Travel Diary: Because They Say You'll Never Forget the First Time

travel diary

It must be my fault because I find it interesting to write in a non-linear fashion, so forgive me. ;) If you've been reading my blog for some time now, you'll know that I've already written a lot about my first international travel so this is pretty much the prequel of everything I have written so far.

They say that when traveling, the journey is as important as the destination. It is through your journey that you will learn so many things about yourself and maybe, about your companions too. Your adventure is never complete without your journey. Whether it's funny, beautiful, or sad, there's always a lesson or two learned from it.

The journey + the destination are both part of your entire travel experience. So here I am now, reliving the first leg of my journey which I never talked about yet in my previous posts.

More stories, less photos for now. ;)

Day Zero - October 17, 2016 Monday (Cebu to Manila)

I knew I would be away for quite some time. I also knew that it's gonna be heartbreaking to leave my 5-year old son for a long time so I did my best not to think about it anymore. I hugged him tight and left. 

With my 8-kg backpack (which made me look like a turtle), I headed to SM City to meet my friend Alic so we could go to the airport together. We arrived at the airport at 1:30 PM for our 3:45 PM flight to Manila. As usual, our flight was delayed. Our other friend Makoy was coming from Davao and had an early flight so he was already at NAIA in Manila by the time Alic and I were waiting for our flight. 

We initially didn't have any idea what time we would leave Cebu because there was no announcement. We even joked that maybe we'll all just meet in Vietnam the next day. Thankfully, we left Cebu at 6:45 PM, then arrived at Manila at 8:30 PM. 

Upon arriving to NAIA Terminal 3 in Manila, we were already rushing to get to the check-in counter because our flight was at 10:45 PM. We paid our travel tax and claimed our boarding pass. 

Then came the immigration counter. Alic went first, then I came next in line, and Makoy, third. I've heard horror stories about passengers getting offloaded and it's my first time to travel abroad so I was a little anxious especially that I consider myself a freelancer. That time, I wrote "content writer" as my occupation. I've read that since freelancers do not have a steady stream of income, there will be more questions asked about financial capacity (at least this applies to us here in the Philippines).

I've also watched the news about offloading guidelines for tourists wherein an officer of immigration mentioned that the only things needed are your passport (with visa if applicable), onward and return tickets, and hotel accommodation/s.

I'm technically not a freelancer because I work full-time for only one employer (with fixed income) but it's home-based and online so even though I've been thinking that I'm a freelancer, I didn't actually write it as my occupation. Well, because I'm not. Does that make sense? Lol.

travel diary
*The squad.

Here goes the interrogation, yikes!

So we chanced upon an immigration officer who looked so much younger than I am. I greeted her "good evening" but she had a non-smiling face (part of the job I supposed). Since my passport wasn't stamped at all, she asked me if it was my first time to travel outside the country and I said yes.

I think I was also a bit nervous but I was able to regain my composure, and stayed calm and cool. As long as you answer honestly, consistently, and directly (or without beating around the bush), you should be fine. 

The officer seemed kind and nice and yes, she asked me a lot of questions. Throughout the interview, she kept telling me politely that she's asking a lot because that's really the case when you're a first time international traveler and that the questions were just to prove my financial capacity. So of course I told her that it's perfectly fine and that she could ask me anything (although in my mind, it should be within reason, lol). 

First, she asked if I have a credit card. I felt like she was so careful not to offend me. Someone told me that I shouldn't be asked for a credit card but I showed the officer 2 credit cards anyway. She was really very soft-spoken and harmless as opposed to the officer next to her who was yelling all throughout. 

Since I wrote "content writer" as my occupation, she then asked to see any draft article. I was trying to access my blog but the airport's WiFi connection was terribly slow and my phone's data was acting up too. It was a good 2-3 minutes of waiting for my blog to load. She ended up asking for any article I wrote that I saved offline which thankfully I had on Dropbox. 

She also asked me if I'm really fond of traveling and which cities or places I love most. She already sounded obviously friendly by that time. She asked how I was related to the people (names listed) on my airplane itinerary ticket and how long we've all known each other. And the usual stuff like dates and purpose of travel. 

Then finally, she stamped my passport! Yehey!!! Holla, I was so happy! I thanked her sincerely and thought I saw her smile a little. Maybe she did! Alic thought I was going to be left behind because it took quite some time for me to pass through immigration. I even told them beforehand that if for some reasons I would be offloaded, they could just go on with the trip without me and I'd just go to Tagaytay and chill. Haha!

Waiting in vain.. 

After clearing immigration, we looked for our boarding gate - Gate 135 - which was sooooo far. We're kind of panicking because we only had a few minutes left. When we arrived at our boarding gate, we found out that the flight was again delayed for 45 minutes. Teneng! So much for the amazing race.

travel diary
*From fresh to haggard, haha! 

While waiting for our flight, I had a brief funny encounter with the attendant who was cleaning the restroom when I blurted out to ask her why the toilet's flush wasn't working -- and I said it in Bisaya (my dialect). She just stared at me for a while and answered in Tagalog (spoken in Manila and most of Luzon). Obviously the keyword was "flush" so I guess she kinda understood what I meant after a brief moment of silence.

Then I realized I was indeed in Manila and I should be speaking Tagalog, haha! Back in high school, most of my classmates were all speaking Tagalog which made me more comfortable speaking it growing up. I tried to stop myself from laughing so hard upon realizing that I just startled the attendant so I immediately went out of the restroom, yikes!

I was so hungry and I didn't have time to grab food when we arrived because we're in a hurry. I ended up buying myself an overpriced cup noodles from one of the stores near the boarding gate. Sheesh! We all sat and ate on the floor even though there were enough unoccupied benches.

We left at around 11:45 PM, slept in the plane, and arrived at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam at 3:30 AM (2:30 AM Vietnam time). Huraahh!

travel diary
*In Ho Chi Minh City

They say you'll never forget the first time... 

... you travel internationally, or elsewhere. I guess for most people this is true. It's true for me. I told myself that I'd enjoy the trip as much as I could no matter how exhausting it could be. The firsts may not always turn out well for some but again, that's part of the entire learning process and experience. My first had a few glitches too but we were able work around it so that we could still relax and have fun.

What happened after this? 

Follow the rest of the stories and photos here if you feel like sticking around some time. ;)

Kalye Serye Ho Chi Minh: The Walking Spree
In Vietnam: Fun Food Tripping in Ho Chi Minh City
Travel Diary: Stories About Cambodia and Unfiltered Photos
Magnificent Angkor Wat: Visit It At Least Once In Your Life
Unfiltered Snapshots: The Gateway to Angkor Thom
Kalye Serye Bangkok: #LocalFeels

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