When you are young, traveling by yourself as a student can be a daunting experience. However, it can be one of the most amazing Times of Your Life, so you need to try at least what it means to travel.

A different perspective on life

When you in a different culture and a different environment, you learn new things much more quickly, and some different ideas and perspectives will stand out. This will allow you to learn a different way of looking at life. Sometimes you might even end up realizing where you truly belong. You’d be surprised how much your environment and your culture Affects your thought process and how you view life. So if you have been exposed to one thing your whole life how will you know what you believe in and what you stand for.

Managing finances and money

When you are traveling on the road if you’re not careful with your finances, it can dry up pretty quickly, which is why you will learn some sense of managing your own money and planning for things. This will help you understand the value of money and spending your finances all items that are worthwhile and important. You don’t necessarily have to be frugal and cheap all the time, but at least you will understand when you should splurge and when to save your money for something else.

Education is not the same as learning

coffee cup on top of book
When you meet enough people and when you see enough things, you more than likely to realize that education is not the same thing as learning and growing as a person. Education becomes more of a certificate that proves you can follow orders and do as you’re told. However, real learning and true education is actually fun and gives you joy. Travel can be one of your most excellent teachers you should decide to learn from your travel experiences.

Work opportunities abroad

I would advise you to stay in hostels or partake in events that are related to culture or just something that will allow you to meet both locals and other expats. Networking is one of the most important things when it comes to finding a job. You’ll be surprised what kind of connections you can make and what kind of opportunities you can create for yourself if you are open to it.

More self-esteem

When you travel by yourself sooner or later, you will learn how to make new friends. When you can easily make new friends and meet people your conference grows, and you build up a sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Problem-solving and resourcefulness

There is bound to be problems and hiccups on the road but enough experience in exposure you will develop a keen sense for problem-solving and using your resources optimally. Sometimes your phone battery will die, or you will lose your belongings, but it falls on you to solve those issues. You’d be amazed how resourceful and sharp you become when it’s a do or die situation.

Maturity and independence

You’re no longer a kid now. Your travel experiences will teach you how to become an adult and take care of yourself. Who else is going to do your laundry make your food, not your parents, so either you have to figure it out or have nothing to wear and eat,
Traveling in America can be quite expensive if you go the usual route by staying in hotels or even motels for the matter. Here is a guide on how I managed to travel across America on $ 20-30 per day including a place to stay. You will need to be savvy with the internet because you will have to sign up for websites like greyhound, megabus, spirit airlines, hostelworld, and couchsurfing.

Finding Cheap Transportation

trans siberian railway train ride
The go to website for cheap transportation are Greyhound, Spirit Airlines, Amtrak, and Megabus. They usually have tickets for very cheap prices and sometimes have discounts or offers that allow you to book a ticket for $1 only.

Booking Bus Tickets

I in fact was able to book $1 bus ticket from Detroit to Houston with Megabus because of their amazing discount offer that they have once every while. The trick to finding better prices and deals is to book your departure dates on workdays and hours that not a lot of people book on. For example, booking a flight or a train ticket on Tuesday, Thursday very early in the morning, or very late at night will usually give you the cheapest prices.

Deals on Flight Tickets

When it comes to finding flight tickets for cheap, you should check out JetBlue or Spirit Airlines. You can find flight tickets less than $100 one-way from one side of USA to the other. Signing up with their credit card for the mile benefits is always nice, and when you rack up enough points, you get free flights. They do expire, but it’s perfect for someone who is touring around the U.S. Be warned though, if you are not a minimalist, you will be charged extra on luggage and additional items that the ticket does not cover, so read their policy on what you are covered for very carefully. Sometimes there are delays and change in departure terminal without much notice, so it is riskier than buying flight tickets from airliners that are geared towards customer service. But hey, you get what you pay for. You need to get from point A to point B? Then they will do the job.

Hitchhiking

I never went hitchhiking, but have met travelers who got free rides from people out on the road. You always want to exercise some caution nonetheless. If you are a young attractive female with a lot of valuables, maybe it is not the best idea, but hitchhiking does make a good travel story, so it is up to you. There are other travelers who are willing to split the bill on gas and take you to your destination for much cheaper though, so sharing rides with other people is another option. There are in fact apps that allow you to find people going in the same direction. Try Blablacar.

Budget Accommodations

You may not find the most comfortable nor the cleanest places to stay however if you need a place to crash, then these are your best options for finding cheap alternatives.

Staying in Hostels

I highly recommend staying in hostels because you will be able to find amazing deals for very cheap prices for reasonable accommodation. As I said hostels are not the most comfortable nor the cleanest however you will have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life from different countries. You will have to share a room with strangers so it is best to have a lock and take precautions to not lose any valuables and belongings. Depending on which hostel you stay in it can cost you around $10 up to $30 or more. The best value are usually found in new hostels or somewhere in the middle in price range. You have a place to stay and reasonable comfort. If you don’t care much about location, then booking hostels away from the city centre and touristy places can be a bit cheaper.

Couchsurfing

Many people have amazing experience with couchsurfing because not only do you get a free room but sometimes if the hosts are nice enough you can have a guide for free. Just install the app Couchsurfing, and you can find events as well hosts who are willing provide you a place to crash for free. However, you should be careful and do your due diligence by checking out their social accounts, their online activity if you want to be safe than sorry, especially if you are a female. There are some weird stories out on the internet.

Preparing Cheap Foods

Cooking your own meals are the cheapest alternative if you don’t want to spend much money. For $ 3-4 you can make a decent meal that is healthy for you. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian then, it is going to be even more cheaper.
If you don’t know how to cook, instead of eating out at fast food joints, buy processed and pre-packaged foods. Although they are not the most healthy foods in the long run, at least you won’t go hungry. Side note: Sometimes hostel guests cook together and buy in bulk which make it a lot cheaper. Or the hostel itself prepares breakfast, lunch, or dinner for reasonable prices as well. That’s pretty much it! Happy travels!
I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, but if you have a powerful passport from countries that are more wealthier and well developed, then you will have an easier time traveling and saving money at the same time. If you happen to be from another country that is second world or third world, you will have to get visas to whatever country you want to visit, which will cost some money. Also flights from less developed countries or more expensive relative to more developed countries but it is what it is. So assuming that you have your visa and your flight tickets already purchased, let’s talk about certain factors that you are in control of.

Staying in hostels

If you want comfortable accommodation for a relatively lower price than hostels is the best choice for you. Usually, in most places, it costs from $7 up until 30 or $40 depending on which country you are traveling to. Try Hostelworld Besides being relatively cheap one of the things I enjoy about staying in hostels is that you can meet many people from different parts of the world and you can make friends more easily. Who knows maybe you meet your soulmate at a hostel because everyone is open to new experiences and want to have a good time. Hostels usually attract a younger crowd and people wishing to discover more about the world and themselves, so if you are looking for an adventure and experience, then you must stay in a hostel. However, if you like having your own space and without much noise during your travelers, then staying in a hostel would be more difficult because you have to share a room with strangers. Especially for introverts, it might be a bit difficult being so vulnerable and having to interact with so many people that you don’t know and are not comfortable with. And also some hostels look good on paper and while looking at the pictures however sometimes even though a hostel may have good reviews and supposedly good pictures you will run into some hostels that are not clean and up to the standard that you may have hoped for. So please read the reviews and do a bit of research beforehand.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a really cool application that allows you to connect with locals and asked for a place to stay for a few nights. You don’t have to pay for anything and you might come across nice hosts that might be able to show you around the area without any charge. You might be wondering why people would take the time of the day to show tourists around and give them a place to stay for free? Well, some people are just lovely and have a passion for traveling as well and love to meet people from different countries and different cultures. However, you do want to be safe and want to double check the background of the host before you make any plans. You should read reviews and check out the person’s Facebook and other social profiles. If your gut says something otherwise who it is best to listen to intuition.

Food

Eating out at restaurants every day can take a toll on your finances so you can always decide to prepare your own food. Usually, hostels have a kitchen where you can make prepare food. Couchsurfing hosts sometimes are very nice, and I will treat you from time to time as well. However, the cheapest option is just to decide to pack your own food and buy from local grocery stores instead of eating out all the time. You would actually be surprised how cheap food can be if you buy whole foods like rice potatoes meat and such from local grocery stores instead of buying pre-packaged foods. It’s actually good for you as well.

Bus & Train Tickets

Now I would actually advise you to spend some more money to buy economy class or a bit more comfort if you’re traveling long distances via buses or trains. Trust me I tried the cheapest options when traveling with buses and trains when I was in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Seats can be really uncomfortable and sometimes you don’t even get a seat, you have to stand. Instead of buying online sometimes it is cheaper to buy from your local station because they don’t add any extra charge for the tickets. But sometimes if you stand out as a foreigner you do get charged a bit extra, so it does depend on the situation in sometimes.

Blend In With The Crowd

This is most likely to happen if you’re traveling in less developed countries. A lot of countries charge extra for foreigners since they are traveling. Blend in if you can because it helps out a lot when it comes to saving your finances because locals do not pay as much. Instead of talking or trying to talk you can just use body gestures and your hands if you look more like a local. Dressing up as a local will help with blending in as well.
One of the things that has always boggled me is whether to remain humble or to let people know that you are better than them. Now to some, the answer may be obvious, or you already have your mind made up already regarding the topic, however, I have always found nuance in both spectrums.

When growing up people will tell you to be respectful, nice, and considerate of others, however, is it due to other people’s insecurities? Our parents, teachers, and friends would not necessary want us to be making trouble by offending other people or seen being disrespectful because in a way our actions will affect their social standing.

Is it moreso a way for the people around you to control who you are and make you conform to their standards? But why is it considered wrong to feel you are better than other people because you possess a talent, a skill that other people don’t have?

While someone who is truly confident in his or her abilities does not have to trumpet how great they are at whatever it is they are good at, how should you balance between wanting to be recognized and known for your skills and talents vs someone is humble and modest.

In a room full of strangers or perhaps even with some of our quiet friends, some of them may have great accomplishments that you and I do not know about. If they were to mention it or be boastful about it, wouldn’t we feel a little sense of respect and awe, assuming the accomplishments/skills are grand?

In the book, Ego is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, it actually talks about this dilemma. It states that in order to become a true master of a specific craft, you have to let go of the need to be recognized and praised.

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But, isn’t the need to be recognized and praised exactly the reasons why most of us do the things we do? We are social creatures and praise/attention in a way encourages us to try harder to become even greater at what we do.

What if the people who tell you to be humble and respectful are the ones with low self-esteem? Or what if the belief that we must be humble and modest is actually due to low self-esteem within ourselves?

A confident person would have no trouble commanding attention and respect; while some may perceive it as arrogance and cockiness, what if it’s a reflection of their own self-worth to pass such judgments? Someone with a healthy self-esteem won’t be threatened or feel less about themselves because you happen to be a good singer, dancer, athlete, etc.

On a bigger note, what if you are objectively smarter, hard-working, and overall just better than someone, what is the fine line between self-assured sense of superiority vs inferiority complex.

Because in a way, some people like to believe they are better than other people in order to make up for their deficiencies, but in some cases, that’s not necessarily true.

I don’t personally think there is anything wrong with Elon Musk stating that he is better than 99.99% of the world overall. Why? Because he revolutionized the automobile industry, and is one of the most brilliant minds of the 21st century, so I can clearly accept that he is better than me in general, perhaps not in everything, but overall as a whole, Elon Musk is more successful, acclaimed, and wealthier than anyone who is reading this post.

Now taking that premise of “overall” aspect of someone being better than other people, is it such a bad thing to feel that you are overall better than some people you might come across?

Of course it would be unwise to rub it in their faces, but maybe we are putting a false sense of humbleness and modesty because that is what we have been trained to do from a young age.

If you have always downplayed yourself or used self-depreciation to fit in with others, maybe it’s time to try something new and find new friends who don’t feel threatened by your accomplishments and skills. Because if you are good at something and overall better than most people, why hold yourself back? Something to think about.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are planning on visiting Olkhon Island and see lake Baikal, then you need to know a few things before heading over there so that you are fully prepared for the unexpected.

Quick tip, if you are traveling to Russia and Baikal specifically, you HAVE to buy one of these adapeters. Otherwise your won’t be able to charge your phone or your computer.

Is It Worth The Expense To See Lake Baikal?

This comes down to your personal preference. Some people like seeing natural landscapes and experiencing the wild beauty, whereas some others like cities and more of the nightlife and culture.

It won’t be THAT cheap beacuse you do need to plan it and consider your budget. However, if you like seeing natural landscapes and more of an introverted person who likes to reflect on your life, then this will provide you the opportunity to do so.

I break down the costs at the end, so stay tuned!

Should you go see Baikal with friends or by yourself?

Again, this comes down to personal preference. What is your purpose of visit? Are you looking to get away from everything and need time to yourself? Then definitely go by yourself, because it will give you the space and time to be with yourself.

However, if you are looking to have a good time and enjoy your stay best to your possibility, then traveling with friends is not such a bad idea. Sharing amazing moments with friends and loved ones is always a good memory to have.

Though, I found going with people close to you, family, spouse etc was best.

Should you visit lake Baikal during Summer or Winter?

Do you like the winter or the summer? Because either is beautiful in its own right. During the winter, lake Baikal is frozen, and there are events and attractions that allow you skate, but I personally went during the summer season.

Where should you buy Bus Tickets?

First step is to book a Trans Siberian Railway ticket to Irkutsk. You can do so on their official website.

Read: How to book cheap tickets for Trans Siberian Railway.

Or if you are flying to Irkutsk, then that is also okay.

Usually if you book your stay at a hostel, then you should be able to book a trip from your hostel. They will write you slip and reserve a spot for you. It costs 1000 rubles one way, 2000 rubles round trip.

If you are going a bit further into the Island though (Kharantsy section) it does increase to 1100 rubles one way.

You can also use apps like Beepride or Blablabla ride, to book a minivan/bus trip online.

What is the Ride to Olkhon Island Baikal like?

Van headed for baikal lake

Best tip is to go to the bathroom before heading on your journey, because you never can be sure 😉

The ride will usually take 7-8 hours, so packing something to drink and eat along the way is not such a bad idea. The driver will most likely stop for bathroom break, so you can always buy a few snacks during your stop as well.

Once you reach the port after 5 hours of so driving, you will have to get off the van and load onto the boats. Don’t get lost and miss when your van boards the ship! Board the ship when your van boards, keep a close eye. During our trip, someone ended up getting lost and we had to leave her after almost 2 hours of waiting.

After being transported to the Island by a boat, the driver will continue for another hour or two to the villages. Depending on where you booked your stay on the Island the driver will drop you off at your destination.

Should You Book Your Hotel in Khuzhir or Kharantsy

Kharantsy all the way! When you book a place in Hujir, you are booking in the area that is the most crowded and you have to walk a little to actually see Lake Baikal. The view from Hujir is not that great either, so Kharantsy is the preferred place to book your stay, though it is a bit more expensive.

I stayed at Badanskay, which cost around 3000 rubles per night including food and lodging.

Though I do have to stay reception at Harantsii is pretty bad and is somewhat isolated from the party. The good news is that you have the best view of lake Baikal, just a 2-3 minutes walk and there are many vantage points.

It’s another worldly experience to see such a majestic sight with your own eyes instead of just reading about it.

How Much Will It Cost You In Total

Excluding Trans Siberian and Airfare ticket costs, here is the breakdown of what it might cost you to get there from Irkutsk.

Minivan/Bus ticket: ~2000 rubles roundtrip

Snacks & Gifts: ~ 1000 rubles

Hotel/Guesthouse: ~2000-3000 rubles x Per night

So if you are staying there for a 3-4 days, which seems to be optimal amount time, then it should come down to 11000 rubles to 14000 rubles per person, which is not that expensive, but still not that cheap either.

For currency converter, check here.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Are you planning on taking the Trans Siberian Railway, but unsure how your experience will be when you do take it? Or you perhaps trying to plan how you can make your experience best to your possibility when taking the train?

Well in this article I will be sharing with you my experience of taking the Trans Siberian railway for short distances and long distances. Some my trips took less than 10 hours, whereas I’ve had certain travel experiences of spending 4 days on the train non stop.

Buying Train Tickets, How To Get Them For Cheap

If you are looking to buy the train tickets without extra fees and don’t want to go through agencies, then you can buy it directly from the Trans Siberian Railway website. You can choose the English version for the site if you don’t know Russian.

As long as you have a credit card, you should be able to book a ticket for fairly decent prices online.

Buying online and at the counter at the station, the prices are the same, so it’s better to buy it online and then print your ticket once at the station at one of the small kiosks or with those machines.

Is The Trans Siberian On Time?

YES! I was amazed how the trains are always on time. Compared to my experiences with Amtrak in the U.S, The Trans Siberian Railway in Russia is much more reliable and have amazing prices. Amtrak does not come anywhere close to the Russian Railway.

If you are thinking that you can come late 5-10 minutes later than the actual departure, you are mistaken. You better be there on time with your ticket, otherwise they are leaving without you!

Luggage Storage On the Trans Siberian

The luggage storage on the trans siberian is not that bad to be honest. You have plenty of room to put things. Big suitcases and bags are a hassle to carry with you so it is best advised to bring smaller suitcases, but even if you have big suitcases there is enough room to store them under the berth.

If interested read: Best suitcases for backpackers and digital nomads

Though I would advise the Amazon Basics Brand of suitcases, because it’s easier to carry and doesn’t pose too much headache to carry with you.

Anyways, you have the option of storing your luggage under your bed if you are on the lower bunk, or on the upper compartment if you are on the upper bed.

How Comfortable Are The Beds on The Train

The beds are okay I would say. Not the most comfortable but not horrible, so it’s okay. For taller people, 180cm+ it might be a little difficult for leg room, because the beds are short and small, so there isn’t much room to move around.

It feels like you are confined in a box, so the beds could be better and could use improvement. Luckily though I am not too tall or stocky, so it wasn’t too bad for me, but anyone who is over 180 cm and 90kg, it will take some time to get adjusted to the bed.

If you are on the lower berth, it might be a little easier for you since you won’t have to climb up everytime you want to get to your bed and there is more room compared to upper bunks.

You have hangers, overhead lights, and a small net to store your belongings while you sleep, so besides the lacking space, it’s decent. The bed is not too hard nor too soft, so it’s not too bad on the back. However, after 20 or so hours of laying there in bed can get somewhat uncomfortable if you don’t get up to stretch and walk.

Do You Need To Bring Your Own Blankets and Sheets?

No you don’t need to bring your own blankets or sheets when taking the Trans Siberian. To be honest, they are pretty clean and well washed. You know the feeling of freshly washed linens and cloths right? Well that’s how the sheets feel when you receive them.

You also get a towel for hygenic purposes. Though I never really used the towels provided by the Trans Siberian, they are pretty clean and well washed.

The only problem I have with blankets and sheets are the thickness of the blankets, because they are pretty thin and during the night when the train gets chilly, you can get cold, so it’s not a bad idea to bring travel blankets with you in case you get a little cold.

My recommendations for travel blanket is the Coolmax travel blanket, because it is thin, light, and very portable.

How Safe Is the Trans Siberian Railway?

irkutks train stop on trans siberian

I’ve taken it a few times and never have I felt unsafe or uncomfortable. The people are pretty nice and some offer to share their food with you. If you are a foreigner and from a different country some will want to know more about you and your culture, so it’s always a pleasant experience to talk with the locals.

You would assume Russians like to drink and get rowdy during the night, but as far as my experiences go, no one really cared to drink nor were there disturbing noise during while trying to sleep. Everyone seemed to behave well and there are plenty of conductors and employees on the train keeping an eye out for suspicious activity, so safety is not something to worry about.

However, one thing that kind of bothered me is how the Train stations don’t really care much to check luggages and what’s inside it. Yes, you do go through scanning process, it’s not that enforced, so you could easily smuggle something on the train.

Do You Get Bored On The Trans Siberian Railway?

If you are taking long distance trains for 2-3 days, yes you DO get bored so bring something with you that will keep you entertained. Since in most cases you have limited number of outlets, you do run the risk of running out your phone and laptop battery.

Bringing a journal, a book, cards, or some other non digital forms of entertainment is a good idea while taking the Trans Siberian.

You can always converse with the people on the train and converse about whatever topic assuming both of you can understand each other’s language well. Otherwise, you’re stuck for hours and hours trying to keep your mind going insane.

Oulets for charging phones and batteries

Depending on the train you take, some of the newer ones do have outlets in the 2nd class compartments, whereas some don’t and have only a few outlets out in the hallway.

Be sure to buy one of these adapters for your travels if you want to have battery though!

So if you want to make sure you don’t run out of battery, then it is advised to bring some portable power banks for your trip. Read: best power banks and battery chargers for travelers and backpackers.

Should You Take 3rd Class or Higher?

Depending on your budget, this is up to you which one you choose. If you have some money to spare, then I would recommend taking the 2nd class at least, because in the 3rd class, privacy is almost nonexistent and you are at the whim of 20 or so people not to disturb you during the night.

It can incredibly hot and oxygen lacking in 3rd class compartments because well… you have 20-30 people in the same room.

In 2nd class you at least have your own window, a shared desk, and it’s more personal if you want to get to know some of the people you are traveling with. So if you are wondering whether you spend that extra $20 to upgrade your ticket, do it!

Is There Air Conditioning on the Train?

This also depends on the train you are taking, but in most cases there is no air conditioning, no cool breeze that you might expect. What’s interesting is that during the night and evening though it’s pretty comfortable and cool, but it does get chilly when it passes midnight.

However, during the day, if it happens to be sunny, you are in for a ride. If you especially happen to be a big guy, then you probably should bring your own fan or something to keep you chill because it can pass 30 or so degrees celcius when the sun is out.

The best advice is to keep your window shades down and buy cold water to keep yourself cool. If you are in the 3rd class compartment it’s worse, because you don’t have control over opening the shades and windows as much.

How Clean Is The Train in General?

Generally the Trans Siberian is fairly clean and well kept. However, depending on what kind of train you are on, the toilet is a hit or a miss. Some of the toilets an be dirty and a bit unpleasant to take a shit, but some others are very clean and well maintained, so this will depend on how lucky you are.

Otherwise, overall the train is very well maintained and is clean. You don’t have dust, garbage, or other things out in the hallway etc. Things are where they are supposed to be.

Final Verdict and Judgment of the Trans Siberian Railway


If you don’t mind the long hours and the wobbling train that rocks back and forth, then the Trans Siberian is absolutely recommended. I actually prefer the Trans Siberian over flying because when you are flying the process is much more annyoing.

Train rides usually have a calming effect, at least for me, because you are with your own mind away from the many distractions of the world. I find it the perfect time do some journaling, writing poems, and just reflecting on my life. It’s a great way to contemplate on your travel experiences and your journey so far. It has been one of the most eye opening and insightful experiences personally.

But for some others, it is recommended to take the Trans Siberian Railway just for the experience and the stories you will make, otherwise the price is in most cases almost the same compared to airfare, though maybe slightly cheaper.

Flying is still the best choice if you want to get to your destination quickly.

 

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s been a little over 3 years since I started to travel by myself without considering to ask my friends or other people that I know of to come along with me. Sometimes they do come along and travel on some of my adventures, but mostly it has been me against the world traveling by myself, seeing what the world has to offer.

There comes a point in time though, where you start to question why it is that you travel in the first place. What is it all for? Are we looking for something within our heart to fill, something to take our minds off? Do we travel to escape from the mundaneness of reality and live a life of high and constant exploration?

At the end of the day, are some of us just never happy with normalness and things as is, so traveling perhaps acts as a way for us escape the reality of life and create some poetry into our lives?

Meeting people along your journey and travels

Meeting new people during your travels is not necessarily that hard anymore. You have applications and online communities that you can make friends over very easily, and in certain situations if you are not the shy type, you can even make friends out on the streets randomly.

However, one of the saddening aspects of making friends during your travels is that they are all short lived and somehow they don’t go beyond surface of truly understanding who you are are. Before you know it, you have friends all over the world, who you never even talk to again, but someone you keep them in your pocket in case they do come across your path again someday in future.

It’s not truly a friendship that most normal people have; it’s rather a bond and connection based on circumstances and the situation. Some may have developed a bond and connection with you to a deeper level than you can ever think of, but there isn’t that attachment. You don’t really know who they are, you don’t really understand what they are like in their everyday lives.

Romances and love while traveling by yourself

Similar with friendships when you travel by yourself, your romances are very short lived. Sometimes they are cut short due to circumstances and timing of it all. You are just two souls who came to meet for brief moment of time, no matter how impactful and life changing the experience may be, you don’t really know who you fell in love with.

It’s and idealization, a fantasy you perhaps go back to relive from time to time. While I am sure a lot of us want something that is everlasting and something that goes beyond time and space, can we really accept the frailties of our supposedly idealized loved ones?

We don’t know what they are like when they wake up in the morning, we don’t know how they act after a long day of work; they are not the gods or goddesses we make them out to be in our minds.

The everfeeling sense of emptiness of traveling by yourself

You see many amazing things during your travels, things that make you question the reality of things and what we consider life. However, these memories you make sooner or later fade and it’s something you only go back to and revisit through pictures or memories.

Sometimes beautiful things have the effect of making me even more sad, because I know it’s a moment that I will never get to experience to the same level of intensity ever again, and the more you repeat the high and awe inspiring experience, the more difficult it gets for the normalness of life to excite you, to give you a meaning, something to strive towards.

It’s hard not to fall into sense of nihilism and doubt of the existence of things. Yes, you see amazing and beautiful things, but too much beauty can make the real life in comparison banal and boring. There is no going back once you set foot on such a journey. You will be called back and you will be chasing that new high as much as you try to settle again, something else will call you to make you feel elavated and out of your body.

Maybe we are filling a void within ourselves

I am coming to the conclusion that somehow we are searching for something within ourselves. Something that we have not addressed and answered deep within us. We go searching on the outside world trying to find something that will fill our hearts deep within, when the only way to fill our hearts is from within.

Maybe we are looking for a home, a place to belong, a place to feel welcomed a place we can stay and remain forever. Maybe at the end of the day, we are looking for a place that is eternal, everlasting, something that will never change, because most of our lives have been constant change, constant movement, that we get tired of it at some point.

However, since we might have seen it all, the question is, where? Where do we feel at home? Where do we stay? Is it someone else who makes us stay? Or is it a place, community of people that make you feel at home? Who is to also say that life is meant to spent only in one place though?

Maybe some of us are just meant to wander the world lost and confused, searching for a place we can call home. At least having someone who is on the same quest perhaps might help or practicing mindfulness and acceptance of experiences/moments as a fleeting and short lived.

A book that is highly recommended to try reading is the Power of Now, at least it gives me some sense of comfort and acceptance of the supposed dilemma.

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  • The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Publisher: Namaste Publishing

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For people who grow up with active imaginations, it can be hard accepting the world as is. Your expectations for reality and how things ought to be never aligns with how things actually are.

Some of these people even go as far as to creating their fantasies in the real world. Walt Disney, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, all these great visionaries refused to settle and went on to create something of the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Their vision and their imagination have captivated us, enthralled us, perhaps sometimes even give us a meaning, an ideal to strive towards in life.

However, how do you separate reality from this unattainable delusion you have given yourself? Sometimes I don’t even know anymore. The more you dream, the more you try to uphold yourself to your romanticisms and ideals of youth, the more likely the mundane and the banal are to disappoint.

Ever since childhood, many of us come up with these lofty goals of a long voyage, falling in love with your soulmate, saving the world and running off into the sunset for a happily ever after, but as we grow up, we are faced with the harshness of reality. You need “money”, you need to be “realistic”, you need to be “responsible” if you are to survive in this world, but deep down we all know that we yearn for more than just mere existence of worldly responsibilities and expectations of society.

Some of us do come to accept that things will never be as they hope and are quite content with the normal, while a minority of us still cling on to that youthful spirit of grand adventure. Sometimes, it’s harder not to envy the people who seem to have fully accepted the “reality” of things and are quite happy with the mundane: getting a job, settling down with someone “nice”, raising a family etc.

But, knowing that you will never be happy conforming to society’s and other people’s expectations of what you ought to be and should be, as much as you try to fool yourself into believing it, there is still that dreaded doubt of “What if…”.

“What if I gave up on my dreams too early?” “What if I should have packed my bags for the unknown?” “What if I could have done better?”

I am sure most of you have been there one way or another, perhaps you are even asking these same questions right at this moment…

While I don’t know all the answers, there is one thing I do know for certain. Your heart, your soul never or “the universe” as some call it never lies and it never leaves your side for it is always there in times of need and despair. You just need to listen because sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We Don’t See Our Own Faults

It’s interesting how we like to look at the faults of others and judge the things around us without considering how we affect others. Most of the time, it’s always someone else who has wronged us, made us feel bad, and behaved badly without any consideration of others.

However, we often tend to overlook our own flaws and how we interact with our surroundings. You probably had friends, family, and colleagues complain about how someone wronged them one way or another. The reality is that we all behave badly and we are not the saints we may think of ourselves to be.

I’ve had drivers complain about someone else’s terrible and aggressive driving whilst doing exactly the same thing himself. We truly are our worst critic since we lack the perspective to look at ourselves without bias. Selfishness is a funnily a paradox. As long as we benefit from our selfishness it’s not considered selfishness in our own eyes, however as soon as it’s in the interest of someone else to not bend to our will, it’s considered “selfish”.

You Are Responsible For Your Own Happiness

Ever had people believe a favour or a gesture of goodwill was mandatory or something that was expected of them? Perhaps your spouse got mad at you for being too busy with work to clean the house, or perhaps your friend said you were “selfish” for not giving him a lift to the store because you had other important priorities. In truth, you could argue your spouse or friend were the selfish ones for not being considerate of your time and your personal life.

People form unhealthy dependency on others for their own autonomy and happiness, as if we owe them something. It’s something we have to be mindful of in order to avoid becoming dependent on someone else for our own happiness and well-being, and to also avoid situations where someone might become unhealthily dependent on you for their own happiness and well being.

At the end of the day, no one owes us anything. No one has wronged us nor has the obligation to comply with our expectations. While you should have expectations for yourself to become the best you can be, expectations placed upon others and expectations placed upon life can bring you great misery and dissatisfaction.

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The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction...
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The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction...
  • The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships
  • Esther Hicks, Jerry Hicks
  • Publisher: Hay House Inc.

It’s up to you to make something of yourself and live your life happily according to your values. Don’t like where you live? Unhappy with the shitty friends who take advantage of you? Good, it’s up to you figure something out and improve your life!

 

 

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Thailand Travel Diary Day 2 – Let go of who you think you are

What do I exactly mean by this? To let go of who you think you are. Well, I’ll explain in greater detail.

This is day two of my solo travel in Thailand, and it’s amazing how many revelations I’ve had.

When you get used to a certain way of lifestyle and habit, you in essence let that define you. You let your job, friends, family, and everything attached to you define YOU. There is a saying “the things you own end up owning you”, which kind of relates to what I am talking about.

You are not making an identity for yourself, but you are letting outside influences define who you are and what you can or can not do.

Best advice is to never play the game if possible, though it’s hard, because communities, societies, and cultures are basically built on general consensus of our collective thinking.



My Past Experience With American Culture

Just to recount some of my experiences in American culture a few years ago, I lost track of the times I defied other people’s expectations/stereotypes of how “Asians” usually are. Mongolian culture is significantly different to what most Americans are used to since they’ve been more exposed to East Asian culture rather than Central-Asian culture.

While I had my fun messing with other people’s preconceived notions of “Asians” at first, sooner or later, how people view you kind of rubs off on you. There is a sense of being viewed not good enough or worthy enough because you happen to be an Asian.

Now there are plenty of advantages that come with being Asian such as being perceived non-threatening, smart and intelligent, but there is an underlying cultural consensus that Asians are viewed as awkward, anti-social, passive, and unattractive in some circumstances. Because of this, I’ve noticed some social barriers that made it less inviting, and in some cases harder to be accepted as just an individual instead of being labeled as that “different” Asian kid.

I do not speak any East Asian languages; some even commented that I am tall for an “Asian” although I am more or less average height in most places, and stares or looks whenever I was out on dates with American girls as if people were questioning “how is that possible?”.

No, I have not encountered any racism, but just subtle cultural influences that made me feel less and less confident in my own identity over the course of years while I lived in America, which eventually led me to believe in an identity of what other people thought of me.

If you have read my post about day 1, you’ll know that you have to lose yourself to find yourself again. Luckily, that is exactly what has happened. It’s just so freeing to be in a new environment so that you can explore yourself again.

You Make Your Own Identity

Only now am I starting to really unwind the conditioning that American culture has led me to believe. The narrative of “The Asian kid who always tried to be different or tried to defy stereotypes”. Fuck that! Looking back, I wasn’t really “trying” to be different, it was just who I was. However because people acted so surprised and because they thought I was not really being an “Asian”, I started believing their version of who I should be instead of my own.

Even if you have certain Asian stereotypes that apply to you, so what? It’s not something to be ashamed of. If you are smart, intelligent, nerdy, or geeky and enjoy everything associated with those “labels”, you don’t have to dumb yourself down to fit in. Just find people who enjoy those nerdy/geeky things you enjoy.

My parting word of advice for people wanting to explore themselves: Travel around to different countries, different cultures, and different places. You’ll soon learn that your version of “life” and “reality” or what you think is “truth” will be questioned and tested. Whether you decide to learn from it or ignore it is your own choice.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There she sit on the floor, watching a movie on the TV, with me right behind her. Her demeanor and golden blonde hair seem to suggest that it’s someone I know. She rocks back and forth as if she wants me to catch her and perhaps even hug her, but nothing from my end. Frustrated she forcefully rocks herself backwards and I have no choice but to catch her.

As she slowly turns around over her right shoulder, it’s definitely someone I know, there’s no mistaking it. The same perked lips, the same piercing eyes with a look that said I missed you. As I stare in surprise, she reaches over to kiss me, but with every inch of my willpower I turn away.

My mind racing and confused, I whisper “If it didn’t work the first time, how will it the second?” Regretful and upset, she reaches forward and sits back where she was; teary eyed, heavy in her silent mind.

That touch, that look, the same warm fuzzy feelings that I so know of. Did I really want to try again, to give it another chance? Maybe… I don’t know… Anything to make her sadness go away. I slowly muster myself the courage and reach over to hug her.



Her small tiny head fit just where it used to, her warm breath heavy on my skin with a deep longing to be close. So comfortable, so familiar, so warm, as if I could stay there forever, just like old times. But something pulls me away from this dream, this fantasy, and soon enough I find myself laying in my bed, in the dark.

Dreams scare me! 

How real they can sometimes seem? Are we dreaming so that in a way we can fix any unresolved issues? Or are we actually connecting spiritually with things beyond the physical.

It’s hard making up my mind whether our dreams are isolated from the world and we in a way are just in our own fantasy land or whether we are actually getting in touch with our higher selves and our loved ones in the spiritual realm.

If it’s just our neural signals sending electrons to different parts of our brain, is that all we are? Is our reality and “life” as we call it just in our heads/brain?

Now I am sure I am not the first to wonder of these questions, the Brain in A Vat theory by Descartes poses the same questions about reality. Since our sense of smell, taste, touch, etc are mere signals to our brains, which tell us what to and how to feel.

Then there are other people on the other side of spectrum, where it’s theorized that the heart is the most magnetic organ in our body and through our heart we connect with things in life, not our brains.

So which is it? I want to believe in the latter, the idea that we are all connected energetically and spiritually.

Ever had those moments when you suddenly think of someone or had a dream about them? When it’s out of nowhere, when your heart just feels heavy with the thought of someone you knew or cared deeply about in the past, what do you make of it?

Unresolved feelings? Mind tricks by our brains? Or perhaps are we energetically and spiritually connecting with someone we knew?

Yeah, just questions that make you confused and questions to make you wonder what it all means.

 

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

GROWING UP & NOSTALGIA

It’s a few hours before my flight back home after a month or so of backpacking around the United States. It has been one of the most fulfilling and life enriching experience I have ever had. What started out as a little dabble with adventure turned out to be a life changing experience. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and learning different perspectives from millionaires, broke backpackers, ex-convicts, and internationals from 4 corners of the globe.

As I sit and type this blog here in the hostel kitchen with the subtle 2000s music in the background, each and every song takes me back to a time and space of my younger self. Ohh how things have changed and how time has passed by. It’s hard not to be nostalgic and sad despite the endless possibilities ahead in the future.



THE EPIPHANY

While Rihanna sings about her Umbrella, it’s an odd feeling to realize that as we age, we become desensitized to emotions. We forget what it’s like to love, to feel, to enjoy the moment without having to worry about what’s to come tomorrow. There is just something magical about our younger days despite its ups and downs. It was a simple life with simple people. Just remembering the days of how a 2 Liter soda drink with a few of my best buddies or staying up all night chit chatting gave me more happiness than anything else is surprising, aahhh simple times indeed.

THE WORLD IS BEAUTIFUL

If there is something I learned along this backpacking trip, it is the fact that the connections you have with people are more important than almost all things in life. In the end, we all want to love and feel loved; it doesn’t have to be Romantic love, but genuine unconditional love given and received. But what do we get as soon as we turn on the radio, TV, and Computer? Flood of images about the impending world destruction, unrealistic body expectations we’ll never achieve, reasons why we won’t be happy unless we buy X, Y or Z.

The world is not all sunshine and rainbows, but for the majority of times, people are inherently good natured at heart. People like helping others, people like connecting and bonding; we are a communal species after all. However, why do we close ourselves off to others because we got burned once in the past, leading to our mistrustful attitudes towards people. We stop wanting to receive and give, but the greatest joy in life lies in giving and receiving. The world is a beautiful place if you know where to look.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s painful to be exposed to the injustice and the suffering that exists in this world. As of November 12-13th, 2015, a group of individuals made the choice to take away other people’s lives and rob the hearts of many who held the victims dear in their souls. I don’t know if the actual event itself is scary or the fact that hatred still exists in something that was supposed to be so beautiful, after thousands of years of technological and moral advancements.

What was once pure and magnificent is being used to promote one’s greed, hatred, and separation of humanity. What started off as to explain the beauty of life, the meaning of why we are here, and our purpose, is being used as a tool to discriminate, to judge, and to divide.

What justification is there for taking a life in the name of our supposed Gods? Who are we to decide what’s right and wrong when we can’t even see the mountain of a shadow we cast? I will not judge, nor will I hate, however I will grieve for the victims and pray that the ones who brought such atrocities will one day question their Convictions.

I wish not to see this event as a tragedy, but I do wish to see it as an opportunity to further learn and grow in ourselves. It’s easy to judge, however, I choose to continue improving and bettering myself to serve in humanity’s unity. I desperately invite you to do the same.

How can we ourselves grow as individuals to bring love, peace, and joy onto the world?

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What is Karma?

You don’t have to be a religious or spiritual person to understand the concept of Karma. The principle goes, the more good you do, good shall follow or the more bad you do, bad shall follow. It’s a philosophy that dates back thousands of years into Buddhism, but every major religion has it’s own version of Karma.

Although it sounds pretty straightforward and a principle you can easily live by if you choose, my only problem with the definition above is how Karma is only dictated by our actions or our deeds.

I am sure you know of relatives and friends who are good people who do good things, but just can’t seem to stop attracting misfortune and bad luck onto their lives. This leads me to believe that Karma is not necessarily defined by the good deeds we do.



Karma in Action

Karma is a way of thought and a view of the world. A lot of us give, give, and give with the intent of being seen as a good person or in some instances we give to bargain with the universe and karma to deliver/return our favours.

However, just by having an expectation or an agenda for giving, we are actually building bad karma. As mentioned, karma is a way of thought and the feelings we receive from the good deeds we do.

When we give from our hearts without expectations and the appreciation for making someone else feel just a little bit happier, that’s when we truly build good karma, and goodness shall follow.

According to science this is labeled as Reticular Activating System or confirmation bias, but either way, just by focusing on the happy feelings and the goodness in the world, we are attracting/noticing experiences that allow karma to work in your life.

So Is Karma Actually Real?

Well that depends… How do you see the world? What is your definition of life and why we are here? Personally for me, ABSOLUTELY! Karma is real. We are the creators of our realities, and our willingness to provide value for others is a reflection of the lives we shall live; not just materialistically, but also mentally. Our biases, desires, fears, and beliefs all shape how we view the world, and that in turn shape how we act in this world.

If you’re serious about making a difference within yourself and for others, my best recommendation is to research Tony Robbins, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Abraham Hicks, Eckhart Tolle, and many more.

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API