I was born into a family with a grandfather who believed travel to be one way to strengthen the bond between his children and grandchildren. Since we were all in a foreign land, plus the language and location barriers, we would all be forced to relate to one another, thus becoming closer. This worked, and our family has since looked forward to traveling together whenever we can.
What this did for me was that having been exposed to a bigger, wider world than my cozy little cul-de-sac of Cebu City, my perspective of things grew.
Of course, for a 10-year-old, a “wider perspective” meant that toys that were previously not available in the Philippines were suddenly now in front of him at a bazaar in Hong Kong, so tantrums galore (something I am ashamed of to this day). It was a good thing that the next time we got to travel, I was about eight or nine years older, so my perspective on why we should travel became much broader than bazaar toys.
One of my main reasons to enjoy traveling is to eat what the locals eat. Once, when going to a small cafeteria in the Fujian Province in China, I was already dreading the food that would be served. Surprisingly, it was the best-tasting Chinese meal I had that didn’t involve deep fried fish or pork. It was fresh, light and didn’t feel like a cinder block in my stomach afterward. It helped reduce some of my anxiousness when it comes to Chinese cuisine (we eat so much I’m almost numb to it).
Trying out places the locals frequent also allows you to study their habits. For instance, Japanese have no qualms lining up for 15 to 20 minutes at a popular resto, then eat and go so those next in line can have a turn. This is very different from us Filipinos, who treat eating out as a way to catch up with friends and family and often stay long after the last dish has been scraped clean.
Also, once you acquire the palate for a certain place’s locale, that’s a pretty good starting point for opening a food business here in Cebu—an idea for all you future entrepreneurs out there.
As previously stated in one of my musings, I am a guy who enjoys holing up with a good book for upwards of three hours. Traveling forces me out of that shell to explore the immediate area we’re staying in (especially if I want to eat lunch or dinner). More than once, exploring the area allowed us to talk to locals or bump into other “expats” who have restored our faith in humanity.
Exploring a place helps you get a feel of the energy of the people and understand why they act like how they act. It is a very interesting case study as we try to get the best of a country’s culture and apply it to make ourselves better.
As an added bonus, exploring and finding that elusive food place, shopping mall, or specialty shop feels as good as hitting a buzzer-beater in a basketball game—or getting the last hit on the enemy’s Ancient for all you DOTA 2 players.
The overall experience of going to an unfamiliar place and doing things out of your comfort zone changes you as a person. As you try out new things (climbing a mountain, riding the roller-coaster of death twice), you become more aware that, indeed, what doesn’t kill you (literally and figuratively) makes you stronger. Then you come back home and become a lot bolder; you become more open to trying new things out. And you are recharged and filled with new ideas to contribute to your workplace or your home.
Overall, as long as you don’t turn your brain off for the entirety of the trip, you will come out of it a better, more introspective person whose view is no longer limited to the city he/she lives in.
Unfortunately, despite what the title says, I am not going to write about Adventure Time and the bacon pancakes they have. I tried to get into the show but couldn’t—that’s another story.