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?