Prior to embarking on our slow travel journey, I knew what I most wanted out of it was to learn (life lessons); to learn about the places we’re in and, most importantly, to learn about myself. It may sound cheesy, but I’m a big believer in growing and striving to be a better person.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust ~
Slow Travel Life Lessons
Thus far, we’ve slow travelled in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We’ve also visited Alaska, Japan and Vietnam. And in this relatively short time, I think I’ve learned so much about what suits me.
Asian In Asia?
It’s kind of funny (or maybe not really) but I find that others know me better than I know myself. Ernest has told me what I would like and dislike on certain things (and eventually I see that he’s right), however I’m the type of person who needs to experience things myself.
I’ve realized that I’m actually not as “Asian” as I thought I was. This made me recall a time when a good friend and a colleague asked me whether I was “Chinese”. I literally laughed and replied, “yes”…thinking (at that time), “do I not look Chinese?”. Well, now, I realize that her question was a great question! Because, at this moment, I question whether I truly am.
Being in Asia for the past 3 months, have made me long for western food. I crave for a juicy burger with fries and pizza and pasta and even a salad! I also miss my healthy meals such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, grilled veggies, and grilled chicken breasts. I’ve never had so much white rice in the last decade as I’ve had in these 3 months.
Overall, I tend to prefer the western lifestyle (from what I’ve experienced so far).
In figuring out the “etiquette” in these countries (which is totally different than in North America), I’ve been trying to adapt to what my observation of the proper etiquette is. However, I found myself in a situation where I was following the “local way” and then was astonished when the unexpected happened.
In a lot of places we’ve been to, there aren’t “line ups”. Therefore, you try to get the attention of the server (let’s say) to place your order or to purchase something. We’ve noticed this mainly in busier places and even in some restaurants.
At the hotel breakfast, there is an “egg station” where you can order eggs made to your preference. I walked up to the station, noticing that there were people surrounding the cook, but thinking to just get his attention so that I could place my order. I did just that, then felt a pair of eyes looking my way. Someone else came by the station and did the same, when the same pair of eyes that looked my way, looked at that someone and asked, “sorry, were you in line?”. I was flabbergasted! I felt confused and I felt bad for not even considering other’s that may have been waiting before me.
The lesson here is to be true to who you are, no matter the place or environment I’m placed in (even though I may end up being without my food for a few minutes more).
This whole journey has helped me adapt to changing environments. It’s actually pushed me (at times) outside of my comfort zone.
There were certain things that I needed in order to feel comfortable in my living situation. However, I’ve been able to “relax” those needs. Let’s just say that my level of “cleanliness” may not be the “norm” (if there is a norm). I admit that I’m a bit of a germaphobe.
In a lot of these Asian countries that we’ve been to so far, “street food” is a big thing. As a self proclaimed germaphobe, it definitely was not easy to try the foods here. However, we did experience this with a side of cringe.
Also, prior to this journey, I was very selective when eating cut fruit. And by this I mean, there were probably only two places where I would eat it (ie. at home and at family or friends I trust). The first thing that comes to mind with cut fruit for me is how it was handled. Now, although I am still selective, the level of stringency has decreased. 🙂
The local foods is the one thing that both of us look forward to. As slow travellers we’re not too big with the touristy attractions, but we’re into trying all the foods.
I’ve come to realize that we were spoiled in our hometown of Toronto. It really is a foodie city with a vast variety of pretty authentic foods. I’m beginning to think that the only difference in the taste is due to the fact that some of the ingredients used in these meals are only available locally.
In the process of preparing for this slow travel journey, I talked about material things and how the process of getting rid of most of our stuff felt great. (Read more about this here.) I still feel that those material things were only weighing us down, so to speak.
Seeing how so many local people in the different countries we’ve been to live with so little, makes me appreciate (even more) what I have with me in my one suitcase and backpack. We really don’t need most of what we have in order to live a happy life.
The Journey & The Life Lessons
I know I keep saying this, but I’m so very appreciative of this journey and as much as I miss home and everyone there, I believe that there’s so much more learning to achieve. The life lessons has been and will continue to be my biggest achievement from this journey. I want to continue to grow and learn!
PS – to read additional thoughts (from me) on this journey, click here.