Back when I traveled around SE Asia I encountered a pale white woman sitting cross legged in a matching white kaftan that looked like something out of Dr. Strange’s wardrobe. She had a cigarette in one hand and a can of coke in the other and all my fellow backpackers were gathered around, hanging on her every word as she detailed the spiritual experiences she’d had in India. I only lingered long enough to hear this nugget:
“Once you’ve been to India, the temples in Thailand are shit.”
Obviously I longed to achieve such spiritual enlightenment for myself, and now I’ve done it. Alex and I just got back from spending a couple weeks in India and Nepal and you’re not going to believe my transformation. I left the states a wayward and anxious writer and returned as something I never thought I’d be:
An endorser of essential oils.
You can thank New Delhi for it’s pollution and laws against Sudafed, because I was left treating my sinus infection with a bottle of peppermint oil. And you guys, it totally worked. I’m a believer now. I take back almost everything I’ve ever said about people who use essential oils, except not really so please don’t DM me with an offer for $65 bottles of Nettled LilyPad Juice.
Seriously though– beyond the touring and adventure, I think the greatest value to be found in travel is the experience of connecting with people and a culture you otherwise wouldn’t know anything about. Someone asks a basic question, like “why do so many Americans love guns?” and you’re suddenly explaining The American Revolution and the Civil War. Then it’s their turn to explain their beliefs and their history and about 30 seconds in you begin to realize just how much your own culture has made a caricature out of theirs.
Know this: We’re far more alike than we are different, and the things that make us different are worth exploring and seeking to understand. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to convince you of the otherness of a person or place, because they almost certainly stand to benefit from your ignorance. Don’t let them.
It would be impossible to write a single post about everything that happened on this trip. And if you’re one of my Facebook friends/followers then you’re probably begging me not to, because I already wrote almost daily recaps on there. Instead, I’ll just link to what I already wrote– but photos and slightly-ignorant insights don’t do any of this justice, which is why all of you should probably go and see it for yourself.
I have a feeling my site is going to struggle to load all this, but it’s worth it. Here’s a teaser: Tigers, Gurus, Himalayas, and Wily Youths Smushing Colored Powder All Over My Face.
THE TRAIN TO JAIPUR
Even now, I feel like none of this does it justice. I took thousands of photos on my iPhone and wrote dozens of notes to myself– most of which should never be read by anyone, other than the NSA, Zuckerburg, and the Russian Hackers who already have access to all my personal information anyway.
At one point we were hanging out with a couple guys in Jaipur and they took us to their friend’s “restaurant” which I’m pretty sure was just a rooftop where they ran out to get takeaway of something similar-ish to whatever we asked for. I think I betrayed a moment of skepticism and one of them was like “Hey, you don’t need to worry” and I was like “No, this is how I am. I trust no one, but I enjoy everything.”
That just might be as close to enlightenment as I’m going to get.
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