Right now, I should be happily strolling around Beijing and Shanghai – learning about our cultural differences, exploring cityscapes, and finally savoring the fruits of a year’s worth of workload.
But I’m not. Instead, here I am at home, writing all these predicaments. Coronavirus pandemic has changed everything that we so long planned for this year. Everything.
However, this is not actually the first time that I get to cancel an international trip. Like most travelers, I have been long itching to visit other places outside the Philippines – to learn, gain more experiences, and understand our diversity. But fate has always been against me, always on the opposing side.
Failed attempt to visit Singapore and Malaysia
My first attempt to travel abroad was way back in 2015. My colleagues and I were bound for Singapore and Malaysia – yes, a cross-country overland journey. It was scheduled after our ten-day trip to Coron-El-Nido-Puerto-Princesa-Manila-Ilocos. So excited, I made the itinerary for that trip not knowing that I won’t be actually going with the group.
Just a few weeks before our scheduled trip to Singapore and Malaysia, our house got burned down to ashes. We barely saved anything because it was an Easter and the family went out of town for a trip. While almost everything was set and paid for that international trip, I couldn’t have the heart to travel and leave my family.
Canceled trip to Macau and Hong Kong
After getting a new passport, the very first plan was to, of course, finally set foot in a foreign country. As if the universe was in our favor at that time, we ran into a seat sale post on social media and was able to book for a P1,500 Macau-Hongkong airfare. However, some personal conflicts happened just a month before the scheduled flight. So I kissed away goodbye that trip to Hong Kong and Macau.
Calling off the trip to Beijing and Shanghai due to covid-19 pandemic
It would have been such an opportunity to finally see The Great Wall today. That’s the first part of our itinerary. I would have finally experience that ten-hour flight to China. Everything was all laid out for this week’s tour around September last year – places to visit, accommodation, expenses, all-in. Then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Instead of enjoying the trip, here we are on our regular meeting online.
Had we not known better, it would be easy to fall prey to that adage that goes: life’s not meant to be lived in one place. Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. For now, our travel dreams must wait. We have to accept that there are some days when fate plays alongside us, and there are other days it would elude us. Sometimes, our best-laid plans would fall terribly short.
However, it is in these failures that we also get to see how much capable we are of growing – of discovering more of what we can do, of learning how we can beautifully adapt to changes, of how more resilient we can become all through this process. It’s easy to sulk in frustrations and blame the heavens for our misfortunes. But what if Laura Story is right with her “Blessing” song? What if my greatest disappointments or the achings of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if trials in this life – the rain, the storm, the hardest nights – are mercies in disguise?
Maybe it’s not yet meant to be. Maybe I have to really finish first the 81 provinces challenge. Or I was destined to go for bigger things – grander place, greener pastures. Who knows. For now, let’s put a halt to our worries and stress of the future. No matter what we do, life will always ambush us with situations that we’ll never ever be prepared for. Might as well celebrate what we have, enjoy the ride, and reveal the journey.