Adventure, Food, Learning


I really don’t have a fear of heights. A few years back, I tried the zipline and was forty feet above the ground. Easy-peasy! Flying was another matter. I delayed traveling via plane for the longest time not because of acrophobia, but because of responsibilities.

I’m not sure why I applied for a passport last year. I wasn’t expecting to go out of the country, not to mention ride a plane this year.  I thought that my first plane ride was to go out of town; perhaps Cebu or Davao to attend a conference or to go on a vacation with my loved ones. Surprise, surprise. My destination was Phnom Penh, Cambodia for an education fair. Duty calls and I must answer.

Being the worrywart, highly-organized, obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I prepared for the trip physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I admit that the thought of being 34,000 feet above the ground scared me because I was traveling alone; no colleague to chat with and no beau to coach me on what to expect next. I was also worried that if the plane crashes to the sea, I will surely drown as I don’t know how to swim. But what scared me more was that I will not be able to attend the education fair due to a missed flight because of the horrendous EDSA traffic or that I wouldn’t be able to answer the Immigration Officer’s questions due to my anxiety.

I had a lot of firsts during this trip.


First plane ride: The plane that I rode in was an Airbus A320. My travel agent booked me a window seat. Thank goodness he did!  From where I was seated, I saw the wings of the plane and the flickering red lights that I only see from down below. Aside from this, I saw the lights of Manila as the plane gathered speed.


First meal: I’ve read about airplane food not being the best kind of meal there is but I wouldn’t know until I’ve tried it myself. After one hour into the flight, we were served our meal. I was served Roast Beef with vegetables and Banana Cake for dessert. I wasn’t that hungry because I managed to grab a bite at Terminal 1. Overall, I liked the fact that despite the short trip, meals were served.


First stay at a hotel outside the Philippines: I was billeted at Hotel Cambodiana, a hotel loctated 15 minutes away from the Phnom Penh Airport and 3 minutes (literally because I timed myself going there) away from the venue of the education fair that I attended. I had a king-sized bed all to myself!


First amazing international tourist spot: One former student of our center and a local resident of Phnom Penh informed me that the river behind my hotel traverses through six countries. That fact is impressive enough for me as a first-time traveler. However, seeing the sunrise by the Mekong River was beyond words.


First breakfast buffet outside the Philippines: I usually eat breakfast in a rush before I go to work. For me, buffets are reserved for gatherings or team-building activities. By mid-day, I usually have worked up an appetite. The breakfast buffet is a freebie attached to my accommodation so it needs to be consumed. The restaurant usually opens at 6:30am for the buffet breakfast; this was what I was told as soon as I checked in. For two days, I started off with bread and cold cuts. To keep myself full for the entire morning, my second meal consisted of meat and veggies.

At my age, I wasn’t expecting to experience a lot of firsts as these would have been normally experienced when I was a decade or two decades younger than I am today. But I was wrong, especially for travel as I would rather stay home and read books. Traveling broadens my horizons and allows me to get out of my comfort zone. As one saying goes: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Indeed. Traveling alone did challenge me and it surely changed me. Now, I want more stamps in my passport. cat-seat-skin-body-animal-512






Before I turned 40, I was a bit anxious. What is in store for me in this decade? In my 20s, it was about adventure. In my 30s, it was about acceptance.  In my 40s? I’m not so sure.

They say life begins at 40. However, one of my old friends who is 2 years older than me said that nothing much has changed since he turned 40. So what is this big hype about being forty and then some?more-inspirational-quotes-40

In one leadership training I attended, we were asked to create a timeline listing down our life and what our priorities were. We also listed our life expectancy. I wrote 70 years old. I was 43 at the time that I had the training. Comparing my priorities to the years left to my existence, I realized that I was running out of time. This made me more anxious at the time. What would I really want to achieve in 27 years?

Stephen Covey, a famous educator, and author said that one of the seven habits of highly effective people is for one not to prioritize what is on one’s schedule but to schedule one’s priorities. This was the answer that eluded me all along. I tried fulfilling my priorities all at once that I felt overwhelmed and burned out.

This year on my birthday, I promised myself to schedule my priorities and to achieve balance in my life. Being forty-something and what I will learn for the rest of this decade of my life is still a mystery.  I am looking forward to it as all will be unraveled in the end as I tick off some things on my bucket list. cat-seat-skin-body-animal-512

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