Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines.
They say you don’t really know a place until you’ve lived there, but what does it mean to have truly lived? When boiled down, living, in contrast to tourism, is about building a routine—it’s about setting a daily task, a daily chore, making meaningful connections, and progress towards an observable end goal. Tourism, on the other hand, is about seeing and learning as much as you can while you're there—enjoying and making the most out of your moments. It’s about novelty. Granted, there isn’t anything wrong with one or the other (in fact, it's probably best to do a combination of the two; living in a place and feeling like a tourist. That way, you're less likely to take where you are for granted!). However, in order to complete the circle and understand both sides of the coin, you not only have to be WOW'd, but you have to learn what makes the WOW in the first place.
This being my fifth time to the area now, I decided to take a different approach to my stay and see what really goes on in the little town of Kalibo. From establishing an early morning routine of visiting the local Dunkin' Donuts for coffee, to watching a gang of school children partake in a pick-up game of basketball before their ROTC training that day, to gathering ingredients at the local wet market and bringing that home to make dinner; it’s all about establishing mundane, routine-tasks in order to create some semblance of structure amid chaos. Figuring what routines I would create if I had to suddenly live there. Sure, it's nowhere near the level of routine for someone actually living in the area, but it does provide some insight into the culture and mindset.
Observed broadly, I suppose the real key to international travel is 'adaptability'. It’s about being able to get out of your own way in order to understand and adhere to the prerogatives of others, not simply trying to dictate your own. Does "travelling" constitute being at an all-inclusive resort, spending your entire time on the beach, or does it entail seeing what a region has to offer by seeing beyond the scene? Perhaps the true traveller, like the true yogi or the true martial artist, is the adaptable one. Able to get out of their own way and see the novelty of a place where novelty has seemingly died down. Seeing far beyond the scene and into the heart of the matter at hand... but, in the end, what do I know? I'm still just an observer... Explore more.