I’ve been driving across Vietnam on the back of a motorbike for the past 5 weeks. Jack and I made our way from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi with a group of fellow Canadians. Being on the back of the bike gave me ample time to think, but little time to write. So admittedly, I’m a bit behind. I guess I need to experience the story first, before I can tell it anyways. I’ll give further details about the trip itself down the road. For now, I’ll share some interconnected thoughts that I had on the bike, about passion, travel and what it means to me.
Passion can be defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something.” Passions can range from all kinds of hobbies and interests including travel, food, health, fashion, sports, politics, human rights, education, spirituality and so on. These passions tend to make their way into our identities, ultimately becoming part of who we are. Somewhere along the way, my passion became travelling. While I take comfort in knowing there’s something tangible I can label as my passion, I question where it came from? Did I always know it was there? And, could this passion fade overtime?
As a child, I remember being quite adventurous. I loved being outside and was undeniably curious about plants, animals and how things work. I certainly gave my parents their fair share of questions. Though funnily enough, I never put much thought into travelling, or what that meant. I had little interest in leaving the world I knew. My backyard was perfectly adequate, my relationships were supportive, my school was fun, and my town was safe and quaint. As far as I knew, I had everything I needed. In my early years, the closest I got to a plane, was to the ones flying 35 000 feet above me.
Back then I was naïve to many things, but especially to the diversity of our planet. At the age of 14 my parents took my family away to Mexico. Granted it was an all-inclusive resort, but I remember peering out the bus window to the houses, villages, people and animals, thinking just how strange everything was. It was the first time I’d been exposed to a different way of life, a new way of life. I’m not sure if it was that moment, or several moments after that, but I knew I wanted to see more.
They say once you get “the bug” there’s no kicking it. Well here I am, 14 years, 5 continents and 25 countries later. I still want to see more. When I question what my motivations are for travelling, I seemingly come up with typical answers. I want to see new things. I want to experience the world through a different lens. I want to eat authentic foreign foods from the source itself. I want to marvel at beautiful landscapes. I want to be immersed in a culture that feels unique. I want to meet interesting people who share new ideas. I want to challenge myself mentally and physically. Finally, I want to take the opportunity to explore our planet while I’m still in good health, with little to no obligations.
Admittedly, there are times that I question if I’ll eventually grow tired of the traveller life. Does my urge for adventure and desire to be on the road have an expiration date? Aside from the fact that it can be confronting and uncomfortable (as mentioned in my last post) it can also be lonely. There’s two things that I tend to think about – time and my relationships. I often hear people say, “Wow you’re living the dream,” assuming that it’s an easy gig to have. Sure, I’ve seen and done some incredible things on my travels, but the truth is, having this lifestyle means making sacrifices. I miss out on spending time with the people who matter most to me. I’m unable to attend many important events like weddings, family functions and funerals. I had three of my cherished Grandparents pass away while travelling. Everyone I know, including my two self-proclaimed nieces, are getting older by the day. I have baby cousins I haven’t met yet, and I see my immediate family once a year. While I understand this is a lifestyle choice I made, these are the things that pose question marks around it all.
However, I’m not sure if my passion for travelling is something I can just shake off. Stopping now, would mean dishonouring part of who I am. At this stage, I’m willing to accept the sacrifices. Regardless of my days of confliction, I’m not done yet. After all, there are still 2 continents and 170 countries to go! As Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “Don’t think about what you’ve left behind. If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back.”
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for up coming blog entries on Ski Lanka, India and Nepal.