Weekend Update

I do not expect any sympathy from my readers, but traveling is hard work.  My new friends and fellow year-abroad travelers, Maya and Tony, understood me completely when we discussed the stress of making so many decisions while traveling.  Which room to book. What country to see next.  How to get there.  Which app to use for the best deals.  Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Which coffee shop to choose.  Make one wrong decision and it leads to disappointment – an upset stomach, money wasted, a six-hour bus ride that turns into twelve hours due to traffic, suffering through a long night in a cockroach or spider-infested room, or taking a bucket shower every day.

An unwelcome roommate (he was much larger in real life)

And then there are the things that need to be done that don’t disappear just because of traveling.  I still have bills to pay, tax forms to complete (still looming over me) goals to pursue, grants to apply for, exercise that I should be doing, family matters to attend to, laundry, shopping, and more.  I’m not on vacation.  Usually, you leave all of these responsibilities behind when taking a vacation because it’s just for a week or two.  I’m just living my life somewhere else.  

One place we won’t be eating

I’m not complaining.  Just trying to give a complete picture of this experience, and I would do it again without hesitation.  One year is not nearly enough time!

Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, like this street performance in Vigan

After leaving the farm in San Fernando, I traveled for ten days in Vigan, a colonial town and UNESCO site, and Palawan, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  The most amazing experiences came from the people I met, however.  I will write more about this, but the words haven’t quite come to me yet.  Stay tuned.

Flying over Palawan

For now, I’m taking a week off from the “stress” of traveling to catch up.  I have rented a studio apartment on the 28th floor of a building in a hip neighborhood near Manila.  The air conditioning and wi-fi are strong, there’s a beautiful view of the city and bay, I can prepare my own meals, there’s a pool downstairs and I have a real shower with hot water and a door that closes!

Paradise in El Nido

I will try to catch up on some writing and photography work, maybe get my taxes done, complete another grant application, and just enjoy the comforts and quiet of this place.  I don’t even need to venture into the city, but there is a volcano nearby . . .  

Taking time to reflect

Tony and Maya will be passing through on their way to Vietnam, so I will spend time with them one day.  And I will be helping a photographer friend another day on a project he is working on.  I will also finally make a decision about my next adventure.  I have four volunteer opportunities in Cambodia and Laos.  I wish I could do all of them, but must choose one.  The stress of too many choices!

Everything I need

Next Friday, I head back to San Fernando.  I couldn’t leave the Philippines without spending time with my friends there (expect more adventures with McTery!)  Precilla offers a free yoga camp every year to students in McTery’s school, so I will help out at that, pull more weeds, do some tutoring, suffer through the afternoon heat, eat healthy meals, and be happy for having had the experience.  I will fly to Cambodia on April 15.  It’s already getting hard thinking about saying goodbye to the Philippines (another downside of all this travel).  

The view from my bed

If any readers are interested, McTery and Alzera each wrote a poem on my “Where I’m From” poetry site.  They would love to see some comments from readers, so please consider writing a quick comment for them.  Salamat!

Here are the links:  Alzera’s poem:  Just Because I’m Filipina; McTery’s poem:  I Was

How can I put this trip into words?

Comments (19):

  1. Lori

    March 25, 2017 at 08:15

    Thinking of you, Tim! The kids miss you!

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 26, 2017 at 23:15

      Sounds like you had a great show! Congratulations!

  2. Gail

    March 25, 2017 at 12:07

    Safe travels Tim! Thanks for sharing your amazing adventure!
    Oh… YIKES!!! (spider photo )

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 26, 2017 at 23:15

      Thanks, Gail!

  3. Bruce Yarnall

    March 25, 2017 at 20:14

    I would feel some sympathy for you and the stress and difficulties of travel, BUT, the last two-three weeks here in CT have been bitterly cold with some nasty wind to boot. What made it worse was the warm couple of days in February, just to tease us.
    Never mind the daily deluge of, I guess you call it news, coming from the White House and DC. Republicans are finding out that governing, actually doing something, is pretty hard.

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 26, 2017 at 23:18

      Well . . . the air conditioning can be a little chilly here at times, but I can deal with it.

  4. Vicky Ann Deledda

    March 26, 2017 at 07:09

    Love the pictures, beaches, boats, spiders(only in someone else’s house!) Understanding of your present stresses and I have the same tax ones- hate to admit it. Funny when I hear about your week off to get something done , I still see you helping others and continuing friendships. Enjoy!

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 26, 2017 at 23:20

      So glad I had another pink mosquito net to protect me from that spider. He was gone in the morning – maybe he’s in my bag.
      I’m enjoying some cafe time in Manila, thinking of my cafe days in Hanoi.

  5. Deidre Toole

    March 27, 2017 at 17:26

    I totally get that you need some downtime to catch up! I think that week in a clean apartment with a real shower is a mandate along the way.
    You are so much braver than I am. One night with those spiders and that would be enough! Stay safe and keep on sending the wonderful posts.
    Even though you have bad days-to me it seems ALL AMAZING!

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 29, 2017 at 22:58

      I’m enjoying my last few hours of AC before I head back to sleeping with a fan blowing on me all night.

  6. Linda A Wight

    March 28, 2017 at 09:55

    I went back and re-read this blog. I thought I had replied, but perhaps was replying I n my head:). I was glad to see you were having some catch up time. As always, interesting reading and pictures. I sometimes feel like I never catch up and then I have to just stop and read a book and not worry to recharge my battery and other days need the people and interactions. I think of you often and what a great guy you are. Happy travels Tim.

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 29, 2017 at 23:03

      I’m learning that having a balance is probably what’s best.

  7. Rosie

    March 28, 2017 at 12:47

    Hi Tim,
    With your adventures and photos it is hard to remember this is work and not just a laid back year of travel for you. Learning and experiencing the culture, meeting new people, and all the planning can be overwhelming for sure. The language barriers alone would get to me! You are a brave and wise soul. You give us all a sense of wanting to join in from a very safe spot at home!
    Happy travels and stay safe.

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 29, 2017 at 23:09

      It’s all worth it, but you’re right, it’s not a laid back year. That being said, this week off with no commitments has been wonderful.

  8. Diane Weisman

    April 2, 2017 at 09:10

    Okay Tim, I get it. There was no need for the spider photo.
    I actually don’t know if I could ever travel that way you do. I need too many creature comforts, not to mention knowing where I am when I wake up in the morning.You are amazing. Your right, life and it’s responsibilities don’t stop just because your in another part of the world. Get those taxes done.
    Stay safe.

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:16

      Sorry about the spider! They are becoming regular visitors now wherever I stay. Must be the season – or something in my bag. Maybe I’m just carrying the same one from place to place. I just have to try not to think about it and move on. Taxes are done!

  9. Denise Zalaski

    April 12, 2017 at 06:48

    Hey Timmy,
    Finally had some time to catch up on all your travel adventures since we’re on vacation. I am still in awe regarding your trip. You are an AMAZING man and the courage you have to do what you’re doing is astounding. My daughter is currently studying abroad in Spain and is doing tons of traveling albeit quite different from yours! I’d love for you guys to share your experiences when you get back. Think of you often, Tim, and pray for your wellness and safe travels.
    Take good care and continue to soak in all the priceless experiences you can!

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 06:06

      Great to hear from you, Nisi! Thanks for the prayers. Go visit your daughter and have an adventure!


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