There is something alluring about traveling to a foreign country. I am not talking about traveling to a resort, or an all inclusive destination. What I am talking about is just getting on to a plane, and fly to a foreign destination. The destination could be anywhere but it has to be a place where you aren’t familiar with its surroundings. The heightened senses of the hustling and bustling of an international airport, the adrenaline of catching a flight, or the chaos that comes of communicating with someone without the same language could be stressful at times, but full of rewarding memory bank filling stories.
I never used to enjoy traveling. I remember vividly that I bellowed out my dislike of going back to Hong Kong when my parents offered me a trip during high school. All I remembered was were the stories I heard, or the images that I had about Hong Kong when I was there, and what the media portrayed. They weren’t too positive. People scamming others, or the impoliteness of such fast paced city. The uncertainty of not know what to expect, and ‘leaving the comfortable’ bubble are often so strong and hardwired into us, that we forget the sense of travel and exploring.
It wasn’t until that I did return to Hong Kong that my entire perspectives changed. Yes, sure, there were a lot of impoliteness especially coming from a safe and smaller city such as Winnipeg, but there were also people who cared a lot for the Hong Kong society. And yes, there were true anecdotes that people did take advantage or scam other vulnerable people, but you’ll have those every where. My primary stereotypes of the place immediately vanished, and developed a more positive and relevant perspective of what I believe the place to be, and that required me to venture into the place, and experience the true culture and people.
Now that I have travelled and lived around the World, various sights, sounds, tastes, or smell could envelope my senses and place me back in time in those unique snippets of memory. Like the blazing hot day in the market in Accra, Ghana, where minivans (tro tros), taxis, and scooters littered the streets of the “circle” market as merchants with various goods carried on their heads make their ways selling goods to travellers. The sweat on my back, and the red and orange notorious sands of Africa covered the streets. as I, the only Asian in a crowd of 1000s, browsed through merchant after merchant. The scent of bodies and sweat that’s been in the blazing sun all day, mixed with the aroma of fried plantain, and roast, brings back the memory that I was indeed in the middle of a market, somewhere in Ghana, where the common language was smiles and gestures, embracing the kindness of humanity.
Go and see the world. Broaden your understanding. Challenge your perspectives.
Here’s a quote from the movie Walter Mitty – “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”