I’ve been crying lately, losing sleep over my dream trip to Nepal. For eight months I held on to this dream which kept me feel alive and inspired. Unfortunately due to uncontrollable circumstances, I had to postpone my trip indefinitely. My fantasy of trekking the mystical Everest region may have vanished this time but the hopes of making it a reality someday has not.
Story of my life…..
On a lighter note, I’d like to share something I found that revealed about my past: an old journal! One day I was frantically searching for something (which I can no longer remember what) but to my surprise I found my 1997 journal instead. I rarely keep things this long because I’m not sentimental in that regard, but now I’m glad I did. Reading through my journal, I realized how different my life was.
1997 was full of excitement. My husband and I traveled constantly, loving the expat life in Tokyo. He had a busy 1997, flying all over Asia on business trips. I didn’t tag along each time but I had a busy life of my own, mostly socializing with friends (having lunches out and discovering new places in the city).
In April of that year, we went to Beijing on vacation.
“Lots of taxi hustlers. Heard Celine Dion and Prince on the radio,” I wrote on our first day there. It’s interesting that I thought Beijing resembled Mexico City. I believe I pictured it with bikes everywhere but it was also congested with automobiles, just like any other big cities.
On our way to The Great Wall, I was relieved to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, passing through small farming villages. I wrote: “Women gathered around, having small talks, with no regard for time. Life must be really simple for these folks.” I wonder now if life in Beijing is still that way after almost twenty years. With China’s economic boom, I highly doubt it.
“Great Wall was spectacular! It’s hard to believe we’re standing on a structure built thousands of years ago. At the same time, I thought of the thousands of peasants who suffered and died building the wall.”
Yeah, I’m not surprised if those pensive thoughts even crossed my mind. Sounds a lot like me—always reflecting on the deeper side of life. I can never relax and simply enjoy what’s in front of me. I always find guilt in any pleasure. 😊
We ran into my husband’s boss at the airport in Narita before boarding our plane to Beijing. He told us about a great Peking duck restaurant in Beijing and invited us to go with him for dinner. He was right about it being great because I still remember how much I loved the food. But I wouldn’t eat duck now. On my daily walks, I pass by the lake nearby that is often visited by ducks. Watching them go about their day gave me so much pleasure. Hence I can no longer justify killing them for food.
In the month of July, we were off to Europe for another vacation. Pondering on the great life I had then, I know why I’m so depressed now—unable to jetset anytime I please. Traveling is a big part of my life and it’s the reason why I became a flight attendant fresh out of college (even though my major was totally unrelated).
We spent most of our time in Spain touring the Andalucia region by bus. We used the company Pullmantur. I wonder if they’re still around.
In my journal I wrote,”long drive to Córdoba. It’s so beautiful! This is how I perceived Southern Spain. We saw the Mezquita. Words could not describe how I feel. We went on to Seville, had dinner at our hotel, Hotel Macarena, and saw a flamenco show by the Torre del Oro area.
We visited Torremolinos, in Costa del Sol, which I didn’t particularly like. I loved the Alhambra in Granada. I thought that was impressive. We also stopped at the Straits of Gibraltar. According to what I wrote in my journal, going there felt like a waste of time. We were back in Madrid on August 4, did some shopping, and left the next day for Amsterdam.
I am guessing from what I wrote (above), I didn’t like Amsterdam as much. It felt scummy. “Prostitutes behind glass windows, drug shops, and all the scummiest people from all over the world are probably hanging out here.” Anyone can assume where we were—the Red Light District! I’m no longer that prude though. Tolerance is a quality I’ve acquired over time. Certainly a lot can change in nineteen years!
On October 31 we were off to Singapore. This was quite a memorable trip because I brought a pregnancy test kit with me. In the early morning hours in Singapore, I found out I was pregnant with my first son! The funny thing about this trip (and only because I was pregnant), I had developed a disdain for Asian food. I remember gagging when the Singapore rep took us to eat curry fish head, a must-have delicacy there. After that, I asked my husband to take me to American restaurants where I can eat bland foods for the rest of the trip. Hooters and Burger King became my go-to restaurants. It’s perplexing because I’ve always had an eclectic taste and eating the regional cuisine is something I always look forward when visiting a foreign country. Eating buffalo wings and burgers in Singapore is blasphemous! Surely I can blame it on the pregnancy. 😊
1997 surely was a great year of traveling for us. With the birth of my son the following year, life—with a baby—was not quite the same. But we had new experiences that were as equally gratifying—the love of a child.
I also noticed I don’t do handwritten journals anymore. Instead, I use my iPad. I hardly see my handwriting nowadays, which I think is sad. I still collect notebooks because they make me happy but I should make an effort to type less and write more.
Another thing I didn’t realize back then was that I had an amazing, mind-blowing experiences while living in Tokyo. Unfortunately you will never know how good you have it until it’s gone. When I look back at the things I complained about—the overcrowded subways, the language barrier (the difficulty of learning a new language that was completely foreign to me), and the peculiarity of the people—I realize now those things made living there more magical.
I’m always faced with difficult situations, experiencing the highs and the lows. I constantly battle with life’s unpredictable nature and to keep my sanity, I go for long walks, take deep breaths and reminisce the good times. Yes…especially the good times! Because they are a reminder that life doesn’t always suck.