We've posed questions to frequent travelers about the different countries they've experienced and the cultures in which they were immersed.
When we visit other areas of the world we find things we didn't expect, we grow in ways we never could have anticipated, and we take home with us a piece of the culture we visited.
Whether we expect them to or not, our travels always change who we are. Every fragment that is adjusted and shaped by seeing the world, brings us inches and sometimes miles closer to what we were always meant to be:
One people; one heart.
Laos, from Stephen M.
What did you expect to find that you did not see?
I expected to find poverty. I didn't. Everyone seemed perfectly content, full, and happy!
Did you eat anything that you would later report to your friends as "so that was weird"?
I ate a chicken's eye ball. It may sound awkward, but the Lao people eat almost every part of the animal. ...A chicken's eye ball tastes just like you'd imagine it to by the way.
What differences stood out to you the most?
Life moves a little slower in Laos in the most beautiful way. Laos is a communist country, therefore you don't see the typical “buy this!” ads that we're bombarded with everyday in western culture. I'll be honest, it was a nice change.
What was your main mode of transportation in the area you visited?
Bicycle, Tuk Tuk (taxi service), or my friend's motor bike.
What was your main mode of transportation in the area you were in?
The Thai place just down the street was divine. A great, big authentic meal would cost me just a couple of bucks. The currency exchange was definitely on my side.
What customs do you think should be adopted by our country?
My friend and I were driving through north Laos at the end of my trip, and I asked why there aren't any homeless people. He told me that the Lao people are heavily devoted to their families. What money is made from working at the market or fields is then used if a family member is sick or needs a better place of shelter. It struck me how compassionate that is and something I don't see enough here in the states.
What was the most interesting thing you saw or visited and why?
Nong Khiaw is a small town in north Laos. It has a river running right through the middle of town with huge green mountains all around it. It had just rained when we arrived, so the trailheads were shut down to tourists. But my friend and I worked a little charm on the gatekeeper and he let us hike the trail. The dangerous, muddy trail led us way above the city at sunset. It's a site I'll remember forever.What insights did you walk away with that you couldn't have anticipated beforehand?
- Spending one month in a foreign country with a lot of time to yourself will test you in ways you didn't know were possible.
- Communist countries aren't scary.
- Traveling isn't as hard as you think.
- Finding similarities between cultures is super effective in expanding awareness.