It had been 7 months since I decided to quit my job, took off and traveled Southeast Asia. It all started with a friendly conversation with my friend and mentor Darrel who works and lives in Singapore for a time now. He invited me over to see if I can get a job there, or just probably try to get some sense into me since at that time, I was really confused and I had no direction at all.
From Singapore, I journeyed to the neighboring countries, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, for a total of 100 days. It was not all easy, but being able to experience such adventure is totally life changing.
Over those months, I have done so much more that what I have had done in the past few years of my twenties. I have learned so much about culture, food, relationships, careers, life in general but from a different perspective. I have also gained the confidence and the courage to get things done. Basic things that I wish I knew before, but I guess was timely to know now. I learned values which I believe is important when you travel, values that could also be useful in our day to day life.
Kindness is universal
It doesn’t cost anything, but it is the best thing you can give others; friends, strangers, even people you don’t like. Kindness is the universal language for compassion and respect for individuality regardless of race, culture, preference, age, gender, etc.
When you travel to unfamiliar territories on your own, you just have to trust your instinct and pray for people’s kindness. I have heard so much about other travelers being swindled and robbed in the places that I’ve been to (Phnom Penh, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, etc. ), creating a stigma of fear for both travelers and locals. Kindness includes respect and compromise. If you want to go further, last longer and stay safe altogether, be kind no matter what. As they say in Karmic Law: What goes around, comes around.
Be patient: wait and see
The world sometimes unfolds great things in front of you when you least expect it. In a budget backpacking trip, you don’t get to have so much money to spend, you only have time.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, locals take time (at least 4 times) everyday to sit down and drink their iced coffee or tea. Lazy? maybe. But when you are in a place with so many people, so many tourists around, noisy, crowded, busy, and humid and warm, a break every now and then keeps you away from fatigue and stress. The essence of travel is to appreciate where you are, experience the life in front of you and learn from it. You cannot do so if you are in a constant hurry and irritated.
Wait. And see that there is so much wisdom in waiting for the right time. Appreciate the beauty of waiting and the great lessons it unfolds.
It was in Batam, Indonesia where I was at my lowest point. It was my first destination after Singapore and I was held in the immigration for some 30 minutes or so. What was even worst was only few can understand and speak English, and I was so scared of getting ripped off by the taxi drivers because I judged them as if they were hoodlums with bad intentions.
After an hour, I finally let my guard down, gave up my so-called “rational thinking”, and just go with my instinct and asked for their help. These people were not so bad after all. They even gave me the directions to my hotel, hailed me a public transportation and reminded me of how much to pay, where to get off and how to get to my hotel.
Building trust is not easy even if you know the person, it’s even harder if you don’t. But trusting others and their kindness is a gift from God that may be broken a lot of times but can still be whole over and over again.
Let others be
Along the way, you will meet diverse people: take that opportunity to know them, hear them and relate. It won’t be easy as there are many radical minds out there. Your patience and understanding will be tested. But it’s up to you and how you react to them, that matters.
All throughout my journey, I have been discriminated a lot of times for my color, race, and preference. May it had been said in a normal conversation, or as a joke during a drinking session, I honestly get offended every time. I just keep quiet and pray for the peace of mind and understanding. I do not need to carry the burden of imperfections based on other people’s guidelines. I let them be because my peace is more precious than their judgment.
In everyday life, you have a choice over the battles you want to fight. People will be what they believe to be. You can only do so much for and about others. It is up to them to accept or reject you. Let others be because that is their way of life. Do not be so easy to judge and backbite. Hear them out and act upon your judgment with wisdom and understanding.
Lastly, to stay alive and unscathed whenever or wherever you travel, always learn to pay respect to religion, culture, gender, traditions and to people. We bring our culture and upbringing with us when we travel to different countries, make your country proud by always being respectful.
In Bali, Indonesia, you only get respected and treated right if you know well how to respect others. Some tourists think that if you have the money, you’ll get the best service. In Bali, it’s different. Money can’t buy you a good relationship and special treatment. People in Bali are very kind and honest, they have a culture that is respectful to others; humans, animals, beliefs, traditions, etc. Respect, together with their other values, make Bali a successful example of good tourism.
I know you don’t need to travel far or travel wide to learn all these things. Sometimes, it just comes difficult for others like me, because maybe we were always used to the easy life and compromising life. I pray for another chance to travel abroad again, hopefully soon. For now, I will stick to these values and make sure I learn to
I pray for another chance to travel abroad again, hopefully soon. For now, I will stick to these values and make sure I get to share them with my fellowmen. These are small things that make huge differences.