Travel thoughts

Trip Start Jun 26, 2013
Trip End Jul 24, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This time I write from 30,000 feet in the air, sitting in my seat on the plane that will take us to Japan. This leg of the journey is just under 6 hours. From there we will spend 12 or13 hours ( am not sure how long this leg actually is because we leave at 3:05 pm then arrive in Detroit a mere 10 minutes later, at 3:15) flying halfway around the world to Detroit and then on home to Asheville. We will be there this afternoon, traveling faster than time it seems...I am especially looking forward to seeing our kitties, hoping they won't hold it against us that we have left them for a month. I am sure our friend Catrina took good care of them.

Thailand is a great country, filled with fascinating places and animals and friendly people. Everywhere we went we met kind and generous people who were quick to smile or help us find our way. We enjoyed eating Thai food and seeing some of the plants and animals. Also it was great getting a chance to see both the north -- where the mountains dot the landscape-- and the south, where there are white sandy beaches and waving palm trees beside crystal clear water.

It is true that there is still much to see and many things we ran out of time for in this part of the world but this seems true no matter how long one stays in a place. Always there will be more to see and experience. I love the way we travel-- content to spend a few days in one place rather than rush around, trying to" fit it all in." We can accept that we didn't get to Cambodia or Laos or Indonesia. Those can wait for another time.

In our last few days we have looked back on our month, recalling the moments or experiences that make our" highs" list. Thankfully there are many. Our lows list is nearly non- existent. For me, the top three highs are pretty easy: 1 seeing the fruit bats take to the evening sky at the Temple. 2. Watching a million (give or take) wrinkle lipped bats emerge from the cave and fill the sky with swirling waves and 3. Swimming in the bioluminescencent waters at Ang Tong National Park. Of course there are many more that make the list but I won't list them all out, even if I do have many hours.

Travel is an interesting activity. Why do people do it? What appeals to them about it? What do they gain from it? Does it change them?

For me, one of the appeals of travel is that it brings to life places and things I have read about or heard of, enriching my life in the process. Feeling the cool water against my body while watching the water " light up" with thousands of " sparks" is a sensory experience that cannot completely be appreciated unless through firsthand experience. I had heard about it and watched it in movies, but being there to experience it in person? It is an amazing feeling that will stay with me long after the actual moment. Travel is so sensory: Tasting the inside of the red spiky fruit or the round grape- sized fruits that hang from the trees. Smelling the white blossoms on the tree in the gardens outside of our hotel or the dozens of smells( good and bad!) at the local market or a hundred other things is impossible from a distance.

That being said, I would add that for me, my experience is usually better if I am not sharing it with bus loads or boat loads of other travelers. Joe and I decided early on after snorkeling with 60 + people that booking a tour to a popular attraction was sometimes not worth it, and that we would rather " miss out" on it than have to elbow our way though the crowds or walk in a single file line to reach some platform or beach already filled with people. We did our best to operate as independent travelers when possible, though this sometimes presents challenges or results in less than stellar results. Going into it with that understanding makes it okay and can yield wonderful surprises. Getting off the beaten path usually resulted in the most rewarding moments. There is just something wonderful in the silence of reaching a mountaintop and finding it empty or being able to stand in the dark night surrounded only by the sounds of frogs and crickets and waves gently lapping the sandy shore.

Then there's the learning part of travel which is equally appealing. Everyday there is something new and many things to be learned. Oh,I didn't know that Thai people eat noodles for breakfast or that Bangkok has a river running through it or that there's an enormous lake in southern Thailand that has karst formations around every bend ( heck! For that matter I didn't even know what a karst was)

Travel shows me that our life in the U S as we know it is not the only way to do things-- that just because people in other places do things differently, does't mean they are inferior, it only means they are different. Travel makes me appreciate all that I have and recognize how lucky I am to live where I do. Life in the US is easy compared to what many have to deal with daily. There are so many people who face hardships everyday and have so much less. Of course, it highlights the fact that so little is needed to be happy. People who seem to have nothing in the way of material possessions can be happy and not want for things they don't have. Travel makes us see that possessions don't make us rich; memories and relationships do as does living in the present.

Joe: I can only echo what Sharon has said. I am fascinated by what we see and yet somewhat ashamed at times by the thought of all the "things" in my life. Does this change me? Not really....I think that most of these people would happily change places with me and never regret it for a moment. Some would not. Maybe they are the ones who know what it is really all about. Still, I think that becoming a more global person is an important step in shaping the thoughts and actions that may cause a change in the world or at least in the part that we touch as we pass by. Right now I am looking forward to the return of some sense of schedule and routine to my life and when that becomes too we'll go again!
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Steve Morris on

Glad to have you back

JJ on

Enjoyed all the pics...glad you are home safely.

Rachel on

I loved reading your blog posts along the way. Thank you for taking the time out to still think of all of us back here and share your adventures with us. Welcome home!

Aunt Karen, on

Thanks for the gift. Love u

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