When you're embarking on a foreign trip what's the main goal of your travel? To relax, to discover, to learn? What type of visitor are you? A tourist or a traveler? A nature person? A beach person? Or someone who adores the modern lifestyle and the glittery spark of a city life?

There’s a world difference between a tourist and a traveler. 

A tourist is someone who embarks into a trip with an idea of luxury and to enjoy the modern environment. Someone who abhors inconvenience in traveling. Someone who has high expectations on state-of-the-art facilities and amusement parks to visit, And someone who always looks for comfort in the surroundings. 

At the Angkor Wat ground 

In front of Ben Thanh market in Saigon

But a traveler is someone who goes into an exciting adventure, to explore the other side of life, to experience the wonders of the world in another place, to discover something different from the environment worthy of a story to tell and experience.

A tourist cannot afford to experience a discomfort of getting lost, of being drag in a risky situation, of seeing a surrounding that seems stuck in the 19th century with no signs of development. But a traveler enjoys the adventure of discovering the unknown because experience teaches a different lesson of learning. It opens a whole new world of discovery and self-confidence, enhancing wisdom and unveiling courage. 

Life is a beautiful journey with many stop overs to marvel on the beauty of the universe. Chances are, these natural wonders might never come tomorrow and might be totally wiped out before we could appreciate its worth.

Enjoying the cool atmosphere in Saigon, Vietnam

I categorized myself as a traveler because I am eager to learn something new, I am not afraid to explore unknown places and I want to come home with a wealth of experience. I am not a city life person, I don’t like the morbid scene in the city and I am not fascinated with modern structures. 

Amusement park is also not my thing. I am more of a nature person, I am enthralled with the natural wonders of the world.  In a more clear explanation – I prefer a countryside, suburban living, than a life in the city. I like a subdued, tranquil environment with a natural landscape. Wilderness, lakes, trees, flowers and greenery enthrall me to no end.

Magnificent trimmed ground of Angkor Wat

As a travel blogger, one of the strangest things I longed to try is to take a daring adventure to a far-away land, to unknown places where my strength, courage and strong faith in God can be put into a challenging test. I always wanted to visit a place that most people never actually dreamed to be in, to a road less traveled where I could pluck an amazing experience worthy to be shared to the world.  

It’s not madness but simply trying to see the other side of life and discover how far my courage and independence would go and where it would take me, an experience worthy of a book. Because life is an adventure with so many stories to tell.

In 2015 I was able to fulfill part of this wish. 

On  Year's day of 2015, my two former colleagues in the University and I were able embark into a whole new traveling pursuit --- discovering two lesser known side of Southeast Asia, two countries not usually included in the travel bucket list of most Filipinos. And I am so proud with this travel adventure. I learned so many things while on the road, unveiled my courage I never knew existed and saw the other side of life.

Vietnam and Cambodia. They are sorely misjudged, dismissing them as unworthy to consider for leisure. Even just hearing their names, other people (even some of my friends) would cringe in surprise and disbelief why on earth someone would consider them as ideal holiday destinations. Because people don’t want to suffer in traveling, because they look for something else, something modern and luxurious which these two countries haven't.

Vietnam and Cambodia never leave an amazing mark to everyone’s imagination maybe due to its war-torn history, conflict and poverty, reasons that most Filipino travelers would never want to hear. But beyond these not-so-glamorous descriptions is a beautiful story of tranquility. I saw a totally different culture, lifestyle and environment, cool atmosphere and a surrounding that has slowly recovering from the tension of war. 

These two Southeast Asian countries offer a unique experience of traveling. In Vietnam and Cambodia, I almost felt, I'd stepped up back in time, to a totally different world. Saigon in particular (the old name of Ho Chi Minh City) is so lovely with beautiful parks everywhere. It's so amazing how fast they have recovered from war.

Visiting Vietnam and Cambodia is like time traveling, to a different century, to a unique world where cool, century’s old trees still exist. Relax, tranquil, strange and yet amusing.

In this recent trip, I experienced almost all kinds of discomfort that a tourist would never surely endure – lost in the street where danger seems present, endured hunger pangs and met strange people who could not speak nor understand English. But I carried it on and considered it as one of my most memorable travel exploits.

I was traveling with my two friends and despite some inconveniences, we had enjoyed the adventure.

Tge first inconvenience I encountered was when we entered Cambodia with no Cambodian currency. With no connections, no people to help us, plus the hard time of communicating with the locals, I could almost grasp in disbelief what kind of misfortune befell on us. But we survived, enjoyed the trip, laughed with our blunders and retired that night with a contented spirit.

How we did it? There’s only one answer --- be a traveler not a tourist….

This is my story of what it takes to be a traveler.