The end of one journey manifests the beginning of another.

Press play first. And repeat.

I tend to leave little pieces of my heart wherever I wander.

On the last destination of the journey through my homeland, I find that it has always been here to begin with.

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Over a year ago in Costa Rica, I met an Australian woman named Tory. She had long curly golden hair that danced with the wild wind, an enormous heart, and a smile that lit up your corner of the world.

I told her that she had to go to the Philippines and boasted about its unfathomable beauty. One day, when she saw that picture of me swimming with a whale shark, she bought that damn ticket. We vowed to meet in a very special town in Northern Palawan.

So from Manila I took a noisy little plane that flew me to the island of Busuanga. Then rode a van that took me through windy roads and widely-stretched, green terrain. Cows were grazing on the meadows and the clouds were painting themselves on the blue sky. One hour later, I found myself in Coron.

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From Costa Rica, to California, to the Philippines, I met Tory again. Nothing has changed. It’s as if the time gap between our lives in those places never existed, and we picked up where we left off with more stories and a stronger bond.

We stayed at Coron Backpacker Guesthouse, which was built on bamboo and stilts above murky water. From our room you can hear the roosters crowing, children playing, the families cooking their dinner, yelling and laughing at each other. It wasn’t fancy. I prefer homey over fancy anyway. I always do. It was perfectly imperfect.

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The next morning we went on a boat tour that took us to Kayangan Lake, one of the clearest lakes in the world.

I looked up pictures of this place months before my trip. Hovered over my laptop, I lusted over the brilliant clear waters. I couldn’t wait to be there. My dream materialized. It looked exactly like the pictures I obsessed over, even better. But when you’re actually there, it’s something else.

I hope you eventually find yourself here.

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I swam alone to the other side. I sat on one of the rocks that were right below the surface of the water. Then I looked down at my hands, my feet, the rest of the body that I am in, and the place that I am in. Sometimes these places get too beautiful that I forget where I am.

And I forget who I am. And I forget whose body I am in. And I forget that I am human. And I forget time exists.

Then silence came. The kind of silence that was unearthly.

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They served lunch on a bamboo hut that was flooded by the ocean tides. We ate rice, eggplant with tomatoes and onions, and seaweed until our bellies were happy. The kind with tiny balls of slime on it, my favorite kind that reminded me of the summer of my childhood years.

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“Take me to the docks, there’s a ship without a name there
And it is sailing to the middle of the sea
The water there is deeper than anything you’ve ever seen
Jump right in and swim until you’re free”

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The next day I went island hopping with a bunch of Koreans and a quirky group of Japanese men. A Korean couple played matchmaker with me and this other Japanese man and he is seriously convinced that we should get married. In broken English, he told me to date him because he’s a handsome chemist who makes toothpaste flavors. He said this while his wife is literally feeding us delicious mangoes with her hands as we are having giggle fits. I almost told them that I have lost interest in Asian men a long time ago and wouldn’t date another one but I thought I probably shouldn’t do that in a boat full of Asians and ruin that perfect moment.

Language barriers are nonexistent if you have a universal sense of humor.

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Then we went to an island, with sands so white you would think you died and went to heaven on earth.

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I got lost in islands again the next day. I lost time. I lost the past. I lost the future. And was left with nothing but whatever was in front of me.

It was sublime.

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Whenever I would walk the path by my guesthouse, these adorable little children playing Chinese garter games would stop and say hi “Ate” (sister), and ask where I was going and who I was going with. I would tell them I’m going alone and they would always look concerned and tell me to take care of myself. I told them I don’t mind being alone and that if my light is bright and happy nothing bad would happen to me. I think they understood, their smiles reassured me.

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On my last day, I climbed up to the highest peak of Coron and sat at the very top.

Waves of emotions formed, washed, and settled.

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Several months ago, a woman stepped into the LAX airport with a big blue backpack. She was a little anxious of diving into the unknown. Her former fears rose quickly, but she valued her dreams more than she valued her fears. So she silenced them.

Her inner gravity pulled her to the other side of the world. And she found herself in places she had only dreamt of. She experienced things in the fringes of magic, if not magic itself. She coalesced with kindred spirits, and braved love once more. She unlearned and relearned. And was gifted with lessons she wouldn’t have learned through a book or a classroom. She delved into back into roots in her homeland, and found much more than what she looked for.

That girl, who is now sitting on top of this mountain, isn’t quite the same anymore. She realized that this journey is the greatest risk she’s have ever taken. Perhaps the greatest thing she’s ever done. And she’s never felt more alive.

On that mountain, she vowed to herself that she will keep doing this. She will always follow her wanderlust. She will keep taking risks for the sake of adventure. For the sake of her dreams. For the sake of doing what she loves and doing what she feels is right. For the sake of living the life her heart desires.

 To always dive into the unknown and discover the magic that lies underneath it. Over and over again.

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91 thoughts on “The end of one journey manifests the beginning of another.

  1. Amazing photos and amazing place and even more amazing blog !! Thanks for posting such lovely articles and inspiring lost souls like me to travel. 🙂

    Cheers
    Vishnu.

  2. Reblogged this on proudyam and commented:
    I want to travel. The world is a spectacular place, just waiting for us to come immerse ourselves in it’s wonder. I often find myself caught up with the careful planning and the ‘finer side’ of things, but reading post like this reminds me that the feeling of being truly alive and overall ‘happy’ comes from taking the dive. It comes from being spontaneous and taking the risk. You may not know what the future will hold but often perfection lies in simplicity. And the most important thing for anyone to do is to live. Simply living.

    • For me, choosing a mcaeidl specialty is easy. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work as a Dermatologist Tech prior to moving to Alaska. What an amazing field! No two cases are the same and more than one type of procedure can be performed in a day. Working for a dermatologist provides the benefits of both a private office setting and hours along with the experience of surgeries and unique treatments. Cyst removals and cancer treatments became the most interesting procedures to me and I can not wait to get back into the field!There are not many positions or specialties I would turn down when it comes to the mcaeidl field. If I had to pick one, however, it would have to be gynecology. Why would this be the field I turn down? I am honestly not sure. I must be lacking the gene the would cause me to be interested in the subject! For whatever reason I would choose to work anywhere else before choosing gynecology. Specialty clinics are like sushi I guess. How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?!

  3. Thank you for showcasing the beauty of the Philippines. I, too, have to discover more of our home country. I grew up there, and yet I never took the time to see the splendor that Palawan has to offer. Sometimes we don’t really appreciate the richness of our country until seen from another’s eyes. Your posts are beautiful and inspiring. Cheers to you and your next adventure.

      • The type of physician I would like to work for is a Pediatrician. Pediatrician’s sitpcaley is to work with children. I have been working with children for a long time mainly because I work at a daycare facility. I’ve got to a point where I feel like I can handle anything that will come my way with them. It would also leave me feeling good at the end of the day to know that I have helped in some way to make a child feel better.The type of physician I would not care to work for is a Epidemiologist. Epidemiologist’s specialize in epidemics caused by infections agents and also work with sexually transmitted diseases. I feel if I were to work in this type of sitpcaley I would be putting my self at risk of exposure to these infectious agents. Also I would be focusing a lot of my time on trying to not get infected instead of having a steady mind on what I was actually supposed to be doing.

  4. yes, Philip Shear, you must come to the Philippines and explore our islands 🙂

    yes, Satori, language is a barrier only if you let it…it never stopped me from talking to people when i travel….a smile and a nod and a gentle hand pat says a lot.

    a young friend of mine, met you when you joined FLow on your last visit…hope our paths cross somehow 🙂

      • marina…her family owned the compound where Flow was held.

        the batucada/samba group (toni and denise) are also friends … they used to be with the escola de samba de manila which i’m part of .

        would be nice to meet you…

    • Do you plan to write another AS pgarromming book or maybe, the 2nd ed. of this book which will cover AS3? If so, I’d love to see some exercises at the end of every chapter. They’ll be great learning aids. I really want to have AS book that is rich, both in content and exercises, just like my C++ Primer Plus book.Just a thought (or a request 😉 ) from me, your reader who likes your writing style 🙂

  5. Hello,

    I was interested in backpacking the Philippines this December (Whalesharks, Chocolate Hills and Palawan are the biggest reasons) but could you help me in recommending the top spots and/or route for a 2 week travel?
    Also, what camera do you use to travel and what filters/programs do you use for post processing?

    Thanks,
    Raymond

    • Hi Raymond,

      I use a Nikon D300S and use photoshop & lightroom. A two week travel in the Philippines is honestly very short. Just because travel time to go to the most beautiful places is an 9+ hour bus ride. Unless you have the extra money to fly instead then great! You should definitely go so the Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province, go surfing in Baler. Or you can fly to Siargao Island and learn how to surf their world class waves (Haven’t been but I will be there next year! It’s been a dream of mine!). And plus the island itself is unreal, and I’ve only seen pictures. My friends have been there and say the same thing. They absolutely love the island. Swim with whalesharks in Oslob, Cebu or Donsol (I went to Oslob, I heard in Donsol sometimes you won’t see whale sharks but in Oslob they always roam around there), and go to Palawan. El Nido or Coron, it’s my favorite place in the Philippines. I want to live there eventually.

      If you’re torn between those options consider this: don’t leave the Philippines without seeing Palawan, swimming with whale sharks, and seeing the rice terraces. But that’s just me 😉

      • Hi Raymond —
        if i may put in my two cent’s worth: You can start in Cebu so you can get to Oslob by land…then i’m not sure if you can take a boat to Bohol (chocolate hills and tarsier)… if not, you can go back to Cebu and take the ferry to Bohol….again, i’m not sure if you can fly to Palawan from Bohol…if not, you take the ferry back to Cebu and take the plane to Palawan (Puerto Princesa or Busuanga,Coron) from there…if you want to go to Banaue or Sagada you need to come from Manila so from Palawan, you need to fly to Manila then take the bus to Banaue then you might also want to see Sagada ( a personal favorite).

        i offer to help and if i have the time (and money, hahaha), i might even travel with you part of the time (if that’s ok)…let me know 🙂

        i’m happy you want to see my country…you ought to try snorkeling or diving here – it’s awesome!

        Irma

        • Hi Irma,

          Thanks for the tip. I really appreciate it. Could you send me a note to my personal e-mail (rchiu88@gmail.com) so that we can discuss further on my potential trip and any guidance or help would be appreciated. I would be more than happy if you joined me and shwoed me around if you know the area.

          Thanks,
          Raymond

      • Thank you so much for the tips on what to do. Only if plane tickets weren’t $2k from California. However, I may still pull the trigger. Safe Travels.

        Raymond

  6. Please don’t stop having awesome adventures, taking lovely pics and blogging! I’m living my wanderlust vicariously through your blog till I have saved enough for my next trip! =)

  7. What a beautiful post!! The last paragraphs are so powerful!! I have been living in Chile for the past 6 months and have discovered a completely new way of being just as you described…you’re writing resonates really strongly, thanks so much for making this!!

  8. me and my friends have been dreaming of going to Coron and this post made me want to go there as soon as possible. I love your pictures. Can’t wait to take pictures of it with my cam 🙂

      • i just finished reading this post.. OMG satori, why do u always give me goosebumps… how do u do that? making me feel what you feel.. i love the last part.. especially about valuing dreams more than our fears.. you are my inspiration.. hope to meet you in one of your future travels here in philippines.. i’ve read in your comment that you wanted to go to siargao.. well me too.. i haven’t been there and it’s in my bucketlist… have you heard of enchanted river in hinatuan, philippines? you should check it out.. maybe you’d like to add that in your future trip.. kudos to u and your awesome blog and your fearless adventure 🙂

        • It makes me happy that I affect people in that way because that is exactly what I set out to do. To share all the love and beauty in the world.

          I have seen pictures of the enchanted river! It gives my goosebumps every time I look at it. Just… magic. Trust that I will be there next year. And if you keep in touch with me we might just cross paths. Thank you so much for your support and love. I feel it all the way over here 🙂

  9. reading your blog makes me want to meet you and get to know you in person. you give me so much inspiration. i have always wanted to be free. coming from an orthodox family, its not so easy. but you! you make me want to breakdown the walls and fly high. travelling is one thing i have always wanted to do in my life.seeing all those pictures and reading your experiences makes me want to buy that plane ticket and go ! i am 18 years old . i have so many things i want to do but like i said, its an orthodox family, i can’t do as i like. you are one of my biggest inspirations. you show me how beautiful this life is. you are truly beautiful 🙂
    very soon, i will breakdown this cage i am in and I WILL FLY ❤
    PS:i love my family very much though. cause you know at the end of the day they are still your family.
    cheers, hope we cross paths some day. 🙂

  10. As always, AH-MAZING photos!! You have a real knack for perfectly capturing the moment. The photos reminded me on my week in Palawan last year, island hopping around El Nido and wondering if the colours I was seeing in the ocean were really real!

  11. Satori,

    I can’t tell you how much it moved me when I read this post. Your writing is beautiful! And the way you see life is even more. You don’t know me, actually. I just happened to find you, and I’m glad I did. I’m brazilian, by the way, and I’ve been fighting myself to decide whether this is the best time to travel the world or not.
    I’d appreciate if we could talk a little…

    Cheers,
    Gustavo.

  12. I couldn’t agree more about geirtarics. I miss sitting with some of the elderly individuals I used to help and they would tell me stories for hours about the things that they witness when they were younger, and the lives that they lived up to the point that they needed care. I have always felt that the elderly know how to live their lives better than anyone, and they for sure never take it for granted! Sometimes the people taking care of them are not good people though, and it always breaks my heart to see someone talking badly to an elderly man or woman.I like how you made a switch from little tiny babies that have no real experience with life, to elderly men and women who have lived life to its fullest and still have more life to share with others. Such opposites!

  13. Hello Satori, Palawan is now high on my list thanks! I still have many perfect shells from my father’s time on Palawan while in the army in 1944-45. They stand testamony to nature’s brilliant persistance and clarity of purpose. I’ve been wandering since 1972 after working on a farm in Norway and buying a van in Amsterdam. I’m just back in SF from China and ready for the next goosebumps. I hope our paths cross some day! coreen

  14. Satori, you have a extraordinary way of telling a story…the way you combine your words with the pictures makes the imagination come to life, become so vivid. Truly amazing. Thank you for the inspiration!

  15. Hi Steph, I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime now. Met you when I came home from Canada and met up with Tami about a year ago. I love your stories, your pictures give me goosebumps… So beautiful. It reminds me that there’s so much more to this world. My BF and I just got back from Thailand, but this post about Palawan pulls my heartstrings everytime.

  16. Reading this post- happened for a reason- as does everything… a lesson I’ve really learned to understand over the past two years… My mother is from the Philippines and I can’t stop dreaming of going back to explore the beauty of the islands… last time I was there was ten years ago and I was a kid so traveling to beaches and other places was not in my control … spent most of my time in tagaytay at my grandfathers ….

    Any advice on how to plan for this type of adventure? and traveling alone as a young woman… I am a Yoga teacher and practice Thai massage… would love to do a work/trade but who knows… 🙂 thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

    namaste.

  17. Amazing blog post, I’d say the wanderlust is running through your veins is the best inspiration for those who wanna dive into the beautiful faraway lands. I have read your advices about taking traveling photos and I appreciate what you have shared. Finally, I’m glass to know there are many people who love travel and willing to give others the encouragement 🙂

  18. I’m literally crying now. This is so beautiful! I love all the photos and the way you tell your story. You have a true gift. Thank you. ❤

  19. I’ve followed you for a while.
    I’m seeking myself, and recently I was in Himachal Pradesh in India, I came close to this realization.
    Thank you for being you, for you’re leaving a mark behind, I’m sort of like crawling along a similar path, but yet its different. I wish to be someday, as comfortable within my skin as you are.
    You’re amazing. 🙂

  20. I’ll be going to the PI in a few weeks and reading about your experience and seeing your photos (which are wonderful by the way) makes me even more excited to get there! Also, you write so beautifully in your articles. Well done. 🙂

  21. I have been reading your blog for sometime now. In love with it and what you do. But, this article is special, it gave me the goosebumps.

    Keep travelling and keep writing. One day, someday, I will find the courage to leave the life I’m living behind and travel. And you are the one yo whom I will be most greatful to. Thank you for being who you are.

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