— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

The old passports got dusted off yesterday because the UK visa application form asked for a list of countries I’d visited in the last 10 years. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t count the number of countries I’d been to — I just don’t want to feel, I said, like I’d turned my back on the rat race only to join the passport stamp race — but now I have a rough idea of the number because the application only lets you list 10. (I think. I didn’t count, but it looked like you could enter 10 before the “Add” button disappears.)

Anyway, this is from my first ever passport:

First passport_

And then of course nostalgia set in, and I sought out the stamps from my very first trip out of the Philippines.

First stamps

I’m not sure I can say I’ve been traveling since I was a kid. I’ve been hopping on planes since I was a kid, yeah — perks of having a father who fixes planes for a living — but they were mostly to visit family within the Philippines and although those trips introduced me to LRTs and rivers and pineapple fields, everything else was familiar. My first real I’m-not-in-Kansas-anymore moment was Hong Kong. And that was so long ago, they didn’t have a Disneyland yet.

I remember a lot of things from that trip. I remember walking out of the airport with my mother, father, and sister, and being greeted by a waft of cool air. We’d expected Hong Kong weather to be just like the Philippines’ and were totally unprepared for the much lower temps.

I remember staying in Booth Lodge, in a spacious family room that my father — the original fastidious travel planner — managed to find and book even in the toddler days of the internet in our country.

I remember being a brat for two days. hangs head in shame

I remember going to the Ladies Market and the Night Market and being most attracted to a street performance using traditional Chinese instruments. I do remember buying a fuzzy green sweater with multi-colored cuffs; I loved it and used it for years afterwards, and I think it’s still actually lying around the house somewhere.

I remember being pushed by people getting on and off trains.

I remember drinking my first real iced tea, with honey.

And I remember sharing all that with the people I love most in the world. That feeling, I think, more than anything, is my most precious souvenir from that trip. It’s something I especially cherish because now my parents are getting older and life has changed so much. That was a landmark trip for my family, an entirely new, different adventure, one that introduced us to the world outside our own, and it was my father’s treat for my mother, sister and me. Someday, I want to treat them, and bring them to a world they’ve never yet seen. Someday…

Firsts” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 




23 Responses

  1. What a sweet trip that must have been, even though you were a brat lol. Being of, or closer to, your mother’s generation, I was in HK in 1979 and loved everything about it. I was there for 6 weeks and explored all over, including the then farming country of the New Territories, and several of the smaller islands. Still haven’t forgotten it. Sadly most of what i saw doesn’t exist now.

    1. Hi Alison! That must have been quite the experience. It’s great you were able to explore HK thoroughly. And it’s a little bittersweet, isn’t it, when you had such a memorable time at a certain place, and you know that even if you go back, you won’t get to relive it in the same way. Highlights the importance of truly being present, and enjoying the now.

      1. I can totally relate. But hey, the world has so many places for you to explore 🙂 and what sweet memories you shared with us! Bless your travels dear, with the ones we love they really have a special sweet taste !

  2. Reminded me of going to HK in 1987. As it happens my bro worked for an airline and my friend’s bro, also an aircraft engineer at the time.
    First and only time I’ve been to Asia.
    It really blew me away, from the moment the descent took us in between tall buildings, twisting sharply as I stared at air con units hanging from flat windows above me as we hit the runway so hard the oxygen masks dropped down and overhead lockers burst open.
    That airport has long gone now.
    The intoxicating and exotic mix of cultures, climates and sights seen for the first time left a lasting impression that worked it’s way into my life somehow, tendrils reaching out between my western ways and eastern ideas that have existed ever since.

      1. Hey Ligaya! One day I will. Mainland China has a draw since it is the home of Tai Chi, but there are so many other places to think of too, such a vast continent full of wonders so different from little old England that the choice is bewildering. There is so much to see! And there are so many other places closer to home and more accessible I guess. I could probably spend every holiday in Italy, which I adore, and never tire of it.

      2. That’s true! I don’t think we’ll ever get to see all the places we want to see, and spend as much time in them as we wish we could. I remember you mentioning before how much you love Italy. I’ve yet to explore it some more — I’ve only been to Rome and Venice — but I’ve heard such great things about the country in general.

      3. I’m in the middle of it right now! The application form actually asks stuff like “how much are you planning to spend on accommodations” and “how much do you earn every month” and “how much of your earnings do you give to your family” so I’m in number-crunching mode. 😀

    1. 😀 I was really ashamed of that. I had, shall we say, more volatile moods then than I do now. I could have ruined the whole experience. And I don’t even remember what I was acting out about. Luckily, my family was awesome about it.

      1. My Mom loves to bring up tales of my childhood freak outs! To be honest I never thought I was that bad. I was shy & sensitive and I remember being emotional but my family remembers it as me being a 3 year old psychopath=)
        I’m glad our antics aren’t caught on video, possibly an advantage to having been kids back then! Your family sounds nice.

      2. Well, my whole family has quirks, so we tolerate each other. 😀 Your mom should write a guest post about your antics, that would be fun to read! And yes, we’re lucky our lives weren’t as documented as kids’ lives are now.

  3. My first trip out of the PH was in Hong Kong, too! Will always have fond memories of it. Strangely, even though I lived there for a total period of about a year, I don’t remember many of the tourist spots my family and I visited. Or maybe we didn’t go to many? I don’t think we even made it to Lantau HAHA.

    Thank you for this. It made me feel pleasantly warm and fuzzy inside.

      1. You’re from Cebu and you haven’t been to Bantayan? Gosh!!! 🙂 Do let me know when you finally get the urge to go. I am there often for our Habitat Rebuild projects.

      2. Haha! Yeah. And I only got to visit Camotes this year. I guess, when it’s your own city/province, you don’t think as much in terms of “what places MUST I visit” — you kind of take it for granted (or at least I do). 🙂

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