||VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels
I remember how, when I took off for a year of backpacking — which turned into three years — that people commented on how lucky I was to take such a long “vacation.” Aside from the fact I was still working as a freelance writer, it was hardly what I would call a vacation, and there were many times when I seriously questioned my sanity.Like one Christmas Eve I spent alone in a Cambodian village with a schoolboy following me around town on his bike, masturbating. Yeah, good times.
Or when I was trekking through the jungles of northern Guatemala in the rainy season (yep, some bad judgment there) and discovered ants in my pants — literally. Having to whip down your pants in the middle of the jungle while being bitten by hundreds of insects (and trying to do so discreetly in front of an all-male crew) makes a gal long for the comforts of home.
I spent a year working as an editor in China and during that time learned what real culture shock is. It doesn’t hit you when you get off the plane — you’re still in the honeymoon stage at that point. It hits you seven or eight or nine months later when the novelty wears off and you’d practically cut off your arm for a piece of cheese.
So, considering this, why travel? For me, it’s not a vacation or an escape. It’s actually a lot of hard work, especially if you’re traveling solo. There are moments of intense loneliness, of utter frustration. But truly, there’s no better way to learn about the world — and, ultimately, about yourself. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Some of my fondest travel memories have nothing to do with ticking one of the seven wonders of the world off a list. I stood up to the masturbating Cambodian boy — an experience that made me much more confident traveling solo in years to come. And I survived that Guatemalan trek to the Mayan city of El Mirador (minus two toenails) and got to watch the sun set from the top of one of the largest pyramids in the world.
You just can’t get those experiences sitting on the couch watching Discovery Channel. You’ve got to discover them for yourself — and we hope this website will help you go out and make a few of your own discoveries, even if you have to endure a few ants in your pants.
Date Added: January 3, 2011 | Comments (1)
Love this. I recently returned from my first “all inclusive”. While I’d travelled around, the thought of having everything figured out to me was appealing after an exhausting year. So what did I come home and tell everyone about – not the beach, the people we met or the food – nope, getting caught in a jungle when a hurricane hit the island and having to figure out a way to get out without falling into a cave or losing an arm to a cactus. Travel forces you into experiences you can’t ever forget.
Comment by Melody — January 10, 2011 @ 1:43 pm