It’s all about the ex­pe­ri­ence and not just the des­ti­na­tion

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Car Culture - AL MENDOZA

‘The Ja­panese are stick­lers for keeping tra­di­tion. I envy them for that’

Afriend of mine loves to travel, be it to local places or over­seas. We share the same pas­sion. But while she loves to do it by board­ing planes, I don’t. If I could, I’d rather travel by land—as in driv­ing to Laoag City some 500km up north, or to Legazpi City some 500km down south. Tire­some, you say? No, not at all. Espe­cially if you en­joy what you do. Driv­ing is such an elixir to me that I’d rarely feel fa­tigued de­spite long hours on the road behind the wheel. And I’d rather that I my­self drive rather than any­one else, all the way to our des­ti­na­tion of choice.

Crazy, but that’s the way this dude of yours is made. Some­times im­pos­si­ble. Some­times too dif­fi­cult to han­dle. Some­times sane.

Of course it’s dif­fer­ent if the trip re­quires air trans­port, or even a sail at sea. But any which way we do it, my friend and I still travel to­gether. No choice. We still be­lieve that we are a flex­i­ble pair. But once she and I hit land and the final des­ti­na­tion is reach­able by car, I’d re­ject a water sail or a chop­per hop, even if the trip would be faster us­ing ei­ther of the two.

We are both stub­born. And some­times, we’d even go our sep­a­rate ways—she by boat or he­li­copter, and me by car. We’d meet up at the hotel later, and have a big laugh—and a huge booze party af­ter­ward. If there are other guys in the bar, we’d offer one round for each. “On us,” we’d shout out to the bar­tender. As John Len­non sang, “Life is very short and there’s no time for fussin’ and fightin’, my friend.”

There are many ways to make our­selves happy in life. Al­ways, it is in the rein­vent­ing, in be­ing able to adapt to things, to make liv­ing worth­while. By rein­vent­ing, you are will­ing to change, if only to soothe frayed nerves as a re­sult of stick­ing, un­nec­es­sar­ily, to a de­ci­sion found de­fec­tive later on.

There is one side of my friend that I find gen­uinely in­sane: She re­fuses to go back to a place she has been to be­fore. Whether it be to grand Rome or gay Paris, ro­man­tic San Fran­cisco or foggy London, her an­swer to a pro­posed re­turn trip is al­ways a re­sound­ing “No!” She’s been to many places in the Philip­pines and to a number of mem­o­rable spots around the world.

In one trip of ours to Mel­bourne, I got the scare of my life.

Upon land­ing in the for­eign land, we hired a car at the air­port for our own use. Re­mem­ber how much I love trav­el­ing by land? However, this time, we were in right-hand-drive Down Un­der. I had trep­i­da­tions about the drive, so my travel com­pan­ion took the wheel. “Courage, my friend,” she said.

In one rail­road cross­ing, we al­most got crushed to death by a speed­ing train: She had turned left instead of right. She missed a headon col­li­sion just in the nick of time. I didn’t say a word dur­ing the rest of the ride. But at the hotel that evening, we had a big laugh. And then we laughed again. Lose the abil­ity to laugh at your­self and you’re gone to the dogs. The booz­ing that fol­lowed the con­tin­u­ous laugh­ter con­sumed us till the dead of night.

Next morn­ing, my friend and I de­cided to sur­ren­der the car via the hotel concierge. And instead, we took a cab each time we went out. It was ob­vi­ously bet­ter to be safe than sorry.

She never flew back with me to Mel­bourne again—didn’t I say she hates going back to places she has vis­ited? Me, I don’t mind at all. My travel motto has al­ways been, “It’s not the des­ti­na­tion, but the trip.” Ev­ery jour­ney in life is a new be­gin­ning, dis­cov­ery, and ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent from past ones.

Like this trip seen clearly now on my radar: the Tokyo Mo­tor Show. The bi­en­nial mo­tor­ing event’s 45th edi­tion will be from Oc­to­ber 27th to Novem­ber 5th this year in the Ja­panese cap­i­tal. Ev­ery car nut’s dream show in the ra­men cap­i­tal of the world.

I can think of only one rea­son for its stay­ing power: The Ja­panese are stick­lers for keeping tra­di­tion. I envy them for that—they just don’t eas­ily end what they have started.

I’ve said this be­fore but I’ll say it again: I don’t get tired of cov­er­ing, vis­it­ing, the Tokyo Mo­tor Show. Since I got there for the first time in 1993 upon the break­through Mit­subishi in­vite of Mel Di­zon and Froilan Dy­tian­quin, there’s been no stop­ping me. Nis­san was my next host in 1995 through Tess Guan­zon, and Honda in 1997 through the inim­itable Ar­nel Do­ria in part­ner­ship with the now New Zealand-based Tintin Reyes.

After Toy­ota got me aboard in 1999, I thought that was it. My Tokyo so­journs were done. The top four com­pa­nies had got­ten me all to the Ja­panese cap­i­tal, so I thought there was no more rea­son to be back in the Land of The Ris­ing Sun. Zero re­turns in the off­ing.

But lo and be­hold, Toy­ota, through Vince Socco, in­vited me again in 2001. And again in 2003. And again in 2005. And again in 2007. And so on and so forth. So con­sis­tent was Toy­ota in col­lar­ing me for the trip that the rest of the pack seemed to have con­spired to avoid me like the bubonic plague.

To be fair, however, I’ve al­ways had this bat­tle cry that the first com­pany to ex­tend me an in­vite gets my im­me­di­ate yes. No ques­tions. But alas, since 2001, it has al­ways been Toy­ota fir­ing the first shot—and the bait be­ing dan­gled pretty con­sis­tently is al­ways done way, way ahead of the open­ing of the Tokyo event. So, can any­one blame me?

I’ve had it cal­en­dared al­ready—my 10th straight Tokyo Mo­tor Show un­der the Toy­ota ban­ner if plans won’t go awry. Any­one top­ping that in­sane streak gets a free bot­tle of Hibiki— from Vince Socco.

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