*A Personal Anecdote*
While writing down the ‘Resolutions For 2019’, I had jotted down quite a few things but as the days passed, I did fail to live up to a lot of them. But there was one thing that I had added to my list – ‘To visit at least 5 countries in 2019’. I’m glad that I could actually traverse across 5 new lands and had a chance to meet some amazing people during my journeys, lived some of the best days of my life while on the roads, soaking in diverse cultures & binged on delicious local cuisines, laughed & cried at times, and learned some incredibly valuable lessons which I would have otherwise missed out, being stuck in the monotones of life.
Here are the 5 best lessons that I got to learn from my journeys.
1) It’s not just about exploring new places, but also discovering ourselves on the way!
Thanks to a kind stranger, who insisted me to click this photo while heading towards the Twelve Apostles!
We are always excited about exploring a faraway destination, to indulge in trying new things and to experience things that we’ve never done before – and amidst all of this, we keep discovering ourselves as well. I did have my checklist while traveling to Australia, but once I was there, I felt like going with the flow rather than ticking things off.
There were days when I would just stroll around the South Bank in Brisbane or sit at the beach of Surfer’s Paradise in Gold Coast, looking at the surfers who were trying to conquer the waves. Growing up, I’ve always had the fear of being alone until I reached a point where I started enjoying my own company and fell in love with traveling solo.
I went for the Great Ocean Road Trip with a bunch of strangers, and it wasn’t the beauty of the Twelve Apostles that touched me more, but the fact that it was one of those places where my mom had been to, before she left for another beautiful world.
Being hosted by a lovely Indian family in Melbourne, I got a chance to visit Cape Schanck and soak in the Pacific winds, as I dipped my feet in the freezing cold waters. My hosts were the most amazing people, enthusiastic enough to show me places and made me feel at home while I was living with them.
I realized that the world beyond our checklist has a lot of surprises for us in store. We just need to be open to embrace & experience all that comes our way!
2) It’s not always about what we do for ourselves, but also how we feel for others!
Sharing love with Joshua, while volunteering at Makimei, Kenya.
In today’s date, most of us are so self-centric that we’re always concerned about how to get things for ourselves; how to be better than others, how to be richer or happier, so on and so forth! Amidst all these, we often tend to miss out on the happiness that can only be felt while we do something for others. I wasn’t any different until I decided to take a volunteering trip to Kenya, which absolutely changed my way to look at life!
I was there in Kenya for a month and worked at a Childcare Center on the outskirts of Nairobi, where abandoned kids have been sheltered. There were some 70 kids of varying ages; some were just a few days old while some were 10 or 12 years old, going to the community school. Spending time with those kids helped me realize that we don’t really need much to be happy, only if we know how to find little moments of joy in our daily lives.
As I cuddled them and laughed with them, played around and cooked for them – there was some sort of innate happiness, which I had never felt before. They didn’t understand my language, neither did I understood theirs’, but in those few days, we connected over emotions and while I was leaving, I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
Our volunteering journey in Kenya taught me that it’s not always about what we do for ourselves, but it’s also immensely important how we feel for others!
3) There are a lot of things that they don’t teach in school. You only learn them when you start to travel & explore!
The acid pools of Danakil.
Geography has always been my favorite subject and to be honest, I quite excelled in it. But until the time we planned our trip to Ethiopia and my travel partner told me about this place, I never knew about Danakil Depression – which is one of the hottest and the lowest points on Earth!
Surprised right? Yeah, I’m sure even you haven’t heard of this before. In fact, there are thousands of such places with immense geographical or historical importance, that we were never taught about. It’s only when we step out to see the world, that we get to know & come across such places of wonder!
Walking around the huge acid pools while soaking in the heat, I felt like I was on Mars! With every footstep of mine, I felt grateful to be alive in a world that’s so mysterious and magical.
4) Reconnecting with the childhood best friend & reliving those crazy days can be absolutely priceless!
Enjoying my Thai vacay with BFF!
As they say, there are some things that money can’t buy; and I realized this lesson of happiness when I took a trip to Thailand with my best friend from school. We hadn’t been in touch for about 9 years since we left school, but when I met her again, it felt like nothing much has really changed. She was still that girl who’d grab her make-up kit before the essentials, or just drop in a stupid comment when it’s really not necessary!
But nonetheless, she’s the best travel buddy I could have ever asked for and she helped me believe in the fact that no matter how much we grow up and how rapidly things around us change, there would be some people who’d always be the same – no matter what!
We hopped from Bangkok to Krabi & explored the islands of Koh Phi Phi, got dressed up as often as we could, gorged on delicious Thai food, clicked thousands of selfies and laughed till our stomachs ached! Watching the sunset together, we talked about the good old days when life was simpler for us and realized how lucky we are, to just have each other in our lives!
5) If you keep waiting for the right time to come, you’d perhaps keep waiting throughout your life!
What you see behind me is the traffic in Saigon!
Just before 2019 was about to end, I planned an impromptu trip to Vietnam and the minute I stepped out of the airport in Saigon, I figured out that there aren’t really any road rules, or at least not any that people seem to pay attention to!
In fact, the streets in the busiest city of Vietnam are a scene of organized chaos. We were told by a Vietnamese man, that the key to cross the road is to just walk, no matter what. Well, he was right. If we had decided to keep waiting for a suitable opening, you wouldn’t be reading this story because I’d still be standing there, surrounded by thousands of motorbikes that have happily outnumbered the cars in the city! So, I would just walk. As the motorbikes would move around me, I walked like Moses must have done while parting the Red Sea.
It was worth learning that we can’t always keep waiting for things to turn in our favor, but we have to keep trying & moving ahead if we really wish to achieve something. The thing about crossing the roads in Vietnam is that while it seems terrifying, there’s a beautiful harmony amidst the chaos.
I’m sure that all of us, at some point in life, will get to learn little things & find the most extraordinary ways of being happy. I hope life keeps surprising you in the most beautiful ways ever!
This post has also been published on Contiki.