It may sound cliche but I have to agree that travelling can change your life – and now I have to admit that after returning from my three month solo backpacking journey around Southeast Asia I don’t feel the same, and definitely don’t see the same. Naturally, as is the human condition, I evolved – embracing each emotion along the way but continually remaining in motion to find my way to the changed person I am today. I know you’re probably wondering how this cliche can possibly be true so let me share with you what backpacking taught me:
Backpackers come in all shapes and sizes – and from all types of backgrounds; and if this has taught me anything it’s that a country is never what it appears to be like via the media. I was fortunate to meet numerous travelers from all across the world, each with a different story to share about their background.
So through my conversations with them I came to realise more and more that almost every country has a social or politic problem – and there are always two sides. By using non-judgement, I realised I can remain impartial to opinions not my own and accept a situation, or a country, for what it truly is instead of what I believe I should perceive it to be.
- Spot The Signs
Have you ever seen repeating patterns in your life – like numbers? And felt some type of way about it? As in, a deep-rooted knowing that that was not as insignificant as a coincidence.
And during my solo backpacking trip I would stop to interpret and listen to those signs, just like when I was lost in Luang Prabang.
I normally ensure I have sufficient mobile data so I can stay in contact with people but that day, for some reason, the mobile data stopped working whilst I was roaming around… Instead of freaking out, I decided to continue walking until I stumbled upon any familiar sights but instead, I stumbled upon signs in the form of numbers; for example: 1111 or 333. Upon seeing the numbers I would intuitively know which direction it was guiding me towards so a few signs later and I was back in an area I was familiar with.
Sometimes we need to trust our higher-self, our intuition, and just follow the sings.
- The Four Ps
You can’t witness extreme poverty and its side-effects first-hand without changing – without breaking, just a little. Yet through my observation of and interaction with locals, I simultaneously witnessed physical embodiment’s of hope and happiness. In Laos, most children had nothing but livestock to their name and despite that, their imagination still allowed for a childhood filled with joy and laughter. In Cambodia, almost every local I met was determined to create a brighter future for themselves as a result of the tragic history of their country.
So of course your perspective towards certain things change – especially your gratitude for what you have because while it may have seemed at one point to not be much, sooner or later you realise how to some it’s a whole lot.
Obviously, living off a backpack (and not even a big backpack, mind you) taught me how to be practical, to minimise; not only with space but also with my expenditure. By not splurging on knick knacks that couldn’t fit into my backpack, I actually managed to cut costs and realised the difference between a want and a need.
In an era of instant gratification, patience is left behind – waiting for you to remember its existence, and importance, because let’s be real, we can’t always get what we want when we want; and the sooner we make peace with that, the sooner we find peace within.
We may not be able to control certain circumstances in our life but we can control how we handle those circumstances – we can complain about it or work towards changing it and I noticed that in developing nations, the citizens work towards it; and that’s what I call perseverance.
“The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.” Socrates