October 19, 2014 1 Comment
It was mother dear’s golden birthday last month, and to celebrate, my siblings and I decided to embark on our first international trip together. It was an idea I had been toying around for some time, having experienced an out-of-town trip a year prior with just me and Mama (at SG, also for her birthday), and I figured it was perfect timing. It was a family milestone after all, and we are all at a stage in our lives where we (I) could afford a vacation of this scale. So exactly on Mama’s natal weekend, we headed to Macau and Hong Kong.
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
And a dozen or more single steps soon after, to be more accurate.
See the extended weekend saw the international travel “devirginization” of the three members of our party, and I guess by now you know who those are. Now that I think about it, I am sooo guilty of being amused by how the siblings went through the entire
ordeal process. Think Schadenfreude. :-P From saving money weeks leading to the actual day of the flight, scrambling to get their first passports, going through mini-nervous breakdowns during airport formalities, and finally landing on and navigating through foreign land, I had a constant, sometimes silent, sometimes audible snicker and grin.
Ironically (or maybe not), these somewhat brought me back to my clueless-about-travel days. (Though I have to say I was in much better shape then, given mine was a solo business trip to India. Just sayin’. ;-)) The reminder that at an earlier point I was in the same shoes was appreciated nonetheless, and made me hopeful that with more of these in the future, they’ll blossom into travel-savvy people too.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
Quick personal confession: as personable as I am in the outside world, at home, I am the quiet, almost withdrawn, (and fine) sometimes grumpy older brother. Mind you I have several defining moments under my belt (when it was most needed, I would think), but in general, the closeness I have with my siblings has always been less than what they have with each other. Also over the past few years, my two sisters had families of their own, so the little we time we initially shared was reduced even more to weekends, birthdays and special occasions.
I mention all of that because the three days I spent with the family overseas enabled me to see them in a different light, and (I hope) vice versa. A meal we had at Tim Ho Wan, in particular, was pretty memorable, not because of a specific happening, but because it was one in a really long while where we all just sat down and shared lovely food over lighthearted conversation and rounds of boisterous laughter. Outside that, I also got to witness them in environments I don’t normally see them in (something as mundane as them conversing in English was a recurring spectacle!), was reminded of how playful all of them really are (I am really sounding like the family grouch, am I?), and was re-acquainted with the mannerisms and character traits I seemed to have forgotten over the years.
Seriously, to say that that vacation was enlightening would be an understatement.
“When travelling with someone, take large doses of patience and tolerance with your morning coffee.” – Helen Hayes
Ahhh… The “What have I gotten myself into!?!” moments. Yep, moments, with an s.
“Didn’t I tell all of you to bring an umbrella?!?“
“What do you mean you just want to sleep the whole morning?!?“
“Si Mama na naman maghuhugas ng plato?!?“
You get the drift. :-P
Everyone knows these can happen when travelling with friends or partners too, but dealing with patience and tolerance when family is involved is a different beast, at least for me. I mean you don’t snap at someone you’re not related to as easily as, say, your (not so) little brother or (not so) baby sister. I know, I know, that mindset is wrong and quiet frankly, stupid, but I was not labelled as the masungit Kuya for nothing, right?
That being said, the multiple challenges to my forbearance were met with tightly bit lips, the deepest of sighs, and quietly repeating the words “Ralph, be nice.” as many times as needed to calm me down. To be fair to them, I bet they did the same every time I was the one testing their restraint for the things I may have done wrong, which leads me to the next point…
“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” – Henry Boye
…which is, when things don’t go as planned, arriving at a compromise is crucial.
I have been travelling conscientiously for almost four years now, and I have developed standards when I’m out and about. I don’t mind walking under the sun. I don’t mind getting wet with a little rain. I don’t mind walking long distances. I don’t mind eating food that I’m seeing for the first time. I don’t mind splurging for things every once in a while. And so the list of travel ideals goes on.
Traveling with the siblings and my mom, however, highlighted that all (heck, not even most!) of these I can’t impose to other people, and that for everyone to be happy, I have to bend. I understand this more as I write all of these now.
I think this would be the right time for me to apologize to Mama, Dave, Mutya and Erika for the series of events that led to the vacation ending in a sour note. I know everyone had a part in it but I take full accountability for not being the bigger person and letting it all happen the way it did. I should’ve (and could’ve) reined it in, but I didn’t. For that I am truly sorry.
All was not lost though, because even though the the three days were not as perfect as I envisioned it to be, I’d like to believe we had more good – great! – moments, than so-so ones. And isn’t that what’s more important?
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
Our first journey was a dream come true in that context, and the only thing that could’ve made it better was if Papa was there. Physically he wasn’t, but I know in my heart he witnessed all of that and would want for us to continue. I don’t know, maybe we’ve unknowingly started a tradition? What I am certain of is for the next ones, we know better.
Local na lang muna next ha? That, or kayo naman manlibre! Hahaha!