I love reading short travel stories from other bloggers, in fact I’m a little bit obsessed. My favorite is Q & A style posts, but I’m starting to see a theme of generic, non-inspiring, questions like, “What’s your favorite country” and “What’s your favorite travel item”. While those are useful, they are pretty boring. So I wanted to spice things up a little bit and talk about my travel stories in a more relatable and fun style. So I came up with a category format for top experiences, almost like the Grammys of travel. Oh, am I on to something there?
If it helps, you can picture me in a ball gown on stage, giving some inspirational speech about chasing your dreams and thanking my biggest supporters…”I’d like to thank my mom and dad for not giving me up for adoption when I said I was going to Africa to play with monkeys. And my friends who still let me sleep in their beds, even though they are married, when I spent all my money on airfare and can’t pay rent. And to Amy, who with the promise of booze, will join me on any and all travel pursuits…”
Without further ado, here are my top experiences!
Well let’s get this out of the way… My pale booty made its debut in the Bangkok Airport. It was a terribly hot day, like most days in Thailand, and this particular day I was flying to Hungary. I hadn’t done laundry in a while so I was wearing a sundress and, brace yourself, no underwear. Before you roll your eyes, it was a long dress and I hate underwear.
Anyways, I arrived to the airport STARVING but decided to use the restroom first before standing in line at one of the food stalls. After leaving the bathroom I threw my backpack back on and made my way to the food court. Little did I know that my pack had hooked onto my dress and pulled the backside all the way up to my waist. I remember hearing a few people yell out to me, but it was in Thai and I just smiled. (Lesson of the day… learn Thai). Finally after probably at least a minute or two of walking around, a man ran up to me and sheepishly told me that my dress was up. My eyes almost bulged out of my head with embarrassment as I reached behind my back and felt my poor little butt cheeks exposed to the world. This is NOT how you blend in when in a conservative country…
The worst part of it all? I was way too embarrassed to stay in the food court area so I didn’t get to eat!
Machu Picchu. I tried to write a post about this experience, but honestly it’s crap. Because words will never be able to describe the feeling that took over my body the moment the clouds lifted and the morning sun exposed the ruins. I cried. We all cried.
I’m a total history nerd and my all time weakness is latin american history, specifically the Mayans, Incans and Aztecs. And I kid you not, I felt the Incans there with me as I stood on their sacred grounds. So there I am feeling deeply connected to some crazy ancient spiritual realm, and then I snap out of it long enough to see where I am. Machu Picchu is perched on top of the most rugid mountain, in the most wild jungle, in the most perfect mountain range. Absolutely breathtaking.
I’ve done a lot of adventurous activities, most are just recreational like rafting or skiing or hiking, but some are borderline suicidal. And I like those the best. My most recent attempt to get as close to death without actually dying was bungee jumping.
I was in Canada for my 25th birthday and decided the best way to celebrate would be to jump off a bridge. I forced a cute boy to go with me so I wouldn’t back out last minute (because you wouldn’t want to look like a pussy in front of a cute boy), and next thing I knew I was standing on the edge of the platform looking below at a raging glacial river. There was a brief moment where I called myself a series of names, all revolving around the idea of being a moron, but then my knees gave out and there I went. Screaming and flailing like a wounded pterodactyl. So much for looking cool for that cute boy…
But it was amazing. And freeing. And I can’t wait to do it again.
You all know that I got robbed by a herd of small children in Chile. We don’t need to relive that shameful moment… but what I don’t usually talk about openly is the walk back to town after the robbery.
After we got our wits together, we decided our only option was to walk back to the city. Valparaiso is nestled into a cliffside, so anywhere you go requires scaling sets and sets of steep stairs. So, we began the long journey down the alleyways and stairwells. At first, I felt pretty good considering that we had nothing left for people to take. But then, after numerous ill-intentioned stares, I realized there was a lot that they could still take. My life, for one. Without going into too much detail, because it still gives me the heebie-jeebies, we quickly understood that we weren’t safe and needed to get to the city as soon as humanly possible. We saw a group of girls walking home from school and chose to use them as a buffer, walking just a few feet behind them until we arrived in town. We were incredibly lucky that day.
I recently went on a 23 day rafting expedition down the Colorado River (Grand Canyon). We’ve all been calling it an expedition, but it was more of a pilgrimage. I was there on a mission to find meaning, somewhere in those canyon walls. And I found it alright. It was revitalizing and re-wilding. I left that trip feeling physically accomplished but also mentally recharged. I knew exactly who I was, at the bare-bones level, and knew what I wanted. And that adventure-induced fire is what keeps me going each and every day.
Most Beautiful (Visually):
I always act like this is a tough one, because I’ve seen a lot of really beautiful places. But my answer is always the same. Torres Del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. This place is my kind of beautiful. It’s mountains and forests; it’s rivers and lakes; it’s wild and extreme. It’s everything that makes me feel most alive. Each day of the trek brought on new and wonderful scenery, and I really think I could’ve spent a month out there. Maybe eternity.
This might seem really small, but for me it was HUGE. I was in Ho Chi Minh for a few days last spring, which was my first time in Vietnam. I had spent the first day in the Vietnam War museums and couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t belong there. My country had committed some pretty serious violence that affected almost every member of the Vietnamese population in one way or another. And there I was, as a privileged american tourist, taking pictures of the war relics.
But you know what, humanity is great. They forgive and they welcome.
Ho Chi Minh is known for its insanely busy 6 lane streets and there is an art to crossing without being ran over by one of the thousands of mopeds. I learned in the first few hours to cross quickly with confidence, in a straight line, making eye contact with the drivers. And that’s when it happened. The most heart-warming thing I have ever experienced. I was just about to cross the busiest intersection, when a elderly Vietnamese lady no taller than 5 ft tall, grabbed my hand and looked up at me with a worried toothless smile. I knew immediately, even without the exchange of words, that she was scared to cross the street and wanted my help. So I interwove my fingers with hers, gave a nod and we took off. She hugged me once we reached the other side of the street and off she went.
I took this as acceptance into the country, but now that I read it out loud, it sounds like she very well could’ve just been using me as a human shield. Oh well, it was cute.
What are your top travel moments? I’d love to hear the story 🙂
(Colorado River pictures courtesy of Curtis England, of Capture the Flow)