Recently I have been following the stories about the refugee crisis around the world. The closing of borders and the need to protect what we have seems to be on the rise. Coming from South Africa this idea of “keeping people out” is something I understand very well. Our homes are little prisons with the alarms, motion sensors, burglar bars and guard dogs at every turn. It seems that closing our doors is what we know how to do best.
As an expat, that has an incredible opportunity to travel, the closing of borders is a very sad concept in the so called global society that we live in today. I know, I know, this is not a political blog, and I do not by any means want it to become about that, but we cannot go on blindly thinking these opportunities are going to be there forever. In thinking back to my past several months living in Asia, I cannot believe that I have had the chance to travel 3 different countries already, how they have opened their doors to me so willingly and in a sense, taught me how to travel with an open heart.
Nusa Dua, Bali
Bali was a much needed time of restoration for me. I met up with my aunt and cousin for a girls weekend in Nusa Dua to have a memorial for my father and I couldn’t think of a more perfect place. Our daily routine at the resort consisted of: wake up, yoga session, swim, breakfast, tan, spa, pool volleyball, tan, lunch, shop, beach, cocktail, swim, dinner, sleep and repeat. I admit that I should probably have done a few more touristy things, however what I love about traveling is that there are no rules. If you want to lie by the pool all day, do it. If you want to see every temple and scramble through every market, do it. You do You, because that is what this “finding yourself” while traveling is all about.
Bali, you opened your doors to me and gave me an opportunity to let go, forgive and find peace, for that I am ever so grateful.
Being this far away from home brings its hardships and holiday celebrations are one of those moments. I decided to head to Aus to spend some time with my extended family. I cannot tell you how much I valued having dinner around the table, packing a dishwasher while chatting to someone and taking the dog for a walk. My gran always says “There is something about spending time with your own skin” and she is so right. Family get it, whether they agree with you or not is not really the point, regardless of that, they will be there, they will challenge you and give you a different point of view, one that perhaps you need to actually see from, but they will be there. Traveling to see my family made me realise how important the small things in life are and how we should not wish those moments away.
Australia, in opening your doors to me, I was reminded of the importance of family, because As Mitch Albom puts it ” There is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family.”
Chiang Mai and Pai, Northern Thailand
Over Chinese New Year I finally got to venture off with some friends. After over sleeping and missing my initial flight, I eventually landed in Chiang Mai. I dropped my stuff off at the backpackers and headed out into the streets with a map and my camera in hand. I honestly had the best day, checking out temple after temple, sitting at cute cafes sipping on a Thai coffee or fresh pressed juices, watching the people scoot by, it was wonderful!
Pai is the loveliest hippie town, I could have stayed longer, the night market was possibly my favourite part, especially since the food was so good and cheap! 9HKD (R18.00) for pad thai… I will say that staying at this backpackers made me feel quite old, however we had the most amazing time and just being able to make memories with friends was well worth it!
In Thailand we were chatting to a local who told us a story about how someone asked him why there are so many open homosexuals in Thailand, his answer simply was that it is because in “Thailand, we are free”. Before you get on your high moral horse about sexual preferences, please see my point. We have no room for judgement, and this has nothing to do with agreeing with homosexuality or not, its simply the culture of freedom that I was exposed to in Thailand. The beauty of their worship, their kindness that transcends customer service, whatever your belief is, or sexual orientation for that matter.
In traveling to such vastly different places you learn so much about others as well as yourself. If we start closing the doors to everyone and boxing ourselves into groups of “us” and “them” life is going to become pretty boring. I think though, and this is just MY opinion, that we need to learn to open our own doors to each other’s differences and not become so afraid of what is not the same as what we know. We are becoming a world that is so consumed with fear that we are forgetting to have faith, faith in human kind, faith in each other, even having a faith in general is becoming something that is not spoken of, in fear of assumptions, labels and judgement.
I truly believe that travel gives you a kind of “Open heart surgery for the soul”, where in your discovery of the world, you realise that as scary as it is out there, it is just as kind, it is just as loving and just as great as you actually thought it could be. Oh yes, there are horror stories, yes there are things that go wrong and moments that I wish never happened to my worst enemy, but what would you rather choose, to sit in a glass box judging the world as it goes by or deciding to break the glass and explore it, with your heart wide open?
Love and Adventures everyone,