Step into my shoes for a moment. It’s early 2022. The pandemic’s been raging for the better part of two years, you’ve been imprisoned in your own backyard for all that time due to border closures, you’re bent over from work stress at a job that you loathe, all the news that you see on the telly or read on the inter-webs is either bad or flipping-heck-that’s-bad – in short, you’re completely at your wit’s end and in desperate need of a proper holiday.
So, where to?
Japan? Your favourite destination, your twice-or-more-each-year habit before corona ruined everything, your happy place in this vale of tears…nope, sorry, they’re closed. (And still closed to this day, except for stiflingly restricted bubble-type group tours which are, to be frank, a really really stupid idea and a complete non-starter in my book.)
Korea? Your other favourite destination, your…okay let me cut you off, they’re closed. (Sure they’re open now, but not in the first part of 2022 when our story takes place.)
Well, have you considered domestic tourism? You live in the Philippines, a country famous for its incredible beaches and fantastic island resorts and tropical weather…oh right. You HATE beaches. You’re not keen on resorts. And you’re sick of the tropical heat. (Just to hammer home the point: you’ve visited all 47 prefectures of Japan, but you’ve never been to Boracay and have no plans of ever going there.) Let’s be clear, you’re proud to be Filipino and very happy indeed to call the Philippines home; it’s just hard to buy into the idea of domestic travel when you’re obsessed with Japanese trains and Japanese castles and none of those are in your own backyard. Okay, let’s keep looking.
So, a place with cooler weather and lots of the things you’re interested in. Museums, trains, architecture, all the rest. Your thoughts turn to Europe. Then you start whittling down a shortlist. First time overseas in two years – let’s keep things as easy and as stress-free as possible. Skip any countries that require pre-departure tests; that’ll be a major source of anxiety. Choose a country whose language you’re already familiar with, so that there’s no pressure to learn the local lingo at short notice.
Hmm, the UK ticks all of those boxes.
Congratulations – the choice is made.