Tuesday, July 22, 2003

death to lonely planet (or why I vehemently abominate overland trips)

One of our clients has a requirement that entails me going south of Manila (yes, another morning of getting up at 5AM tomorrow).

Other people have no issue with the distance, but to me, anything beyond Magallanes is already “out-of-town” – implying a need to prepare the panoply of things needed for a long trip like a suitcase, Imodium and foreign currency.

Friends know that getting me to agree to go anywhere beyond the city environs is no mean feat (traveling by plane to the provinces or abroad is a different matter). Here’s the reason why.

One summer when I was around eleven or twelve, my mother decided that the entire extended family and hangers-on would spend the holidays at Fort Ilocandia in the hinterlands of the North.

I didn’t want to go, having already made plans to spend the summer doing nothing at all. Well, maybe buying new comics, raising my fish or reading old books. Something like that. I was feeling quite anti-social.

My mother did not take my refusal nicely and forced me to pack my bags under dire threats that only a mother choosing to horrible can utter. Furthermore, since I was a bad banana, I was forbidden to ride either the van or the car with the family. Instead, I had to take the bus by myself.

Little did I know that the bus ride would take 15 years. I spent hours upon hours upon hours trapped in a sealed air-conditioned bus inhaling the stench of some unhappy kid’s vomit and the triggered mega-perfume blasts of the lady across the aisle from me. The bus moved at a snail’s pace and thousands of light years would pass before the driver decided that it was a good idea to let me pee.

I arrived at Fort Ilocandia emasculated by my experience.

Something broke inside of me and thereafter whenever I had to ride any land vehicle for more than an hour or so, I am beset by nausea, discomfort, dizziness and an unhealthy mix of real and psychosomatic symptoms. I whine and bitch and yell and groan and fiddle and scratch at the windows, pick at the seat cushions, rattle the headrest of the driver while my inner child rages, rages at the dying of the light.

I go stir crazy. My ennui level is always crimson, a perfect 10 danger rating. I become very very very ugly.

I need to be pacified. I need to be distracted. I need to be entertained. Or just tranquilized and woken up when we arrive at whatever godforsaken beach we’re going to (though it better be better than jaw-droppingly beautiful – the place must must be at least achingly sublime… or else).

I don’t believe in seeing nature up close – if I actually have to ride a land vehicle to get there.

I’d rather take a plane, then a short (up to 30 minutes) ride to whatever sight or view, do the requisite “ooh, how lovely” and then return to the hotel, take a long hot bath and order room service.

Lonely Planet can go screw itself.


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