Seems like this story was just yesterday. This is a flashback of what happened before I experienced my mind blowing, heart thumping solo flight experience. The day that I was challenged by fate to rely solely on myself. And the day that made me independent and comfortable flying abroad like it’s a norm. This is my story…
I still remember the most spontaneous question that I asked my friend a few years back.
Me: “Let’s fly to Malaysia and go to Comic Fiesta this December.”
Comic Fiesta is the largest comic convention in Asia held annually in Malaysia. I’m an anime/manga fanatic, so this convention is a MUST visit!
And well, surprisingly the sweetest YES was immediately given to me. My ears went flapping due to the excitement I was trying hard to contain myself. Ahh, imagine doing something you haven’t done before, that decision was a big step forward for me who is a homebody! What prompt me to ask that question to my friend is because Cebu Pacific was having a seat sale that time. And of course we immediately booked ourselves our flight tickets to Malaysia for 5 days!!
Fearing the challenges I will face when I ask permission from my grandparents, constant scenarios are already playing out in my head. Because in a conservative country like the Philippines, when you ask your parents that you want to go in an out of the country/town vacation. More or less they’ll say, NO. Why?
Here are some common arguments in a very traditional family when one wants to travel.
• It’s too dangerous. That “insert country/town” is dangerous!
• You’re a woman just stay at home and behave like one. (The worst I will hear if someone did say this to me, I might want to smack them LOL)
• You don’t know anything about that country.
• Who are you going with? (this is common and)
• Simply NO. (because they’ll worry)
• And the list goes on and on…
These are the common phrases you’ll hear that sometimes it’s kind of annoying to hear. I understand the worry part, but let the bird fly out of the nest. That day I bought my ticket to Malaysia, was purely me pursuing my passion of the dream I had since I was a wee college dame. My thoughts were so strong to make this dream come true that I won’t let anything stand in my way. I am eager, I am decided, I will make it come true!
Photo from way back 2015, lol.
Aaaand judgment day came…
I was so sure that I will hear the bitter NO pass the lips of my grandparents (who I live with), so I decided to tell my mom first who lives abroad. I like my mom because she understands that will and passion to travel maybe because we have the same zodiac sign too? Her dream was to travel to different countries as well, which did not come to fruition because she had me.
I first told her of my plans whilst being so defensive about it, even telling her that my friend and I already bought our tickets. I was like giving her no option but to just say YES. Desperate times call for desperate actions. Can’t remember clearly now because her answer stunned me. SHE.SAID.OKAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The times, days, weeks I spent worrying was all flushed out, out the drain of my worries!!
The best gift my single mom could ever give me is her TRUST and SUPPORT. I don’t want any material gifts. I don’t need money. Just these two and I will be deeply grateful forever and eveeeeer!!!
It is all settled now *yippee* to discuss me and my friend’s itinerary in Malaysia but… fate always has interesting random twists in life.
One peaceful afternoon while I was sitting at the office, I chatted with my friend and told her that I got the go signal. Then she went flooding me with crying emojis, at first I thought her parents declined. To my surprise her company offered her to work in Singapore!! I was of course shocked! And excited since that was a big offer from her company! Then, to my realization… Wait. I haven’t flown out this tiny island ever! Nuh-uh! What am I gonna do?? I told my mom I’ll be flying WITH a friend *sobs* Literally, I felt hopeless and just doing it alone is so foreign.
“These kinds of events are surprisingly what makes a person more independent. The way life pushes you into doing something foreign alone and with minimal help from others. This part of my life was an eye-opener. Right now, I’m getting the hang of it as I’ve done it more than thrice. I want to thank this experience I was given for making me bolder in facing independence when traveling abroad.”
Worrying is useless, I cannot waste money for those flight tickets, which means I can’t back out now. What happened to the passion? It kind of got burned for a little while. I composed myself, slapped my face, lifted my own spirit up again and… texted my mother. Phew! I told her what happened and that I’ll be flying ALONE now. And as usual, she was still cool~ I was so scared of getting lost, but was told that I won’t if I just follow the signs in the airport. Insert: I still got a little lost in KLIA LOL.
My mom gave me advice, even asking her friend to give me some tips when flying outside the Philippines and how to handle myself well during the immigration interview. Which totally helped since I have no experience at all and, as I mentioned this was my FIRST ever flight.
Along the process, I was being such a paranoid, reading the terms and conditions of my flight repeatedly, researching online the process of checking in at the airport and etc. I wanted to be ready at all costs! I know that flying solo for the first time will raise the immigration officer’s eyebrow. Why? Because Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, is the gateway to the Middle East. And Filipinos are famous for crossing this gate and working overseas and of course, there are illegal immigrants who overstay so they can work.
As I was told this, it made me realize, isn’t it fishy that a woman crosses the sea alone on her first time abroad. Those were stressful days when I was overthinking all possibilities that could happen to me. But before that…
GETTING MY DOCUMENTS READY
Did I mention that I don’t even have a passport that time? We bought our flight ticket in June then late August my friend told me she’ll be working in Singapore then on September I applied for my passport twice, but my requirements are still not enough thankfully, they listed to me the ID’s that I can get faster. Getting worried isn’t productive, and so on September of 2015 that year I excused myself from work so I can apply for my government-issued requirements that are accepted by DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). Out of the four that I applied, only one ID was sent to me, and it was from SSS (how I love you SSS guys, that was fast processing), that’s how slow they release stuffs because even now in 2017, I still have no update from the other three.
“For those who have just graduated college, apply for your government-issued ID’s while you are still unemployed. There are some you can apply for that doesn’t require any contribution before you get one, go and get those, I strongly advise you do. It will be a hassle later on noting that the Philippine government offices are only open during the weekdays which will overlap with your working schedule in the future. Boo-hoo to that.”
Early October of 2015 I got my SSS ID!!!!!!!!!!! YES! YEEES! YES! YEEEEEEES! It’s like a miracle!! I can finally set an appointment again with the DFA for my third time application *sobs*. It was late October when I got to apply again (because it depends on their system on when is the available time that you can request for an appointment), third time’s the charm, it was a very smooth application.
To lessen my worries because I’m not sure that time if they also delay in releasing the passports, I applied for faster processing… for an extra fee *sobs sobs*. Better have it early than later since it’s almost December and there was still lots to be arranged for our trip. These are our accommodation, itinerary, advanced bus booking (since we need to get to Penang), buying tickets for our other activities, most importantly our comic convention tickets! All went well with our payments and other things~ Addition to these are the documents like my COE (Certificate of Employment), proving I have a job and a home to get back to.
MY FIRST CHECK-IN
Nothing is more frightening than knowing there will be a lot of unexpected turn of events that might happen in the airport. The worst? Getting laid-off.
The day of my departure was hectic, I don’t know what was happening, but I can’t book a taxi to NAIA Terminal 3. After an hour or 2 was I only able hail a taxi to drop me off at the airport, urgh such a pain that day. Since I’ve read lots of articles online on how to check-in, I can grasp the idea of where to go first and what to do next. It was like a staged drama at the airport that day lol. Let us fast forward from paying my travel tax and checking in my luggage. The most interesting part is…. My experience with the immigration officer!
The funny thing was, I was sweating (a little) while lining up at their counters, can’t help it LOL this is a really HUGE event in my life. Or, maybe because I wore a blazer so I can look presentable to them?
Moving on, I picked a lady officer that I think is nice and won’t further question my trip. When it was my turn, I was so very nervous that I didn’t notice the “no cell phones allowed” sign while at the front of their booth. The lady officer even knocked on the glass so I can see the sign, so I immediately tucked away my phone so I won’t awaken her fury. At first. she asked basic questions like “is it your first time overseas?”, then comes the part where she asked, “what are your reason/s in going to Malaysia?” then I was like whoooah. I immediately said that I will be there for an event, she asked what event it is then I showed her a print out of the receipt for the event then she immediately let me off.
Thank goodness that I bought a ticket online if not, I feel I would be questioned a lot more. And I don’t have any identification card from the company I was currently employed back then. That company was unregistered and I resigned after working only a few months there. The only link that I can show the officer that I am a working woman is my “Certificate of Employment” document. So glad that she did not ask for that since it looks really cheap that it’s easy to plagiarize or do it myself. With that printed receipt from the Comic Fiesta event, my day was saved!!! Yippeee!!
From the start, my first flight experience is far from perfect. Hailing a cab too late that I am almost late to the airport, and the meter of the taxi I got in is faulty, I don’t know why but the fare rose quickly like every minute! I was alone, so I didn’t mention it to the driver since he might take me somewhere I don’t know. I was already running late and I’m not familiar with the area. To save myself from further trouble, I kept my silence when in truth, I was already fuming in anger deep inside! That day is the very day that I strictly promised not to take a taxi going to the airport again. It’s just not a safe option for a lone woman.
After all the hassle and bustle, the running and the stress, my flight got DELAYED. FOR 2 HOURS! The weather was not very fine like me. It was cloudy with a little drizzle, I think we have a typhoon coming that day.
It was a funny little thing but my friend and I did not communicate at all about the topic of, where we should meet in Malaysia. As crazy as it sounds, yeah, we lost our common sense back there. I was so busy printing all my documents that we forgot to talk about this very important matter. I even asked my other friend to contact her, which is not her friend on Facebook at all. Getting all the help I need is what matters that time.
At the boarding gate, they kept checking the weather and after a mere two hours were we only allowed to board our plane. My.first.time.on.a.plane.BABY!!! I won’t forget the thrill I felt when I boarded and when the plane took off! It was the best feeling ever! I even reserved a window seat so I can view the panorama outside. It was worth it!!
THE THRILL RIDE
Sooo, I’m not familiar riding on a plane and my first flight was plain SCARY!! I saw thunder outside and the plane kept shaking due to turbulence. My heart was pounding so hard that I just slept it off.
Aboard the flight, I was totally alone in my aisle. My friend was supposed to be beside me, but she rebooked her flight due to her leaving for her job in Singapore. And well, I occupied the row of the three seats. TOTALLY SOLO~ I just said I will be sleeping throughout my flight, but my eagerness always kept me awake after just dozing off. LOL. What can I do, IT’S MY FIRST FLIGHT!! Not much happened and we landed off safely after our four-hour flight.
THE QUEEN’S LANDING, BOW.
We arrived at night time and I was staring at how beautiful their cityscape is with the lights and all.
Upon landing, I saw how beautiful Malaysia’s airport is! It looked like a glass museum from afar and it actually made me stare blankly at its awesomeness.
When we boarded off the plane, I was not sure what to do next so I followed the crowd. As my saying goes, when I am lost, just follow the crowd~ Around the baggage area, I was clueless how I can get out of the freaking baggage area to the departure area. I was walking around and around quite a few times already. The area is being constructed so the exit was barely visible, I was desperate so I tried getting inside that small gate and it led me…OUTSIDE, FINALLY! And there I SAW MY FRIEND WAVING AT ME, SO I WAVED BACK AT HER!! The crowd kept looking at us, but who actually caaares now! We saw each other and it was a big smile of relief for me!!
My grin went from cheek to cheek! I was so thankful to my friend for picking me up at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport even though it’s her first time too. Directions and such are not my strong points so I urged her to come to the airport as well. Even though she had come by bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and actually the one who checked-in to our room, she still tried to come and pick me up.
And finally, it’s time to go to our hotel! We didn’t have much trouble getting there since it’s only one ride from the airport’s express train. Plus from the central station where we alight, it has been just only a short walk, around 7-10 minutes. When I jumped on my hotel bed, in my mind, I repeatedly said to myself “so this is how it feels like to be in another country”. It was a very foreign feeling that kept me excited the whole night until…I fell asleep.
Me getting the hang of flying solo~
And that’s how my story went, how about yours?
What were those mixed emotions you felt on your first flight overseas? Are you with your friends or did you fly solo like me? Did you get too emotional as well, or was it like a series of somewhat unfortunate events like mine? I know that these kinds of events are something very memorable, especially if you LOVE to travel. If there’s a television where I can watch my past self, I’d love to watch it again and again.
Have you got a story to tell? Share your experiences by commenting in the comment section down below. Cheers to more safe and fun travels~
Share your story…
You can metaphorically think of flying solo as leaving your nest and being independent. Don’t you agree?
- How was yours? Did you have a solo flight experience as well?
- Flying on a plane is a very memorable thing one person can experience, right?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The name’s Fiorucci (pronounced as Fee-yoh-ru-chi), I’m not Italian but I can eat pasta for a whole week…or a month…or more. Hop on my story as I travel the world ‘one destination at a time’ while juggling with my full-time work, freelancing and building my own business to gain freedom from this monotonous corporate society.