By Martin Diegor
Javi Cang, 25, is a banker. He also happens to be a professional adventurer. In fact, he was enjoying the beaches of Nasugbu when I messaged him for an interview (from the ergonomic comfort of my office chair).
He once posted a photo of himself standing on the edge of a cliff in Itogon, Benguet. The clouds almost covered the whole scene, making it hazy and quite surreal, and I imagined what it would be like waking up to a scene like that after a day’s hike. “The fresh air keeps me sane,” Javy says when I ask him why he travels. And I guess that’s what the “investment” in travel is simply all about. I’m quite convinced that the real world is not lived inside walls. “I’ve learned that I’m an extremely tiny speck on this planet. We read about it in books, but to actually feel it is profound beyond words. It gives a renewed appreciation for life.”
The Huffington Post published an article recently that says people who take at least two vacations within a year are less tense and tired. Do you think it’s real?
Most people will probably say that vacations are for disconnecting from the world. I’d actually say that I travel to connect to the world, in a deeper and more intimate way.
It’s easy to fall into narrow-mindedness in the city, where lives are governed by billboards and TV shows. When you’re out there, be it on a mountain ridge, an island in the sea, or in a remote village, you’ll come to realize that there is more going on than just Aldub and EDSA traffic. Every single second there are volcanoes erupting, cultures blending from all corners of the globe, and oceanic tides drowning and creating new islands. To be witness to these broadens your perspective of what it is to be alive.
You mentioned in another interview that your mom used to take you out for weekend hikes. Which one is the most memorable?
This has got to be a hike we did at Mount Makiling when I was around seven or eight. I was always a restless kid and I loved climbing. While my mom was looking away, I climbed up a tree that was growing beside a ravine. The branch I was on snapped and it sent me falling 20 feet down the ravine and into a swamp. I could hear my mom shouting above but when I emerged from the water, I could only shout back in excitement! It was so much fun but looking back, it probably wasn’t the smartest idea.
How have your travels affected your urban life? Do you do anything differently when you’re back in the city, after a trip?
It can get pretty hard after a trip to get back into the groove of things. But for some reason, despite the long bus rides, hours of hiking, and lack of sleep, I always seem to feel refreshed. In most ways, I guess, it’s remembering the reason why I hit the grind every morning—and that’s to hit the road again.
What’s the hardest thing about traveling?
Without a doubt, it’s having to go back home!
Solo traveling or soul-searching is very common among young people these days, some encouraged by the notion that your 20s should be dedicated less to financial stability but rather in creating memorable experiences. As a banker, do you believe in that, or is there something millennials should consider before draining their savings for a trip?
I do not believe in that at all. Understanding your own personal goals in life should dictate your own financial planning strategy. Personally, to help fund my trips and expeditions, I invest a chunk of my salary each month. You’d be surprised by how many trips I’ve been able to fund from it.
What’s your best travel experience so far?
A couple of years ago, I took a train from China up north to Mongolia and made my way through bus, horseback, and ultimately by foot to the northern mountains of the frigid Eurasian steppe of Mongolia and the Russian border. I met a local farmer and stayed with him in his yurt. Despite our language barrier, he was a wise man and I still hold him dear.
The summit of Mount Everest. Or the geographic South Pole.