Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life from a Backpack

The past couple months of traveling have provided me with some of my most eye-opening and brilliant life experiences.

Before I left, I was sure that after 2.5 months backpacking, I'd be more then ready to settle down again. What I found was the opposite - there is never enough time dedicated solely to travel.

I've only just delved into to this lifestyle when I went to Europe last August, as I am not including beach vacations and organized trips. I've always claimed that I don't have an addictive personality; but immediately I knew that traveling negated such a statement.

My purpose in moving to Thailand though, wasn't just to travel. I wanted to connect with a culture, people and place on a more personal level, which I have been blessed to be able to do. As much as I value living abroad, I have as many good things to say about the spontaneity of life from a backpack.

Flying to Vietnam by myself was my first proper experience traveling alone (not through a program). I can't put it any more articulately: it was totally awesome! Originally, I was meant to go with friends, but with our varying schedules, our trips ended up being off by 5 crucial days. Thus, I primarily spent the two weeks working my way from Hanoi in the North down to Saigon in Southern Vietnam with a new friend and fellow traveler, 28-year old Krista. She served not only as an ideal travel buddy, but an inspiration for following her heart in her late 20's, despite the pressures beating down on her from the outside world. She finished a two year working-holiday visa in Australia, and will spend a total of 7 months traveling Asia "solo" - although one is never really alone.

I never realized how many people travel on their own. And now that I know how completely unintimidating it is - I'm sold! It's as easy as it comes - you only have to rely on yourself; you can do what you want at your own pace and you can choose to hang out or travel with people as you please - or not. I take value in traveling with friends that you have built prior connections with, too, but there is something special about a trip that is uniquely yours.

When you travel alone, you are opened up to an entire world of interesting and like-minded people that you might not connect with as fervently, otherwise. I can confidently say that I learned as much from fellow travelers I encountered as I did from the places I visited and the locals I talked to.

During those grueling long Vietnam bus rides, I started plotting future travel plans. It was clear, two months was not going to be enough. In fact, the last month of my recent travels, I was actually beginning to dread returning to the stability of the working life.

But alas, funds must be earned somehow. Now that I am here, I am happy for the continued experience of familiarizing myself with a new place in Thailand. In the back of my mind, I am working to finance my ability to see more of this beautiful world. The prospect of my next big trip keeps my daily motivation and passion high.

I've learned that life doesn't necessarily permit for the type of traveling that I desire. Sacrifices must be made in order to put traveling as a priority. Many backpackers have quit their jobs and left everything behind for the road. As a budget-conscious individual, the money spent on traveling has brought me the greatest value for my dollar to date.

Because there is never enough time for travel - one has to really make it priority. I hope that I take this clarity and continue to make it a priority in my life - even long after I "settle down".

To follow are random pictures from my Canon S-95 from travels; as I had mostly only posted iPod photos along the way.
Koh Tao
 Koh Phangan - Full Moon Party
Hong Kong
Chiang Mai
 Mae Sai
 Parents visit: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Samet

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