Travel as Transformative Life Experience

Travel is a transformative life experience. There is something you gain from personal knowledge and experience that adds layer and texture to a formal education. It is eye-opening and life changing to travel the world.

My travel blog has picked up internationally, with over 7,000 views from this year alone. The posts that are the most popular are my ones with beautiful and interesting lists of unique travel destinations and pictures, and not my personal posts. I am going to write another personal post anyway.

I think I started off traveling with mostly a capitalist aim-to study Shanghai, a global city which has been growing and increasing in wealth in recent years and China, a country that is growing in international importance and becoming a hegemony of sorts. I also have respect for China for being one of the world’s oldest and grandest civilizations.

I still have an interest in why some cities hubs for wealth and commerce and they become the center of gravity where all important transactions need to be conducted there. I am convinced education, history and location play large roles in this process.

I wanted to teach ESL in Korea and chose Korea over other countries offering similar programs. Korea has the world’s highest educational standards and they have seen massive returns on their investments. Korea has the world’s fastest internet connection, one of the world’s best airport-Incheon-, one of the world’s best and most connected train systems, and many of the world’s most sough after brand names-Samsung, Honda, Kia, LG, etc. Korea has one of the world’s most functional economies despite being the poorest and most isolated countries in the world for centuries and under sadistic imperial Japanese rule during World War 2.

Investments in education, the location of the Korean peninsula being a place where it makes sense to build a large airport connecting inter-Asian flights, competition with neighboring Asian countries like Japan and Taiwan to “keep up with the Joneses”, respect for democracy and the rule of law are all ingredients in Korea’s economic success story.

I was very alone in Korea. I was not making new friends and was not happy with my life there. I was doing my past to keep my head up and stay afloat. It may have been interesting intellectually, but it was tiring personally. Daegu was an unriveting city that featured little natural wonders.

I had learned while there that I really enjoy spending time in nature and being disconnected from nature in an urban setting was making me unhappy. I discovered while traveling to Singapore on vacation that I loved that the tropical metropolis included large areas of city planning devoted solely to nature. I believe Lee Kuan Yew once said to be cut off from nature is to be cut off from humanity. London is another major world city where enormous areas of urban city planning are devoted to public parks and nature. I strongly believe it is an ingredient to success in those cities.

Tel Aviv is located on a blissful Mediterranean view and climate. The stroll along the promenade in Tel Aviv is so healthy and beneficial, just absorbing those Med Sea breezes and ions, it feels almost as if you are not in an urban sprawl, but on a wondrous nature walk.

When I began traveling, I barely knew how to pick a hotel. Picking a hotel is exhausting because there are simply too many options to chose from. The digital age created more data to roam through and the additional option of Air B and B and couch surfer websites. I used to wrongfully believe that eclectic mom and pop hotels and boutique hotels were better than large corporate chain hotels. I think I falsely believed this because I crave originality and uniqueness and like to support small businesses in my community. I have learned that more times than not, large chain hotels are better because they have management experience to ensure your trip is perfect and stress free and they often bought up real estate in the most prime and enticing areas.Corporate chains are unlikely to rip you off, be unclean or be in an absurd neighborhood away from places of tourist interest.  Small hotels tend to have these problems. Although I will always have a place in my heart for the little guy and small business in other areas of commerce, I do believe that hotel chains are best run by the big boys and corporations.

Our human natures unfolds fully when we are surrounded by qualities that nourish it-high educational standards, nature, urban developments that allow for wealth production and high living standards, a respect for the past and for the rule of law. These qualities are my values and are a part of my transformative growth as a traveler and as a world citizen.

As I have written about before in my other blog posts, there is a paradox to travel: The more you travel and gain experience, the more you want to travel because you have the prerequisite knowledge and experience. Then the game becomes how to earn enough money to keep the travel habit going.

I have more direction know with what I want out of travel and where I want to go next time I travel. I strongly believe it is worth it for me to travel to see fine art and architecture, regional cuisine, ambitious cities with successful city planning, countries that are economically productive and “alive” (not just living, but ALIVE), and most importantly, to accomplish an athletic feat, especially mountain and volcano climbing, one of my favorite hobbies.

I have also been inspired and emboldened to explore more of CA, my home state. I used to slug LA listlessly and without purpose. I now know how to hike mountain trails here in LA, from Malibu to Palos Verdes. I am embarking upon a journey to Altadena this month and am excited about it.

When you hitch hike on the back of a motorcycle with strangers at 4:00 a.m. to avoid missing your flight to Bali from Java, with Muslim males in a supposedly “dangerous” country, and it goes smoothly and nothing bad happens, it emboldens one to get over their fears of exploring LA mountain trails alone. This is a true story that happened to me.

I also lacked an interest coming home in material things like a luxury car and expensive clothing. I still like those things, they just have a lower priority to me now that I discovered travel. Travel is more rewarding that owning fancy materials more times than not.

I also view real estate differently. I had a profound lack of interest in moving out for law school and decided to stay put in LA. I do not see any value in moving to another city and paying rent there to go to a law school, when there are many law schools in LA, offering similar legal educations.

I also know that housing is a major social problem that is insoluble. Many civilizations, particularly the Middle East and Central Asia, have a nomadic element to them. They are known as bedouins in the Middle East. They do not have permanent housing, like to move around and travel from one place to another, and they do not work or earn an income; rather they tend to their flock and live off of the land. These bedouins are similar to a large homeless community in LA that live transient lives, build temporary shanty towns, and tend to their dogs and eat from trash cans. There is something about human nature that is partially nomadic and partially stationary civilization.

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