“Are you a beach person or a mountain person?” There have been way too many times that I’ve encountered this question, as if I weren’t allowed to love beaches and mountains the same. There also have been too many times that I gravitated towards giving a simplistic answer — “I’m a beach person, duh.” — just because I thought it made more sense.
As I was falling in love with the ocean, I had this notion that there was no way I could like the mountains, too. Like most millennials, I’ve become a huge fan of personal branding; in a way, trekking the summits instead of treading the seas felt “off-brand” to me. Bikinis took up 90 percent of what I’d consider my “sports attire,” so buying rubber shoes and jackets made me feel like a traitor to myself.
Monologue after monologue came: I’m a water baby. No way would I give up the excitement of surfing for the rush of a climb. I don’t have time for both beaches and mountains. I need to choose just one. If my friend had to quit surfing for climbing, I should stay away from the mountains at all costs. I’m a SURFER. That’s it. Period. No erase.
Falling in love, again
For the past couple of years, I spent my birthdays at the beach. I wanted to make birthday surf sessions a tradition, and I looked forward to my third consecutive one last February. But, life happened — my schedule got too tight and I wasn’t able to book a beach trip.
At the last minute, I resorted to indoor climbing to celebrate my 23rd. And boy, did I have fun! Although there weren’t any mountains involved, I instantly imagined myself as a mountaineer: conquering new heights, admiring the views, all while strengthening my body. Instantly, mountains didn’t seem like a bad idea at all.
In retrospect, beaches and mountains have a lot more in common than I initially thought. Plus, why should I have to choose one over the other when the Philippines is abundantly blessed with both? There are several reasons why I’d love to spend the rest of my life in both reefs and ridges — here are just a few of them.
Beaches and mountains — why I love them both
1. Both offer silence and serenity
Let’s start with the very obvious: Beaches and mountains both offer silence and serenity — some things all of us need from time to time. While others contest that mountains are more peaceful than beaches, it really depends. When we spot a beach with fewer people, we’ll most likely experience the solitude we need. Similarly, if we climb a crowded mountain, achieving tranquility is going to be a bit far-fetched.
2. Both are usually healthy environments
After a while, gym routines get tedious. Aside from being spots for rest, beaches and mountains are perfect for people seeking to spice up their training! I love how both mountain sports and ocean sports often provide a full-body workout. Plus, studies have proven that being out in nature is healthy. Even casual strolls along the shore or by the mountains are a lot healthier than sitting in front of the laptop all day! *Brb, packing*
3. Both are majestic
As a bookworm, I can contest that there is barely any piece of literature that views beaches as majestic. Majesty has always been an adjective for mountains, and I wouldn’t blame writers for thinking so. Mountains have this obvious dignity with the way they tower over towns. From the ground, we see them stand against the blue sky. From the top, we see the sun kissing its peak.
I’m not here to deny the majesty of mountains at all. But, I’m here to suggest that the ocean can compete. Anyone who spends hours in the water will realise soon enough that the ocean is just as majestic.
4. Both are picturesque
It’s not a secret that many of us travel for the ‘gram. Both beaches and mountains make stunning Instagrammable backgrounds! Or foregrounds! Even midgrounds! We’ve all been made aware of this since Windows XP. Remember those iconic desktop wallpapers? They were beaches and mountains galore!
5. Both offer lessons on sustainability
You’ll rarely meet a surfer or a mountaineer who couldn’t care less about the environment. Being constantly surrounded by nature, both groups are highly aware of the damages our poor choices make. Hence, mountaineers stand by the leave no trace principle as surfers constantly fight the plastic battle.
6. Both are metaphors for life
Miley Cyrus wasn’t the first person to compare life to mountain climbing. The activity has long been an allegory of one’s life journey; reaching the summit has always been a symbol of success.
Indeed, mountain climbing is a beautiful metaphor for life; so is surfing! As meditation expert John Kabat-Zinn once said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Life doesn’t always require us to climb, climb, climb. Sometimes, we just have to go with the flow.
Also read: How Travelling Made Me A Proud Morena
“Are you a beach person or a mountain person?” The next time somebody asks me this, I’ll be prepared for a better answer. Say it with me: Team bundagat all the way!