This third month has been very intense and full of thoughts. It started in the South of Laos, but I spent most of the month in Cambodia, the country that has left a deeper mark in my trip (and in myself).
These last weeks I have been thinking a lot, specially about the things in our lives that are a matter of luck, and those which are not. I present you my (still ongoing) thoughts, as well as a summary of the places I have visited and the special moments I have had this month.
Am I on a long term trip because I am lucky?
It happened in Koh Trong. I was staying in a small homestay, having dinner with the other few guests: a Danish couple and their daughter, and a young guy from Austria. The couple were working while traveling, through internet, which allowed them to escape the long north European winter. I explained that I had taken a sabbatical leave to travel around the world for several months.
“You’re really lucky to be able to travel for such a long time”, said the Austrian guy.
To which the Danish man replied:
“Luck has nothing to do with traveling long term, we worked hard to reach to this point”.
I did not immediately reply, and I wondered. Was I on a long term trip because I was lucky? In fact, my choices had let me there.
- I chose to apply for a sabbatical leave when I had a permanent job that – even stressful – was interesting and involved a great team, probably risking my future career.
- I chose to quit my apartment and sell, give or throw away all my stuff so I could afford to travel for several months, losing things that had sentimental value and becoming a kind of “homeless” person.
- I chose to travel with a very low budget, which involves staying in very basic accommodation (no hot water, no AC, hard bed, not always clean), eating always the same cheap food, traveling in unreliable transport, walking a lot in hard weather conditions, so my money lasts longer.
In summary, I renounced to my job, home and commodities in order to travel the world for a long time. Happy? yes. Lucky? it was a choice.
But I am lucky
I realized this in Cambodia. Traveling long term was a choice, but a lot of other things in my life were not. And I got lucky, very lucky.
When I visited the S21 prison museum and the killing fields in Phnom Penh, I understood how lucky I am to have had a peaceful life. It has not always been easy (I had my own share of problems, as anyone else), but in peace. No wars. No terror. No family members missing. I was born at the right place, at the right moment (my grandparents suffered a war, my parents were born during a dictation, I have always lived in a democracy).
I am lucky to have a passport that allows me to travel without many problems. I do not need a visa for a lot of destinations and, even for the others, getting the visa is usually not so hard.
I am lucky to have had a life of freedom. Free to chose my clothes, my religion, my studies, my food. My life. During the Khmer rouge rule, Cambodians could not. Even today, a lot people cannot.
In summary, traveling long term was a choice, but I am very lucky that I did have that choice. And I feel that, since I have the opportunity to chose how I want to live my life, I should chose wisely. I should chose the way of life that fits me best, that makes me happy.
South of Laos: Champasak and Don Khon (4000 islands)
Cambodia: Stung Treng, Ban Lung, Kratie and Koh Trong, Phnom Penh, Kep, Kampot and Siem Reap including the Angkor temples.
Laos: Don Khon in the 4000 islands.
Koh Trong: discovering the hospitality of Cambodian people.
Phnom Penh: not a good moment but one that left a mark, visiting the S21 prison museum and the killing fields.
Kampot: getting lost in the salt fields and getting help to find my way back.
Angkor temples: visiting the temples by bicycle, being able to discover and admire this wonderful place at my own speed.
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