JAYSON CORTEZ



02.10.18      



Here at DEAKS_JOURNAL we had the pleasure this week of chatting to twenty-five year old Jayson Cortez from the Philippines. Jayson gives us his insights on “insta-girls” and hashtags in a world of increasing social media presence, and goes on to describe the kindness of strangers when travelling - particularly the kindness of his local guides. 



“I fell in love with travelling when I visited Armenia about two years ago. Since then, I have tried to travel as much as I can.”






What’s your profession?

I’m a freelance photographer, graphic designer, and content writer.



How old are you?

I’m twenty-five years old.



Tell me a bit about your background?

I was born and raised in the Philippines. I graduated with a degree in computer science and worked in a software development company for a year. I moved to Dubai about four years ago and worked in various fields - advertising, marketing, graphic design - and now I’m venturing into this freelancing thing. I fell in love with travelling when I visited Armenia about two years ago. Since then, I have tried to travel as much as I can, whilst balancing my workload.



When did you first decide to travel solo and where did you go?

The first time I travelled solo was for a short trip to Nepal, during March of last year. I just booked a flight - no research, no itinerary… I just wanted to get away for a short while from the stress and pressures of my day-to-day job.



“When people tell me that my photos transport them to that moment - it means the world to me. That's how I always felt photography should be - a medium for sharing the feelings and experiences of the photographer with their audience.”






What’s been your greatest achievement whilst travelling?

I think my greatest achievement has been being appreciated for my travel photography skills. When people tell me that my photos transport them to that moment - it means the world to me. That's how I always felt photography should be - a medium for sharing the feelings and experiences of the photographer with their audience.



What have you found to be the most challenging part of travelling solo and how did you learn to overcome it?

I think the most challenging part of travel is the language barrier. Not everyone you meet can speak English, and often, the limited local language you might try to learn, simply won't suffice in many situations. I find it fun trying to explain myself using hand gestures, sounds, photos, and Google translate.



What’s the weirdest thing that you saw or experienced on your travels, and in which country?
              
My weirdest travel experience was in Nepal. I was woken from a nap by my driver and as I stepped outside the car, I saw people crying. There was a weird smell in the air and an ominous feeling lingering heavily around the temple grounds. Little did I know I had arrived at Pashupatinath Temple - a 5th century public cremation ground and one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. It was overwhelming to behold.



Who was the most inspiring person that you met whilst travelling and why? Can you tell me a bit about them?
               
I’ve met a lot of people that have inspired me during my travels, it's really hard to narrow it down to just one. For instance, my guide in Kyrgyzstan who was a student but during the school break became a tour guide, my tour operator in Turkey that told us he would never leave his home for better opportunities because he was already happy and content with what he did, the German girl in Azerbaijan who cared more about life experiences than owning material things.



“My favorite solo travel destination would be Azerbaijan - for the food, the architecture, the locals, and it’s delicious tea!”






What was your best experience with a local and why? Can you tell me a bit about them?

I would say my best experience with a local was the time we spent with our local guide from Georgia. He arranged everything for us - from our apartment to our itinerary - he even took us to the best local restaurants. He even taught me a few useful Georgian words and phrases. Apart from that, when it was time to part from my friends and travel to Azerbaijan alone, he helped me buy my ticket, took me to the train station, and offered me two bottles of his home-made wine - which I later shared with my train bunk mate that night.



Where was your favourite travel destination so far and why?

My favourite travel destination so far has to be Turkey, although I didn't travel solo there. I think Turkey has the perfect mix of culture, history and sightseeing. But my favorite solo travel destination would be Azerbaijan - for the food, the architecture, the locals, and it’s delicious tea!



Where is the next destination you plan to visit? What do you plan to do?

My eyes are on Beirut, Lebanon. I really hope I can visit before the year ends. I’ve been intrigued about it for a long while now - its history, its cosmopolitanism, its art scene, night-life, and everything about it.



How can we make our travels more meaningful in this day and age?   

I think with the growing number of “insta-girls" and #travelgoals, we need to keep in mind that there is so much more to a place that taking that perfect Instagram photo. We should try to gain a deeper understanding of a place, its history, culture and its people.



“I think through travel I’ve developed this mentality that I don't always need to own a new shirt, or the latest trainers. Memories and experiences are far more valuable to me.”






How has travel influenced and impacted your life? Would you change this given the chance?

I think through travel I’ve developed this mentality that I don't always need to own a new shirt, or the latest trainers. I would much rather spend my money on a flight ticket now, than say, material things. Memories and experiences are far more valuable to me.



How has solo travel empowered you?

Solo travel has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. There's nothing quite like the feeling of meeting locals and having conversations with them - even if you don't always understand what they’re saying. Having an instant connection with people that you’ve only just met, and turning that chance meeting into a lifelong friendship.



If you could journey back to before you first travelled alone, is there anything you know now that you would tell yourself?

There’s so much more out there beyond your comfort zone.



Do you have a favourite object that you bought on your travels, and what’s the story behind it?

I’m not a big shopper, but I do have the most random collection of magnets, postcards, keychains, and what-not. My favourite would have to be the prayer flags I bought from Nepal, although I still can’t decide where best to actually display them.



Photographs taken by Jayson Cortez (Dubai, UAE: Sept 2017; Dubai, UAE: April 2018; Azerbaijan: Jan 2018; Manila, Philippines: Feb 2018; Bankok, Thailand: Feb 2018). Check out more of his photography here.