Well, I’ve been traveling for a little over a month. I’m 1/5 through my journey. Am I 1/5 wiser and more wordly? That remains to be seen I guess. As expected, I’m having the time of my life. There have been some of the best moments of my life on this trip so far. Although I’m not working, this isn’t much of a vacation. We move frequently and there are so many impacts on me physically and emotionally, that sometimes I find that I’m absolutely drained and need a day or two to catch up. Now that I’m in Indonesia, the beach has been a nice place to just get caught up on sleep and do a lot of writing (plus the internet is fast for once!). There have been many good experiences and some not so good ones. I fight myself saying “bad”, because nothing that has happened has really been bad. There have also been things that have really pushed me mentally and physically. I often feel the need to re-evaluate my circumstances to maintain a good energy level. I’ll share a few of my experiences so far.
The list is endless how many wonderful things I’ve experienced so far. I’ve met some really lovely people that I’ve traveled with. Not only have they been incredibly entertaining, they have so much useful information from their own travels. The locals have also generally been very kind and polite. The nature that I’ve seen is completely new to me. The volcanoes in Indonesia are breathtaking. The color of the volcanic lake at Ijen was such a crisp aqua color. I loved it. Basically the view from every high point that we’ve climbed to is amazing. It’s so incredible to be able to see an entire landscape or city from so high up. The Green Canyon/Green Valley in Pangandaran, Indonesia was maybe my favorite adventure I’ve ever done. Jumping off of waterfalls and swimming through fresh, crystal clear water was something I’d never have even imagined would be so fun. The architecture and man-made structures are also beautiful here. They’re just completely different and unique to the area. It feels so authentic to see them and it’s very interesting to dive into another world. The food is also so incredible. While sometimes it’s incredibly spicy, the flavor is always just so refined and delicious. There are so many new flavor combinations that aren’t even familiar to anything I’d ever eaten at home. I spend most my days just waiting around until I can go eat dinner somewhere new. I love it. I also feel relatively safe and secure. While going to a new and unfamiliar place every few days can be very uncomfortable, I’ve started to really adjust well. I’m not so worried when I come into a new town and I can just start appreciating it without feeling like I need to check around my shoulder. I don’t really feel homesick or worry about my endurance to finish the trip. I miss my family and friends, but WIFI helps.
The Not So Good
Coming from a first world country into third world countries is just a shock overall. You don’t really consider the luxuries you have at home until you see what squalor looks like. It can be very difficult to travel in places where poverty is right in front of you. In third world countries, proper disposal of trash really isn’t on the locals’ priority list. The road sides, rivers, streets, woods, and homes are all just littered with so much trash. You will see locals throwing their empty bottles into the river without a second thought, and it’s not your place to go into someone else’s country and tell them what they “should” do. So it’s very hard seeing beautiful landscapes and waterways full of trash. It makes me feel very sad for the people that live there and sad to know that it’s not likely it will be cleaned up anytime soon. It’s also incredibly difficult to see homeless babies and people riding on motorbikes holding newborns. It’s really trying to keep an open mind and accept the cultural differences. For them, that’s just what they have to do. There’s really not a lot of options for them. They need to sell bracelets and charge you extra when they can, because they know we can afford to pay a little more. We can, but as a budget traveler, I don’t want to be buying things I don’t want or need. Lack of solitude is also a big issue for me. As an introvert, I need my alone time to charge myself back up and while traveling people are always around. Sometimes I just have a very difficult time being around people, when at home I’d have my nights and weekends to think about my life and do my own thing. Being a tourist also gives me a lot of unwanted attention, especially as a woman. Many locals are so curious so they want to stare at you or want to sell you things constantly, and I can’t really escape from it. We have slowed down a bit with our pace, so that has provided me some much needed down time where I can explore a city on my own or just get caught up on writing in the room alone. In the grand scheme of things it’s definitely manageable and worth it, but maintaining a positive attitude is key.
Things That Have Tested Me Emotionally
I think the biggest hurdle for me emotionally is just maintaining energy and positivity. I truly believe that you attract what you give off, so I feel that if I remain positive, I’ll attract positive things. And here it’s so important to have good things happening. Of course if something bad is going to happen, it will, and there’s nothing really you can do about it. For the most part, however, people are nice and helpful and if you’re a nice person people will be nice to you back. It’s not always easy when you see so much desperation in people. I often struggle with the guilt of being a first world citizen. I have never known poverty, so I feel sad a lot seeing many of the people and their hardships. For myself to remain strong I need to accept my station in life, but its very difficult knowing that the amount I’m haggling for is still much much lower than I’d pay back home. It’s emotionally draining to lack privacy and familiarity. You just have this feeling of being constantly exposed. I want to be a good travel companion, so I try to keep myself positive and energetic all of the time, but it can be difficult. I don’t know necessarily if I want to be hardened after seeing all of the poverty and everything. I value my empathy and I believe that it is a strength, it’s just hard to manage sometimes. This trip will definitely test my emotional limits, that is for sure.
Things That Have Tested Me Physically
Although the views from the tops of mountains are incredible, I’ve never had much experience with inclines. Sometimes on a mountain it takes everything in me to go one more step, and I feel like giving up. I worry for my ability to hike in the Himalayas in Nepal in a month or two. Switching from a cubicle life to an active lifestyle has definitely been a transition. Walking around in the heat all day is pretty trying. My feet and legs are stronger than they were when we left, but some days are just exhausting. I am very lucky to have not gotten sick yet. I’m sure that’s on the horizon, but for now I am really appreciative that I’m healthy and active. I just need to stay hydrated!
Maybe I’m not too much wiser yet, but I have reflected and come up with something I will try and work on. Seeing and experiencing everything for the past month has encouraged me to really focus on being grateful every single day. I may not be able to do much for someone growing up in a third world country, but I can at least be really appreciative for all that I have in my life. I have a really good support system with my family and friends. I have a really great career waiting for me when I get back. I’m on a trip of a lifetime. I was born somewhere that a woman can really have a lot of influence and respect given to her. I truly am lucky and was given so many blessings and I hope to every day remind myself of that and do what I can to spread joy and positivity to others.
Onward and Upward,