Tag Archives: conscious travelling

Take it slow

I’m living on the other side of the world and even though there are many things that are different from Europe, at the same time so much is the same. I suppose when you get used to something, only the extraordinary stands out. And the more you travel, the more people you meet and talk to, the more you realise that the people are so similar – wherever in the world you are.

I’ve noticed something interesting about stereotypes: most of the people who fall into the “stereotypical” category for a particular nationality have something in common. They are usually the individuals who are annoying in one way or another. They are either too rude, or too loud, or drink too much or are too stingy… whatever it is, there’s TOO MUCH of it. And they’re not just annoying the locals of the foreign country they’re visiting, they’re embarrassing the people from their own country if they happen to be nearby. So it’s not suprising that stereotypes are usually wrong – the “stereotypical” people for any country are the type of people we all avoid back home!
But when you think about it, there aren’t that many “stereotypical” people in the world. They are simply the ones who shout the loudest, and can sometimes make you lose sight of the others who quietly blend in. There are so many beautiful people everywhere. Simple, warm and open. And it doesn’t matter where or how you meet them – whether you’re walking through a muddy field in the UK with your hiking boots on, or sitting on a crowded bus in the middle of Bangkok’s traffic – the nice people are nice everywhere.
I like travelling slowly. Slower than you can imagine. I like “travelling” even in my own hometown and finding the little extraordinary things amongst everything that looks ordinary and familiar. I need a home to enjoy travelling. And I noticed that Vidmantas and myself can make a home anywhere, really, and it will be just as cosy and nice to return to. But we need time. Enough time in one place. Enough time to observe what’s going on around us, to soak it in and to learn from it. Enough time for us to create a space where we can recharge ourselves, so that we would have the energy to learn and grow as people. Enough time to sort out the outside world to such an extent that we could finally focus on our inner growth.
I still love travelling to faraway places, exploring with only the most important things in my backpack, but I can’t do it for too long. I guess it’s similar to spending time with other people. It’s lovely and it gets me excited, but then I need time on my own to recharge.
When we moved here everything was new and exciting, nothing was certain, and it was a ridiculously stressful but an incredible experience at the same time. But it drained our energy. The growing and learning had pretty much stopped as we were just taking in new images and sounds rather than learning about them. But then we settled down in one place for a while. And suddenly everything fell into its place. We had a home and we could finally explore our surroundings the way we like it: little by little. Slowly. Taking everything in. Because when you stop running and pause for a little bit, EVERY thing becomes special.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

Bangkok Thailand

Not just travelling

“I left Europe with the naive idea and picture in my mind that I will come in Asia and work with poor kids in a remote village but I ended up working at one of the top schools in the city, more hours than I ever did back home, although this was the first thing I wanted to escape.” These words come from a girl named Cat, whom I haven’t met in person, but we seem to have similar mind-sets and have gone through similar experiences.

A few years ago I found myself at a crossroad between considering future prospects at a job I was only partially satisfied with, and just quitting everything. With very little enthusiasm for staying at the workplace, I approached a business-minded man twice my age, expecting a monologue about financial stability and long-term career objectives. To my surprise the answer was “go for it, do what you feel like doing”. I was blown away by such a simple yet encouraging response, so I quit my job the same week. Next thing I knew I was at the best job I had ever had in England, saving for and planning my travels.
Similarly to Cat, I thought of Asia as a rather undeveloped, poor and exploited continent – as these are the keywords used frequently in the ‘western world’. It turns out that many Asian people have a view of Europe as a wealthy, organized, and money-growing-on-trees type of place, where everyone is happy, educated, and polite. Even though some of it is true, both perceptions are somewhat distant from reality.
When I was in Chiang Mai I met a guy at an internet café/print shop, who looked like a stereotypical hippie-like employee: unshaven, long-haired chubby man in his mid-20s, wearing a colourful t-shirt, playing some NinjaTown/Farmville-like online game, possibly stoned, and overly friendly with random customers. He told us he had never been outside of Thailand, and then complained that the working conditions and the pay were rubbish, unlike the jobs in Europe (England). It was very interesting to hear somebody’s honest opinion of Europe, even though it was more of a perception than an opinion. I don’t blame him – I was also full of perceptions in my head about Asia!
When people travel for a long time, they seem to have a ‘base’. For example in Thailand, most people base themselves either in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, mainly due to the well-developed infrastructure. Whenever I leave my ‘base’ in Bangkok, I try to have my stays at different ends of the spectrum: from cheap backpacker hostels, to higher-end hotels – just to get a more varied experience. When it comes to food, I always prioritise street vendors and local markets, but once in a while treat myself to a fancy meal or a cocktail at a rooftop bar. Not only does this allow you to see different sides of the country, culture, and food, it also generates more ideas as you are exposed to a more diverse group of people.
I think there are many travellers who just backpack their way across, let’s say, Asia, whose experiences are undoubtedly totally different to a family’s packaged-holiday stay. Hence, the experience can be limited in a way. I travel around Thailand and I love it here, but I also work here. Even though I enjoy the work, sometimes it’s just too much, and I feel very tired, have to put up with unexpected issues, both organisational and cultural, language barriers, and so on. I still love it though, as it only makes my experience here richer than I ever thought it would be.
I encourage anybody who likes travelling to really take in as many aspects of the country as possible, instead of just ticking off tourist destinations off a list. Not only have I learned so much about the people, culture, and food in Thailand, I have also taught others about Europe, breaking some common stereotypes.
Since I left Europe, my perception of Thailand has completely changed, and I can again easily relate to the words Cat has written:
I left Europe with the naive idea and picture in my mind that I will come in Asia and work with poor kids in a remote village but I ended up working at one of the top schools in the city, more hours than I ever did back home, although this was the first thing I wanted to escape.

With my lovely students at SJT, Bangkok
With my lovely students at SJT, Bangkok
Wearing long-sleeves and a scarf in 35 celcius
Wearing long-sleeves and a scarf in 35 celcius

Where is home?..

Some people go on holidays, some go for round-trips around the world, and some buy one-way tickets to distant places. The latter has happened to us… twice.

We both left our homes in Lithuania, hoping to come back soon after the graduation. Yet five years down the line we were still in the UK. We realised that this was our home now – a chic fifth-floor apartment with a huge window and a riverside view. Well-paid office jobs, enough time to travel somewhere close enough and keep ourselves entertained – we couldn’t have asked for more. However, deep inside, it just didn’t feel like home.

A couple more years passed, and the thought of filling the “utmost exciting” job positions back home was out the window. This time, we had one-way tickets to Thailand.

Koh Phangan

A total of 9 boxes packed with carefully thought-through items were shipped to the “original home” in Lithuania – the point of departure where we left seven years ago. The flat was getting empty. We exchanged goodbyes with our colleagues and friends, yet we still couldn’t believe we were leaving.

It was only when we had a few hours left before our train to the airport, that it suddenly hit us – the sense of leaving home. Looking at our suitcases and spending our final moments in the flat, hundreds of little memories started coming back: testing our patience when the gate won’t accept the code twenty times in a row, trying to put the blinds up slowly as to not catch the Christmas lights sellotaped to the window; sticking out my head through the window in the morning to see how windy it is; picking up and eating rocket-salad leaves after having dropped them on the carpet during dinner (daily occurrence); trying to manage the fridge contents after a party while keeping record-low food waste levels…

And after all those years we had to put our home key in an envelope, slip it under the door, and walk away. We were walking towards the train station knowing we will not be coming home the same way tomorrow, knowing we wouldn’t really have a home for some time.

But as soon as the train started moving, that feeling of being on a journey, that feeling of an adventure came up, and suddenly we both felt happy again. We were beginning our next adventure…

Home is holding your hand
Home is holding your hand