My 2019 Beautiful Travels | On Dealing with Travel Burnout

Monday, December 23, 2019

I have to admit something that I don't even want to admit to myself. Naramdaman ko yung pagod sa travels this year. Around March, I was physically and mentally drained. I remember talking to my friend Ashley while we were waiting for our order in Pizza Hut (before the So Ji Sub fan meet!), and I might sound ungrateful to outsiders but I just have to say it to someone who will not judge me, "pagod na pagod nako".

Not only because travels will demand your full strength and best of health, which are already given. I also felt the pressures to create beautiful outputs for social media because of my work. I find real time updates a drag and a job.. hindi na natural unlike before when I do these things effortlessly and for fun. Instagram postings, the pressure to vlog like the others, the conscious effort to minimize my IG Stories coz shorter is ideal. Sadly, I fell in that blackhole of wanting to be what others expect of me.

But, truly, God is good. 2019 blessed my eyes with breathtaking destinations. When I finally thought there's nothing else that can inspire me or even top my past experiences, this year has proven me wrong in so many ways. Unti unti, I finally gained back the enthusiasm and energy of a first-time traveler. I thought I almost lost these traits along the way. Thank you, beautiful world, for humbling me and surprising me when I needed it the most. But most of all, thank YOU for still following my stories even when I got derailed along the way!

Here are some of my core memories from 2019 trips:

This is just a side-trip during our Iloilo Dinagyang trip, but the tiring trek up the Stairway to Heaven of the Garin Farm Pilgrimage made me feel as if I was really heading up and beyond the clouds (they even played Hallelujah! as background music!).

I might not have proper documentations because my phone died in the middle of the below-zero frozen lake, but my Abashiri Drift Ice experience in Hokkaido was a one of a kind trekking in snow and ice that I will not easily forget! 

Naalala ko when we were in the middle of the frozen lake and I looked around, all I can see from my peripheral are white mountains and ice! We wore these neoprene thick suits so we will float IN CASE we stepped on soft ice and fall into the lake! 😅

I am also very grateful for all the Japan hotel rooms I was able to experience because of these work trips, palipat-lipat kasi kami non. One of my favorites was when I had the best sunset view of frozen Lake Akan from our tatami room in Hokkaido. I watched the quiet sun setting, hot matcha tea in one hand, before heading out to meet the group again for the winter festival. 

I can only dream of seeing igloos irl, till we visited the Ice Village of Hoshino Resort Tomamu in Hokkaido last Feb. It's a sight straight out of Frozen where you can sleep in an ice hotel, have drinks in an ice bar, or slide down a huge ice to get to the village!

For my local travels, these are just some of the places that made me so proud to call Philippines my home: Beautiful sunsets and crystal clear waters. I think when it comes to beach trips, Philippines is still hands down the best!

Secret Beach, Santelmo Cove in Batangas

I always prioritize Holy Week with my family, thus booking my 2019 spring trip to Korea a little bit late for the cherry blossoms season, but Jeonju, oh Jeonju! This beautiful city surprised me with Full Blooms at Wansan Park, the most beautiful and dream-like floral pathway I have seen to date! Nothing compares to think this wasn't even included in my itinerary but a recommendation from our guest house receptionist!

It may not be a destination, but one of the most unforgettable night in 2019 for me was seeing both BTS and Twice in one stage during the SBS Inkigayo Super Concert in Gwangju, also my first concert experience in Korea! Sigaw ako ng sigaw the whole night, and they even ended the music fest with fireworks and one of my favorite BTS songs Idol!

Chiang Mai will hold a special place in my heart because it was literally a disconnected trip (we don't have pocket wifi) that I was able to share with my dearest friends Ava and Paul. One of this trip's highlights is a day at the Elephant Sanctuary, where we trekked mountains with these gentle giants, and even dipped and bathed with the elephants in running river, trying to hold on to each other just to keep still! It was a light-hearted moment, filled with laughter (the kind that's close to tears), I cannot even contain my heart!

India may be more popular for the Taj Mahal and the Pink City of Jaipur, so I arrived in Jaisalmer (the Golden City of India), with zero expectations. But grabe, Jaisalmer is full-on with the India culture and aesthetics that I was absolutely wishing to experience in this trip: from the sleeper train adventure because our flight was cancelled, the sunset camel ride in the middle of the desert, and the stories behind the golden walled forts. So much lessons, kind people, and carpet shopping (!) on this part of our great Indian escapades.

But of course, what is a first timer in India without a visit of the iconic Taj Mahal? Tama nga sinabi nila, the Taj is not overrated! "The hype is real", haha!

Lastly, another plot twist of 2019 was going to Hokkaido twice, and the unexpected Kyushu trip where I got the invite the day before the flight--making it my 3rd Japan trip of the year! I love Japan for having what I call "seasons on steroids" (best sakura experience and best autumn foliage in my books), but for my 2019 trips, Japan impressed me even more for sights that are not only season-based, but will also need a lot of luck! 

Shikisai No Oka - bed of lavenders, sunflowers, and other colorful flowers!

And of course, the Sea of Clouds or Unkai Terrace of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu in Hokkaido (also the same place as the Ice Village!). I just learned that it has been days since the sea of clouds showed up, but in that one morning when we went there, we were just in time for a good day to view the beautiful unkai. At that time hindi ko alam na maswerte pala kami, even our tour guide was screaming! 

Thank You Lord for blessing me with extreme things this year: For now I know that these aching back and tired feet always come before seeing a magnificent sight, and these exhausted mind and creative burnout can only be followed by sudden inspirations and surprises.

I am grateful that these challenges and confusions of 2019 can only mean one thing: That I want to strive more to be more and to do more. It means still being in tuned with what I truly feel, and not completely drowning in the system called doing things for the 'gram. I hope that although we are not getting any younger, may we not lose these dreams, this sense of wonder to try other things, and maybe even the doubts coz it just means that we are trying our best to move forward. I am making peace with this journey in my life where I am not even sure where I am headed to next--destination and life-path wise. But I know, like that morning at the Unkai Terrace in Hokkaido, that luck has always been on my side.


  1. Yay! Ang saya ng 2019 ang daming napuntahan! Local and international trips are both amazing. Thank you God for this beautiful creation! Cheers to more travel and blessings for you and your family KoreAnaGon! ����

    1. Thank you so much! <3 May you be blessed more also in the coming new year!

  2. Waaaah! So many amazing life-changing trips, Ana ���� Wishing that you get more adventure next year :)

  3. Minsan naman talaga napapagod na tayo and kailangan natin magpahinga, magmunimuni, at magisip isip then eventually marerealize natin lahat. That is what I learned from this year. My fave travel of yours is the Pilgrimage and the ice hotel. So unique 🥰 xoxo, vnalopez / vina mariz ocampo

  4. Wow. This is indeed best of your 2019. Ang gaganda ng place.. ��


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