A few weeks ago, I put this blog on a hiatus to focus on writing a novel. Here’s what I actually did in the Philippines.

Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, United Arab Emirates, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan.

I started my trip around the world on May 15th 2016. By the end of the year, I had stayed in 21 countries. On average, I spent 11 days in each country. Traveling at a fast pace felt fine in the beginning, but I’ve now started to slow down a bit.

Thus, when 2017 began, I decided to stop for a while. I flew to the Philippines for 3.5 weeks to relax and focus on writing. The plan almost worked out.

Arimo Koo at Palawan, Philippines

Since I’m writing about myself, I guess I have to add a selfie here.

Finding the Right Spot

When you travel, you easily feel an imaginary responsibility to see and experience many things. You might even feel guilty if you skip the “obligatory sights” or don’t get much out of a country. However, in the Philippines, I gave myself a permission to be lazy.

While I was staying in the capital Manila for the first few days, I didn’t do any sightseeing at all. I just stayed in my hostel (Crossroads Hostel Manila, which I highly recommend) and only ventured to the closest shopping malls to do some shopping and to get something to eat. The hostel had a great kitchen, and for the first time since my departure from Finland, I actually cooked a few meals for myself!

Simple tuna pasta of four ingredients.

Tuna pasta with four ingredients, the simplest recipe that I know.

Tapik Beach, Palawan.

I found my writing spot near Tapik Beach.

I was planning to focus on writing in the Philippines. Before I’d do that, I wanted to finish a few blog posts and other things that I had worked on. And then the days just flew by. I had already booked my flight away from the Philippines before my arrival, so I had limited amount of time at my hands. It also took me a while to find a great spot for writing, so I only spent a small portion of my stay in the Philippines writing.

In the end, I did work on my book project for almost a week. It’s still far from finished – I decided to completely rewrite the final third of the manuscript – but I’ve got a clear idea where I’m going. And because I know what I’m doing, I don’t feel any urgency to rush things. I’ll finish the story (a comedy about the end of the world) probably in the summer.

The underground river of Sabang Cave.

The underground river of Sabang Cave.

Almost Taking a Break

I’ve been on this RTW trip for quite some time now. As the road goes ever on, I’ve noticed how my travel moods change from time to time. Now I’ve started to pay more attention to these phases. If I’m feeling down, I wonder what’s wrong and adjust my way of travel.

This is probably something that I wouldn’t do on a shorter trip, but now that my life on the road is all that I have, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible.

And this is one of the main reasons why I didn’t do so much writing in the Philippines. I had the travel blues again and I felt quite lonely. I didn’t feel like locking myself in a room with a text editor. Instead, I felt like I needed to engage in more social activities. So, I spent more time with other travelers and I tried plenty of activities: I visited an underground cave, went island hopping and even tried snorkeling for the first time in my life.

Island hopping from El Nido, Palawan.

Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan. This is probably my only photo where the sun is actually shining.

People getting back ashore from an island tour in El Nido.

Returning ashore at the end of the island tour. We look like a very weird group of castaways.

I’m starting to think that I might be spending too much time in my (rather limited) comfort zone. Sticking to the same routines doesn’t always make me happy, as I feel like it makes me miss many experiences. So, from now on, I plan to do more things, even if it means that my travel budget won’t last for two years as I originally planned.

After all, what’s the point of extending your trip and cutting your budget, if it means that you wouldn’t enjoy what you were doing?