Traveling (Again) For The First Time

Saturday, February 19, 2022

My first trip since the pandemic happened was late last year, after Park Jimin's birthday. 

Prior the flight, I had to accomplish several requirements offline and online. It was a tedious traveling process that felt as if I was going to a VISA-mandated country. But then, I knew it was all necessary for everyone's safety so I happily obliged. It was the least I could do to experience leisure travel again.

A week prior my scheduled flight, I searched for the nearest RT-PCR testing center in our area. Back then, it was still required to show proof that you are negative from COVID. The travel requirements though had been constantly changing since, it was hard to keep track or post something about it because mamaya iba na uli ang kailangan. In a way, it made some lazy to plan anything. 

So after searching online and asking friends, I found a Red Cross saliva test center at the Ayala South Park Mall here in Alabang. Booking and paying for a slot were conveniently done online, and price of the test is also relatively cheaper than RT-PCR. Buti nalang they accepted this for flights. I also go my result in less than 24 hours, a smoother experience than what I was expecting.

The plane ticket I used was a prize I won from an airline social media contest early last year. It's a roundtrip airfare for one to any local destination. I can't seem to muster the courage to travel solo again, and thought I'll be wasting my prize till I learned that a couple friend was staying in Boracay for a month. 

It felt less-intimidating, and a comfortable decision to "half solo" travel to a place that is very distant but still familiar to me. I had my own flight schedule, stayed in a completely different hotel, had my own plans, but at the back of my head, I knew I had friends who were also there in the island that I can send a DM anytime. It was a perfect solo-travel comeback plan. 

I remember my flight home from Korea in February 2020, I was in tears while watching the city lights from my plane window grew dimmer and dimmer as we took off from Incheon. I was listening to a Hotel Del Luna soundtrack (Paul Kim's Annyeong), and I can't help but cry knowing it will be my last travel in a while. I think that moment is a core memory in my traveling life.

Anyway, in October 2021, Caticlan bound via NAIA Terminal 3, instead of tears for finally traveling again, I was dripping in sweat. There were so many things I needed to juggle both in my head and my hands, so many papers, QRs, and health protocols to remember. It was so tiring and nakaka praning, sabi ko nga pagod na ako para magpaka senti! 😂 So that was my first post-covid flight experience!

I like where I stayed in for my "first travel". I was browsing Agoda when I saw Hannah Hotel, and at that time their rate for a room was super discounted. For less than PHP 1000 per night, I was given a ground floor private room for two persons, with breakfast, clean bathroom, and already inclusive of other charges. I checked them out again this year (2022), and nag mahal na uli sila or back to regular rate, which is fine. Really hoping this is a sign that our local tourism is on the road to recovery. 

They served me two breakfasts everyday at the Hannah Hotel, since my room is good for two! I was always full, and just waited for Pax's late lunch sched at around 2pm.

Suntory Horoyoi beer while I watched Hometown Cha Cha Cha's latest ep.

Hannah Hotel fits the cliche "home away from home". Everyone you'll encounter heading in or going out were friendly but not awkward. My room is spacious, and I slept really well throughout my stay. You also have to just cross the street to get to Station 1 of White Beach, with the famous Boracay grotto. 

As for my itinerary, I just followed whatever I wanted at the moment. It's one of the perks of going someplace you've already been to, I wasn't pressured to do everything in a short span of time. I was there for 5D4N, and most of the time my friend Paxie messaged me to have lunch with them, and then we will just spend the day together at the beach till dinner time.

There were days though that I had to attend an online event, a Zoom meeting, and two afternoons I had Korean language classes with Paxie. Both times we attended class together at the beach! Nakakaaliw din! Dati kaya kong mag travel ng walang dalang laptop for 20 days coz I see gadgets as liability, but I think nun nag pandemic mas dumami online commitments ko. 

First day in the island, Two Seasons classic pizza, and first Boracay sunset.

My favorite day! PaNix brought me to their tric tour around Boracay's beautiful beaches.

Attended Korean class while watching Boracay's sunset

We were able to catch a BTS VLive too!

Sorry ang haba na pala nito, haha! Trying to blog about my first time traveling again, before I fly back to Boracay this coming week! Ang daming details! 

A lot of things have changed not only for me but also to people I've encountered in the island. From our hotel staff, to the vendors offering handmade bracelets, Kuyas offering water activities, ang daming story. I can't help but be reminded of their golden years. I might be anxious of my own situation, but traveling once again opened me to the realities of the world. That not everything's about me. That there's so much in this world to learn from. Namiss ko talaga to. Lord, thank you for the experience! And thank you for allowing me to do what I love again. 

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