Lessons from travel

Kathy Krugerbalance, China, harmony17 Comments

Some parts are easy

In January last year we travelled to Japan and I fell in love. With Japan, not someone other than hubby. A year on, I miss this beautiful country and I’ve been reflecting again on the lessons that travelling there taught me.

If you follow great travel blogs like Ytravel blog you’ll be blown away by the lessons, both subtle and spectacular that travel teaches – along the journey, at the destination and back home again when memories have time to marinate.

I’ve been ‘marinating’ in yin yoga, holding deep restorative postures and enjoying when travel memories come up instead of past pain gripping at my hip. In the sweat of a hot yoga class I’ve been journeying inside myself and I’m slowly developing my meditation practice (when it doesn’t drive me mad). As much as we need to journey inwards we also need to journey outwards, where the world has so many wonderful ways to shape and change us, so many places to see with a new perspective.

So I thought I’d start put a ‘balance’ lens on my travel experiences and capture the lessons I’ve learned from travel so far – with many more to come let’s hope.

I’ve been lucky to visit Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and to live in North America (and of course Australia). Still Africa and South America to go on my continental exploration, and so many places in between.

Meantime here’s the ‘Contiki tour’ version of some of the lessons I’ve learned –  I’ll be exploring some more in a series of posts.

Starting with…Japan – you can read more about it here.

There is a profound sense that you get somewhere quickly not by rushing but by simply knowing where you want to go.

Whether it  on the amazingly efficient train system or crossing the street, when you explore Japan you encounter a respect that enables a prevailing order amidst throngs of people and traffic – no-one seems to think they are more important than another and everyone respects the place – there is no rubbish on the streets even though there are no garbage bins.

 There is flow that comes through order – the rules allow individuals to pursue the direction each person wants to take without others getting in the way and without each person getting in the way of another.

 

I think it comes back to balance.

It is sooo different in China, where heavy traffic feels chaotic and the hordes feel like they surround you at times.

Western translation has the Chinese word for crisis (weiji) containing both the character for danger and the character for opportunity, as US President John F Kennedy famously spoke of. Even if the translation isn’t quite right, the idea that at any critical point there exists both the problem and a solution rings true – in China things seem to get done even when they look like there’s no way they will get done.

China has given me more than wonderful and amusing memories in our two trips there so far – this, the amazing country that gave us our two children.

Even something as planned as adoption feels like it happens in a muddled way (hubby going on crutches to China for our first adoption not helping matters), but our guides were on top of it, navigating bureaucratic delays and whatever obstacles got in the way. From what felt like chaos amidst a chorus of crying when we met our Miss Yin, to the scary experience of an emergency department of a children’s hospital with Little Yang, our memories of China are emotion-tinged.

The Chinese create balance not through any sense of harmony and order, but through somehow being organized in the midst of bedlam, just as I suspect they find hope in the midst of fear and joy in the midst of sorrow.

 

In Ireland we connected with my family and heritage – although funnily enough we stumbled upon a Kruger’s pub (my husband’s German-heritage name) – the western-most pub in Ireland (and Europe). The publican’s father had gone to South Africa as a young man and came back with the Kruger nickname. You stumble upon things in Ireland – not knowing what’s around the next corner of a country road, or whether someone’s just joking you when they say you’ll find the Blarney stone.

We enjoyed a new perspective of a sunset over water (at almost 10pm) – living on the east coast it is something we seldom get to see, and there were many more lessons, amidst many pints of Guiness.

In Germany we ventured high into the southern alps to Hitler’s lair at the Eagles Nest and wondered how a place of breathtaking beauty could also be a place for evil.

We lived in Canada for a year, so there are many memories and insights – and an over-riding sense of awesome – if you ask Canadians most things are awesome.

We’ve been to Vanuatu twice – after a flight-delay drama on our first visit (on the first night of our honeymoon) our connecting flight took off early and we had to lap the island as the air traffic controller hadn’t arrived for work (we literally saw this man scurry up the tower). She’ll be right, Minyama.

Then there’s New York, which I’ve been lucky to visit twice – the big apple has plenty to teach you.

There are more places and more memories of course, but I’ll sign off for this post with the promise of more travel insights. Happy journeying. Linking up with Essentially Jess for another IBOT.

What have been your biggest insights from travel? Your favourite places to visit?

Namaste sign off_edited-1Kathy X 

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Kathy KrugerLessons from travel

17 Comments on “Lessons from travel”

  1. Deborah

    I haven’t had a yen (!) to travel for a while. In fact I’ve rarely wanted to be anywhere but my own apartment for a decade or so.

    However, I lived in Africa (Mozambique) for about 16-18mths in the mid 1990s and I LOVED it. I never wanted to leave. At the time I couldn’t imagine coming back to Australia. But I did. Then my niece was born and I didn’t want to leave her. I did – went to Cambodia for 7mths (until there was a coup) but I didn’t have the same love I had for Moz. I later lived in East Timor for 2 years, but Africa still had my heart.

    Having said that I wouldn’t want to go back there. Not even for a visit. I’d love to travel to Italy (Tuscany most specifically) but financially that’s unlikely anytime soon (or ever!).

    I learned a lot from travel and living overseas but in some ways it was just being outside my comfort zone that did it. And I could probably try that here a little more!

    Deb

  2. Tegan Churchill

    I haven’t done a lot of travel but one thing I have learned is that I need to let go and go with the flow. We went away for the weekend last year and it was just perfect. We lazed around on the beach and there was no rushing around. We all came home feeling really refreshed.

  3. Malinda (@MBPaperPackages)

    This was really lovely to read. I think it is so very valuable to reflect on your travels and think about what it has taught you. I love your lessons learnt from Japan.
    I spent a year living in Thailand and it changed my mindset a lot, or rather not really changed it but solidified it I suppose. I think it was stepping away from the materialism of the western world and truly living in the moment that was most significant.
    I look forward to reading your next travel posts.
    I’d love you to link up with my #wednesdaywanderlust tomorrow. Drop by and check it out.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I will check out Wednesday Wanderlust – thanks Malinda. And thanks for your lovely feedback. Travel is a great mindset to have in that in promotes new perspectives and connection – can’t be bad when we expand our perspectives and connect with people ‘different’ from us.

  4. mummywifeme

    Ahh so many amazing travels you’ve had and so many memories to hold onto. We’ve travelled fairly widely through the UK and Europe, America and Canada, but we’ve not been to Asia yet. Would love to get there at some stage.

  5. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid

    I love travelling. I think it’s true what they say, a change is as good as a rest! When we lived in London, I think we took our European holidays and weekends away for granted, I would love to go back to Europe (only for a holiday though!) We’ve been to America, South Africa, Europe and parts of Asia. I would love to go to Japan, even moreso now I’ve read this post. I think travelling (no matter how near or far) is so therapeutic, it refreshes the parts of me that other activities just cannot reach!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Absolutely Sammie – there is a perspective that we simply can’t get ‘up close’ in our own lives and culture. I always feel really lucky too (sometimes in the midst of travel ‘nightmares’).

  6. Sarah

    I’d love to visit Aisa! Most of the lessons I have learned are through making mistakes like taking a terrible flight route because it’s the cheapest, or a package tour rather than seeing the real culture.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks for visiting Sarah – most of the best times I’ve had have been trusting serendipity and seeing what the universe has in store – you only live once. So we plan, but only to a point and sometimes skimp but also splurge. Love Japan and China for different reasons and have had a taste of Thailand. Cambodia, Vietnam and more Thailand on my Asian list, plus a big China trip with our adopted kids and another visit to Japan, and India would be good……

  7. Michelle@myslowlivingadventure

    I love to travel. It’s been only holidays since we’ve had kids which have been much needed and deeply therapeutic, but I love to travel, and I want to show my kids that more spontaneous and adventurous side of me. Loved your insights Kathy.

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