Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Disliked Angle Of The Liked Photos

I post a photo. 
I change my profile picture. 
I change my cover photo.
I upload an album. 
I get 3 million likes over 3 days. 
Everybody comments: “Lucky you!”, “Ikaw na ang mayaman!”, or “Amazing photo”.

The photo captures a single moment. There are other not-so-happy moments around that shot. These are the ones that do not get posted in my timeline.

Trip Planning & Preparation

Budget & Research
Every trip begins with an excel file. For the past 5 years, I committed 30% of my net income to my travel fund. In some months, I allot even 40% of my net income. Bonus? I dump 80% of that to my travel fund. It takes months of continuous saving before I get somewhere and take a photo that you can all like.

Not glamorous at all.

There's this popular travel-expert advice: "When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money". I don’t follow that. Nyahahaha. I am somewhat neurotic when it comes to packing. I’ve learned how to let go of bring my swimsuit, but I still tend to pack an extra dress or leggings, just in case “I would feel like I’d like to wear something else”. More choices, more luggage.

Airport Woes
I live in Quezon City. I have to go all the way to Pasay to go to the airport. Imagine my suffering when I have a flight at 6:00am. There’s the travel tax line, the immigration worry, the inspection points and all the other hassles.Granted, there’s still some excitement in having your passport stamped. But the giddiness is fleeting. The airport nowadays is something that I tolerate. Like the MRT.

Flying on a budget means flying coach. The good thing about being Asian: we are small enough to tolerate the space of a coach seat. I pity some Caucasians flying in coach when I notice their knees banging the seat in front of them. You’ll have crying babies or noisy seatmates when you want to sleep. You’ll have some stinky cute dude beside you. Things that you can’t control but you’ll just have to tolerate. You’ll get a crick in your neck after flying for 5 hours. You’ll be tired before you even reach your destination. 

The pre-travel photo worthy ones: visa approval and airport check-in. The rest? Boring and forgettable. Not profile-picture worthy.

The Trip Itself

You arrive at your destination. You are jet-lagged or sleep deprived. You have to quickly get your bearings when you land in a foreign country. Immigration. Luggage. Toilet. ATM. Maps. Train tickets. You have to do all these non-glamorous things before you can get to your touristy-smiley-shot. There's work to be done. There is effort required.

Brace have to line up for museums. Even if you purchased tickets online, you will still fall in line at the entrance, at the baggage inspection, or for the elevator. 

The line in the Accademia, Florence, Italy. Everyone wants to see David.

The line of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain.

It also means lining up for toilets. Dirty and smelly toilets. Even first world countries have dirty toilets. It means missing lunch because you are not done sightseeing yet. Or you need to go to the next spot because you have a ticket for the 1:00 pm slot. It means sharing rooms with strangers (who can also be your friends) and dealing with their mess and smell.

Hygiene can be compromised. No freshwater in Apo Reef. It was such a torture to budget your freshwater usage. I learned that soap does not bubble in saltwater.

Sometimes, all the effort doesn’t seem worth it...

We climbed all the way up Phnom Bakheng temple inCambodia expecting the best sunset of our lives. The sun did not cooperate.

Just waiting for the sun to set

Disappointed. No Siem Reap sunset shots.

The crowd. I feel your disappointment guys.

This is one epic trip... to forget. I joined a travel group in a trip to Mount Mayon and Sorsogon. It took us 16 freakin’ hours before arriving in Mount Mayon. It was a foggy morning in Legazpi. Our unlucky streak continued until our Donsol dive the next day. No butanding sighted. There were some, but we weren't able to see them.
No perfect cone for me.

A  runner-up of a forgettable epic trip: When I tried surfing Baler.

Dadaanin ko na lang with this standard photo with the surf board
Me & the surfboard vs. the waves. The waves won.

Those are efforts for local trips. Now it is different when you talk about those international effort-requiring places which are not effort worthy. I climbed St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. At the top, the grills blocked my view.
A super measure for safety reasons

My camera lens cannot fit these wires

Climbing the Campanile in Venice. I had to shell out €8 for an elevator ride. Eyesore grills as a backdrop. 

Smile pa rin. Please ignore the eyesore wires and focus on the city below

The elevator was not working when I arrived at Arc de Triomphe. How lucky. I had to use the stairs. When I got up there, I had no choice but to include the fence in the background.

After climbing Seoul Tower, there’s a glass "blocking" the view of the city. Can’t blame me from comparing that to the glassless view of the Eiffel Tower. It gets harder to be pleased with the sights (more on this one in another blog post, perhaps a different blog carnival).

That's it?
Minsan, minamalas ka lang talaga at hindi sang-ayon ang weather. You are forced to let the umbrella in your shot.

Oblique shot in Prague

Alhambra at night. I booked the tickets six weeks in advance. I shelled out €9.30 because according to Tripadvisor reviews, the Alhambra is magical at night. I felt no magic. I felt the same when I visited the palace earlier that day, only darker. Some parts were also closed off at night. It is something, but you can miss it.

Alhambra at night

Sometimes, you exert more effort, only to see the same thing over and over again. Too much ofthe ruins in Athens. I can only take so much of the pretty rocks. Like, the law of diminishing marginal returns principle applied to tourist spots.

Disappointing Italian Food. Uncooked pasta in Rome. And I thought any pasta served here would be divine. WRONG.

When photos fail
You can’t take photos inside the Sistine Chapel. You know the saying you’ll regret what you didn’t do? Yeah. I regret not taking a photo of the Sistine Chapel. I should've risked it.

There's one thing I loved from my epic fail trip to Donsol: the firefly tour in Donsol. But I cannot take a decent photo of a firefly in the dark.

Pramis, may fireflies jan.

I dreamed of a picturesque profile picture in Santorini. There will be this mountain with white structures in the background. Along with the clear skies and blue water. But the strong wind overruled my perfect hair. 

Windy shot in Santorini.

Behind the scenes. The effort that it takes to get that shot.
If you look beyond the rolling hills of Batanes, there’s actually cow and goat poop all over these hills. Be careful when you walk around. Check twice before you sit. You might sit on sh*t.

Careful with the poop. Beautiful rolling hills view though.

A simple selfie is not always simple to execute. We needed light and diffuser assistance when we were taking selfie shots with the Petronas Towers in the background. Activate the assistive light function in the phone and use a hat as a diffuser.

My Amigas, Sarah and Beth helping each other out.

The effort it took to get this dramatic photo in Biri?
Black and white ang drama

We were hauled off in a boat going to the rock formations. We didn't want to thread in the swamp again.

Sige kuya, pull! Kaya mo kami!

If you see a photo of someone with the Arc de Triomphe at the center, that is a buwis-buhay shot. Getting in that spot means standing in the middle of the road.

Thanks to the crazy strangers who took this shot for me.

And after all your efforts, you just get unlucky. I was traveling solo in Nara and I set my camera in a tripod. I wanted to have a photo while feeding the wild deer. Unfortunately, they are really wild. The deer in Nara broke my camera.

The final shot before my camera broke.

Disappointed in a first-world country
Everyone complains about the MRT nowadays and how "grabe hindi na uunlad ang Pilipinas" all because of MRT situation. The endless lines are insufferable. I can completely empathize with those sentiments as I was an MRT-commuter for 7 years for my life: Quezon City to Makati, every day. However, the lines and the crowd are just as bad in Tokyo and Paris during rush hour. Even worse, some lines in the Paris metro smell like the toilet. Yuck. The trains may be more modern in other countries but the crowd is just as bad.

There are tourists...everywhere
Everyone is out to explore the world. At the same spot. At the same time.

Mona Lisa did not evoke any feelings from me.

It is very difficult to own a frame in Angkor Wat. You'll have to patiently wait under the hot sun before you can have the frame all to yourself. Be quick in snapping the photos.
Ansaya na ng pose ko eh. May photobummer.

I hated Chatuchak Weekend Market. I know how to shop, I even like shopping up to some extent. But this open market is just crazy. Too many shops, too many choices, too much ground to cover. Too many people. Too many vendors. Overwhelming. Not fun. 

Nikko, Japan. ToshoguShrine was a blockbuster hit among the tourist. Lavishly decorated. Heavily ornamented. It is wonderful, but I find the details too overwhelming to appreciate. And the crowds... the crowd!!!! And it was raining that day!!! 

The tourists with their umbrellas

I had this vision of Pagudpud being a white-sand beach as depicted in the postcards in National Book Store (go find one and compare). After our long bus ride going to Pagudpud, the beach underwhelmed me. And it was raining. 
Raining in Pagudpud

 Crossed from Ilocos to Guimaras. Underwhelming as well.
Not as white as in the photos
Trekked in Batad going to Tapiyas Falls. Raining. The reward? Muddy and murky waterfalls. Not captivating.


When restorations take away some of the magic.
Cologne Cathedral with the crane
Sagrada Familia with more cranes

Lost. Tired. Exlausted. 

On the train going to Athens. Photo taken by my EU 2013 travel buddy.

After The Amazing Trip

Jet lag. 
Weight gain. 
Insect bites.
10,000 emails in your work inbox. 
Choosing the photos to upload and share. 

You’ll be telling your adventure again and again to your friends. Some would be jealous. Some would remember the difficulties, and focus on those instead of asking about the happy parts.  

16 hours yung bus ride? 18 hours yung flight? 
Higanteng alon? May niknik sa camping site? 
Walang freshwater? Walang lifevest? Walang ATM? Walang kuryente sa umaga?
(me: mga bitter kayo!)

Despite all these inconveniences, you still book your next flight.
Traveling does not equate to a relaxed vacation. 

Glam? Nah.

Fun? Yeah. 

This is my entry to this month's Pinoy Travel Bloggers Carnival with the theme Traveling: When Fact is Really Fiction hosted by Kaiz Galang of the Miss Backpacker.

Other stories to live by - on previous PTB Blog Carnivals at Langyaw's Blog Carnivals compilation


  1. Hi Loraine! Ramdam na ramdam ko ang failure ng ibang trips mo. :D But does that make us stop from exploring places? No. It only keeps us wanting for more. Thanks for joining! Had fun reading your entry. :)

  2. bakit kaya ganun? when youre on the road andaming nakakastress na pangyayari but after your trip and you look back parang dun na masarap balikbalikan.yung mga di masyadong pleasant na experience pa nga ang masarap i -kwento minsan.basta ako i anticipate those mishaps during a trip and i make sure na they dont ruin the whole trip,wag lang major mishap.i didnt know may elevator pala yung arch de triomphe nayun.nag stairs ako e and i under estimated it.nice post to.

  3. I totally relate to this! :) Traveling is a brutality, as the saying goes. It's hard, but yes, it's fun. That's why we keep planning that next trip.

    So far, all the trips I took were worth the inconveniences I faced. :)

  4. This is a brilliant blog post. Makes us appreciate the beautiful pictures because of the effort it took to capture the moment and scenery. But, really, being there and getting the experience really beats just getting pictures, yeah? Here's to more glamorous-and-not-glamorous-but-equally-priceless travels!

  5. I can totally relate. I remember when I saw the cranes on the disappointing! Still, I wouldn't give up traveling for these failed expectations. It's still very much worth it!

  6. I didn't climb up the tower it self sa Seoul.... coz of the same reason all of the photos that I saw on the net.... well okay there are a few naman that was okay..... but yeah most of them have these reflections on the glass.... yung iba medyo marumi pa yung glass.... and ang daming tao that night coz it was a I just opted to just take photos on the view decks.... i thought na it was high enough nanaman.... pero sabi nga nila nasa huli ang panghihinayang... I still wish I have gone up there for the experience manlang... =)

  7. Wow, it's so refreshing to see people who are passionate about traveling. Seeing others travel inspires me to travel more. :)

  8. Such a good read. Thanks for this!


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