On December 25th, 1999 I left the USA for Southeast Asia to embark on my first independent backpacking adventure. When I arrived in Bangkok, I found myself, as so many others do, wandering aimlessly around Khao San Road at 2:00am, exhausted, overwhelmed, confused, shooing away lady-boys and searching for a place to stay. I’ll never forget the fear of that …
On Tuesday, which I just realized is tomorrow, I’ll be flying back to the US for a couple of weeks, marking an end to this most recent stage of wandering. I’ve spent five weeks traveling through Central America and three months living in Mexico. When deciding on how best to summarize these adventures, I had no idea what to write. …
“The norms are different in my society and we don’t need special places to socialize. Every house, every street corner, everywhere is a pub here.” – an Indian friend of mine. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t you? Please tell me I wasn’t the only one clapping? Here’s my problem. Back in July, I was in Brooklyn visiting two …
I was going to hold off on writing this post until I felt better, but it occurred to me that being doped up on three antibiotics while fighting off a body-crippling, mind-numbing illness that is ravaging through my body at the moment, just might be the perfect time to get creative. Especially when I’m trying to decide on where I’m …
I was going to hold off on writing this post until I felt better, but it occurred to me that being doped up on three antibiotics while fighting off a body-crippling, mind-numbing illness that is ravaging through my body at the moment, just might be the perfect time to get creative. Especially when I’m trying to decide on where I’m going to travel in 2010.
I’m hungry. In fact, I’m starving for something different, and I don’t mean an alternative to rice, beans and tortillas. I am ready to travel in a way that I’ve never done before. I’d leave the planet if I could, I’d even buy a ticket for the next trip back in time. But it appears that I’ll have to think of other options as I’m unable to afford space travel and I think Dr. Emmett Brown has retired for good.
A few years ago, I made the intriguing (and at the time, confusing) discovery that traveling can actually be boring. Backpacking all over the place ALL the time simply wasn’t going to provide my life with enough challenge or fulfillment. I felt the need to break up my adventures using a variety of travel styles, each with their own specific purpose, whether it be rejuvenating my mind, giving back to a community or even toying with death.
I immediately began to shake things up, mixing my usual backpacking with some healthy doses of volunteer work, danger travel, long stretches of white-sand beach relaxation, educational travel (learning a language or new skill) and visiting friends around the world that I hadn’t seen in a while.
Somehow, I managed to do a little of each of those in 2009 and it was the most rewarding year of travel I’ve ever had. But now it’s time to start looking ahead to 2010…and in order to outshine 2009, I’ve realized the need to think way, way outside the box in terms of possible adventures.
Luckily for me, my brain is currently warped due to this illness I’m battling, allowing me to envision certain adventures that would have never crossed my mind under normal circumstances. Adventures such as…
- Bicycling along the entire coast of Mexico, Central and South America, from Tijuana to Matamoros while wearing my Ultimo Guerrero lucha libre mask (as pictured above)
- Finding a seldom-used trans-continental route to walk with a yak (not any yak, THIS yak) as my companion
- Driving around the globe in the world’s smallest & cheapest car – the Tata Nano
- Island-hopping to all 6,000 of Indonesia’s inhabited islands while wearing nothing but my favorite sarong
- Trying to start a stand-up comedy club in Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Sharing an ice cream sundae with the mayor of every city, town and village in Azerbaijan
- Spending one year in Bombay trying to make it as a film star in the Bollywood movie scene
For several years now, riding a camel from Africa to Mongolia has actually held the number one position on my list of potential travel ideas. I’ve even researched which type of camel would be most appropriate for the climates and geography involved and I even contacted several camel farms in the USA and Africa to inquire about prices. It was only two weeks ago that I finally received a response from a farm in Minnesota (I know, Minnesota?). The owner offered to sell me a “Bactrian beauty of the highest quality” for $30,000 USD, shipping not included.
So it’s back to brainstorming.
Which is not as easy as it may seem. I keep thinking “Why can’t I travel around the Middle East until I find the perfect hummus?” or “Why can’t I spend six months with a head-hunting tribe in Papua New Guinea?”
And the real problem is that I CAN do all of these things.
Ironically, once you break free from the rat race and find yourself possessing the liberating ability to do absolutely anything you want in life, it becomes inexplicably difficult to actually make a decision. How on earth am I supposed to choose the next adventure when the options are infinite?
I want to do it all. I want to meet the pirates of Somalia, do cartwheels along the Silk Route and paddle along the coast of Brazil in a canoe. I really do. As long as it’s unique and physically and mentally challenging, I’ll consider anything.
My main goal is to explore intriguing lands and to meet new and interesting people that I otherwise would never have come across by living an ordinary life. Sure, I could easily accomplish this through backpacking, but I’d much rather jump on that camel and see where the road leads.
And that’s not the intense fever talking either.
I sure as Burundi didn’t enter the world of freedom just to get bored.
I’m curious to know…what’s the most bizarre journey you’ve ever taken? Please add your tales or any suggestions you may have below, I’m always looking for new ideas!