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How one birthday party changed my life (aka how I ended up in the Philippines 5 years later)

It was a summer of 2014 when my super awesome friend held her birthday party in a little park of my home town.

“Let’s go on a trip!” could have Madli (not me in this case, right! I have an “e” in the end of my name) vaguely mentioned. The exact conversation is already in the land of Forgotten Talks and Conversations.

“Let’s go!” I answered sure of myself, saying it more confidently than I actually was.

“Where to?” she asked.

“Hmm, to Nepal?”

That wasn’t completely out of the blue. This weird, unexplainable feeling that Nepal is my country had been sitting in my heart since I was a child. Sometimes you just know these things.

Preparing already to conquer some higher grounds. I think 1996.

Next day I called Madli. “When?” I demanded her, already feeling doubtful myself. Insecurely she answered: “Autumn time?”.  As we didn’t have any actual excuses to get out of this deal (you can take a gap year from the university in case you didn’t know), we just added some countries to our travel plans.

Stunning early morning in Nepal, 2014

Looking back I can see this trip was the most important catalyst for my following travel career.

I will now copy here some quotes from our overly hilarious blog at that time.

“Weed here is cool.” (Thailand)

“It’s actually raining here already for several days. And like raining RAINING not three drops in two rows.” (Thailand)

“This morning we picked coffee beans.” (Thailand)

Enjoying being dry, Thailand
Didn’t really succeed, Thailand

“Hopefully we won’t freeze, but I guess with 38 degrees that would be complicated.” (Malaysia)

“How many times in your life you could hear airport officials and flight attendants saying we can do whatever we want on board, even play football if we feel like it.” (Malaysia)

Outside 38, inside 40 degrees, Malaysia

“Flying over Kathmandu and seeing nothing but darkness… most probably there was another power cut. Don’t be surprised about this.” (Nepal)

“First night we spent in a hostel where the next morning the owner fried some eggs for us on the rooftop.” (Nepal)

“All you need for fishing is a hammer, the bigger the better.” (Nepal)

“Like, it is nothing miraculous having a goat or a chicken in the backseat.” (Nepal)

“Finally he came and took us… to a wedding! So we went, straight from the mountains with our hiking boots and messy hair.” (Nepal)

Mmm, still Nepal, still in my heart

We came back. Graduated from university (hitchhiking to the graduation from Romania, this time with Ethel)

Will I make it to the graduation? Romania 2016
We have time…
Already Poland!
Made it!

And I went again. Hitchhiking, cycling, sailing, hiking. Europe, Caucasus, checked out Africa briefly. Back to Estonia. To go again.

Giraffes in Uganda.
Step by step, making it further. Spain
Maybe not so far…
Policeman fixing up my bike.
Playing with a wild bear cub in Georgia.
Doing important stuff in Singapore.
Managed to sail form Norway to Denmark.
Reading a story to a seagull, Portugal
Wales, just eating cake
On the Caspian sea, stealing Wi-fi from the captain
Sunbathing in the north of Norway
Looking for a spring in Armenia
Coffee break in Italy.

Enough of the previous trips. What happened next you already know. After almost a year working in Estonia I said to myself, “Madle, it is time for a new challenge!” I decided to discover Central Asia and Iran. Alone. It was a good decision, to listen to myself.

After nine months on the road, walking unknown paths I moved to Wales for a few months. Then Norway. To Vienna, to Berlin.

In Kyrgyzstan I didn’t know I am going to Iran. In Iran I didn’t know I am going to move to Wales. In Norway I didn’t know that I am going to the Philippines.

But here I am. Back in South-East Asia, Philippines. Doing something that keeps me burning, doing something I have been doing during all of my travels. I try to give my all to help the local communities with my knowledge and skills. I have taught English, edited international magazines, helped with communication and media, marketing, done interviews, photos and workshops.

Never grow up!

And I’ve been tremendously grateful for the locals for teaching me so much. Teaching me the things you can only learn by living with them. Look after reindeers, heat the yurt, pick coffee beans, train sledge dogs, photograph northern lights, cry, laugh and cook together, kayak in tropical rivers, contemplate over meaning of life during late evening hours, work side by side and go on lunch breaks, curse the rain and joke about the neighbours, see sparks in people’s eyes, feel disappointed only to feel happiness again. Things that I would never experience staying in one place.

Travelling moves something in me that usually is quiet. Going to Nepal I had no idea that 5 years later I am once again in Sout-East Asia.

It was the winter of 2019 in Estonia when I felt this familiar itch again.

“Let’s go on a trip,” I could have vaguely said. Exact conversation I have forgotten.

“Let’s go!” I said confidently. Maybe more confidently than I was actually feeling.

“Where?” I asked.

“Hmmm… Philippines?” I was hesitating. That Philippines is my country I felt when reading the description for the EUAV project. Sometimes you just know these things.

Why am I here? Because of people, supporting German Red Cross delegation in Media and Communication.

PS! You can also help while travelling – ask me and I promise, really promise that you will love it! [Contact us]

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