Sunday, June 17, 2012

One year of wanderlust for free

My wanderlust story goes like this: the last time I saw my house was in May 2011.

More than a year ago, everything in my life was smooth and proceeding according to my plan. I have a caring family, responsible kids and a stable job. I was blessed with a job that entitled me to work for 4 weeks in Yemen and spend the next 4 weeks in Philippines. However, due to Arab Spring, there were continuous violence in Sana'a city between the government and protesters. Many people have died.

Because of this, the travel alert was raised by our government from alert level 2 to alert level 4 which was mandatory evacuation for all OFW working in Yemen. Several of my colleagues lost their job because they were not able to come back to Yemen. They were on vacation when the travel ban was imposed. I was on duty.

I faced a big dilemma for I need to choose between the welfare and future of my family against my personal safety. I chose to stay and prioritized my family; I have two kids in college and one in high school.

It is in this light that my company has decided to provide logistical support to all their Filipino staff so we can spend our vacation outside Philippines and meet our families elsewhere for few days. We were provided "extra vacation allowance" and round-trip ticket to any Asean country during our vacation. That started my one year of wandering away from home for free though I must admit that sometimes I need to shell out extra dollars from my pocket whenever I meet my family.

 

I have to spend countless nights in company of complete strangers in one dorm room for I need to find ways to lower my overhead expenses so I can have additional funds whenever my wife and kids would visit me. Furthermore, I have learned to sleep in the airport to save on hotel fare; I missed those nights spent in plush hotels while in transit in Dubai and Doha. A meal worth a dollar along the street of Bangkok's Khao San road and Singapore's food hawkers became a norm. There were so many experiences that I won't forget since I started wandering.

 

I would never thought of hiking for 10 kilometers around one of Singapore's water reservoir alone in the middle of tropical forest and swampy land. I even attended a Buddhist wedding party in Cambodia. I have slept for two nights in the train while I traveled from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. I even reached the highest observatory in the whole world and met Pinoy explorer in Dubai.

Some of my friends and relatives were amazed because my family and I have been visiting places for quite some time. Unbeknownst to them, I need to endure the pain and homesickness whenever my wife and kids would go back to Philippines, leaving me alone in an unfamiliar place.

In January 2012, the travel alert to Yemen was lowered from level 4 to level 2. It means, any OFW working in Yemen can now return back to Philippines and go back to their work in Yemen without any fear of being stopped by immigration officers. I was truly elated and excited because I thought I would be able to see my family and finally enjoy my vacation. However, my company didn't allow me to spend my vacation in Philippines but rather asked me to continue wandering away from home for fear that our government might raise the alert level again and I would end up trapped in Philippines during my vacation. I didn't have any choice. I simply hoped that the situation in Yemen would continue to stabilize.

After few months, at last, I was informed by my company that they would allow me to go to Philippines on my next vacation and at the same time the logistical support and "extra vacation allowance" will cease. I didn't bother about these things. What was important was my chance to be at home again.

Right now, while working on this post, I am having a glass of Vodka in our room during Father's day. Yes, I am now back in Philippines and after a year of wandering I am now enjoying my vacation. My life has returned back to normal and it is good to reminisce all those happy moments with my family in other countries.

I never thought that I would become a wanderer without breaking the bank and introduce the joy and thrill of traveling to my wife and kids. In few days, my wife and I will be leaving for Bangkok to purchase clothing apparel for my daughter's on-line shop; she was able to put up an online shop during her 4 days stay in Bangkok. More so, her first Bangkok collection was sold out in few weeks.

My kids' perspective changed as well. Now, they want to see and visit many places; an offshoot of having a father who was forced to wander away from his home during his monthly vacation for the last one year. By next year, my eldest will graduate from college and as a gift to him we are planning to visit the land of my ancestors, China. The following year will be my daughter's turn to graduate, maybe we'll go to South Korea. These plans will surely put a dent to our savings but I can't stop this fire burning.

As for me, this could be one of the reasons why many Filipinos have decided to work abroad. They can visit places for free while earning decently.





This is my entry to the 20th Blog Carnival this June 2012 of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers with the theme "How to fund your wonderlust" hosted by James Betia of journeyingjames: HOW TO FUND YOUR WANDERLUST

For previous PTB Blog Carnival, click here.


4 comments:

  1. Possibly the best PTB entry I've read :)
    I once contemplated on working abroad to have easier access to travel destinations. It's good to see that your situation has influenced your family's outlook on travel for the better, even making a living our of it!

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  2. Thanks. Yes, working abroad has many benefits but you should prepare yourself to face all difficulties alone.

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  3. Keep on Blogging! You're a great help to us in managing our travel budgets...

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