Maybe she is not aware of it, but Den Ramonal is living the kind of travel that most wanderers can only dream about: slow traveling. This kind of travel allows travelers not just to visit a place, but also almost become part of it. Den, a performing artist, teacher, travel blogger, and wellness instructor, among others, has probably been part of this movement even before she graduated from college in 2002.
Her endless wandering has brought her far and beyond, from Davao in Mindanao to Baguio up north in the Philippines, from Bahrain to Thailand. Her travels are important to her. After all, she is not the type who can be confined in one place. This free-spirited character of hers is reflected on the many jobs she has taken around the globe, which have afforded her to wander even more and get to know her destinations way beyond what guidebooks have to offer.
Her slow travels have given her the freedom to develop “stronger engagement” with the communities that she visits. In Bangkok, her gateway around Southeast Asia, she volunteers to teach English even outside what is called of her job as a kindergarten teacher in a private school.
“In my case, teaching those who do not have the means to learn is my cause and is always worth half of my 24. Along with some friends, we have been teaching English to the families of the 1st Division King’s Guard. The class we handle is a mix of learners with ages ranging from 8 to 55 years old,” Den wrote on her blog, Tutu on the run, which she keeps as a reminder to herself of the things that truly matter to her.
Volunteering is something that she is serious about and after two years of staying in Bangkok, she is now ready to take on a new journey. Soon, she will leave for Africa as a volunteer for an organization that sends teachers and education advocates to the area. Her dream of one day helping out people in Africa started 10 years ago when she first encountered the disturbing photograph of a Sudanese toddler who was inching her way towards a food camp, the photograph which had won Kevin Carter the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994.
“That Sudanese toddler was my reason for volunteering; 10 years after, she is still my reason for volunteering and I am close to making my “volunteering in Africa” dream into realization,” she said.
Read her travel stories here and be inspired by this person who is out to change the world with her spunk, grace, and beauty. 🙂
What won’t you leave home without? My camera Iko, laptop, passport (of course!), Havie (my favorite pair of flipflops), cellphone, watch, backpacking necessities, money, smile and taste for adventure! I actually have a long list of travel essentials but trust me when I say that I can pack them all in one backpack. 😀
How do you pass time at airports? It actually depends on my mood. I could be blogging, reading a book, talking to a stranger or just taking photographs.
Who is your ideal traveling companion? As long as that person is a cowboy and not really finicky makes him/her an ideal companion for me.
Describe your most memorable trip. I would say that all of my trips have been really memorable as I always make it a point to enjoy every journey and destination. But if there’s a recent trip that I’d say is special to me, it would have to be Pai, in Thailand. I just fell in love with the place and that trip triggered my decision to start blogging about my travels as a reminder of the things that truly matter to me.
What is the best travel advice you were ever given? Talk to people and earn new friends.
What is the best advice you would give to a traveler now? Make your own itinerary and quit relying on travel agencies or tour groups!
What is the strangest thing you have done on a trip? Rolled a joint.
Name an event anywhere in the world you would like to participate in? Mardi Gras!
What is the worst souvenir you have ever brought back from a trip? Bad case of colds and cough after continuously staying up until wee hours in the morning to hang out, party with people who smoked too much pot, not getting enough sleep (and yes, too much kissing, too) – that was souvenir enough for me.
Name a city you have never visited but would like to someday. Tuscany (Tuscana), Italy.
Name a country you wish to explore. India.
What would you say is the best part of travel? The people you meet and, yeah, when you unhook old ideals and remold them because you learned something more significant.
What would you say then is the worst part of travel? Scammers and obnoxious tourists.
If you could reside anywhere in the world aside from your country where would it be? Italy or Greece.
- All photographs courtesy of D. Ramonal.