shiny, shampoo commercial-material hair too much I didn’t chop it off and dyed it red or green. Instead… mountaineering, hiking, beaching, and backpacking entered the frame. And there was no turning back to my ol’ prim self.

Counting the years, I have been climbing mountains and backpacking for almost a decade now. This travel blog though just turned one the other day, and I still got heaps of unshared stories from the road. Most of these unwritten adventures happened during the first few years of my backpacking life, when none of us had digital cameras yet. When phone cameras were only VGA, and when ‘blogging’ was still unknown.

Details of these trips are now vague to me, yet their life lessons are still embedded in my heart and mind…

My first climb, Mt. Batulao. Without much training, I was able to reach its peak. A feat for a homebody. I learned that “what the mind of man can conceive, the body can achieve” is definitely true!

Before riding the boat to Taal Volcano, we were invited to a wedding reception by an old lady we met in a Talisay-bound jeep. I learned that some Pinoys still practice old customs, like inviting the whole baranggay – even strangers to a party.

Sabtang, Batanes. DIY trips are more fun. It gives you a chance to explore a destination freely, and makes you fully interact with locals.

Tinago Falls, Iligan. My first trip to Mindanao taught me not to be afraid of going to a destination even if it’s dubbed unsafe.

Traveling is not just about ‘getting away’, it’s an opportunity to discover new things. Do not just take a picture. Converse, taste, smell and feel.

These are just a few. My stack of old travel photos and their corresponding tales may not be published here anymore and will remain as a private collection – not that they’re on demand anyway.

Okay, I will not bore you any further about my personal life (but hey you’ve already gone this far!)… But I sincerely thank you for reading my birthday post. It’s not everyday that we get so sentimental and mushy.

The big 3-0 has an effect on me after all. Or perhaps I’m just under pregnancy blues… Or maybe I just miss traveling!


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Gay Emami
When not backpacking, she teaches her daughter sight words and belly dancing (even if she's not good at it). She's currently eating her way around some hippie town in Australia. She loves talking about herself in the third person.

13 thoughts on “The Big 3-0: A Backpacker’s Flashback

  1. Thanks po. I checked out but a bit expensive.. bought a domain already at godaddy for 2.17 USD.. dot info nga lang.. anywayz.. going to explore.. thanks po ulit.. congrats sa baby..

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