CONTRIBUTED BY JEN PRESTON
Fear not, I have several little travelers out there gathering intel and photographing the finest travel spots in Asia. There will be lots of adventures to report in weeks to come.
Meanwhile, cooped up on this island, I’ve been thinking a lot about travel.
I’m sure most of you have read, or at least heard of, the best-selling book EAT, PRAY, LOVE. While I tend to think of the book itself as a tad overrated, I do really like the premise. It is the memoir of a recent divorcee who travels to rediscover herself. She goes to Italy to learn how to find pleasure (hence the ‘eat’ part – I mean is there a greater pleasure? I think not); India to learn how to ‘pray’ and Indonesia to learn how to ‘love.’ It started me thinking about travel and what it does for the soul. I mean, why even bother travel? It’s expensive and unpredictable at times. You have to use up all that vacation time, and tap into that sometimes meager savings account. Why not just get a massage every other week (as great as THAT would be)? Save up the money for some new furniture? Spend the money on a flat screen to watch other people’s adventures?
Why do we travel?
Varying travel destinations come with certain expectations. Want history? you go to Rome. Want a tan? you go to Baja, Mexico. Can’t pry the Playstation controller from little Johnny’s fingertips? It’s camping time. Surely, you COULD go to Paris, and skip the Louvre in lieu of Euro Disney, and eat nothing but Chinese food (like certain family members of mine who shall remain nameless.) But why would you choose Paris? There is a REASON you pick a destination.
Choosing a travel spot a couple years ago, my mom declared she was done with “working” vacations. By that, she meant the kind where you hoof around all day, absorbing the culture and sign up for every tour offered. Sometimes, you need a vacation from that vacation. Her favorite way to spend time these days is 5 days on a terrycloth chaise lounge at the One&Only Palmilla in Mexico. She has earned the right to flop on a towel and nurse a tan on her days off.
I, however, am still in that exploring phase of travel. We have only 2 years left here in Asia, and I hate the thought of missing something. And yet, we still have jobs to do, and a less-than-endless stream of funds. We took a great, but wet camping trip to the north of the Island earlier this year, but with the current curfew restrictions, we can’t even do that anymore. We couldn’t even spend a night in a hotel when we got married the other day. (There are some pretty amazing hotels on this island, which I hope to report on soon). Hopefully, the restrictions will be lifted soon, and we can at least explore the island overnite like adults. It’s not like we can get off Okinawa more than a few times a year. So what to do?
It’s time to reorder my travel priorities in accordance with my funds and my husband’s leave time. Here’s what I want. The artist in me needs to be inspired. I can be inspired by nature, or by culture. I want amazing food. Blogworthy meals. Meals that will stay with me whenever I think of the trip. I remember being in St. Tropez thinking “people actually LIVE this way?” I want to stroll the alleyways and happen upon fabulous little shops and cafes. I want to experience places so unique that I question the way I live in my own little world.
Where have you always wondered about, but never quite gotten there? What are you looking for in your travels? Are you looking for a respite, or for an adventure? Do you ever travel with just the girls or just the guys? Is your itinerary packed with spa visits or rock climbing equipment? Is travel even an important part of your life, or do you prefer to read about other’s adventures? In fact, share your favorite travel adventure books with me… until I can move around on this island, I’m going to need to let my mind roam free….
I think I have gypsy in my blood, I am lucky to have travelled a lot in my 20’s: India (6 mths), Morocco, Israel, egypt, Croatia, Canada, spain, canary isles and Ibiza (partyyyy! but beautiful scenery), Paris, Amsterdam, then on to NYC then America (yes I think they might be 2 different countries LOL), Puerto Rico and now here (love it!). I would love to do the S. American rainforest, Indonesia, Nepal. Funny thing is, now I am so far from my Native England, I would like to go to Scotland and Ireland…should have done that when it was a hop, skip and jump away!
Whenever I see Mongolia on TV (like I did this morning on “Digging for the Truth”), I want to go back there. I lived there for a year, gee is it 7 years ago now? I never would have imagined that it would have made the impression on me that it did and that I’d long to return. But I wanna go back. I want my husband and my son to see it too.
And if you are into cashmere, the great outdoors, rough living, gorgeous tapestries, vodka, the most varied assortment of milk products you’ve ever encountered, and a land full of skilled artisans (http://www.uma.mn/), it’s a travel destination worth considering while living here in Asia.
But if you can’t make it there and like to escape with a little travel literature, this is an interesting book: “Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed” by Jasper Becker. Or better yet (easier to obtain)the documentary where Ewan McGregor travels around the world on his motorcyle, “Long Way Round”. He goes with his buddy to Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan, Alaska, etc. He makes me want a motorcycle and an adventure.
I also want to go to New Zealand.
Oh, and congrats on the marriage!!! My dream honeymoon spot is Lake Constance in Switerland.
Man, I keep coming back to this post and trying to answer the question.
For me, it’s about being more human than Meredith. No matter where you go, we’re all the same. I can’t get enough of that lesson. It makes my heart and soul bigger to see how human we all are. Simple as that, I guess.
I would go anywhere. Most definitely will need to make an appearance in parts of Africa and South America. I can’t think of a place I’d say no to. Especially if I had a great babysitter!
Thanks for the post, Jen.
“Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin is one of my fav travel books. He has such amazing one-liners in that book. It’s about traveling with Aborignines in Australia.
I’ve been blessed to be able to travel alot and so there are just a few places I’m still dying to go — Laos & to Kenya to go on safari. But for repeats, I’d love to take my family to New Zealand — very kid friendly place to travel! — and back to Machu Picchu in Peru.
One of the things I’ve learned is that I can travel anywhere. If I open my eyes and appreciate what I’m seeing, I can “travel” out gate 3 down a new street. That is wonderful when the hubby and little kiddos make it harder to run off like I used too…
The Great Wall of China, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Egypt and Rome. Venice again so my husband can see it. Meteora in Greece. Victoria Falls…..I could go on and on.
Sometimes I am afraid that I am running out of time. There is still so much to see.
Sometimes I have to remember where I have been to see how lucky I am.
Born in Germany, traveled all over Europe, stayed Stateside for 16 years, and now Asia. I have seen more things that most people and I consider myself very lucky.
Oh my, I forgot Tahiti and New Zealand.
There just isn’t enough time in one life time.
How to go about it? Plan, plan,plan.
Make a plan and stick to it. That’s how I got to Havasu Falls, Hong Kong, and one great spot in Pennsylvania which name now eludes me. But it was very pretty and a good trip and I do remember that.
Plan and commit myself to it. That is the only way I actually do it. It is so easy to say I do it later, or sometime, or next year.
To me the people or culture are not as important as scenery. I am amazed at how beautiful our planet really is. I am still awed by the color of the water around the island.
I love history so I want to know about the past, but not so much of the people as buildings. I love old buildings. As I explore them I get to know the people they were and are now.
I have to admit that I am afraid of globalization. I was disappointed to see McDonald’s over here. I am afraid that we will all be the same people; eat the same thing, wear the same thing. I wonder if that will ever happen in the far future. Everybody intermingles, people criss crossing time zones, marrying here and there. All those things are wonderful and my children are an example of it. They are; German, Italian, French, Polish, African-American and Cherokee.
My point is this; the only thing that would bring us back to who we are is our history.
I rambled on too long. If I get my own blog would you all read it?:)
Love the questions about travel. Had to post Elizabeth Bishop’s famous poem “Questions of Travel”…Here’s the final stanza:
“Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one’s room?
Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?”
Hmm…interesting thought. and traveling with a 3 year old often makes me ask myself-should I have stayed home?
Now on to the books:
A Year in Provence- Peter Mayle
A great read about the South of France. Not a plot-driven story, but a month by month account of really living in Provence. Cool to read with a cup of tea.
If you want to go deeper….
I used to teach Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha…another interesting premise about shedding all your material garbage and really just going out on a journey to find yourself when you have nothing…..
a lighter read..
Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist..again, a sheperd who takes off and then realizes that life is all about our own personal journey…not the checklist that is “given” to us.
Future dream travel spot: Santorini, Greece (I always think of those blue rooftops, and white buildings that are nestled on the edge of the sea).
Love the questions, but have to put the kids to bed, so will have to answer them later. BUT wanted to say HUGE congrats on your marriage!!!!