Tag Archives: travel

Mahalo & Aloha for Now

As many of you know, I’ve slowed down my traveling ways over the last five months.  Maybe not forever, but the days of hopping on a plane or train once every week or two are gone for now.  This is something that life had been demanding of me months before I accepted it as my reality – and for various reasons, too.  The most significant is that I need to root myself in one place long enough to bring some of my other writing projects to fruition.

Traveling and writing about all that I’ve seen and experienced has not only given me countless stories, a deeper understanding of others and the way they live, and moments of profound joy, it has also fueled within me a tireless pursuit of self-inquiry.  So it is with the deepest gratitude that I thank you for sharing in my writing – and yes, my life.

Travel Tales is not coming to an end – it is merely being put on hold so that, like me, it too can be re-birthed in another form.  Check back in mid-2012 to see it in its new incarnation.

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Traveler Profile #1: Martin B.

Martin in India

Martin B is one of my dear friends whom I met years back when we both lived in London and spent our weekend afternoons sipping perfect soy lattes in Brick Lane coffee shops or laying about in his front garden, which happened to be the oh-so lovely Primrose Hill.  We both left London for different reasons, but our mutual love for the unknown, adventure, and new cultures took us to exotic places.  While I went off to Seoul, Martin went to Melbourne to fill his wallet before embarking upon a year-long odyssey of hiking, exploring, and working on organic farms across the globe, commencing in October of ’09.  Starting in SE Asia and making his way through most of Asia, India and Europe, Martin is finally resting his feet at his sister’s place in New York  and thus, was able to answer a few of my questions for this profile.   Martin will soon be departing to explore Argentina – the land of tango, breathtaking landscapes, outdoor fun, and yes, delicious malbec.

JCG: What is your approach/attitude towards traveling?

MB: I don’t plan my trips down to the last detail.  I usually have a game plan and a general direction in my head, but for the most part I have a “go where the wind blows” sort of attitude.  Wherever I go, I enjoy myself to the fullest, but I don’t want give the impression that it’s all fun and games on the road.  Yes, the experiences are fantastic and yes, it is fun, but sometimes headache and heartache find themselves buddying up with stomach ache and backache after a bad curry or a bumpy n-th hour at the back of a bus.  It’s a good idea to keep those things in perspective when I say I’ve been more or less living abroad and traveling since 2004.

Regardless of the challenges, this has been the best choice I could have made for my own life.  It’s pretty cool the things you get to see and do when you’re as feckless as I tend to be about career, future and the 401K hoo-ha.  When someone asks me, “How do you do it?  How can you afford to travel as much as you do?” I just wonder “How can I afford NOT to?”  We are only young once.  We are only promised today – the now.   And don’t worry, work can be found in all sorts of ways, be it the good old fashioned work for your meal sort of deal or the odd dash-o-cash under the table suits when you need it.  Hitching for rides and early bookings on flights keeps travel costs down.  Sell off the things in your life that you don’t need, buy a good backpack, a good pair of trekkers, and go!

JCG: What has been your favorite travel experience?

MB: That is the killer of all questions.  There have been so many beautiful people and wonderful experiences along the way, but I’ve got to say that the ultimate traveler’s destination for me thus far has been India.  It has it all: amazing food, intoxicating culture, and an other worldliness about it that us wayward wanderers are often seeking.  From the lush backwaters of Kerala, and hugging gurus to the Himalayas, there’s so much packed into the Indian subcontinent it’s difficult to not find something you’re interested in.

I have to admit, India had always been a destination I was a bit afraid of, largely because of other travelers’ stories about poor hygiene and overt class differentiation.  But when I arrived in the southernmost state of Kerala with no idea what I was getting into, I immediately fell into the rhythm of India.  That first evening, there was a procession – complete with elephants and a bandstand – for one of the many Hindu deities.   Wafts of incense filled the air and brilliantly colored celebrants filled the streets.  Having spent the previous few months in SE Asia helped to make this more of a feast for the senses rather than a shock.

The one thing that made India special for me was the people.  On my second day, I was at a market in the town of Thiruvananthapuram and a fella I barely spoke two words to invited me to his wedding.  Going against my inner-wiring to say “no,” I said “YES” and was allowed to witness one of the most special and important ceremonies in the life of an Indian.  India and her people are incredible.

JCG:  And with that, I can’t help but ask: what do you love most about traveling?

MB: I love the promise of the unknown.  I think I may be addicted to the sensation I get when I take off on an airplane, board a bus, a train, or a boat going somewhere for which I have no mental image.  I like it when my mind is clear of expectations and my senses paint a fresh canvas of a new destination.  It’s also fun to reminisce and flip through those countless mental canvases when I’m grounded for a while.  That way, I’m always traveling – even when I need to stay put to earn a little more money for my next epic journey.

JCG: You and me both, Martin.  You and me both.

On that note, I leave you all with a quote from the late, great Kurt Vonnegut:  Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. Martin, may you keep on dancing…

Yours in travel,

JCG


The Essence of Travel

Beyond the basic concept of travel

Travel, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is the act of making a journey, typically of some length or abroad. And in the most basic sense yes, this definition is true.  However, a recent move of apartments reminded me that there are no parameters for defining travel.

My move took me from a nice ground floor apartment surrounded by lovely greenery to a similarly designed apartment just six floors up, and it is remarkable how those six floors allowed me to step into an entirely different frame of mind.  Between the light and airy feel and the expansive view from my lanai (Hawaiian for terrace), I felt my spirit lift within 24-hours of moving in.

Instead of waking up mid-morning and groggily making my way to the nearby coffee shop, I find myself rising at dawn and breakfasting on the lanai as the sun makes its ascent into the sky.  Varying plays of light, an array of unfamiliar sounds, and a whole new vista – wait, aren’t these the things people so often say they love about traveling?

I may have not gone far, but I feel as though I’ve traversed the globe many times over.  What a difference a new perspective – quite literally – has had on my daily life, and most definitely for the best.  After all, travel is simply any movement that allows you to see things from a new point a view, with a fresh pair of eyes.  And this sort of joy is available to anyone, rich or poor.  If you don’t have the time or the means to journey to foreign soil, try stepping outside of your daily routine to spice things up.  Whether it’s taking a stroll in a neighborhood other than your own or visiting your local arts museum, your mind and spirit will thank you.

*For photo source, click here.

The Gift of Travel

Travel – if you let it – will take you on long, winding journeys to far off places, luring you in with the promise of mystery and endless possibilities.  Your senses become sponges and your imagination dances.  And that’s just it: aside from abandoning the banality of our daily lives, travel sparks a desire within us to push past the limitations in which we’ve allowed ourselves to succumb, and to imagine, if only for a short while, what our lives might be like if we hung our hats elsewhere.

Living the life of a traveler, for even the shortest of times, is medicine for the soul.  It pushes us out of our comfort zones and into a world of colorful languages, exotic landscapes, fascinating cultures and quiet self-discovery.  With each step we take on unfamiliar soil, we unearth pieces of our spirits we never knew existed.

And it for this very reason, I dedicate this blog to anyone who believes in living rather than existing and hopes to discover their path somewhere along the way.