Tuesday, March 8, 2011

127 Hours and some Travel Tips

The moment you get out of your house, you already expose yourself to several possible dangers that could keep you or delay you from getting to your destination. Such is the reality with travel - or simply bringing yourself from Point A to Point B.

Travel is infinitely rewarding, but also inherently risky. Think about the risks of riding a jeepney, a long-distance flight, traversing a mountain slope, or travelling by sea. There is enough for the creative (read: paranoid) imagination for much disaster scenarios.

In 127 Hours - a movie starred by James Franco and directed by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle - the beginning is about the joy and fulfillment that travel brings. Aron Ralston (Franco's character) drives a long distance, bikes to the dessert, hikes, meets strangers, and leaps to deeply inviting blue waters inside a canyon cave.

Thrilling. Exciting. And picture perfect.

What later confronts the audience however is the damper in what was otherwise a great adventure - the dangers. In Ralston's case, he accidentally slips inside a crevice in a canyon, and by some stranger stroke of luck, found himself literally between a rock and a hard place. His right arm got wedged between a rock and the canyon wall. Ouch.

"Between a Rock and a Hard Place", BTW, is the title of the book written by the real-life Ralston from which the movie was based.

I will not spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it (go see it!), but I will just share what I took away from the movie. When I saw the movie, we were a week from our Mt. Pulag trip, so I made a mental note to share these with our participants during our pre-climb.

Here are some of them:
(1) Tell at least one person where you are going and when you are expected to come back. (Ralston had a habit of not leaving any clue to anyone what he is up to, so he diminished his chances of anyone looking for him, or knowing where to start to find him.) 
(2) Be fully prepared for the reasonable worst-case scenarios that can happen in your travel. (In Ralston's case, we'll he was pretty much prepared, but he left his trusty Swiss Knife which could have been handy.) 
Example: If you know temperatures can drop to as low as zero degrees celsius in say, Mt. Pulag, make sure the clothing you prepare is suited to help you keep warm in that extreme temperature. If the weather is unpredictable, never take the risk and hope that it is not the other extreme that happens to you. Don't push your luck. (That's a real lesson learned, BTW: In our last Mt. Pulag, temperature dropped to 2 degrees Celsius. We were not as prepared as we should have for that low a temperature. Lesson learned.) 
(3) Life is short, really, so you should make the most of it, realizing what and who truly matters to you so that it/they become your reason for living/surviving. (In Ralston's case, the memory of his family and a glimpse at a possible positive future (a wife and a kid) kept him yearning to survive. He had to risk much (his arm) so that he could claim the life he had taken for granted.)
Go see the movie. Enjoy your journeys and be safe!

P.S. ClubTravelNOW!TM has another Mt. Pulag trip this April 16-17. Visit our website for more details.

Book Recommendations:
127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Slumdog Millionaire
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel


  1. spoiler:
    would you also cut your arm?
    after watching it, i was trying to think of an alternative way to survive; was i able to come with one? nope.. hehe.. but i couldn't imagine cutting my own arm, nor even poking it with a very inefficient knife. guess have to be there to find out. hmm.

  2. cutting my arm would have been unthinkable. i would probably chew off the rock, hehehe.

  3. watched it and liked it. amazing how powerful a person can be if he/she does not give up even to the most insurmountable odds. one really has to find it though - the reason, the ones that give meaning to your life, and not let go of it!