Last summer, I traveled on my own for the first time. I know everyone tells you to pick the aisle seat when you’re traveling alone so you can get to the bathroom easily, but not me. I’m more of a window person. I like looking out the window and seeing the clouds. It gives me a sense of tranquility and exhiliration at the same time. Being amidst the clouds is one of those moments when I feel grateful that I’m alive. The plane ride to Japan was about ten hours, which flew by faster than I could say “orange juice please.”
At the Narita Airport, I took the shuttle to the main building where I was to wait four hours for my transfer flight. Four hours was not a long time since I had 2000 yen in my pocket and was debating on whether to buy yakisoba and a magazine or a tempura bento box and mochi. In the end, I had the best of both worlds–yakisoba and mochi. After another hour of strolling around Narita Airport, I boarded my plane. The three hour plane ride to the Philippines only lasted one action-packed “X-men Origins: Wolverine” and romantically hilarious “Proposal”. By the time I set foot on Philippine soil, I was ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
I wasn’t exactly unfamiliar to the country because I had visited before. My brother moved there five years ago and I hadn’t seen him since then. He was waiting for me there, the same face, the same smile, the same everything– as if he had never left. Like a little child, I wanted to stay awake every minute I was there, to treasure every moment I could spend with my brother, his wife, and my beautiful eight month old niece. They drove me around to all the malls, the attractions, and the fancy restaurants. All the shopping malls were atleast three stories tall, lined with boutiques, and filled with tourists. The most prominent of these malls was the SM Mall of Asia which is the largest shopping mall in the Philippines and also the third largest in the world.In front of the mall is a gigantic globe that outlines Asia. The mall even has complimentary golf cart service that can drive you around the perimeter of the mall and valet service for your own convenience. It was amazing to see so many different faces all mingling in one place as if they wouldn’t be anywhere else at that moment. Everyone was so happy, so friendly, and so helpful. Employees always gave me the most genuine of smiles even if I was merely passing by their store.
The weekend before I flew back to the United States, they took me to Tagaytay–a resort up in the mountains. The view from the top was breathtaking. It was probably the closest I had gotten to the clouds with my feet firmly on the ground. I rode on the cable cars and got the view of the whole resort from above–jacuzzis, swimming pools, spas, recreational stations which included bowling alleys, indoor and outdoor golf courses, basketball courts, tennis courts, and badminton courts. It was heaven on earth. We stayed overnight but the following day, it was time to pack and head for the airport. Saying goodbye was hard. How do you say goodbye to a brother you know you won’t see for a long time? My brother not only gave me the best vacation ever, he also taught me how to appreciate the things I take for granted–time and family. My experience in the Philippines has made me a better and stronger individual; one that can stand on her own two feet and say “Life is good”.
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