The time has come for Part 2 of my “One Decade of Wandering Ends, Another One Begins” post. I wish to start off by thanking everyone who has already commented, spread the word and helped make Part 1 my most rewarding post to date in terms of the interactions it has led to with all of you out there.
So, here’s Part 2.
Again, this post is part of my list of the first fifty things – places, adventures, thoughts, lessons learned – that pop into my head when I reflect upon my decade of wandering that has now come to an end. Wait, that might not have sounded right. Let me be more clear. The DECADE has come to an end, not my WANDERINGS!
Here we go…the second list of 25…
- A mango lassi on a hot day or watching an average sunset brings me infinite joy – it is appreciation of the small things in life that has enabled me to draw the strength I need to conquer my larger goals.
- Anger is useless, forgiveness is vital and an equanimous mind is the most valuable of tools for all good travelers. And we are all travelers on this planet, even if we never step foot outside of our home town.
- Successfully surfing one wave for at least two seconds makes all the crashing, sore muscles and mouthfuls of salt water well worth it.
- The moment I officially realized that I will never be able to live a conventional life back in the USA was after watching a holy man drink cow urine directly from a urinating cow while standing on a beach between a human-powered ferris wheel and a full-grown elephant and finding this to be only slightly unusual. Life at home would just be too boring.
- Hammocks and beach bungalows do a world of good for one’s mental well-being. Just the sight of them seem to bring about instant happiness.
- I love India.
- Seeing a wild yak in the mountains is just plain cool.
- If life ever gets so tough that I am falling into a deep and dark state of depression, I’m going to fly to Thailand. It is nearly impossible for a traveler to be unhappy in Thailand.
- Having all of your possessions fit into one small backpack is not only doable and beneficial for a life of constant travel, but it’s also remarkably liberating.
- I’ve never really understood why so few people visit the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Lake Maninjau, with its surreal sunsets that involve a natural phenomenon of color, is one of the most magical places I’ve visited in the past ten years.
- I’ll never forget my brush with death during a freak blizzard while hiking in the Karaokaram Mountains in northern Pakistan. My friend and I were forced to scramble down the mountain in blinding conditions, losing our way on several occasions and eventually getting separated. After 7 hours of frantic searching, with frostbitten fingers and toes and in a severe state of delirium, I stumbled upon a tiny, abandoned sheep herder’s village and holed myself up in a hut made of stone and dung. Miraculously, my friend ended up in the same village a couple of hours later and we waited until the storm passed.
- I’ll also never forget when, three weeks later, my bus from the Pakistan/Afghanistan border town of Torkham was ambushed by a group of heavily-armed Taliban while in the middle of nowhere. Luckily for me, I had grown a beard and was dressed locally, with a thick mountain blanket covering my head. I kept my eyes down as did everyone else and after a long argument with the driver of the bus, the Taliban let us pass, without ever realizing that an American was on board.
- Living an unconventional life involving the pursuit of your dreams is not a selfish endeavor. I used to struggle with this idea quite often before realizing that a happy me, who is out there achieving my goals, is far more effective in helping bring about positive change in this world than an unhappy me stuck in a routine that brings me no joy.
- Czech beer is in a class of its own.
- I don’t like to talk while on airplanes. I prefer to sit quietly and do nothing as I find this a perfect time to clear my head of all clutter before arriving at a new destination.
- Being in a rush is not worth the amount of life I miss while hurrying to get somewhere. I learned to slow down everything – walking, talking, thinking, eating – and I’ve reduced my levels of stress to practically zilch as a result.
- Wandering around the world in itself is a full-time job, requiring far more effort, know-how, determination and constant training than any other form of employment I’ve ever held. At least there’s no dress code.
- I’m thankful for my time spent working on board cruise ships, as I was able to earn money while exploring all corners of the globe, gain valuable management experience and form lasting friendships with some amazing people. All while getting a taste of what it’s like to be a gangster!
- My two favorite dishes: A mountain of ecstasy-inducing vegetarian biryani at Nilar Biryani in Yangon, Myanmar and a divine Gujarati vegetarian thali at Radhika on Relief Road in Ahmedabad, India.
- Celebrating Thailand’s super-fun, dump water on everybody else for three straight days, would result in riots and violence if it took place in any other country in the world, Songkran Festival during three different years.
- Minutes after landing in Dhaka, Bangladesh I was kidnapped by a gang of ‘taxi drivers’ while I was in pursuit of an Indian militant who had stolen my car while I had temporarily been living in Los Angeles. (more on this story in a future post!)
- Learning languages, any language, and even just a small amount, infinitely enhances a travel experience. While I may be fluent in only English, I’m decent with Spanish, ok with my Thai, passable with my Hindi, can get by in Czech, am able to count to twenty in Khmer, buy a bus ticket in German, speak a few words of Arabic and say hello in Bahasa Indonesian.
- I’ve spent the past 10 New Year’s in such places as Argentina, Australia (three times), Cambodia, Hawaii, St. Kitts, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in Boston and in Thailand. And this year will be in Mexico.
- The excitement of having family and friends decide to visit me in random places around the world in order to know more about the kind of lifestyle I lead. Knowing that I have inspired other people to travel overseas to partake in some genuine world exploration has been a great source of motivation. I already have five people scheduled to visit me here in Mexico during the next six weeks!
- I truly consider myself a global citizen, where the world has become my home and I crave the education, love the challenges and welcome the unexpected as I happily wander from country to country.
Ahh, sweet decade, must we now part ways? What’s that you say? With every end, comes a new beginning?
It’s been a long time since I was that terrified kid nearly wetting my pants in fear as I ventured out into the un-familiar streets of Bangkok for the very first time.
In two days, when I step, rather LEAP, across that line that separates the past decade from the decade to come, I will no longer be terrified. I will leap without hesitation even though I still have no idea where the adventure will lead. And this time I might actually wet my pants, not out of fear, but out of pure excitement and an overabundance of inspiration!
And now I wish to invite you to join me, to jump on my back, climb on my shoulders, hang onto my legs, or better yet, STAND NEXT TO ME AND LEAP ALONG WITH ME! Let’s all leap into the new year and the new decade with a genuine determination to succeed, however you personally define that term. Let us all avoid adding to our list of regrets and instead add to our list of goals achieved.
I’ll sip my Corona Light to that!
From Mexico, Salud!