Himalayan Sunrise

If there ever was a more stupidly spontaneous travel moment in my life, it would be when I took this photo. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world and it stretches across five countries: China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. This picture below was taken from Nagarkot, Nepal and you could see the outline of the snow capped mountains looming in the distance. One of them should be Mount Everest. Which one? Oh I don’t know! I was busy trying not to lose my toes from the cold.

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Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world and is the holy grail for serious mountaineers. You know, fit and athletic people unlike me. So how exactly did I end up here wearing only flip-flops? Well my shoe broke and so was I but hell, it’s not everyday that you get the chance to see the sunrise over the Himalayas even if it might cost me my toes! I’d have to say the view was well worth it. So there. No regrets.

Now it’s your turn. What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done in the spirit of travel and adventure?

Travel and Tolerance

Let’s face it. People travel mainly to get away from home. Yes, there are the exceptional few who are ‘forced’ to travel for work (lucky cows) but for the rest of us paying folks; we do it simply because we want to experience new things. What baffles me then is when travellers complain when faced with the unfamiliar. Surely I’m not alone in this but isn’t that the point of it all?

When in Rome, do as the Romans do
First of all, you are on their turf. If you cannot understand the customs or if the local cuisine isn’t to your liking then that really is too bad. But don’t expect them to know your language or have the same food you eat back home. It seems like simple logic but it’s amazing how many people I’ve met who are in the middle of paradise but are complaining about how only local food is served or how their usual toiletry brands are unavailable or that the locals can’t speak English. Uhm… Why don’t YOU speak their language?

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What? You don’t eat silkworm in your country?

Ignorance is not bliss
In this digital age, everything can be googled so there is really no excuse to not reading up on where you are travelling to beforehand. You don’t even have to buy guidebooks as most information is available online. At the very least, know what environment to expect, where to go, the exchange rate, the acceptable dress code and if you are an overachiever, the basic conversational phrases. This will not only save you from a lot of confusing moments but it will subconsciously help you appreciate the unfamiliar culture more readily.

This, however, is bliss

This however is bliss

You brought this upon yourself
So you’ve read through all the factoids about this new place including but not limited to the obscure local language, remote/ unsecure location and extreme cuisine YET you still booked the vacation. Well then, you brought this all upon yourself. The best you can do now is to actually keep an open mind and enjoy every new experience you encounter– even the misadventures because they’re really nothing more than character building exercises and possibly great stories you can share later on. At the end of it all anyway would you just rather be at home? I didn’t think so.

Hachiko

In case you still haven’t seen that tearjerker of a movie, Hachiko is perhaps the most famous dog in all of Japan. His owner was a professor at the University of Tokyo and they would walk together to Shibuya Train Station every morning back in 1924. At the end of each work day Hachiko would meet the professor back at the station and then go home together. This routine continued on for about another year until the professor suffered a fatal haemorrhage at work. For the next nine years, Hachiko returned and waited patiently at Shibuya station for his owner that would never return again.

121204_HachikoSoon enough, people started to notice and bring treats to feed Hachiko while waiting. He became a national symbol of loyalty and soon enough a bronze statue was erected in one of Shibuya Station’s exits to honour him.  Unfortunately though, the original bronze statue was recycled during World War II and the above is the second statue commissioned in 1948. This bronze masterpiece still stands today and is a popular meeting spot in an otherwise crowded Shibuya.

Hachiko died in 1935 due to terminal cancer and a worm infection. His stuffed remains are kept in the  National Science Museum of Japan.