The gift of travel

Apologizing for the heavy load, Saigon, Vietnam

What travel gives – in its purest form.

What is it that travel actually gives us? Just a chance to unwind with a holiday to the beach? Or something deeper, and much more important?

Is there a modern Travel craze? – Perhaps to some.

It seems that a lot of people particularly the 18-35 year old age bracket are really getting out there and doing some traveling. Its like it’s the cool thing to do. Personally I think this is great! Tour groups like Contiki and other have helped younger people feel more at ease with traveling alone. It also seems that there are a lot of people who want to travel to places remote, and different to their countries of origin. I have met tons of Australians in Vietnam and Cambodia, tons of Koreans in Europe and tons of Germans in Shanghai. So that’s the deal?

What do I know about travel?

Well, travel has been a big part of my life, and it will always be. Originally born in Denmark, my family moved to Indonesia when I was 9 years old. We stayed more than 3 years in Indonesia, before returning back to Denmark.

Although we were well settled in Denmark, it only took us 11 months to decide that it wasn’t for us, and when my father got an opportunity to relocate to South Korea, we took it right away. Although we were Danish, and lived in our home country, there was just something that had changed us, and we didn’t have much care of the first world troubles of the typical Danish people.

Unfortunately the Asian financial crisis hit South Korea shortly after our arrival, and we ended up leaving just 12 months after we arrived. From South Korea, we headed to Sydney, Australia. I ended up staying in Australia for some 17 years, living all over the east coast and the northern territory. During my university study where I was based in Brisbane Australia, I did an exchange semester in Norway – for good measure. I was there for 8 months.

An old friend in Germany asked if I would take a job in Bavaria in early 2016. How could I say no? It was a chance to get back in touch with Europe, return to my seemingly ancient roots. I had wondered if I had drifted so far from Europe that I could never return… having spent 2/3 of my life on the other side of the planet. Evidently not.

My wife (Vietnamese, met in Australia) and I are now happily settled in a small village in Bavaria. Its time to enjoy the smaller things in life, rather than large seething masses in big world cities.

There is a difference between going for a 2 week holiday somewhere, and actually living in the place for an extended time. Throughout my life, there have been plenty of travel and plenty of holidays here and there. I have been to probably 20-25 countries at least and I expect this to increase… still much to see!

Interesting snack in Tokyo, Japan.

The gift of travel – As I see it

The gift of travel is very simple in my mind. It challenges your perspective, broadens your mind, opens your eyes, excites the soul, and increases your creativity.

You become more patient, you listen to alternative ideas for longer, you start to think about good and bad in a more holistic way. You do not jump to conclusions, but analyze whether something is good or bad for longer. After some time, this brings you to say: “it depends..”

You will also be better off financially, you will be open minded to see new business ideas, or you might want to bring a clever idea to a new place. You might be able to bring a trusted service or product to a place of chaos or disorder.

Isolation leads to narrow mindedness. Cultural understanding leads to trust and acceptance.

If you never ever go, you never ever know. But many people pretend to know, although actually, they know nothing. Its human nature to fear the unknown, but its today’s norm to never show fear. So instead to we pretend we know everything, and put up a shield to protect us from the unknown. We convince ourselves that what we know is the best way, or the only proper way.

The funny thing is that all that fear and energy spent pretending, soon vanishes when we realize that the person across the hedge, border, or ocean isn’t so bad. Once we understand the person or cultural, we soon realize that tradition, beliefs or upbringing have led to simple differences in culture and conduct. Soon, we start to lose our ignorance, fear, doubt, arrogance, and start to trust and accept and even be intrigued.

A group shot with the local business entrepreneurs, Cambodia.

We are making quite a mess of the world. Lots of arguing, and we are all just the same.

There is more racial tension today than in a very long time. The war on terrorism has had many side effects, some of which we are only just finding out about. With the Middle East so destabilized, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced – and where do they go? To the west of course, in search of a better life. This seems to have been a major surprise to a lot of people in the west.

All there is to report in the news today is basically, negativity. Who blew up who, who killed who, who’s territory is threatened, who has the most money, and who stole from who. When you look at it this way, we all just kids in a kindergarten. I thought that being the most intelligent species on earth, we would be a little more grown up.

The silly thing is that as you experience travel, and learn different cultures, you see more and more that despite how different we seem, we are all just the same. We all have aspirations, we all love our families, we all need a place to sleep at night, we all need something to eat, and we all want to find a mate. Our faces may change, and our foods may change, and even what we feel is normal or acceptable changes, but when it boils down to it, we are all just the same.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.

This is really my favorite quote. I think it is very true, and something everyone (who can read) can appreciate. A great, fulfilling book is never just one page. Usually, a great ‘read’ or a great story, or journey is experienced by reading many pages. The world is the same. There are something like 195 pages in this ‘world’ book. I’ve read enough pages to work out what the book is about, how many pages have you read?

Family lunch, Vietnam style. Vinh Vietnam.

One man’s reality is merely one path. One man’s lectures are merely a point of view.

We often get stuck with this. People decide on an idea, or convention, or perhaps they didn’t decide, but were brought up to believe that. Maybe that idea is shared by a whole county, a religion, or region or even a whole country.

This idea, or a way of doing might come naturally, and perhaps you can’t think of a single alternative way which could be acceptable – but remember, that’s your view, and is not necessarily shared by other people. Your way, is just your way, no matter how popular a way it may be.

Through all the experiences we gain in our lives, we may think that our way is best – but that is simply just our point of view.

The essence of what travel does to a person – demonstrated

By far the best ‘thing’ I have seen which really shows how a person is changed, or how a person grows by traveling is the mini-series ‘The Long Way Round’. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman go on a motorbike ride around the world, riding through 12 counties in 115 days. Ewan and Charlie decided to film their adventure with the help of a cameraman and their own video diaries. It is clear that many basic emotions are felt in this great adventure along the way, as they experience; hardship, pain, fear, loneliness, vulnerability, love, excitement, happiness, discovery, serenity, simplicity, fulfillment and achievement.

While well-educated and open-minded, the two come across as spoiled, arrogant, naive, ignorant and obnoxious in the beginning. These traits are challenged as the journey goes on, and this transformation can really be seen in the films. I think that they have become more rounded people, more patient people, and more giving people as a result of their travel adventures.

Anyone who has a love of travel should ensure they watch this great, down to earth documentary. Highly recommended! The video below is the trailer for the series. The full DVD or book is only 15 bucks on Amazon!

One Comment on “The gift of travel

  1. You make me proud to be associated with you.
    I totally agree with your wonderfull write up. Maybe the younger generations many travels will contribute to changing the world view which fundamentally is required to meet the enormous challenges ahead.

    Like

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