My Love Affair with Airports

86585ca2999e443I will never forget the first time I’ve been to the airport to travel, not just to pick-up relatives vacationing from abroad. To travel not for leisure but for work. I was always fascinated with airplanes flying so high above me when I was a small girl. And so I was so flabbergasted when I got face-to-face with an airplane on one of the wide windows of the airport that night I’m bound for Kuwait. It was huge and magnificent that I had to stop, look and tell myself that it’s real, I’m looking directly at an airplane that I just used to see flying above me. I felt like the plane was staring back at me, too. It was wow! Then I went looking for my gate and I’ve seen a lot of people mostly Filipinos but many others with different nationalities, too! The shops, the monitors. And since then my love affair with airports has started.

I don’t travel much but yes, I love airports. There’s a different feeling whenever I arrive in airports. I love reaching them way earlier than my flight. For the past nine and a half years, I’ve been living eight minutes away from the airport. Sometimes, I go there to kill time. I go around then sit in a cafe as there are no cafes in my area. (Yes, you’ve read that right, none! Only Arabic style coffee shops that’s filled with thick, suffocating smoke from cigarettes and hookah/shisha/hubbly bubbly.) The Kuwait International Airport is small but development works are on progress so we’ll be seeing more of that in the next few months/years. Still, it’s okay to just go around the area where non-travelers are allowed.

When I travel though, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I love reaching the airport way earlier than my flight time. I go around the area before immigration then check-in then go around again. Once I pass the immigration, I continue walking around and checking all the shops without the intention of buying anything. (The only things I buy in airports are books and coffee.) Then after giving myself a tour of the entire place, I choose which cafe I’ll buy coffee from and find a good spot to read, write or just people-watch while waiting. People-watching in airports is never boring. Human drama right in front of your eyes.

Sometimes too, I just stare at several tv/monitors, big or small, showing the departure flights. Yes, I enjoy doing that. It makes me happy staring at all those flights change their status one by one — boarding, departing, delayed. Furthermore, I also like watching the ground crews do their jobs when a plane arrives at the gates. And I like seeing the pilots pass by us before boarding. Well, it’s nice to know who’s flying the aircraft, right?

I love airports not the way I love a certain restaurant, museum or shop. How so and why?

When I’m at the airport with my luggage and all, I know I’m set to another adventure. I’m riding an airplane. I am going somewhere. Some place other than where I am at the moment. A place I haven’t been to before or a place I’m returning to. Somewhere, someone or no one, is waiting for me. A place I might like or not. I’m going far away. Or I’m going home.

imagesIn addition, I feel most interconnected whenever I’m in airports. It’s a place so full of movements. A place full of change. My brain cells get so alive, active and energized. The diversity of people who crowd the airports, coming and going from one place to another for whatever reason. It’s compelling to see people of different nationalities, young and old, families, tour groups, solo travelers, waiting for their flights or just arrived.

Next, airports make you step back and wait. I mean, in this present world where everything just go by so fast, it’s just nice that whether you’re just transferring from one plane to another or having a really long layover, airports make you stand still, stop, pause, wait and think.

What’s more is that it makes me temporarily escape from my everyday life. From the person I choose to become. From the life I’m leading. It reminds me that I can go somewhere else again and start all over though it’s not going to be easy. The point is, there are many other possibilities, many cities, many countries to go to. Sometimes, seeing all the destinations in the monitors makes me realize where I really wanted to be.

Airports are a beautiful place of transition. For some, it’s where their journey begins, to others it’s where it continues or to many others, it’s where it ends. One thing’s for sure in airports though — no one stays. Everyone leaves.

Both photos are from Google. Credit to the owners.

Some Lessons Learned From My Most Spontaneous Travel

I first started traveling one destination at a time where I make a research of what places to see, what things to do, what stuff to try, what foods to eat, etc. I usually spend almost a month in one country exploring its different provinces. Then I tried dividing my vacation days to two countries. It was better. My most recent vacation though was something I didn’t really have time to plan about. My vacation was cancelled a few times the last two years and I almost have given up thinking about it. When schedules were finalized and I can really go on leave, I wasn’t sure where to go. First Jordan. Then Qatar and Jordan. Then Qatar and Georgia. Or just Georgia. I ended up traveling to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Jordan.

Among my main goals while traveling are to indulge myself in alcohol and suffice my palate with dishes I have never tried before and eat every pork dishes available in the place. 😅 (I’ve been living in Kuwait for the past nine years and a half, alcohol and pork are prohibited here.) And over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best things about travel is not merely about the places you’d be visiting or the food you get to taste the first time but the things you learn while traveling. Of course I can only speak for myself and so as far as I’m concerned, traveling has taught me a lot of things about people, culture, tradition, food, places, history and life in general. It also has taught me a lot of things about myself.

Most of my travels in the Philippines were spontaneous ones. I get to go to provinces three hours or more away from my hometown with just an hour notice. When I started traveling to other countries though, I had to research and make a list of things to do, places to go to, where to stay, etc. It was okay at first but following a certain schedule while traveling makes me feel my options are limited. I felt like I’m not getting the most of it so I went back to traveling without having everything planned. Today, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from my most spontaneous vacation.

Decisions.

It’s very important to be very flexible with your plans so when forced to make last minute decisions, it won’t turn out so bad. Even the most indecisive person can change and learn how to make spontaneous decisions while traveling. Your plans could totally change but roll with the changes and discover other ways to enjoy.

You need not be multilingual.

While knowing a second (or more) language can really be very helpful while on the road, I have never been trapped in a situation where I badly needed to have known one. It’s sometimes embarrassing that the people I meet are bilingual but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying their company. And I was never in trouble for knowing just one.

Strangers can be the best guide books and they can be the best of friends you’ll ever meet.

While there are a lot of ways that could be of help when traveling alone like Google maps and stuff, strangers can still be the best guide books ever. I once asked a stranger how to go to this particular restaurant that serves traditional dishes while in Vietnam. He helped me find the place but suggested an even better place! And when I visited the place he recommended, I’ve met several other people there as well, a few of the best people I’ve met while traveling. Every stranger I’ve met has lead me from one place to another and each place was definitely a worthwhile experience.

Unplanned travel escapades are where the fondest of memories are.

I’ve always find spontaneity a lot more rewarding than a carefully planned life. Since I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 18, almost everything that happened in my life were unplanned. Same thing when I travel. The many instances where I wasn’t prepared during the trip turned out to be the best and where the fondest of memories were made. I’m not a big fan of surprises but I am always amazed where my love for spontaneity leads me. Unplanned escapades are usually short but in my experience, it’s never short of thrill and excitement! These memories are the ones I relive again and again. It never fades. The memory of each unplanned adventure never gets old.

It’s not always about where you go. It’s also about the people you’re with and things you do together wherever it leads you to.

No matter where I go to when I travel, one thing happens for sure, even if I don’t initially notice it, I come back a better person than who I was when I left. I gain more positivity and courage so thanks to the people I meet along the way. Every person I meet is unique and has something to offer which adds to the excitement. Never in my life have I thought of going on an escapade with marijuana smokers and learning a lot about life from them. Turns out, they’re a few of the kindest of people I’ve met.

It’s okay if things go wrong.

My parents, my mom specially, raised my brothers and I to always follow the rules. If we follow the rules, nothing could go wrong she said. Sure, generally she’s right but following the rules all the time is not fun. Following what the guide books say, it leaves us with little chance for spontaneity. It limits us from appreciating the beauty of the unexpected. When things don’t go according to plan, be okay with it. More often than not, it leads to better and more exciting adventures.

Inform your bank.

It is important to inform your bank about your travels because during my recent trip, they put my card on hold because of suspicious transactions. Know that when your bank notices something unusual on your transactions, they have the right to put it on hold. For my bank, there’s an option when you log-in online where you can inform the bank of your travel dates so they wouldn’t suspect your future transactions. It’ll be hell to have no money while in a foreign country so consider this.

Overpacking sucks.

This is a serious pain in the ass. For years, packing my things is what my travel nightmares are made of, I’ve never learned to travel light until my most recent escapade. Having to travel from one country to another at a very short notice, I had to ask my then still stranger travel buddy to pack my stuff for me. My packing skills are seriously awful. It’s amazing to see her how to do it and yeah, I definitely learned a lot from her. It’s not easy travelling from one place to another with large suitcases.

Appreciate and surrender to the moment.

Of course it’s nice to take photos of almost everything beautiful and interesting when you travel — the tourist spots, the food you’ve tasted the first time, the views, etc. — but sometimes, we forget to appreciate these things as it is because we’re busy taking photos for Instagram. During my recent travel, I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am — phone, camera, extra batteries, chargers, etc. — but I also get to appreciate everything more and I get to see and explore hidden gems because my phone was dead. I was left to explore the streets not knowing where it’ll lead me. Surrendering to the moment made the trip so much more exciting, interesting, educating, fun and special.

Life is so damn good.

Sometimes we forget to be grateful how fortunate we actually are. As I grow older, I become more grateful for being alive and having the chance to travel from time to time. Life is good. I know we all have times when we feel like life is so unfair but life is good, homo sapiens. Life is so damn good.

Mental Detox, My Way

There’s so much hype everywhere on how to detox our body from the food we eat or products we use that harm our health. Detox could probably be the most popular word in terms of wellness these days but to be quite honest, I don’t do any body detoxification thingy. Really. I know it’s essential to our bodies but I’d get to that some time later. I find detoxing my mind more necessary. Our brains construct what actions to take so I find it very important to take care of my mind.

I am blessed to have had the pleasure of living a carefree and adventure-filled childhood. By adventure, I don’t mean magic carpet rides and stuff, I just mean exploring the beauty of the vast outdoors. Hiking, boating, kite-flying, bicycling (though I only hitch with my dad because I never learned how to!), horseback riding, name it and I’ve probably done or tried it. Then life happened. Adulthood started to loom over me quite a bit early.  The stress caused by sudden life changes at that time almost had me lose control of my mind. I’m a girl who overthinks things way too much. It’s just me, that’s just the way I am. So I got used to working my ass off no matter what it takes whenever I want to achieve something or get things done. I have always been that stubborn, hard-working but still happy-go-lucky girl in my world full of chaos.

Fortunately, I’m able to learn and take better control of my mind soon enough instead of falling into the trap of overthinking and stress. I’ve developed doing a mental detox from time to time and I find it is just as important as a body detox. Here’s what I usually do to release toxic thoughts that cloud my mind…

Taking a break from social media.

Nowadays, whether you’re into twittering, or photo-sharing or simply sharing everything worth-sharing (or not) to the public, there’s just the right social media application right for you. That’s just the world today. (I don’t have a Facebook account. I’ve just very recently signed up with Twitter and I’m inactive most of the time. I occasionally post on Instagram which I’ve also set on private.) The thing is, social media is associated with lots of bad stuff BUT it is associated with lots of good stuff as well. However, people these days consume a lot more time on it.

I strongly believe that we need to take a step back from social media once in a while. Shut down. This gives us the chance to connect to ourselves and to the people around us more. I really miss going out for lunch or dinner with friends without a mobile phone on the dining table, having in-depth conversations with them, asking questions and thinking of answers without searching the internet. Connecting to the real world, creating memories, experiencing things for the sake of experience and not for the purpose of posting on social media.

Taking long walks.

Walking helps me a lot to clear my head. Whenever I’m stressed from work or had an argument with someone, I try my best to go for a walk. When my longest relationship came to an end, walking has been a vital part of moving on. I’d spent at least an hour walking early in the morning or in the afternoon after work in the exit stairs of the apartment building. When I was left hanging clueless, I can’t bring myself to take a walk to be able to move on and let go. Why? I really don’t know. Eventually though, I was able to pick myself up again and started walking up and down the stairs as usual.

Moreover, walking always changes/improves my mood. After a manic day at work, I sometimes feel stressed so I go for a walk. Sometimes, my weekends are so boring that I feel so homesick, I go out for a walk. Walking does change/improve my mood in such situations.

Saying goodbye to toxic people.

I’ve had my fair share of toxic people in my life. I find it unhealthy when I’m in the company of people who make me feel less than myself. People, even so-called friends, who create drama and act like poison to my mind. Thank heavens, I find it easier now to get rid of such kind of people. And whenever I get rid of them, I’m always happier and drama-free!

Traveling.

This is my  most favoured way of having a total mental detox. I don’t hold back on calories when I travel and I don’t feel guilty about it. Food makes my world go ’round! I taste every possible food there is in places I travel to and that way, I’m able to relax and clear my mind completely! Also, discovering new places is surely relaxing. It rejuvenates my mind and it’s uplifting. It gives me a different view of life, a different perspective. I always come back from a trip wiser, refreshed and happier.

Cleaning and rearranging my room.

I don’t really like routine, I find it lethal. So even in cleaning my room, there’s no specific day/schedule and I rearrange my room any given moment I feel like doing it but most specially when I’m feeling out of sorts. When I rearrange my room in such a way that it makes sense to me at that particular moment, adding or removing stuff, it gives me great satisfaction and lifts my mood. It also helps me to identify what I really love having in my room, what I need and what I don’t. (It’s not always easy for me throwing things even when they’re useless already so I keep them all in storage boxes and just open and reminisce whenever I feel like it.) So even though you like routine, a bit of a change here and there once in a while will do your mind a lot of good.

Reading.

Reading (books, in general) has always been a big part of my self-development and has always been my favorite entertainment. And though there are never-ending distractions due to the world’s advancement in technology, reading is something I can’t remove from my system. Books are very powerful that they’re able to change and transform lives. It still is my favorite entertainment and definitely one of the best ways to relax and calm my mind. Not only do I feel better and relaxed, I always learn something new, too. Reading feeds my always hungry mind, engages and broaden my imagination,  stimulates my mind, expands my vocabulary and a whole lot more.

Taking some me time.

For the past six months or so, I’ve been actually telling myself more often to be selfish. I just thought, sometimes, it ain’t bad if it has to be all about me. Self-care is a necessity so I don’t feel guilty pampering myself. From June last year until early January, I’ve cut my hair thrice and dyed it twice. (I don’t really cut my hair very often and never tried dying it until 2016!) There was also a time when I’ve had my nails painted different colors weekly. I was never a fan of nail polishing until middle of last year and it’s actually fun. So the main idea here is do what gives you joy, either doing what you’ve always wanted doing or trying something new.

Writing a journal.

Though I’ve entirely stopped keeping a journal, I would still recommend doing so. I’ve been writing a journal for years, I loved it and I must say that being able to get all my thoughts and feelings on paper, good or bad. is a very effective way to declutter my mind. Writing honestly about how I feel helps my brain overcome emotional upsets. Scribbling a few lines of poetry like six-word stories or haikus, which I personally do, also helps.

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I don’t claim to be an expert on mental detox but I find this worth sharing with you because I see good effect and development on myself since I started doing a regular mental detox. I get to focus on positive thoughts more each day and able to reconnect with myself more and more.

Do you guys do a mental detox as well? Share your tricks, too, in the comment section. I’d be happy to read them.

Thanks for reading and have a great day, homo sapiens! 🙂