Enjoy Life Part 1: Eat, Pray, Love, and Love Some More

Eat, pray, love, and love some more. This seems to be the theme of my year so far. But then again, I've been doing these things ever since I got to Malaysia. I'm thankful getting around Malaysia is pretty straightforward (there are FAR LESS islands compared to the Philippines, FAR LESS airfares to save up for) and I'm thankful AirAsia has made a home here, sans airport travel tax. Hello low, low, fares; hello ASEAN neighboring towns.

Someone once told a teary me to not forget to love myself and to remember to enjoy life. I took those words to heart. I got my hair colored, booked flights for myself, went cafe hopping, did some open mic-ing - lived life a little more crazily than I had several years before.

So let me tell you about them crazy travels. I am no travel blogger. But I do have travel stories to share. Writing conferences, weddings, batch reunions and a whole lot of other things have brought me around the Philippines. Family trips have brought me to Australia, Hong Kong, and USA. Church events have brought be to Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. Work has brought me to Bali. A mending heart has even brought me to Yogyakarta, though not in the "That Thing Called Tadhana" style. And good old wanderlust has been bringing me all around Malaysia.

If I could choose my top five favorite travels so far, it would be (in no particular order) those two trips to Penang (that gives us "one" and "two"), my heart-mending trip to Yogyakarta ("three"), my recent trip to Cambodia ("four"), and a prance around La Trinidad and Baguio City ("five").

I will write about those in future entries (I've only written about one Penang trip) but for now I'll just give short glimpses of why those travels mean so much to me.

Penang Part 1 was super memorable because it was my first super long drive with my family wherein I was the one behind the wheel. Before, it always used to be my dad.  Back then, I would insist on winding the windows all the way down because I would get carsick even in a 20-minute ride. That time, I got to show them how much I had grown. My parents were so proud. I drove all six hours (one way) on my own, and a little bit more when we headed back and sent my brother off to the airport.

Penang Part 2 confirmed that I was indeed bitten by the wanderlust bug. I dragged a very game friend to go food and mural hunting to a town six hours away on a Chinese New Year long weekend with only two days notice. If that doesn't spell wanderlust, I don't know what does.

Yogyakarta was... healing. I realized I hopped on planes a lot for a number of different reasons, yet rarely did I do solo flights for myself. I was dealing with heart issues but seeing all those temples and palaces, being reminded by the enormity of God, eating yummy Indonesian food, conversing with locals in broken Bahasa Melayu (close enough to Bahasa Indonesia), riding in becaks and motorbikes, realizing how capable I was as an individual - these things gave my heart the break it needed.

Cambodia showed me the beauty of friendship. It was "Eat, Pray, Love Part 2" for this year, and boy did we eat a lot, pray a lot, and love a lot. I attended the dedication of my newest inaanak and spent quality time with Filipino friends who were working there. I also asked a covenant friend to accompany me to Siem Reap where we took pictures in Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat wearing dresses, walked round and round the city, ate, ate, ate and possibly gained a gazillion pounds. Five days weren't enough but it was truly time well spent.

Speaking of time not being enough, the prance around La Trinidad and Baguio was definitely not enough. While reading up on long distance relationships, I came across a point that said one of its advantages was that you got to do touristy things in your respective towns whenever one chose to come over. I believe that would also be a perk if both of you grew up in different provinces and each one would have the chance to say - "So this is where I spent my childhood". My boyfriend spent a weekend with me and my family (the whole extended family, mind you - cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma - the works) when I went home this February. I got to visit Tam-awan Village for the first time and climbed up Mt. Kalugong for the second. I was a tourist in my own town. But I loved it because I was doing touristy things with the love of my life. Like, we even walked up Session Road "Tadhana" style, though we so did not do it on purpose. I'd love to explore his hometown, too. And I'd love it even more if we would also get to explore more of the world in the perhaps not so distant future.

Traveling is only part of this mission to enjoy life. I like it how Jesus said that He has come that we may have life and have a full one (John 10:10b). Sometimes it's difficult to think about enjoying life when there are so much suffering all around us. But life is a gift. Embrace it. When you learn to love it, when you learn to love yourself, you'll learn to have a bigger heart and you'll learn to love other people all the more.

So let's eat, pray, and love some more.

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