"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~Lao Tzu
23.03.2011 - 23.03.2011 90 °F
We had a nice time in the little village we stayed in but we were all ready to start back on our adventure of new countries and cities, new cultures, and meeting new people. We collectively agreed to add Cambodia to our list, so after a few days in Saigon we went to Siem Reap by bus, an adventure that has already made at least one blog by now I am sure. I really enjoyed Ankgor Wat, the orphanage, the markets and Siem Reap. The poverty and despair you could see in some peoples eyes in Cambodia made me pensive and I wanted to share some of my thoughts of the trip so far. Although it was the poorest country we have visited the people were all friendly, smiling and existing as best they could. It was refreshing to see people with so little seem so content with their lives.
First, I have been really proud of the girls and Julie. They have all shown resolve, flexibility, patience and really rolled with it. I knew Julie could do it, even though it is a new way to travel for her. But the girls, wow, they have been consistently great, adventurous, willing to try foods, talk to new people, learn and really embrace the cultures we are visiting. Of course there are the occasional challenges (usually involving schoolwork) , but overall they have done great.
Second, traveling is tiring. My usual motorcycle trips are 10 days or less, so this pace of moving and living out of a suitcase (actually backpack) for months is tough. One of the best things we did before we left is deciding to book flights, hotels, etc. at our own pace and not plan everything in advance. The last 2 times we have just chilled and caught up, in Bali and Mui Ne, all of our bodies told us it was time to relax. 5 more months, we will make it for sure, but we have learned to slow down a little and pace ourselves.
Third, the world is a smaller place than it seems. Not just literally, like the fact that we met a couple in New Zealand that lived 4 blocks form our old house, or a guy in Vietnam that lives in Laguna Beach, but also in the way we all live. We all have basic needs clothes, food, shelter, and we all try to provide the best for ourselves and family, but the means to that goal are different. In the Asian countries it has seemed to be more about taking care of family as a unit , in Bali it is not uncommon for 3 or 4 families to live together. Usually the parents move in with the son, as well as grandparents, uncles, etc. In China it was similar but it does seem to be changing a little, and in Vietnam there is a sense of large family, with more little kids than in other countries, and the appearance of many in one home. Vietnam had a population of 35 million after the war, currently 70 million, so it is a very young country more than half of the populationis under 30 years old.
It is smaller in the way that parents love their kids, people want to be happy, and that life is tough no matter where you live. Much tougher when freedoms are not respected, and poverty is rampant, life in all of the countries have not seemed as "easy" as in the US. The United States has some issues, but relative to the rest of the world's problems they seem pretty insignificant. We always have water, food, security, roof over our heads, electricity, transportation, a sense of everything is going to be OK.
It is just easier in the states than where we have been, it isn't just the language barriers, that has actually been less of a challenge than I expected, its the little things. The ability to move freely, have stores open 24 hours, restaurants that have good service, the general cleanliness of everything, the ease of just being. We are truly a consumer oriented society, we get what we want when we want! We expect and demand that our needs are met at all times. I appreciate that more now, but also wonder if it is necessary or if a little inconvenience in our lives once in a while wouldn't actual be that bad.
I am not supporting that America becomes more difficult, actually the opposite, that we as citizens become more grateful for the lifestyle we have, the support our government gives it's citizens, the opportunities we take for granted, and that we all appreciate what convenience costs. America is by far the easiest place to live that we have seen.