Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Vacation reflection

On the day my friends and I left for Singapore, I ran into a family friend at the airport. He asked me where I was headed, and then followed it up with the usual question: "Business?" And I took great satisfaction in being able to give the unusual reply, "No, vacation!", delivered with a bright grin.

Of course at the time, I was still hopping with excitement, anticipating a week of fun R&R. 6 days later, on our last night in KL, as we were wearily stuffing our suitcases with the spoils of shopping, I was actually looking forward to going home to a massage and a long, uninterrupted night's sleep.

Why is it that the word "vacation" evokes mental images of calm and relaxation, when in reality it is one of the most taxing and stressful activities we human beings are mad enough to undertake? The traveling itself wreaks havoc with our system, whether it's by air, sea or land. Then walking long distances on tours or shopping sprees is murder on our feet. Adjusting to climate and time changes also takes its toll, and lousy hotel rooms, bad food, crooked locals and inept tour guides don't make things any more enjoyable. We come home from vacations more worn out and tired than when we first set out. So why do we even bother?

Because sometimes we get upgraded to business class. Because we get to show off our multi-lingual talents. Because we get to know some interesting people in tour groups. Because we get to meet up with relatives who live abroad. Because we get to practice our math skills by multiplying the exchange rate in our heads over and over. Because we get to take silly photographs in front of famous monuments. Because we get to see exotic wildlife and spectacular sunsets. Because we get to scope out cute guys while waiting in long lines. Because we get to ride Asia's first hang-gliding rollercoaster. Because we get to go up the world's second tallest building. Because we get to sample local delicacies and desserts. Because we get to buy loads of pasalubong for family and friends.

And because, at the end of it all, we get to come home to what's familiar and safe and beloved. To a country that may not be as progressive or clean or safe as its neighbors, but is and will always be where we belong. To the sights, sounds and smells of a city that are warm, friendly and comfortable. To people who speak, think and behave like us, and who will listen to us rant and rave about our escapades abroad.

The overweight luggage, the overpriced souvenirs, the aching muscles, the sleep deprivation, the grungy hotel towels, the rotten taxi drivers, the confusing maps, the alien menus are the price we pay for exposure to different cultures, unique experiences in foreign environments, and a deeper appreciation of our own distinct identity and rich heritage as a people and as a nation.

Bring on the next exciting, exhausting, excruciating vacation.

8 Comments:

At Wednesday, May 03, 2006, Anonymous jen ong said...

How did you get upgraded to business class?? I have more insightful comments to your entry which I will post once I come back from my lunch :)

 
At Thursday, May 04, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

It's called charm, my dear. ;p

Haha, but seriously, I just flashed my magic little Mabuhay Miles card. The perks of being a frequent flyer. :)

 
At Thursday, May 04, 2006, Anonymous jen ong said...

Whaat? I show my frequent flyer card too and I never get upgraded! :( Oh btw, I'm gonna be home on Saturday night. Had to cut my trip short because of my interview for Singapore. :)

 
At Thursday, May 04, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

I'm sorry you have to cut your vacation short, but I'm also glad you're coming back. Dr. Evil was beginning to get lonely without Mini-me around, haha.

 
At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger denfan said...

the lure of wanderlust is its own bane and its own reward :)

 
At Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Hi Atsi Fan! Yeah, too true. Even when it comes to travel, it's no pain, no gain. Haha.

 
At Thursday, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great entry

 
At Friday, May 12, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thanks... Ange? Hehe.

 

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