I urge you to travel. As much and as far as possible.
Work ridiculous shifts to save your money. Stop accumulating possessions. Go without the latest iPhone. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone. Find out how other people live and realize that the world is a much bigger place than the town you live in. And when you come home, it will still be the same and yes, you may go back to the same old job, but something in your mind will have changed. And trust me, that changes everything.
Enough preaching. What follows is a taste of what we encountered on our journey, straight out of my diary. For the record, at that time we were in Myanmar after traveling through India for 3 weeks. I hope you enjoy it:
Myanmar is the complete opposite of India. On this very moment we are floating on a boat from Bagan to Mandalay. The ship slides through the fog on an enormous river and while the sun rises in the east, we leave thousands of red temples behind in the jungle.
Think of The Beatles song ‘Here comes the sun’ and you get a taste of what our last days felt like. During our travels through India I tried to keep a funny tone while describing the misery of the situation over there. Here there is nothing funny about it, it is pure romance.
So let us keep it to a declaration of love for this country (aside from the military and corrupt government of course). Six hours after our arrival, I let down all the walls, I carefully built up against Indian beggary, rip-off and lies. Burmese people are possibly the most friendly and honest people, I have ever met on this godforsaken planet. ‘Politesse oblige’, you don’t fake friendliness, you have to be it. Even the megacity of Yangon was a blessing after all the hectics of India. There we take a VIP-bus, the likes of which you have never seen in Belgium, and we cruise into the jungle. Life here in Asia is so ridiculously cheap, that we can afford this kind of luxuries. What follows is a three day hike through the jungle hills of Myanmar guided by an amazing 16 years old guide.
Behind each horizon the view is more beautiful than before and the smile of the local Burmese ploughing through his rice field is more sincere than before. We live without electricity, running water, internet or mobile service for three days. We wake up when the sun rises and go to bed, when it sets again. The rhythm of nature still rules here. Wooded hills with rice fields in between are green, greener, greenest, while the soil is as red as the gravel of Rolland Garros and the sky an alternation of blue and grey depending on the monsoon rains, that still scourge the land.
After the hike a boat races us back across the Inle Lake passed stilt houses, back to our comfortable lives. Appreciating it ten times more, we enjoy a nice hotel, taste wine, have a massage and lunch with two dutch beauties. Our latest achievement dates from yesterday: we cruised on scooters through Bagan. A surrealistic world wonder: 2200 brick red, gleaming gold and marble white pagodas spread across a valley of 50 shades of green.
I hope you get it by now: Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. The fact that you get lost, will help you find yourself. You find the pearls of life outside your comfort zone.