Do not follow…

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Morning at the Thar Desert

Morning at the Thar Desert

This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson struck a nerve with me while surfing the net one day some time last year, and thought it apt to go with this photo I took early morning at the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India, last April.

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It ain’t too far

Camino - en route to Acebo

Often during my month in India, a rickshaw driver would pull up to me and try to convince me that where I was going was too far to reach by foot. And I’d just be thinking, “I once walked 800 kilometres across Spain. It ain’t too far.” 😉

Sunrise over the Thar Desert

I’ve spent the past couple nights back home in Canada, and am grateful to be home again after the latest series of travels through Asia, although jetlag ensures that I will be sleeping and waking up at odd, random hours for the next few days…

One of the most unusual places I’ve ever woken up was in the Thar Desert in India last month. I’d fallen asleep on a cot, covering myself completely in a thick blanket to shield me from the blowing wind and accompanying sand. I awoke, not knowing the hour, and this was the first thing my eyes laid sight on for the day 🙂

Thar Desert sunrise

Thar Desert sunrise

Good morning, everyone!

Catch me if you can

So, I’m travelling again! And my upcoming travels might very well be the most intense and diverse that I’ve ever embarked on. This trip was supposed to be all about India, and I’m spending just over a month in the country, so it primarily will be about India. But in my attempt to look up flights to get there, I (eventually) ended up booking a more complex itinerary involving 6 countries on 2 continents – Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Malawi (that’s in Africa, folks) over the next seven weeks.

How? I figured out that I could use my MileagePlus miles from United Airlines to book a Toronto-Taipei, then Seoul-Lilongwe-Toronto trip. I then used my British Airways Executive Club miles to get me from Taipei to Hong Kong to Delhi, and then I purchased separate tickets on AirAsia from Calcutta to Kuala Lumpur and onwards to Seoul to close the gaps. The result? This…

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Why? There’s always more to see, and there’s things to see again in Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, and Seoul. Whenever I’m somewhere for the first time, I’m not concerned about “doing everything” there is because I figure that if life has brought me to some incredible places, life might just be great enough to let me see some of these places again, and I can always do things that I may have “missed out” on the first time around. On the other hand, I’ve never been to India or Malawi. India has increasingly become a country that I’ve wanted to visit and explore, and attempt to know and become familiar with. I’ve heard a ton of stories from fellow traveller friends who have explored this vast country and their stories are always intense and strongly opinionated. I have to go and experience it all for myself. And Malawi – this country has come up at least twice from friends the past year. This was essentially a “bonus” country on this trip; I learned that I could go here without spending any additional miles. I’ve never been to sub-Saharan Africa, so this is a dip in the water that will hopefully lead to more forays into the continent in the future.

I’m nervous and beyond excited, adrenalin is pumping through my veins even though it’s just past 1 am here in Toronto. I’m about to board my flight to Taipei and I hope you join me over the next seven weeks to explore a bit of this beautiful world of ours! Cheers!

A look back – People watching in Patan

Among my favourite activities when I travel is to people watch. Unlike trekking, another favourite pastime of mine, it requires little physical energy and can be done basically anywhere there are people. It’s just fascinating take a step back and observe the happenings of every day life all around you.

A year ago today I was in Patan, Nepal on a day trip from Kathmandu. Nepal is a great country to people watch because there’s always plenty of people walking by and just hanging around on the streets and in the squares, and there’s seemingly always something going on. On this day, I went a bit (read: a lot) camera crazy and took hundreds of shots, positioning myself atop a temple or two or a rooftop restaurant, capturing moments of daily life passing by…

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A look back to the Himalayas – Trek to ABC, Nepal

Travelling and trekking have kinda become my thing the last couple years. It’s a great feeling to have an almost endless array of stories, many of which are simply inconceivable to the imagination, to tell friends and family at various occasions.

Still, it’s hard to believe that I’ve actually lived some of these experiences – how what was once just a vague, perhaps outlandish idea in my head somehow manages to simply become reality, sometimes through determination, sometimes through sheer chance.

I remember reading guidebooks of Nepal at a public library in Toronto in the autumn of 2013, researching a bit about treks. A few months later, a year ago today, in fact, I found myself in this video, at Deurali on day 6 of my trek to ABC, Annapurna Base Camp, in Nepal. It was already a wonderful feeling to just see the Himalayas all around, and to think how far my body, mind, and spirit had taken me. In many ways, it’s still so surreal…

I hope to see more of the Himalayas when I visit India next month, and will definitely keep you all posted!

Thank you

Where do I even begin to describe my life since 1 May 2013? How do I even begin to express my gratitude? A mere “thank you” is the greatest understatement I could possibly make. But here goes…

When I was in Turkey at the end of my 6 months in Europe last year, I said that I felt like a writer who had found his pen. Well, I’ve been writing with that pen a lot this year, most often just in personal memos in my notebook, laptop, or phone in raw scribbles that may never be revealed. Writing has been a therapeutic tool and the times that I’ve shared my experiences with you all, I’ve been overwhelmed at the responses I’ve received from my posts and blogs. Please know that I value every “like” or “comment” from each posting, and I feel blessed that you’ve taken the time to read what I have shared, and that you have extended so much support, enthusiasm, and goodwill to me.

But even having found this pen, I am struggling to put into words something that would do justice for the gratitude and love in my heart for everything I have experienced (and yes, that includes the good, the bad, and the horrible) during all this travelling.

At the very least, I must start with a thank you to each one of you, for being part of my incredible journey in one form or another. I’ve met some of you while on these travels (some only after sharing a conversation before exchanging contact info), some of you during past travels; some of you are my family, some of you are my friends back home or in another part of the globe. You’ve all supported me in your unique way and I wouldn’t be where I am without the irreplaceable interactions I’ve had with each one of you. Thank you for sharing my love of travel, exploration, and discovery.

Thank you for giving me the most wonderful memories a guy could have. These memories are my treasure; they shine more brightly than silver or gold and to me, are worth infinitely more.

Making mochi in Tokyo; spending quality time with family in the Philippines; being treated like a king in Sri Lanka; trekking through mountains in Nepal; exploring Thailand on (the back of) a motorbike; interacting with the beautiful people of Myanmar; biking to the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia; eating my way through the Balkans; the singular exception that is Albania; catching up with friends I’d made during previous points in my life in Japan, Nepal, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Albania, Czech Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands…

I could go on and on and on. But you’d probably stop reading at some point (if you’re still reading these words!). So I will just say one more time, from the depths of my soul, THANK YOU!