A reason for traveling

In a small airport somewhere in Palawan

People travel for many different reasons. To work, to learn, to expand one’s view of the world, to have a few adventures, to get out of one’s comfort zone, to take a break, to escape.

Since last month, I’ve been feeling more restless than usual. I wanted to go somewhere. Out of the city, out of the country. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Pack my bags, drag my husband and escape somewhere. I even rummaged through my closet to take out a coat, bikinis, scarves, and sun dresses with the hopes that staring at all these seasonal clothes I haven’t worn for quite some time will give me further excuse to travel.

The first time I got this restless was back when P and I decided to take that trip to Japan back in 2010. When we decided we would spend the money we had saved up for a pregnancy that didn’t happen after months of fertility treatment for a dream vacation instead.

The year before that, when I found out that I would have a hard time getting pregnant, P and I (or more of I) immediately dove into the whole fertility treatment thing–medications, regular doctor’s visits, the occasional shots. I only allowed myself a few minutes to feel bad about it as I sat in the doctor’s office and she looked at my ultrasound results and told me the news.

Ever the optimist and being new naïve at this whole infertility thing, I thought—like any endeavour—if you just work at it and put your mind to it, you’ll achieve what you set out to do. I realized that’s not the case when I got my first negative pregnancy result.

And the few minutes I allowed myself to feel bad stretched longer and longer with every negative result. What would follow were bouts of self-pity and frustration, and hours lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering why. Why can’t I get pregnant? Why can’t it be easy like how it is for other women? Why do I miss a child who’s not yet even here?

I had answers to some of the questions. But this still didn’t make things easier to accept. Traveling or even the anticipation of travel did.

More than taking it as an escape, I felt travel gave me a chance to pick myself up. Shake off the disappointment, frustration, and questions I didn’t have answers to and lose myself in something. Somewhere. Find little victories in making sense of an overwhelming train route in an unfamiliar city, in discovering gems of eateries, or just being somewhere I used to only dream of seeing.

When we came back from Japan, I dove right back into the whole fertility treatment—this time I tried acupuncture and drank this concoction that strongly smelled and tasted like soil and rust. Before the end of that year, when sticking needles and drinking dirt (okay, dirt-like mixture) didn’t work out so well, I found myself booking the tickets to fly to Vietnam and travel to Cambodia.

That’s when I also decided to start running again. I thought, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold, which was how it felt like every time we were on treatment; everything revolving around my body and how cooperative (or uncooperative) it was being. Interestingly enough, running also made me a little bit more determined. It made me appreciate more the fact of how everything—especially the goals you consider worth pursuing—takes time, like building your endurance or the distance you could run. And that maybe even getting pregnant needed a bit more time.

I got back into treatment. My months again revolved around doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, taking certain medications during certain times of the month, etc. The race I wanted to join in Angkor was set aside when a fertility procedure had to be scheduled a few days before the trip and the doctor advised me it wouldn’t be such a good idea to do the race. That it would be better to play it safe. By the time we got back to Saigon, I got my period.

The thing when you’re trying to get pregnant, you try to remain optimistic, you think this is it. Please be it. And no matter how often you see that single line on that stick, no matter how you’ve grown familiar with the emotions that come with it, it doesn’t lessen the blow. It’s as heartbreaking as the last time and you wonder how you can do it all over again.

Maybe it was a good thing we were traveling, because when we got back, we didn’t lose any time getting right back into the whole treatment again. When I got a negative result, we just did it all over again for the next month. And the next. And the next…

A month ago, after our last attempt was still unsuccessful, we made the decision to stop with the treatments. We haven’t stopped hoping that we’ll become parents, but I’ve started to open myself up to the possibility that maybe it just won’t happen to us the conventional way. Who knows.

One of the most soothing sights–the clear waters off one of the islands of Palawan

Explorer and author Henry Ellis wrote, “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” And perhaps, the occasional trip won’t hurt.

After weeks of stopping myself from booking any trips, I finally gave in and bought tickets to Hong Kong last week. I’ve never been there and I’ve always wanted to see it–how it’s crowded and bustling and can get all lit up in neon. I want to see its skyline and harbor views as much as see the Chungking Mansions, home to Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express, which fed my interest in Hong Kong in the past. I want to get nourished by endless trays of dim sum, congee and noodles.

People travel for many different reasons. I realized, this was one of mine.

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18 thoughts on “A reason for traveling

  1. A powerful post that makes a lot of the stuff on Feshly Pressed look trivial.

    I really hope you enjoy your trip to Hong Kong. Look out for suspicious women wearing blonde wigs, sunglasses and rain coats. And bring back a tin of pineapple.

  2. My heart goes out to you. I admire your strength and positive outlook despite a few hurdles being tossed at you. They are just temporary setbacks.

    Have fun in Hong Kong and do load up on the dim sum!

    I hope you don’t get disappointed with the Chungking Mansions. Just think gritty and grimey with transient guests floating around so you won’t be surprised. The upper floors house different hotels and hostels while also having Indian/Pakistani restaurants nestled on the various floors. It’s still an exciting and interesting if not shady type of destination that is worth a visit in my opinion! It is definitely not that romantic escape that Chungking Express pegged it as or what I thought of it as.

    • Hi Pat, thank you for reading and for the positive thoughts.

      Thanks also for the heads up on Chungking Mansions. I’ve heard that it is gritty and kind of shady so I will try not to have any romantic ideas about it. But for a Chungking Express fan, I have to make the ‘pilgrimage’ to see it. 🙂

  3. This post has certainly put my “frustrations” in perspective. 😉 I marvel at how you wrote about something so personal and emotionally-charged with such positivity and restraint. Thank you for sharing.

    I realized just now that I haven’t been living because… I have yet to master the art of letting Tony Leung go. 😀 I. Just. Can’t. 😀 😀

    On a more serious note (not that Tony Leung is not life and death to me. 😉 ), and because your post’s title posed some searching questions, I travel and keep on traveling because it affords me the opportunity to be perfectly myself in an entirely fresh context; because I am never as attuned to the world as I am when I am away; because there is that inexplicable (and self-satisfied) thrill to being in that exact picture that not too long ago was just in your head.

    And come on,is there a more profound joy than chowing down all the dimsum/spring rolls/noodles you possibly could in one sitting? 😉 🙂

  4. I have to say, I also haven’t mastered the art of letting Tony Leung go…and I don’t think I want to. Hehe.

    I love what you wrote on why you travel… it is so true–how one can be so attuned to the world when one is away, when you’re not somewhere familiar, and the thrill of “being in that exact picture that not too long ago was just in your head” YES! You’re always so spot on 🙂

      • I’ve been there last year, and Macau too, kaso parang wala ako matinong tip mabigay sayo 🙂 All I could say is that it turned out to be a lot more expensive than I expected. Okay, here’s one thing, if you don’t mind taking trains and buses, do it by all means. Taxi fare is really expensive, not to mention the communication problem. And If you’re planning to have dinner at the Macau Tower’s revolving restaurant, you need to have a reservation a few days before arrival as they get fully booked easily especially on weekends.

  5. @wandering lass I’ve been looking for accommodations and I’m starting to realize that it’s more expensive vs most Southeast Asian countries. I heard that HK has a very efficient mass transport system so I’ll take advantage of it (love riding trains!)

    thanks again 🙂

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