Hot water, wifi, clean bed. The luxurious necessities of most modern backpacker. When these were stripped away from my daily life, I instantly felt the need to get out of there - this remote village in Sri Lanka. There was a storm outside. The beach was wet, the air was muggy and stinky. There were no people on the street. No foreigners, no locals. The mosquitoes loved me, the cockroaches greeted me too.
The hotel owner was not only a good salesman, but also a good lier. But I do understand that he has a quota to meet and a quality-of-life standard to meet. I still thought though life is too short and this trip is too short for me to spend a mediocre time here. If I can get something better, then why stay with this one?
I was not satisfied. I had some standards, wants, and needs are they were not being met there. But even when they being were met while I was elsewhere in the world before/during/after my travels, I had a new set of standards, wants, and needs.
Sure, in the beginning when I returned to “civilization,” I would exclaim over toilet paper availability and functional electric fans. But in time I would move on to a new place and things would change again. People’s time is limited to some extent, certain people travel for a short time and others long or longer, some stay and work or even settle down. I think if I would stay somewhere, the question of satisfaction will still eventually become a mystery again.
The apartment I grew up in didn’t have hot water or wifi, then we moved to Canada and had hot water, and wifi came later. We got our first car, a better apartment, then a house. Soon we switched to a better car and a better house. I got a better education, my parents got better jobs, I got a job, then a better job; we have better clothes, better vacations, better lives. It won’t stop.
To travel is to live life, to meet people, to learn about other cultures, to try new things, and much more (and much different depending on values, priorities, and other factors). The budget travellers figure out very soon what their baseline limit is. Are you willing to sleep on the ground in the engine room of a boat, or even on the street on your stuff? Are you willing to try local food, or eat the cheapest instant noodles all week, or not to eat at all because you just lost everything?
On the other hand, given that the basic sleeping and eating needs are met, how much more are you willing to pay for a better room, better food, better adventures, a better experience?
Life encourages and praises improvement, time moves forward and growing up is what we do all life long. There are quotes and books that tell us to appreciate the small things in life, to be satisfied with what you have already, and to know “less is more.” So it’s an adventure to find the balance. It’s almost like a computer-adaptive exam, when you do well and have more, life gives you more challenges and sacrifices; when you realize this is making you unhappy and is not worth the time in your life, move on and do something that is worthy to you. Once the balance is found, the bar will change itself again.
Lost and found. Found and lost. Repeat. Travel is a journey. Life is a journey. It’ll always sort itself out in the end, so enjoy the ride.
Chinatown in Manhattan, NYC. February 1, 2014
After visiting Brooklyn bridge, we were in need of warm food - so we ate dinner at Xi’an Famous Foods and tried their stewed pork burger, spicy cumin lamb burger, and spicy & tingly beef hand-ripped noodles - everything was delicious and I highly recommend this place.
There were fire crackers and confetti poppers everywhere on the floor due to Chinese New Year spirit - definitely a great atmosphere!
Happy Chinese New Year :)
Asked by lovefearlesslivefree
Thank you for such a lovely comment! I lived in Calgary for about 6 months and explored some parts of Alberta - very beautiful! I’m from Toronto/Montreal :)
Sunset on Brooklyn bridge. February 1st, 2014
Freezing cold but worth it.
Wall Street, New York. February 1st, 2014
Statue of Liberty from the free Staten Island Ferry. February 1st, 2014
New York City, February 1st, 2014.
So I’ve left Cowtown. Despite the tremendous difference between Mayor Nenshi and Mayor Ford, Calgary couldn’t keep me. Even though locals and non-locals alike welcomed us in every conversation, I felt like a fish out of water. When the admissions officer at Haskayne asked me “Do you like Calgary?” I started to tear up and that was my moment of truth. I was becoming antisocial and lazy; it was the hell to my heaven [travel life] prior. I used to see all the speed walkers beside me racing toward their work, looking straight ahead and leaving all moments of life unnoticed. The sunshine, the flowers, the Rockies in the distance - all of which I took an effort to enjoy, like I did during my life on the road. Six months later, I was just another life depreciator. It’s a combination of adaptation, adjustment, the city of Calgary itself, and my spot in life. I was in a city where the downtown was empty on weekends and after 6pm, and people took their RV’s into the mountains and camped with their family and friends - all of which are things I didn’t have with me. The scenery of the Rockies, Banff, Canmore, Kananaskis are what kept my hopes up for the weekend. Someone said the three things you need to be happy in life: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. I had all three, but I was too cocky to be satisfied.
The cost of living in Calgary is designed with direct proportions to the salary of those working in oil/gas. I missed my people, those who didn’t try to be something else. Often I’d get excited thinking I see a backpacker on the street, but he/she always turned out to be a homeless-person. It’s not about the size or population, it’s just the entire combination was out of sync with me. Every time I told the same story of why I came out here, the story of my life, travel, and love. I wasn’t making enough money to justify the Calgarian lifestyle, and the mentality of “getting by” in my travel life did not carryover well to the high prices of the city.
Like most people, I came here for job and money. “Eat the Rich” is graffitied under Holt Renfrew’s signage. Perhaps I’m a slow adaptor now, and perhaps traveling has changed some of my values. My standard shifts in consumerism and materialism. Blah blah, goodbye Calgary.
Grassi Lakes revisited. December 26, 2013
Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, December 26, 2013
For my Christmas present, we chilled with huge puppies from Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.
Georgina, our passionate wolfdog guide and owner, introduced us to Nova, Kuna, Zeus and other beauties, all of whom left warm saliva on my hands. Best wishes to everyone!
December 26, 2013
Oct 14, 2013. Banff and the drive back.
Goodbye for now.
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to,
to see behind walls, to draw closer,
to find each other and to feel.
That is the purpose of life.”
- the wallet (which can be bought here) in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty