Friday, August 01, 2008

Solo flight

I started composing this blog post using a PC in one of the business class lounges in Hong Kong International Airport while waiting for my 9:40PM flight back to Manila. I was in HK for 2 days to take part in a seminar conducted by Arrow's US principal. I spent the first day, carry-on trolley bag in tow, roaming Harbour City and Ocean Terminal, window-shopping, buying bilin stuff (Yang and Ria's Pilot Frixion pens, among others), and eating a basket of xiaolongbao by myself. I was killing time until my cousin Kevin arrived on his flight from Manila; he's been working in HK for almost 2 years now, and I crashed at his flat for the one night I was in town. The following day I attended the seminar that lasted until 4PM, shared a cab to the Airport Express station with the licensee from Arrow Thailand, and because it was still early, whiled away 2 hours shopping in Elements and buying edible pasalubong for my family before catching the train to the airport.

Traveling alone is one of my rarest luxuries and greatest thrills. It's incredibly liberating not being accountable to or for anyone while exploring a foreign city. Granted, this trip I didn't exactly do any "exploring" in the strictest sense of the word, but even making my way from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central by myself to meet up with Kev for dinner had a sense of adventure about it (and trust me, with my horrible sense of direction, it was more adventurous than it sounds). Shopping is also an activity I sometimes prefer doing by my lonesome, especially when I'm fitting clothes, so I can take my sweet time deciding (no, I don't always appreciate having a second opinion available). I also love being in an airport alone (although I've been known to attract unwanted attention from, um, overly friendly men). Walking through a busy terminal makes me feel like an independent woman of the world. As a bonus, in the waiting lounge and in the plane I get to catch up on my reading (Love in the Time of Cholera, done at last!). Moreover, traveling solo allows me a lot of time for reflection, and after the month I've had, this "me" time was just what I needed to get the clutter in my head straightened out a bit. That I was in my favorite city on the planet also helped tremendously-- just being in HK gives me a natural high.

My plane back to Manila touched down around 11:30PM. In the car on the way home from the airport, it dawned on me that I had just said goodbye to July, and August was upon me. As tiring as my short trip to HK was, I felt it did me a lot of good because I managed to get rid of some baggage (the figurative kind), as well as recharge my batteries (maybe not physically, but at least emotionally). Now I'm finally starting to find the strength to get excited about everything that lies ahead this month, and the possibilities that lie therein and beyond. Ultimately, I think that's the underlying, enervating essence of traveling alone: feeling like I can take on the world.


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