The lowdown

One of my resolutions for the New Year was to blog more often, and write even more. I’ve been doing quick, usually daily Facebook posts but as you can see, nothing on this site yet this year. Until now. For me, I’ll take this as a big challenge to recount a bit of where I am, where I’m going, and where I’ve been; what I’ve felt and what’s lifted my spirits; the not-so-glamorous things about travel, especially solo travel, and especially long-term solo travel; and really most profoundly, why I continue to travel and my reasons and motivations behind it.

Many have asked me about this trip, so let me just lay down the essentials in this post:

Who: Me! And the friends and family I’m meeting up with. And the people with whom I’ve yet to interact that will leave a lasting impact on me, and some that I’ll come to call as friends.

What: A trip around the world! In paper at least, I’ve left North America for the Pacific Rim of Asia, and will be making my way to points in South and Southeast Asia before making my way to Europe and arriving back in North America.

Where: Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal for sure. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Hong Kong in semi-planning stages. In Europe, I’m supposed to land in Romania, but have also set my sights on Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. At this point, the European leg of this journey is quite undefined and will be content to focus on just a few of these countries.

When: From the second week of January currently until the first week of October, 2014! That’ll be almost 9 months of travelling! In reality, that’s just the dates on my airfare that I’m somewhat willing to change, really depending on money and future motivation.

How: Planes, trains, buses, walking, ???

Why: Before setting out last May for Europe, I’d gone through a tough time of challenges, internal debates, and difficult decisions that were tempered with occasional personal triumphs and achievements. At the time, I was working full-time without a high prospect of longer-term travel which was what I had increasingly aspired to in the years prior. Simply put, travel invigorates and inspires me like nothing else. It’s the unbeatable combination of being in a foreign land, not knowing exactly where you are or how to get where you’re going but with a resigned confidence that all will work out in the end, interacting with people in this world that you would otherwise not meet in your daily routine back home, arriving at spectacular landscapes, feeling serenity during a hike, going somewhere you’ve never heard of and being amidst indescribable beauty, and the unique realization that not everything in this world is generic and you don’t have to live your life within the perceived confines of societal norms if you don’t want to.

So there you have it. Or some of it, at least! I’m currently in Japan, on just the 8th day of my journey. Follow me, or better yet, join me somewhere!

One of those “Wow!” moments

Bonjour tout le monde! It’s been about a week since I’ve been travelling and so far, I’ve made my way through Madrid in Spain, and Lyon, Avignon, and Arles in France. Today, I had the greatest “Wow!” moment yet of my trip – you know, a moment where you’re just totally overwhelmed with the unique surroundings around you that you just literally have to stop in your tracks and say that word “wow” or something similar to it, thinking “how did I get here?” (and maybe spin slowly around in a circle once or twice with wide eyes and a dumbfounded expression, if you’re so inclined)…

view from the Tour Philippe le Bel, with the Fort Saint-André in the background

view from the Tour Philippe le Bel, with the Fort Saint-André in the background

Without getting very detailed, I made my way from the city centre of Avignon to a quaint little town called Villeneuve-lès-Avignon of winding lanes and faded red rooftops surrounded by verdant countryside. It’s just a 20-minute walk crossing the Rhône River, and not a minute passes by between marvelling at picturesque landscapes. Part of what’s so great about this town is that it’s largely devoid of tourists who flock en masse to the more renowned Avignon, and as such you largely have the town to yourself. You do have to share with the locals, though 😉 Feel free to climb the Tour Philippe le Bel, admire the incredible views from all directions from Fort Saint-André, walk the narrow streets without taking a look at your map, and quite simply marvel at the beauty of the environment around you!

beautiful, lush countryside of Provence - and it's only May!

beautiful, lush countryside of Provence – and it’s only May!

view of Villeneuve-les-Avignon from atop one of the towers of Fort Saint-André

view of Villeneuve-les-Avignon from atop one of the towers of Fort Saint-André

These “wow” moments can consist of anything – interactions with locals; seemingly coincidental encounters; finding yourself amidst a spectacular landscape; getting lost and not knowing the slightest idea on how to find your way back somewhere; being so far removed from what you’re familiar with and what you’re used to; an emotion that you rarely feel that has arisen from within you because of any of the above…Maybe, if the day arrives when I’m unable to have these type of “wow” moments when travelling, I’ll stop. But this traveller hopes that day will never arrive …

cool angle taken when walking away from the fort

cool angle taken when walking away from the fort