There are so many things I regret doing, but very few I regret not doing. I guess I go by the tenet that it is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. I know that I have touched many lives and have made impressions on a lot, good or bad. I know there are people I have irrevocably hurt and those that have made me cry. As I wait to board my flight home, I recount the many international flights I took all through my life.
My first plane ride was to Hong Kong with my Mom, my sister and my niece. I was in my early twenties. There was no HK Disneyland then, and Macau was still a historical site. My niece and I took a day tour of China and went to Macau, just the 2 of us. We left the “oldies” to their shopping. My clearest memories of that whole trip are (1) the octopus ride at Ocean Park where my feet couldn’t reach the edge of the “container” so I couldn’t properly brace myself — but man, I rode that sucker more than once! (2) losing a roll of film in one of the touristy sites we went to, so we ended up paying through the nose for pictures of us with a Buddha on plates!
I would go back to Hong Kong twice more. First was a trip I took with one of my closest girl friend from work to visit our dear guy friend based there (my Kimosabes). I was in my late twenties. What I remember most would be my guy friend’s flat and our sightseeing trips to Victoria’s Peak and the Big Buddha. We even met our boss at the Hard Rock Café one night! The second trip was with my husband, sister-in-law, and eldest daughter. My second daughter went along on the trip but she was still in my womb. I was in my late thirties. My clearest memory was of my hubby complaining that my daughter wasn’t looking like she was excited or happy at all at the trip. I just, in my own way, tried to reassure my daughter that it was okay. I knew she was excited. I knew she was happy. And that’s what counts.
I was sent by my Company for training to St. Charles, Illinois, U.S.A. and it was the first travel I did without my family. I went with colleages from work and we squeezed in some vacation time. We went to see Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Florida and Los Angeles. We stayed at relatives’ (and friends’ relatives’) places. I took a domestic flight and a train ride alone and I shared a hotel room with my guy officemate to save money and even watched Basic Instinct on pay per view. At early twenties, it never occurred to me that it could have turned ugly. It was an innocent time and I was still innocent (and I discovered later, my guy officemate was really safe after all, if you know what I mean). I would go to the US several times more both for work and vacation. I would visit San Francisco, Seattle and even got to Vancouver and Toronto, Canada. I have so many memories of those trips — (1) meeting a French guy who looked like Doogie Howser (before he became Barney Stinson) and he closes the van door on my finger (finger didn’t suffer lasting damage, but was bluish and sore for days), (2) slow dancing with a Malaysian classmate who does magic, (3) having 2 LA natives grind dance behind me and my girlfriend at a disco (we left right then and there), (4) loving the Hawaii beaches & vibe, (5) going to Sub Pop in Seattle, (6) seeing Radiohead’s frontman & Rick Moranis in Vancouver, (7) seeing Vegas in the morning, (8) experiencing snow, (9) watching Les Miz on Broadway alone sitting at the last row (that’s all I could afford) and munching strepsils because I was coughing non-stop, (10) having to show my passport at every bar entrance because in my twenties, I looked all of 15. My clearest memories? The people I travelled with, who became my lifelong friends as I shared my adventures with them. We even planned to live in the US and Canada, but it never panned out for me. Funny though, all the friends I planned with all went and lived abroad. Do I regret it? No. My Daddy asked me not to go and I didn’t… It was a hard decision, but he shed tears when he asked me, so…I stayed, and got to spend a good many years with him before he died.
The last time I went to the US was to attend the wedding of my niece, the same one I went on the China day tour in Hong Kong. I am due for another US trip in the next few years, before my visa expires.
I flew to Malaysia for work in my twenties and I was miserable. I got sick because I couldn’t eat the food (man, I was such a picky eater back then). I just kept on ordering spaghetti from room service! I was also with a colleague who “persuaded” me to attend early morning mass every morning. I also have a local colleague who brought me to eat frog and deer, and I was too polite to decline (I just imagined spaghetti from room service to get through it). I went back for work again lately, and I enjoyed the food! Go figure.
I flew to Australia for a meeting and missed Valentine’s Day, my wedding anniversary and my daughter’s birthday. But I did get to go around Sydney, hangout with my highschool friend based there and see several Koalas and Kangaroos!
I flew to Singapore several times for work (my second daughter again hitched a ride in my womb during one of my business trips) but had the best time when my siblings and their kids and me and my eldest daughter and my sister in law (my husband’s sister who was with us in Hong Kong as well) went there for pure fun. We had the greatest time at Sentosa, which a few of us just squeezed in. We went back tired and sweaty and then off to the airport directly! The latest trips there for work again were very productive, because I made very good friends.
I flew to China for work (Suzhou), and this was before I was pregnant with my second daughter. I got drenched in rain while on tour and when we got home, within days of each other both my colleague and I discovered we were pregnant (and no, none were conceived during the trip)!
I flew to Vietnam for work and got cornered by whizzing motor bikes as I crossed a street. I toured the historical sites and sprained my ankle. I went on several laughing trips with my colleagues because of our misadventures.
I don’t really go out and explore when I’m alone, so I usually just stay in my hotel room. Now is the same. I had a free day in Shanghai, but because I don’t speak the language, and cabs are hard to come by and most drivers don’t speak English, I decided it was safer to just stay in the hotel. Walking was an option but I don’t want to sprain an ankle again. Plus I’ve had my share of walking from the office to the hotel because we couldn’t get a cab!
Travelling is nice. Being able to visit foreign countries and learning the culture is great, but for me, the best part of travelling is definitely GOING HOME…to my family. Sigh. I can’t wait to hug and kiss them.