No photos? Yes. I didn’t have photos when I was there. But, it is here, it lingers in the veins of my heart.
I left Philippines because of tax. Too much tax deductions on my payslip. And I decided to escape it with no plans on my hand. No Plan A. No Plan B. With my passport and my determination to look for job, adieu to painful ass tax on my payslip, I decided to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. I did not know if BKK taxed people. But BKK just popped out of my head, out of nowhere. Regardless, if it was a tax country or not, I just wanted to leave my country at that time because I was totally hurt of tax and can’t recover from my mental state every time I looked at the saved bundles of my payslips.
I was wild 26 at that time. No real experience traveling abroad. I was not scared. And that was really scary showing no fear at all. Bringing only Php 20,000 cash on my hand and a luggage, not the trolley one, a huge duffle bag. Only that. I told myself if something would happen here, no one would know. I was alone. Purely alone. My only weapon at that time was my power of reasoning and of resourcefulness. I was good in reasoning, and in communications. I always find options when things went bad or worse than that.
So, here I was in BKK. Rented a small place around 2,000 Baht (around Php 2,700) for a month. Plunged in on my bed and looked at the ceiling then my world suddenly stopped and there I was anxious. What would I do? What the heck I just did to myself? Because of too much anxious, I quickly got up, sat and grabbed my laptop and read about BKK and checking job online and sending some applications as well. What the! After a day rest, I dressed up and went to the metro and look for job. The pay and the offer were outrageous because I am a Filipino. Yes, I am a Filipino. That’s the Filipino offer. So, I turned those down. There must be something that I must know to get them. I was lucky when I was checking online when a school wanted to check on me through Skype. Great! No need to ride on the busy BTS (like MRT in Philippines). I was hired as a Curriculum Manager and would be responsible to develop that new school and to attract Asian students. It was a heavy responsibility but I loved that kind of grooviness so I said yes in Skype and Chitrayanot, her name, was going to meet me up in Samutprakarn after 4 days.
But, alas! Red and white shirts emerged. Riot’s everywhere. Bombing’s everywhere. And the last news that I heard was the Siam Centre was bombed and that was my grocery shop and a walking distance to my small home. And that in my whole entire idea of fearless was gone. I fled and went to Suvarnabhumi Airport, thanks to my mom who bought me ticket to Manila, back to my roots and to the painstakingly ass view of my payslip.
I skyped Chitrayanot telling her that I was sorry and was not able to meet her up and not showing up to her professionally. I told her that as a foreigner I need to save my ass as I was not familiar with the laws and cultures of her people. She told me that she could wait until I would be back in BKK. I told her only God knows when will I be back ,but offer her my help, free of charge, through online to develop her school. And continued my life, working in Ortigas Center area somewhere in PSE (Philippines Stock Exchange), as a Curriculum Developer and trying not to be drained with the undying withholding tax printed on my payslip. There, it is still in my head. And there is no story to tell.
P.S.: What about Cambodia?
Oh well, remember, I went to BKK with my passport only, right? So the immigration officer stamped a one-page on my passport for 21 days only. After the 20 days stay in BKK, I and other foreigners crossed the border of Daun Leum, Battambang, Cambodia from Ban Laem, Chantaburi, Thailand for 1,150 Baht per head(for Filipino fee only, around 2,000 Php) by van. Scary! Yes, it was scary. While waiting for stamping, we went to a nearby hotel where gambling was everywhere. Smoke was everywhere, too. I did not gamble nor smoke. First, I did not know how to gamble. Secondly, I don’t smoke. I ordered the long-lived-fave-of-all-time, dry noodles, Pancit Guisado in Tagalog while waiting for that. The Cambodian Immigration Officer stamped my passport for another 21 days.
I still remember how my hear leapt every time I reminisced my first abroad experience. My first encounter of an Immigration Officer who did not know how to smile. My first passport. The first experience of a cabin stewardess instructing me the precautionary measure in case of facing imminent danger as I was sitting near on the main emergency door. My first-night-authentic-Thai-hotel. My first sawasdee (thank you in Thai) in airport. My first Thai massage. My first Phad Thai and becomes my fave. There were always the first time. My first border cross line by land. My first long, draining and tiring sightseeing of the provinces: Pattaya, Chantaburi and others that I forgot. However, my eyes, my heart, my brain enjoyed them all. And they lingers in the veins of my memory bank.
These first-travel-abroad journeys were the most painful memorable and also the best experience I had. In this travel, I have learned something that lenses can’t capture but only the bittersweet memories only stuck in the head. No photos of memories. Not even one. Indeed, experience is the mother of wisdom and of invention, uncaptured or not, it lives in your most unforgettable experiences in life. Through that, you learn your mistakes. You learn to be cautious. This is one of my greatest lesson in my existence. Therefore, plan and think ahead. More and more, please.