Ramblings on Thoughts and Lessons Learned

I’ve often marvelled at the fact that I learned more during a six week backpacking trip than I did during my entire three year university degree. I know the two are completely different things, but still. I find it enthralling to think about the endless possibilities and experiences travel throws at those who seek it. Travel teaches – wether it be good, difficult, challenging, disgusting, exciting, exhausting, frightening, inspiring, or anything else; these ‘things’ we experience are what makes travel so amazing, in so many different ways.

I learned so much about myself whilst traveling, and the person I left as was the not the person who I came back as – I’m a better person because of travel.
I learned more about who I was, because I was put into, both voluntarily and without choice, various situations that I would never have experienced back home. I was forced to see things with an open mind, and from a different perspective, and change my though process and reactions to various things. I was pushed, and tested, and forced to realise my strengths – physically, mentally, and emotionally. And then I got stronger.
I became more resiliant, courageous, independent, defiant, generous, patient, accepting, brave, strong, and inspired. My perspective on life, on people, and about the way I am as a person, were constantly challenged and changing whilst away, and ever since then I have seen things in a different light. Often in a much more open minded and understanding way.
I shed tears, many times, for people I’ve never met, and realised my compassion for strangers and those in need. My heart and mind was opened more than ever before.

I learned that the way people view, deal with, think about and behave in certain situations can absolutely affect the outcome. Many times, Jake and I were faced with challenges and difficult situations that arose during our travels. The way we dealt with things made these challenges not only a more positive experience, they taught us something and became experiences we now look back on, with more wisdom and grace than before. In a strange way, we are able to appreciate those challenges and the lessons we learned because of them.
We became more accepting to the fact that yes, things somethimes do go wrong, or not the way we initially intended or desired, and began to realise that “it’s okay” (Or, as Jake learned to say in Lao, “Bo Pan Yang” – “whatever”) This is something that has translated into our every day lives now; our perspective on what is really important in life is much more realistic these days.

Not only did both Jake and myself learn so much about ourselves, but also so much about the countries we visited! In such a short time, and even if only a small amount in comparison to the big big world, we gained insight into what another part of the world was like, and how the people in it can operate so differently. We learned about culture, tradition, religion and beliefs; about history and war, corruption and sadness; and also about friendship, family, and love.
We stopped taking for granted what we have, after seeing poverty like we have never seen before, and were able to fully realise and comprehend how much we appreciated the lives we have, and the people we have in them.

We look back at our travels as ‘life changing.’ We view our world just that little bit differently now, and we are so grateful. As we plan for our upcoming big trip, we know there is so much that will be thrown our way, and we can not wait to absorb and experience it all. We have 5 months in which to plan for, and learn about 7 different countries, and we really believe in learning as much about the history, culture, traditions and belief systems before we even set our feet on the ground. Lately, topics of what we are fearful about have been coming up in converstaion, of course, only naturally. But, after much thought about our past experiences, I am resolved in thinking about the lessons we can learn, and how exciting the prospect of our upcoming trip is. Some of our most memorable days, most exciting moments, and most life-changing experiences are ahead of us, and that is something I truley cherish.

So, for now we continue to learn and prepare. We’d love to hear your thoughts and lessons learned from travel experience.

Happy Travels,

Em xx

Jake’s Handy Travel Tip: What you think you need to pack, and what you actually need to pack, are two different things!

Our Flights are Booked

So our flights are booked, confirmed and paid for. It still doesn’t seem ‘real’, really, that in 5 odd months, we’ll be heading to Asia. Perhaps that’s partly due to the fact that I booked and paid for the flights well after midnight, whilst Jake snoozed next to me, unaware of the fact that “we are officially going now!”

But, it’s getting more exciting by the minute, and clouding our daily thoughts. Jake sent me a text message yesterday saying “I’m getting really excited about this trip”, and I could barely contain myself – I’d used up every bit of will power I had by mid-morning, trying not to blurt out to random strangers in the shop I work in, that “Yes! It’s true, I’m out of here in 5 months!… oh, sorry, can I help you with something?”

There is so much to think about now, and to organise. To learn, research, read about, book, plan, and let us not forget – money we need to save! Visas, flights, accomodation, immunisations (yay!), medicals, health precautions, travel insurance etc.
We’re living on an “Australian Shoe-String” budget and scrimping in order to save – “what we scrimp on now, we can enjoy in Asia” is something Jake is already getting tired of hearing me say!

We’ve joined a gym and have pretty much given up on sugar – besides the occasional bubble cup – in order to be of optimum health when we depart for our big trip. We know all too well from experience that backpacking in Asia can be taxing on the body and on the immune system, and considering everywhere we are going basically is either a 3rd world country or has pretty poor to average health/hygiene standards, we feel we need to be in pretty good shape when we embark on our adventures. Also, considering the fact that we plan to eat our way around Asia, we need to have healthy stomachs that will be able to fight back at the onslaught of foreign foods and mountains of chilli they will have to deal with.

We’ve started scouring travel forums, books and guide books, internet sites and anything else we can source information from, and Jake has been drawing useful information out of his work colleuges who are natives from some of the countries we are going to visit… So handy!

We’ve decided to have “meetings” almost daily, with an agenda of what needs to be discussed/planned/booked/organised etc., and just to have a general chat about our trip, and pump each other up with excitement!!! We are organised people at heart, and this will work for us.

So, now the planning begins; it’s going to be a lot of work, but the count down is on and we are getting excited!
Heres to announcing our Big Asia Trip!

We are off to 7 Countries: Malaysia (9 days), Sri Lanka (4 weeks), India (3 months), Burma (Myanmar) (3.5 weeks), Thailand (2.5 weeks), Vietnam (4 weeks) and Singapore (5 days over New Years Eve)

We hope over the next 12 months or so, to contribute to this blog regularly; fill it with our experiences, excitements, and challenges. To offer you our experiences and our new found knowledge [or our realised lack of] and share with you things that guide books will not. We hope to be able to offer advice, tips and our thoughts on countries, whilst keeping honest and open minded opinions. We’d love you to share your thoughts with us too.

This is our travel journal, and we will bear all. So come with us as we backpack, travel, explore, experience, and especially, eat our way through Asia.

Happy Travels,

Em xx