I sat on the beach sand as the wind breezed through my tangled, ocean kissed hair watching a Thai local throw fire. I watched in complete awe as he spun waterfalls of fire on to the sand. I had seen these fireshows more times than I could remember during my 8 weeks in South East Asia but in this moment, as I starred at the fire cascading down, I couldn’t help but feel complete bliss.
Here I was, sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, after weeks of seeing and photographing places I never had dreamed about with the love of my life at my side. It was surreal. The whole experience felt as if it shouldn’t be happening. Like I was living in a movie. Like it was way to good to actually be real life. But it was. And it was my life.
When Phil and I talked about this adventure months before, I was completely apprehensive. Could I be half way around the world for 8 weeks? How would this affect my business? What about all the things I would miss at home? Could I go that long without Portillo’s? (Hey, it was a concern…) As much as my heart was pulling me to go, my head was holding me back. But the more we talked about the trip, I knew I would regret not saying yes to this incredible adventure more than I would actually miss everything I thought I would miss.
So, I packed my life into a backpack and traveled half-way around the world to foreign lands with my eyes wide open … camera in hand. Vietnam. Cambodia. Thailand. The opportunity to see a whole new world while personally changing in the process. I left Chicago a little jaded … seeking some renewed energy and passion and that is exactly what I found in Asia. Every life experience impacts you, but I have found that every time I travel, I come back a different person. Wiser, more cultured, more appreciative, relaxed and definitely more inspired.
Leaving my comfort zone behind allowed me to grow as a person. It allowed me to walk away from the daily grind of dishes, to-do lists and schedules to just BE. To see. To try. And to explore. And it is because of the things I saw, felt and lived during my 8 weeks in Asia that forever changed me and my outlook on what is truly important.
As my trip came to an end in Thailand, I made a promise to myself to “buy less things and more experiences”. I have been posting the same message a lot since I got back, but it is because I know it to be true. It is something that has taken me longer than it should have to realize. While I may currently be oogling over a new Michael Kors watch and a few colorful dresses for spring, I know that the only thing that I have ever bought that truly gives me everlasting happiness (and endless memories and stories) is travel. And for that reason, I will continue to make time for travel.
If you are stuck at your desk on this Wednesday, travel to Vietnam through my photos from my trip: Ho Chi Minh // Nha Trang // Hoi An. And stay tuned for photo stories from Cambodia and Thailand coming in the next week.
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