How Travelling in South East Asia has Changed My Life 

I’ve spent 3 months travelling South East Asia. Riding in every imaginable form of transportation, there is never a dull moment. Even if you do nothing other than be here, you see some crazy stuff: 15 people in a pick-up truck, scooters weaving through traffic, and jay walking, it’s a non stop adventure.

I believe travelling isn’t about doing as much as it’s about ‘being.’

Backpacking through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia has changed my life. It’s true you can live like a king here. Amazing beaches, $3 haircuts, $6 massages, and $4 chicken curry is awesome, but SE Asia is so much more than this. I’ve been changed in ways deeper than the external lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong: the beaches are still pretty sweet!



I used to live in a bubble. Having every luxury available to me, I always chose safety and comfort. I would vacation to Maui for the nice beaches and the safe western food. I didn’t know what was happening on the other side of the world, and frankly I didn’t really care. I don’t think because I was insensitive as much as I was ignorant.

 
I used to life in my comfort zone, but now I believe that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. To really live an effective life you have to get out of your comfort zone. I left home with a backpack, 3 books, some clothes, and boarded a plane to Bangkok, Thailand. That scared me. Walking around in a city not knowing anyone is scary, but it develops your character and stretches your comfort level.

I used to want to acquire possessions. Now I only want to acquire experiences. I’d rather collect moments than things. (Exception is books because that will never go out of style). Through travelling I have learned to live on less. Some may call this minimalist. A few basic outfits and a pair of shoes is all you need. A 10kg backpack is enough to live out of for months on the road. Owning less is really quite freeing. The simple life is the freeing life.


I used to think riding a scooter in Canada was dangerous, now I think riding a motorbike in Indonesia is dangerous… because it is. Necessities like helmets and seatbelts in Canada are only optional in Asia. My perception of risk and danger has increased tenfold. I still value rules, but I think it’s valuable to see the other side as to why we have rules.


I used to be more rigid with travel schedules and itineraries, now I just adapt. Nothing here happens on a schedule. People are laid back and have taught me to relax. Planes are delayed. Buses break down and tuk tuk drivers drive you to their friends store for a tour in hopes you will purchase merchandise. No one’s really in a rush. You just have to sit back and smile.

I used to be shy to say hello and talk to people. After travelling it doesn’t matter who it is I am not scared or intimidated to say hello. The majority of the local people are really quite friendly so long as you smile and say hello. Be prepared for having the local people stare at you. It’s like walking into a party that you weren’t invited to. That kind of look. Once you smile and say hello it won’t take long until your visit is being documented with endless selfies.

Meeting the local people are what makes travelling so precious. This lady didn’t know English but she sits on the sidewalk while her daughter traps ants with a plastic cup.

These boys wanted to work on the their English so we just talked about how Canada is different from Indonesia.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in Asia. The water has a weird smell (you shouldn’t drink it), the climate is really hot and humid and will have you sweating in no time. Cockroaches and centipede are on your bathroom floor. The cats and dogs walking the streets are missing an ear or half a tail. Sometimes the sheets and blanket seem like it hasn’t been cleaned. I recently spent 3 nights sleeping using my hoodie as a blanket but who cares? You’re in Asia.

 It’s these “nasty” events that makes you value what you have back home 

Which leads to my last point…


I used to think I had it good back home, now I realize I have it great back home.
Seeing the living conditions that people live in will cause you to see your own life entirely differently. I honestly think this is what makes travelling so valuable. We cannot control our surroundings, but we can control our perspective. I have realized just how blessed I am to be born in Canada with so many opportunities and resources.

As 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day, education, food, medical care, and employment are all luxuries much of the world does not have. How great we have it in Canada is honestly not normal. Travelling SE Asia has shown me I need far less than I think I need, and have been given way more than I deserve. My heart is full and one of gratitude.

  

Mom, I am coming home.. mission accomplished.

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7 Things to Do and See in Kuala Lumpur 

Kuala Lumpur is an AMAZING city. A melting pot of cultures with people visiting from all over the world, you will leave KL with a deeper appreciation for other people groups and cultures.

The city lights stay on late, the food is delicious, and crossing the road will have you fearing for your life; but it’s all part of the KL experience.

A city generally avoided by backpackers, KL definitely surpassed my expectations as there is so much to do and see:


1. China Town  
 An extensive walking market this place really comes alive at night. Fruit smoothies, chicken skewers, rice dishes, you name it. The food here is fantastic. Goods such as sunglasses, watches, purses, and the like are all for sale. Get ready to bargain as that’s how the game is played here. When in Rome…

2. Berjaya Shopping Mall 

About as awesome as it looks. This monstrous 12 storey mall will leave you breathless. Even if you are not much of a shopper, you have to see it. The mall is home to a kids amusement park as well as an IMAX movie theatre on the 3rd floor. With over 1000 stores the Berjaya is among the 10 largest malls in the world.

3. Street Food The food is delicious and inexpensive! I would highly recommend eating the street food (just make sure it’s cooked so you don’t get sick). The naan bread, rice, and chicken pictured above was $4.00 (Canadian dollars) and quite honestly one of the best meals I have ever had. The Malay people like their spice so if spicy is not your thing ask for “not spicy”

4. Bukit Bintang The entertainment district in KL. This is where all the fancy malls, bars, and hotels are. This is a very popular spot and has it’s own train stop. Bukit Bintang was also the site of the 27th ASEAN Summit attended by Obama and other world leaders.

5. Petronas Towers These towers are spectacular to see in person. Used primarily by a petroleum company, the towers have become a famous landmark in KL.  You need a ticket if you want to go up to the look out point (bridge). And tickets sell fast so go early. The towers are currently the tallest twin towers in the world.

6. Batu Caves  Get your walking shoes in as there are 272 steps to climb to reach the top of the bat caves. It’s awesome while you walk monkeys are swinging around you. Admission to see the caves is free. The Batu Caves has it’s own train station and for $1.20 you can have a round trip ticket on the train.

7. Central Market 

  

The market stared in 1888 and is a deep expression of the Malay culture. With many shops selling inexpensive goods it’s easy to spend a lot of time in here. At the end of the market is an informal art gallery not to be missed.

P.S. Met this cute little guy..

 
Have you been to KL before? What did you do?

I would love to hear your thoughts

6 Things I Learned Solo Backpacking Thailand and Vietnam

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This past winter I set off for 42 days with a 10kg back pack, some books, and some granola bars. I had never been out of the Western world for longer than a week, so this was big. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience new cultures, and so Thailand and Vietnam were the destinations of choice. The trip was a total BLAST.

While solo backpacking, I learned some key lessons along the way:

1. Everyday is an Adventure – You don’t have a lot of routine when backpacking which keeps life very interesting. You wake up every morning with a hunger for adventure that day

2. Just Go With It – Buses, taxi’s, and ferry’s run late, you just have to adapt. I was in Vietnam on a 8 hour bus ride which turned into 12 hours because the A/C broke down on the bus

3. Say Yes – Within reason of course, saying yes when travelling is what it’s all about. Say yes to the food, to the excursions, the conversations. You may be scared at first but you will be thankful you did

4. Just Show Up – You don’t need to reserve tickets or passes or rooms weeks before. In some cases yes, but the vast majority you can just show up and get your ticket or room on the spot.

5. Pack Less – I brought 6 shirts and regretted bringing 5 of them. Whatever you need you can buy once you get there. You don’t want to be carrying a heavy pack around.

6. Things Don’t Make You Happy – The people I met in Vietnam were the poorest people I’ve met in my life, but they also had the biggest smiles. Happiness does not equal what you own. The more things you own the more you have to keep track of. Keep things simple and stop collecting stuff.

What lessons have you learned in your travels? Would like to hear from you!

30 Days in Thailand in 16 Pictures

I bought a used backpack, a plane ticket, and flew into Bangkok, Thailand. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the language. All I had booked was my first 2 nights in a hotel. The rest of the journey was an absolute adventure.

The opportunities for adventure in Thailand are unlimited.

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Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai is a must visit. For $13 you get to go into a cage with Siberian tigers, and who wouldn’t want to do that?

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Have you ever fed a 6 month old elephant? There are ethical elephant farms in Chiang Mai where you can bathe and feed elephants bananas.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand is a unique mixture of old versus new. Thailand loves 711’s, and with 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai, Buddhist monks are everywhere

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Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi is some of the greenest water you have ever seen. This is a popular tourist destination so prepare for crowds. The snorkelling here is awesome and you can swim up close with all kinds of cool fish.

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Travelling with a long tail boat is pretty common on the islands in Thailand. A lot of these tours even bring lunch and drinks for you so all you have to do hop on board. Be sure to chat up the drivers of these boats as they have some awesome stories.

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One of the coolest things about travelling abroad is all the locals that you get to meet. Everyone has a unique story and making new friends is all part of the adventure.

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The countryside in Phuket is beautiful. There are many bike tours in Phuket that take you through the city and out to the countryside to see some of the sites

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Adventures on the beach and sunset:

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Are You Single?

As the Facebook feed fills up with engagements and marriages, it’s not hard to wish for what other people have. Everyone is on a different path and statistically speaking 97% of people will be married, so if that’s not you yet, don’t stress. If you’re currently not married, now is the time to turn it up to 100 degrees and live your life. If you’re not happy as a single person, you won’t be happy in a relationship.

pic meYour capacity to live life as a single person is absolutely limitless. If you want to go travel the world, stay out until 2AM with your friends, or buy a dog you can do it. No discussion. No waiting period. And no checking in. If you want to do something, just make it happen. You don’t need a reason or an explanation. You’re not tied to anything or anyone.

I’m grateful for my friends who are in fulfilling, loving relationships. I really am. To see two people encourage each other and make one another better is awesome to see. Don’t look at your married friends and be envious of what they have. If you’re confident in yourself, you should be happy for your friends that they found an awesome partner and a team player.

If it is your desire to be married one day, I really believe God has someone for you. Having said this, nothing great comes without hard work. A great job, great fitness, and great friends all take hard work and dedication. A great relationship is no different. It’s not hard to have a “good enough” relationship. To find a dynamite relationship on the next level takes hard work. If you want it, go get it.