Where you’re from or where you’re at?
In a sudden flash of Ah Ha.. It hits me.
Kyle and I are heading south on our way to Siem Reap and the sacred temples of Angkor Wat. We’ve chosen a bus (VIP buses are what they call those designated to tourist and backpackers) for this leg, six hours yesterday (that turned into eight) and four hours today (on a bus that arrived an hour late). As we ride through the hills and towns I am more peaceful than I’ve been in days.
The last town we spent the night in, Vang Vieng, is a stop over known for its ‘happy’ pizzas and ‘magic’ teas.. Watching the Australian kids stumble from tuk tuk to lay on the floor of the bus terminal in short shorts and bikini tops had me instantly itching and images of scabies running through my far reaching imagination.
Before that we were in a lovely town, Luang Prabang, meeting a dear friend from across the world that was more odd than expected (traveling can do that to a person, I think), so the setting was divine but the company less tasty and the decision to move on our way without him was one that left me feeling sad and confused.
And so I’m here, now, traveling by bus, my least favorite form of transport at home, and I’m finding it fascinating. The landscapes are extreme, rivers cutting through mud villages and mountains peaking into the clouds. From my window seat I get a much closer look at the people of this land and how they truly live without the color of tourism changing their faces.
It’s a funny thing, because I’m a cultural shopping freak, not neccessarily proud, but truly, I adore anything that looks authenticly from far away or long ago and here I’ve found I’m less inclined to buy things that look this way because they are being literally shoved into my line of vision. And if not that, then a small and adorable child is begging me to please please buy from them. It all makes me feel icky. What’s the karma for allowing another culture to come in and treat your home as a zoo for spectating and taking home souvenirs?! And what role am I playing, preserving culture or destroying it so I can have a look?
Back to the bus..
I’m day dreaming of home (kind of), a cabin in a wooded area, close enough to a town with good coffee and yoga. I’m seeing farmers markets, a mash-up of union square, those I’ve seen here and my very favorites in the south of France. I’m smelling chicken soup and slurping lemon pepper pasta. I’m even baking chocolate cake. I lean over to Kyle and tell him I think I’ve figured out the way ‘I’ like to travel.. And it’s not here, it’s over there, on the greener grass of course… And that’s when it strikes me. I’m not here to just ‘see the world’ like I’ve bought a ticket to a show. No, I’m here to grow. It seems to begin with some gratitude. From a very honest place.
It’s not to say that one way of living is superior, but I have grown quite accustomed to my life’s luxuries. I am a product of my country, an american girl, no doubt. No amount of asana followed up by a perfect blue bottle latte is going to get me as quickly to this place of seeing how attached I am to all my life’s things and places, and even more so, without so much as a thanks. I’ve got to be in it. For now, trying something else on for size so I can know for myself. Just how good I’ve got it.
My step-father told me when we were leaving that the best thing about travel was realizing just how good lucky you are at home. Inwardly I scoffed. In my head I argued, good?! Have you seen our food, our in-educable masses, our television controlled counrty?! Full of conviction.
Hmm.. I’m feeling different today. Are those young-minded thoughts I’m so proud of being plucked out like weeds? Growing in there place, perhaps, we can hope, a tiny bit more truth.. I’m feeling so grateful for his wisdom and for my homeland…
..and I’m sensing that my time on the road must be just beginning.