Into the Wild. It’s about living and experiencing the unexpected. Although it bears a similar name to the novel about Chris McCandless by Jon Krakauer, it isn’t about that. It is about my first time traveling alone without any plan. No tickets booked ahead of time. No set itinerary. It was just me, my journey, and a definite end date I needed to be back by in order to attend a friend’s wedding. While on this journey, many things happened to me (good and bad), and I met many influential people in my life as well.
Actually, many of the things that I did while traveling were new experiences for me. For example, I tried CouchSurfing for the first time. For those of you who do not know what CouchSurfing is, it is a platform where people allow you to sleep on their couch for free. To be honest, my first experience wasn’t that good and so I stayed at hostels and hotels the rest of the time, but it was definitely an interesting experience nonetheless.
I saw some fantastic sights while on my vacation. I mentioned one during the last post about the Buddha at Leshan and how it inspired me to really think about our imagination and all the possibilities we can form from it. If you haven’t checked out that blog post, you can check it out here.
I made an impromptu trip to Thailand this vacation that actually worked out in my benefit (I’ll explain that later). While traveling through China and Thailand, I did a few other firsts. For example, I rented a motorbike twice to drive around the city; I got completely and literally lost in nature while in the Stone Forest of Kunming; I went to a Chinese dance show; I walked home in the rain without an umbrella; I received a traditional Thai massage (the kind where they step on your back and contort you in all sorts of ways); and I went bathing with elephants to list a few.
This idea of being completely thrown “into the wild” without any expectations or preconceived ideas of the adventure one is going to have has actually spawned the idea for another book of mine. I am currently gathering data on it and would be greatly appreciative if you could take another five minutes or so and fill out a response here. In general, the questions deal with experiences or activities that we’ve done in our life that have really changed us (for good or worse).
Our Basic Human Needs
Essentially, I want to continue forward with what I’ve talked about before in regards to our imagination and our zone of proximal development. This kind of seems contradictory to the lesson I taught in the last blog post about “starting with the end in mind.” When thrown into the wild, you don’t have an end in mind. But, perhaps, we shouldn’t look at it in such a confined and narrow view; instead, the ending idea is to live spontaneously. This brings to mind a Ted Talk I watched with Tony Robbins actually where he mentions the conditions that everyone needs for living—two of them being certainty and uncertainty. You can watch the full video below.
If you don’t have time for the 20+ minute video, I’ll summarize briefly. The six basic human needs are:
- Connection or love
For me, the most important is significance and probably the reason why I continue to do weekly / bi-weekly blog posts (because I want to give something back to you and share my experiences). Also, it is the reason why I am creating the new book that you read about and hopefully took the survey for a few paragraphs ago. If not, take the survey! Here 🙂
Novel Experiences While Traveling
Now, it is obvious that while traveling, of course, things are going to be new to you. The whole point of traveling is to experience new experiences. But, by throwing ourselves into the wild, I think that we gain such a deeper understanding for the things we experience. They aren’t just checklists that we’ve wanted to see. For some reason, we were drawn to going there, or to doing that, and now that we are there, we really immerse ourselves in the experience. I know that happened to me in Thailand.
A friend of mine from Suzhou, China (where I currently live) told me he was in Pattaya for the weekend on a visa run and said I should come down. I didn’t have any other plans. I had a few extra days to spare. So, I did it. I threw myself into the wild. Not only was it an opportunity to hang out with a friend in a different country, but also, I had never been to Pattaya. It was another opportunity for me to travel. Another opportunity to gain a new experience. For those of you wondering, Pattaya reminds me of a Thailand Las Vegas where anything goes and cat-calling—to guys this time—is a common art. Walking Street is like Fremont Street on steroids.
It also happened to me while I was in Kunming, China. I have never actually been “lost” before, but I was lost for ten minutes or so while in the Stone Forest (their top attraction in the city). By lost I mean I literally cannot see anything but large rocks all around me, I hear no one else, and I see no one else. I was alone, wandering through a labyrinth of rocks. It was terrifying for a little while, but I learned to appreciate the pure beauty of the experience. For once, Google GPS couldn’t save me. The experience forced me to become more involved in nature and reminded me a great deal of what my characters go through during the first trial in my novel The Trials of the Core.
At the same time that we need uncertainty, we also need certainty. I know that one whole month of traveling was almost too much for me. I lost my phone in Chengdu and I had to get a new phone. When I got my new phone, I found out that I could no longer use Google on it. This was such a bummer (and what made the Stone Forest that much more difficult). You see, while I love being in China where everything from the language, to the people, to what I see on a daily basis is rather strange or unique, I do admit to loving my western conveniences like Google, Facebook, Maps, and translation services that I understand because they are in English.
And this is where not having a plan (the uncertainty factor) actually worked out in my benefit. I made an impromptu trip to Thailand where I bought another phone that can actually use Google (because it is out of China). Not only that, but I got to see the new sights as I mentioned before, and I had the chance to meet some incredible people as well while in Thailand.
At the end of the day, I want to say this: Just as much as we need to have a plan in our mind and an end goal, I believe the path that we take to get there can twist and turn and meander (just a little). As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” In this case, the destination, starting with the end in mind is only one half of the equation. To get there, we must throw ourselves into the wild and experience the journey.