Saturday, August 20, 2016

How wild it was, to let it be: a love letter to travel and my natural state of movement

One of the questions I get most often regarding my travel habits is something along the lines of, "Why do you travel so much? Do you hate America or something?" The answer is simple: travel is my biggest love. (For the record no, I do not "hate America or something.") Ever since I got that first taste of travel from my 2008 trip to China, I have been chasing that illustrious siren's call ever since.

To travel is my fate. Case in point,  I scoured the internet to hear some great minds had to say about the desire to move, see more, and live an adventurous life filled with global exploration. During my search, I read a quote from Wild by Cheryl Strayed that goes, "How wild it was, to let it be" from her book Wild. When I was in Kuala Lumpur, I quickly scanned the free bookshelf at my hostel only to see a copy of Wild with a note scribbled inside by the previous owner about her own love of travel. I was meant to read that quote and then find that book while in Malaysia, just like I am meant to travel, explore, wander.

Scattered throughout my own reasons for loving travel, I included some magical quotes from other adventurous souls about their own wanderlust.

Dear travel,

Thank you for being both a constant companion and something I will spend the rest of my life chasing. I love you travel for the way you make me feel, change me, and teach me.

First and foremost, travel makes me feel closer to the world, like a global citizen, connected to this incredible planet we call earth. No other feeling compares to the sentiment of feeling close to the world. For comparison, this feeling is similar to the one that I, along with many others, get when they spend time in nature. When traveling, I  marvel as the vastness of our world and I remember what a small part of the world I actually embody. But even those small parts of the world make a huge difference. In learning about other people, cultures, and places, I feel a closeness to the world that I cannot express in words.

Travel makes one modest: one sees what a tiny place one occupies in the world--Gustave Flaubert, author

Traveling empowers me. When I search destinations to visit, I often stumble upon articles and tips for female travelers, or articles about why women shouldn't go to certain places alone. While I agree safety should be a top priority for all travelers, not just women, traveling makes me feel like I can do anything. This is a feeling I first had while in Prague on my first ever solo trip.  After this trip, I knew nothing could ever stop me and that I am the only thing standing in my way. When I am sauntering around the globe, I have no one to rely on but myself or a few travel companions. Very quickly, traveling taught me I can handle more than I ever thought I could. I constantly seek this feeling of control and the ability to do anything.

Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” – Hannah Arendt

Travel teaches me about myself. When I move from place to place, I spend more time than I would like to admit reflecting, journaling, and thinking about life. Each place I visit changes me, and every time I go somewhere new, I become more myself than I was before. Every city, town, place, experience makes me the more complete, whole, and fuels me to continue finding myself.

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls--Anais Nin, author

I want to do, feel, experience, try, love, and explore anything and everything I can. I want to see what else is out there, what lies beyond my comfort zone, my bubble, my consciousness. One feeling that terrifies me is regret; I want to regret nothing in this life so I take each opportunity that arises to explore. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it isn't, but at the end of the day, I want to have stories that proved that I lived bravely and took advantage of life, the world, and opportunities that surround me to learn, love, live, experience, laugh, cry, and grow. When it all ends, I want to say I used everything I had to live the fullest life I could.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”--Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist

Finally, I love to travel because I constantly chase the natural human desire to move. The natural order of the world is one of chaos, motion; that's a scientific notion. So maybe I'm not actually chasing anything, but I'm just following my natural state of being through my constant motion.

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move--Robert Louis Stevenson, author

I don't think the wanderlust will ever subside and I am totally content with that. I will always have a home and will spend the rest of my life chasing travel, my first, longest, and deepest love.

Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany has the right idea about travel "Keep moving forward and do it yourself."

Until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Insta Recap #10

Long time, no post. To be completely honest, my motivation to blog has been lackluster at best not for a lack of trying. Of course, I have plenty of things to say, I just can't seem to find the words to articulate my thoughts. To get back on the blogging bandwagon, I've decided to bring back my Instagram Recap posts.

Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chiang Mai. Sitting majestically on the top of a mountain, it is certainly a sight to be seen. One of my first weekends in Chiang Mai, I rode on the back of a friend's motorbike up the mountain to see the temple. While visiting, we received a blessing from a monk that involved being hit on the head with a stick, but I'm not complaining; I'll take blessings in any form.

 Doi Suthep

Temples abound in Thailand. While Doi Suthep lies on the top of the mountain, Wat Chedi Luang rests in the center of Chiang Mai. On a sunny afternoon, I ventured with some friends to see the ancient ruins of this Buddhist temple.

Gold Buddha in front of Wat Chedi Luang

While in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my companions and I spent an afternoon at the Batu Caves, a limestone cave outside of the city dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Murugan. The golden statue in the photo is the largest statue dedicated to Lord Murugan. At the base of the steps, monkeys sit and wait to be fed bananas brought by eager tourists and will come and snatch food right out of the hands of unsuspecting visitors.

All of those steps lead up to the cave!

In Malaysia, Islam is the state religion which means that they have a National Mosque. Throughout the day, the National Mosque has visiting hours where the space is open up for curious tourists. In the time I was at the mosque, I saw dozens of tourists from all over the world enter the mosque, all of them willing to learn about Islam. Naturally, the mosque is completely stunning, with gold and blue stained glass windows and open-air patios letting in rays of the Malaysia sunshine.

Prayer in the National Mosque

Whenever I travel, I drink copious amounts of coffee. In Belgium, I spent hours sipping speculoos lattes in cafes to avoid the rain, and in Chiang Mai I pass quite a bit of time drinking Thai tea or regular lattes. For a Saturday activity, I visited one of the most well-known coffee haunts in Chiang Mai, Mao Coffee. "Mao" in Thai means "drunk" and, as one can imagine, it is known for spiked coffee beverages. The atmosphere in Mao Coffee is aesthetic goals for sure:  wood paneling, wildflowers sprinkled in vases on all the tables, and the perfect coffee shop playlist.

Mao coffee with a brownie cheesecake--it's very difficult to find exceptional baked goods in Thailand, but the cheesecake at Mao Coffee was 10/10!

Hope you all enjoyed a little glimpse into my life in Chiang Mai! Expect more posts to come soon; writing this post has inspired me to continue sharing!