I’ve been on the road for 5 months now, getting to Bali, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. So much of it has been incredible, but some parts of it have been hard. Some days I feel exhausted. Instead of thinking about where we go to next, I just want ground myself somewhere that feels comforting and safe. I find myself feeling particular vulnerable right now because I’ve come down with a mean cold that I picked up in Katmandu, which has dragged on for a couple weeks. I think the air quality is a big contributor. As a result, I’ve been creatively flat lined, up until now.
Any real traveller (aka those who explore more than all-inclusive resorts and package deals) will understand the highs and lows of being on the road. Sometimes, it’s as if you could burst into light from feeling so much fulfilment and gratitude, you simply can’t imagine being anywhere else. But just like everything in life, happiness ebbs and flows, changing on a daily basis. Some days, you lose patience with all of it. For a second, you even contemplate packing everything in, just so you can attach yourself to something familiar. Like the day’s it takes a lot of work to get from one place to the next. When your bus breaks down 3 times making an 8-hour bus ride into 17 hours. When a travel agent sells you the wrong train ticket to make a sale and you end up in the middle of nowhere. When you can’t book a flight online because international credit cards aren’t accepted. When you can’t hear yourself think because of the incessant horn honking in the streets. When unwelcoming locals stare you down on the bus. When the food makes you so nauseous you can’t climb out of bed. When you feel dreadfully run-down and crave unlikely homey comforts. When you order food from a restaurant and it comes out as something else. When you refrain from deep breathing because the air smells of pollution and urine. When you get scammed on a purchase just because you’re a tourist. When begging children try to get into your pockets. When you wake up in the night to a mouse scratching at the bottom of your bed. Essentially, all the reoccurring events of struggle that can make you question all of it, at least at the time.
What keeps me going?
One thing I know about myself, is that travelling is a hobby that feels intrinsically part of who I am. I seem to be my best self when I’m able to incorporate some level of travel and adventure into my life. I guess it’s pretty easy to be the best version of yourself when you wake up on the beach to sunshine and ocean breezes. Or when your biggest dilemma is what type of fresh seafood you want for lunch, what yoga class you feel like attending, or if you’d rather run along the beach at sunrise or sunset. It’s pretty easy to be the best version of yourself when you’re surrounded by snow covered mountains, waterfalls, springs and never ending hills. Or when all you can hear is the deafening silence of falling snow in the Himalayas, while breathing in clean, crisp air. It’s easy to be the best version of yourself when you come across people who are kind, helpful and genuine. Or when you make an instantaneous connection with someone, knowing it’s really important. These days are delightful. These days make travelling feel like a breeze. These are the days that make all of the hardships worth it.
I’ve concluded that the lows are equally as important as the highs. That’s what makes travelling, travelling. I suppose we just get better and better at moving through it. It’s important to give yourself some space to feel whatever it is that needs to be felt, good or bad. After all, lessons of value tend to show up once you get out to the other side. In the words of Martin Buber, “ All journeys have secret destinations in which the traveler is unaware.”
I’ve just arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. While our initial plan was to set up shop and teach English for a while, we decided to ride a motorbike across the country instead. My next blog entry will be from Sri Lanka, followed by India and Nepal.
Thanks for reading!