Gael is one of the traveler/blogger gals that you should watch out. Her blog will take you to different parts of the Philippines and Southeast Asia. And soon, I know she’ll be conquering other continents too. A true blue traveler and an old soul that will captivate your hearts as you read thru her emotions in her blog.
Pic from Gael
Get to know her more and visit her blog at The Pinay Solo Backpacker, one of the finalist in the recent Philippine Blog Awards 2010.
Here’s Flip’s short interview with Gael.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“Although my first solo travel is back in 2008 in Benguet, I’ve discovered my wanderlust way back in highschool. I remember joining my father (who is a lay minister) to remote fishing or farming villages every time he would conduct a mass during Christmas break or on weekends. I love immersing with the people and culture. And my desire to travel grew stronger when I took up Anthropology in college, we would often go places study their culture during our fieldwork. I miss that terribly.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“Mishaps is becoming my trademark, blame it on my unpreparedness. But I wouldn’t really call them horrible, it’s a learning experience for me. I have experienced some “unfortunate events” like I missed the plane in Bangkok and I did not have enough cash, no credit card, cellphone was useless (no roaming) on my birthday last year. I got stuck on the road due to a storm, I got questioned by the Thai immigration officers in Bangkok. I missed the last trip to Manila. In a secluded beach in Quezon, got fooled a couple of times, got harassed a few times and nearly got killed two times. Thing is, the moment I step out of the house to travel, I know I am exposing myself to danger or perhaps death. But it’s the FAITH that keeps me going.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“I treasure all my travel experience but I can still vividly recall a touching encounter in Cambodia. I was biking hurriedly to catch the sunset and chanced upon two poor kids in the woods eating food from the garbage while waiting for their father. I stopped and talked to them and completely forgot that I’m chasing the sunset.They looked so naive and didn’t ask for anything from me unlike the rest of the vendor kids you meet in every temple. It broke my heart because I felt so helpless. If I give them money, I’ll teach them to beg. I gave them two of the four toy birds that I bought from the kids in the temples. I tied the other two on my backpack, it’s with me every time I travel, a simple reminder of my dream and hopes of those poor children. Whenever I see poverty, famine, sufferings, wars and struggles on my travels, I weep because I feel so blessed for my freedom but I also weep because I feel so helpless. I dream that one day I can help not just one but countless souls.
But at the same time, I feel guilty because I am never satisfied. Whenever I see how the locals appreciate even the “simple and little” things they have in life, things that I disregard and take for granted everyday, I am reminded to count my blessings.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“That I am not alone. There’s a lot out there like me, but here in our country, they call it a “unique thing” and some people just don’t understand it and some would even preach to stop me from solo traveling but I don’t mind, I respect differences.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“It’s the faith in my dreams. I also get inspired whenever I read, see, speak with or hear from people like me and you. ”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
“Too bad Ernest Hemingway has long been gone. Aside from YOU (and Gay)…whom I consider my great inspiration in backpacking. (wink wink) I guess the famous “Mr. and Mrs.Smith”, their desire to help and travel is what amazes me. And oh yeah, my favorite international travel blogger/backpacker Dave of the Longest Way Home, his blog is holistic, he dwells on the culture,people and even politics of the countries he’s been to and he also tackles the ethics of travel writing and blogging. I’m a follower.”
What could stop you from travelling?
“Death and extreme natural disaster.”
Among the places that you’ve been to, which one fascinated you the most?
“It’s hard to pick, it’s like asking a mother who is her favorite child. I treasure all my travels and the places I’ve been to. I guess it all boils down to our approach and attitude towards that country. But of course I am, and never will deny I am a Filipino, so I always say, come and visit my dear Philippines!”
What’s the best travel advice that you could give a novice traveler?
“Can I just skip this? You’re no novice traveler! ”
“A few things I learned from traveling is never to be in a hurry in one place, as it defies the essence of traveling. Slow down, enjoy and suck in the whole experience. Keep an open mind and respect differences. stop the “backpacker vs. tourist argument” and “backpacker hierarchy” which is common in most backpackers. Travel guidebooks aren’t bibles, so discover new places, consult the locals instead of being too tied up with fellow backpackers.”
“But of course, that’s just me talking, you ain’t a novice traveler. I am!”
“Just another stranger in search of the unknown. But someday, i’ll make sense.” – Gael