Wednesday, April 11, 2018

SEA 2 Africa 2018


It’s that time of the year again, no, it isn’t Christmas yet. Today is the start of our annual two-month backpacking trip. And this year, we’ll be braving uncharted territories as we go out of our comfort zones and travel to two countries in Africa—our dream destinations! 

I remember it vividly. I was seating in front of the class when my professor in graduate school asked us a mind-boggling question, “What’s that one reason you wake up each morning?” It was an easy one for my classmates as they mentioned all their loved ones or their teaching profession. When it was my turn, I mentioned, “I wake up for Morocco.” Everyone laughed. I didn't.

Again, my life for two months will be contained in my 40-liter backpack with nothing but the essentials. My forced summer leave as a public school teacher led me to places I never thought I will. And even though I have less in terms of monetary aspect, I have the liberty to reboot for two months, a much-needed respite after every academic year. 

It has been an annual tradition for me and my buddy to have our summer backpacking trip right after the school year ends. It started in 2013 when we braved the Philippine seas and conquered Babuyan Islands and Sulu Province. It wasn’t continuous though as it happened two weeks apart. In 2014, we had a four-week trip to Nepal and Southeast Asia. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing because of promo fares. It was during that time when we realized that we could travel non-stop for a month so we yearned for more.

It was in 2015 when we started to have a two-month summer getaway during our ASEAN Summer Loop 2015 which covered the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. It was exhausting yet fulfilling at the same time. It was all about the beaches at Beach Hop Asia 2016 when we traveled again for two months and hopped around Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Singapore. Same Same Summer Trip 2017 was all about exploring some of the key cities we missed during our Southeast Asian trips. We rediscovered Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. It was also the first time we included our moms on our trip and let them experience our backpacking life. They were with us for just eleven days though. 


Every year, it gets better and better as we learn more not just about our neighboring countries but also trivial things about each other (if you’re planning to spend the rest of your life with someone, maybe you should try to have long-term trips with him/her).

It was two months ago when me and my favorite travel buddy tied the knot on a simple wedding in Zambales. We had a two-week celebratory trip afterwards, sort of honeymoon, in Australia—my first venture out of Asia. It was during the ceremony when I mentioned on my vow that we’ll somehow fulfill our respective dream destinations, Egypt for him and Morocco for me. It was not until last month when we finalized our summer trip and because of some unforeseen booking mistakes, we will be realizing our dream destinations! A blissful happenstance. 

My buddy always takes care of our flight bookings as I don’t have the patience to do so. And for the first time, only two of our ten flights are on low-cost carriers. He weighed our options and realized that it’s more cost-effective to fly on a full-service airline considering the baggage and food inclusions. Plus, we’ll be bringing our moms again on the first leg of the trip. 

It will be Southeast Asia, yet again, for one month and Africa for another month. We chose to travel to only two countries in Africa as we’re not trying to vie for the most countries visited award, if there’s such a thing. Every chance we have to travel and discover (or rediscover) is already a blessing for us. 

Just last night, he finally plotted our rough itinerary (we usually do best when we’re pressed for time). We already have flight tickets for all the sectors and all we needed to do is to pack our bags and go (I hate this packing thing, and airports). 

Manila > (Indonesia) Bali > (Timor Leste) Dili > (Indonesia) Bali > (Singapore) Singapore > (Saudi Arabia) Jeddah > (Egypt) Cairo > (Morocco) Casablanca > Rabat > Chefchaouen > Fez > Merzouga > Tinerhir > > Marrakech > Essaouira > Marrakech > Casablanca > (Saudi Arabia) Jeddah > (Singapore) Singapore > Manila 

As much as we want to go out of Jeddah, we didn’t have the time for securing transit visas so we’ll just be transiting there. On the other hand, Timor Leste (East Timor) has always been that one country in Southeast Asia that we always wanted to explore but due to steep airfares, we usually skip it. But then, a good friend bought our flight tickets as a wedding gift so finally, we’ll be traveling to this relatively young nation (16 years to be exact). It’s also interesting to point out that we will be in Morocco during the start of Ramadan and it will be a unique experience, that’s for sure. 

Planning for my outfit proved to be a challenge this year. It ain’t about those Instagram-worthy dress as I’m used to wearing the same clothes again and again (I hate shopping, that’s why). On the second part of our trip, we’ll be traveling for one month on Egypt and Morocco where Islam is the dominant religion. Knees and arms should always be covered as a sign of respect to the locals which posed as a problem for me as I usually bring tank tops and shorts during our long-term trips. Slacker packer problems. 

Food. I’m definitely excited for our gastronomic adventures. Going back to Bali and Singapore means we’ll be devouring once again on our favorite Indonesian and Malay dishes, but I’m equally excited to try Egyptian and Moroccan cuisines as well. 

Just as before, some of our friends (aside from our moms who will be joining us in Bali) will be joining us on several parts of the trip. Well, it seems like we’ll never be on our own anyway. 

Fifty four days. Five countries. Twelve key destinations. Fulfilled dreams. #SEA2africa2018 

Join us as we finally fulfill our dream destinations. Check out our real-time updates on our social media accounts @blissfulguro | @lakadpilinas

See you in June, Manila! But first, we’ll go to a nearest Jollibee store for a quick jolly meal before leaving.






3 comments:

  1. Bon Voyage ! you guys,if you happen to come in Greece one day (Crete,to be exact)give me a heads-up,i will willingly tour you around(free of charge haha).xoxox

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    1. Awww. Will take note of this and hopefully makaipon kami for Europe. Salamat, Mikaela! :)

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  2. maam dala ka ng abaya mag travel ka pala saudi arabia. wag po maglakad mag isa. no alcohol, bka po abutin kayo ng ramadan sa pag travel nyo sa saudi start po ng ramadan is May 15 or 16 from 3am upto 9pm wag na wag po kyo iinom or kakain sa kalsada, mabigat nakaparusahan po. simpleng paalala para sa isang masugid na taga basa mo po.

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