Travel, Writing

Bon voyage

In three weeks I will board a plane to Germany. During my time in Europe I will stay in Amsterdam, lunch in Brussels, visit London and explore Paris. This trip is a dream come true for me. I hope to post a blog about each country – probably not while I’m travelling, but in the months ahead.

So, fasten your seat belt and prepare to travel vicariously. I haven’t been overseas in more than 10 years and I’m turning 40 this year, so I’m beyond excited to be traveling again.

I have many wonderful memories of traveling in Australia – sharing a lagoon with a large green turtle while diving on the Great Barrier Reef and swimming in crystal clear pools high on a ridge in Kakadu National Park, just to name two.

But to celebrate my next adventure, here’s my reverse bucket list – my top 10 unforgettable international travel moments to-date.

1. Watching sunrise over the Ganges in Varanasi, India’s oldest city, with dolphins diving around the boat and pilgrims descending on the water’s edge to begin their ritual morning dips.

2. Walking past an Indian slum during monsoon and seeing a mother and daughter coming out of their poles-and-plastic home, with a puddle for a carpet and mud for a couch, with grins on their faces, laughing together.

3. Snuggling up under a rug cross-legged at dawn in Dharamsala, surrounded by a sea of Tibetan monks chanting mantras to honour Buddha’s birthday.

4. Sitting in the open doorway of an Indian train, with the wind blowing in my face and camels galloping in the distance, crossing the deserts of Rajasthan.

5. Huddling in a sleeping bag around an open fire with a Nepalese family, drinking hot chai, with a blizzard raging outside and Mount Everest in the distance.

6. Stepping out of my lake-side cabin, in the early heat of the tropical morning, to dive into the cool, pristine waters of Lake Toba in Sumatra.

7. Being on a bus on the second highest motor-able road in the world and climbing a peak to reach the Tibetan Plateau, with the rugged mountains rising abruptly behind us and the vast desert stretching out before us.

8. Singing on a hill-top on Gili Trawangon, with young Indonesian men playing Bob Marley riffs on their guitars, with Gili Air and Gili Meno forming stepping stones in an expanse of turquoise sea to the lush coastline of Lombok.

9. Dancing in a sari at my future husband’s brother’s wedding, in the remote village of a Himalayan hill tribe, surrounded by the picturesque snow-covered mountains of Nepal, seemingly so close you could reach out and touch them.

10. Meeting the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala and being awe-struck by the presence of this physically tiny man with a beaming smile and an immense glow, as if lit up from the inside.

What are your favourite travelling memories?

5 thoughts on “Bon voyage”

  1. Whether it’s experiencing first-hand places I have always heard about or seeing places I never even knew existed, travelling is like the sauce that completes a wonderful meal. I can’t imagine life without it.
    I know you’ll have a fabulous time and look forward to reading all about it.

      1. Thanks so much for the link Summer – I can’t wipe the smile from my face right now! So excited… as you must be!

  2. I don’t know that I have a moment to compare! Whilst in Paris last year however, I had the opportunity to take an evening walk along by the Seine in Saint Germaine and Notre Dame without my little family.

    The footbridges around that area that cross-cross the water are sweet little spots to watch the city by. Perhaps it was my aloneness, or the lights sparking on the Eiffel Tower or the manificence of the architecture and the history that surrounded me. Whatever cliched exprerience of Paris you can think of is a cliche for a reason, and I was immersed in it, all by myself.

    There was one footbridge though, and attached to it’s fencing on either side were locks. Each one inscribed with a tribute of love. There was such an array of different locks, glittering on otherwise industrial strength cyclone wire. It was clearly some sort of urban guerilla ritual. Funnily though, I didn’t feel like attaching my own lock to the fence, had I had one to attach. To whom would my tribute be made, in a moment during which I was communing with no one else but the city? ‘I Heart Paris’ seemed too predictable and cheesy.

    I left that little footbridge and I walked away smiling. Everyone loves Paris, and in those moments I revelled in the beauty of a place where I was one of many thousands of visitors just passing through. Like a lover fortunate enough to have been in the presence of their love.

    1. Hi Regina, thank you so much for your comment. I love this story and I hope I have such a beautiful ‘I heart Paris’ moment during my time there.

      I always find the travelling memories that stay with me are not so much about the big events, like seeing the Taj Mahal for example. They are often those simple moments of divine discontent or exquisite aloneness. Where life is suddenly like poetry – so bitter sweet – sad and beautiful and moving all at once. Just like the moment you’ve described here.

      I remember being woken up at 4am by the mosque in Indonesia and hearing everyone leaving the hotel to pray. I felt so totally alone in this foreign land but also experienced this incredible sense of freedom and aliveness unlike anything I’d ever known before. Here’s to many more of those moments!

      Thanks again for sharing xxx

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