A week ago (May 10, 2015) was the first anniversary of the start of this round-the-world trip. This included eight months in South America, a 2-month break back home in Los Angeles, and two months in New Zealand.
It’s been a really great year, better than I imagined.
While I’m nowhere ready to go home, I can say that I’m satisfied enough with the quantity and quality of experiences (places, people, moments) that if I was forced somehow to end my trip today, I wouldn’t feel bad about going home and starting a more conventional life. Years used to go by very fast in the past, but looking back over this last one, I can recall so many places, people, and stories. All of them have greatly enriched my life in many ways. They all form a collection of memories that I can revisit any time to give me a high level of happiness, gratitude and satisfaction. While I have collected enough of these memories, I’m lucky enough to be able to continue, so I will. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing at the moment.
I have learned a lot since the start of this trip. The main thing is that I’m now very comfortable in my skin in social settings. It used to bother me when I met unfriendly or unapproachable people. But because of all the great people and interactions that I’ve had with them while traveling, when I now find myself in similar situations I just spend some time doing something on my own, with the confidence that I’ll soon meet many other friendly people. And it’s not something that I’ll have to look very hard to find. This has brought me an extra level of piece of mind I didn’t have before.
The other important lesson is to travel slow and not worry about the things I might be missing out. I’ve been to some cities for days and not seen any of its highlight attractions. I have stayed two weeks in places that I originally intended to spend two days. I have learned to stay longer in a place if I’m enjoying its vibe and the people around me, instead of going somewhere else to chase the same thing. If I feel I “should’ move on to another place but lack the motivation to do it, it’s really your body and mind telling me to slow down and take some time to process and digest everything.
This trip has always been about personal growth as much as satisfying my wanderlust. As I continue this trip, my main personal goal will be to learn how to interact well with all sorts of people, not just the ones I find pleasant.
So far I have been in countries that were “easy” to travel due to me knowing the local languages in South America (except Brazil) and New Zealand. I look forward to more exotic and challenging countries for the rest of this trip, places where I don’t understand a word and can’t read signs.
Looking ahead, I will be spending the rest of 2015 in Australia and Asia. First up is three weeks in Australia, shorter than I would have preferred but I need to attend a wedding in Taiwan in mid June. I’m excited to go back to my country of birth for the first time in over 20 years. I have almost no memories of it, so it’ll be like going to a new country. After that will be Japan, another country I’m really looking forward to. I don’t know what will follow Japan, but in September I need to be in Singapore for the Formula One race there. Before and after that I’d like to visit China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. That should keep me busy and happy into 2016.