Life Lessons Through Travel

Seeing and experiencing the world is something that is very important to me. In my life, I look at every experience as an opportunity to grow and open my eyes a little wider, whether it means traveling to a new city or flying across the globe. I believe that wisdom lies in all of these situations and it is my life's mission to find it. Each trip I've taken has imparted me some insight or wisdom, either through the people I met or in my experiences there.

I've compiled some of them to share with you. Enjoy!


<<<Mexico>>><<<Courage>>>

Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza

In one of my first few trips out of the country, I visited Mexico to attend the wedding of a friend of mine. It fell just after the holidays, so I thought this would be a great way to celebrate with my friend and also have my own little adventure to start the new year.

We were staying in Tulum, located on the Yucatan peninsula. Most of the trip was spent with my friend and her family, but I also had the desire to see something on my own. As this was before all of my solo travel, I was a bit apprehensive of going it alone. However, I did not want to miss out on this opportunity to see the Mayan ruins.

I was feeling called to visit Chichen Itza, which is a few hour bus ride from where I was. I decided to do an overnight trip there, and since no one else was interested in joining me, I set out on my own. I didn't have a working phone, so I navigated my bus route ahead of time and set off. I arrived at the ruins only one hour before closing and was one of only a few people left in the sprawling complex. It was beginning to get dark, and it was a bit eerie, but there was also something beautiful about it.

I believe that it was the courage cultivated during this trip that allowed me to leave LA, my home for the last 6 years, and move back home with no plan or idea of what would come next. This move ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made and set in motion all the events that led me to where I am today. This was all possible because I had the courage to let go of what was no longer serving me and step into the unknown.

<<<Thailand>>><<<Acceptance>>>

My "sunny" beach day in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

On a holiday from school, while I was working in China, I decided to take a trip to Thailand. Although it was nearing the start of the rainy season, I decided that it probably would be fine and prepared myself for a relaxing beach vacation. As it turns out, I was wrong. It rained every day I was there….for most of the day. The sunglasses and swimsuits I had packed proved to be unnecessary.

This was difficult for me to digest at first and I held on to the vain hope that the sun would peek out soon. It did not, and once I accepted that, I began to enjoy the trip for what it was…an adventure. I found myself on a small island not frequented by tourists, especially this time of year. I enjoyed watching the rain from my beach bungalow and met a friendly local who drove me around on his motorbike. We talked and drank Thai whiskey under an overhang while waiting for the rain to subside.

My trip turned out to be wonderful, even though I didn't return with a golden tan. This caused me to remind myself that there are no "good" or "bad" situations. The only thing that makes something good or bad is my reaction to it, and this is closely tied to an expectation of something. If we hold an expectation of what we want something to be, we severely limit our ability to truly experience it and enjoy it as it is. I was presented with the valuable lesson to let go of expectations and enjoy things as they are.

<<<India>>><<<Presence>>>

Where my adventure began, Rishikesh

India was one of the most overwhelmingly, chaotically beautiful places I've ever visited. You can take any average scene on the street and see hundreds of small things going on. There are people everywhere, rickshaws driving by, cows milling about, monkeys trying to steal your sunglasses, shopkeepers selling their goods. It's a lot to take in, and for some people too much, but I found it intoxicating.

There are so many small stories I could tell about my time there, but I'll focus on just one. It was a simple moment, yet it was beautiful and perfect. At that moment I was fully present and taking everything in. This happened to me numerous times during this trip. It was during this time that I also did my yoga teacher training. Mindfulness and staying present was one of the main pieces of wisdom that I absorbed throughout this trip.

Do you ever have moments that just take your breath away? It doesn't necessarily need to be anything extraordinary, but something about it just strikes a chord. Perhaps that is the feeling of being fully present and experiencing life exactly as it's unfolding.

I had several such experiences on a particular day during my travels in India. It was towards the end of my three week trip through Rajasthan. I was in the city of Pushkar near the desert that borders Pakistan. While walking to a temple, a shopkeeper called out to me to come and try "the best chai you've ever had", such as is common going through India.

On my way back from the temple I stopped for some chai, which actually was the best I've chai I'd ever tasted! And that's saying a lot, because I drank a lot of chai in India! While enjoying my tea I got to know Sandeep, the owner of the shop. He was very kind and invited me to go for a walk with him, which I happily accepted.

Later that afternoon, he took me on a short walk to the mountains near his shop where there was a cave temple and a beautiful bodhi tree. We stopped for a while and sat underneath the large tree in comfortable silence. An incredible, peaceful feeling washed over me and I felt as if I was absorbing the energy and wisdom from this ancient, sacred tree.

Later, as we were making our descent back down, we stopped to watch a man leading his flock of goats back to his village. It was simple, yet beautiful. Basic yet extraordinary. I can't quite explain my feeling at that moment other than, bliss. The kind of bliss that can only be found when you are living completely in the moment.

<<<Indonesia>>><<<Vulnerability>>>

My partner and I in Lombok several days after meeting

It was during my time in India where a friend I met told me about the Bali Spirit Fest, a 10-day festival celebrating yoga, meditation, music, art, and mindfulness. This automatically piqued my interest so I decided to go as a volunteer. My time in Bali was really transformational, and I could write an entire article solely on revelations I had there, but here I will focus on just one.

I was single during my trip to Indonesia. In fact, throughout most of my adult life, I've been single. Although I dated a lot, there was never a person with who I really connected on a soul level. Many of these men were unavailable, either physically or emotionally. What I later realized is that I was attracting to me exactly what I was putting out. I myself was unavailable because I wasn't willing to be vulnerable with a partner. Vulnerability could potentially lead to hurt and my fear prevented this from happening by keeping a wall up. This powerful realization came to me during a mediation in Bali. After that, I made a vow to myself to really open my heart and be vulnerable, without fear.

Just one week later, near the end of my trip, I was sitting on the beach in the Gili islands near Lombok. I had a wonderful day of snorkeling and relaxing by the beach. It was near sunset and I was enjoying being alone, but I also thought that it would be nice to have some company. Not five minutes later, a handsome man walks up and asks if he can join me. Thank you universe! We hit it off and spent the rest of the evening together as well as the next few days.

Over the next year, love blossomed and our relationship deepened. I realized that this chance encounter was maybe not so random. Our meeting came at a time when I was open and without fear. I had cultivated a love within myself that I found reflected back to me through my partner. This is perhaps the most beautiful lesson that I've gained from my travels.

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