If you are reading this I want you to cheer on Team Purple! Why? There’s a new competition on the travel blogging horizon set up by lowcostholidays.com and it’s all to do with a relay, but luckily not the sporting kind. Phew! Instead, us travel bloggers have been sharing our top three travel memories and then digitally passing the baton onto the next intrepid citizen of the world to do the same.
The blogger relay baton has been passed to be by Shinjini from Peddler of Dreams and so I now get to share with you my favourite travel memories…
Bronze: Great Wall of China
Although a ‘must-do’ when in China, this really is extraordinary when you are there. I’d had a huge obsession about visiting China since the tender and innocent age of 15, although it never came to fruition until now, at age 29, where I am currently travelling. Other places just came first until I felt ready to brave China solo. When the time finally came to hike the Great Wall I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my extremely high expectations… but I was wrong. I felt that surge of emotion you feel when you say to yourself “I’m finally here” and I actually had a tear in my eye that my childhood dream had finally come true. I stood motionless looking out at its vast expanse, marvelling at this feat of architecture and dangling my feet off the edge as I immersed myself in the peace and quiet all around me (which doesn’t happen often, if at all, in China). It was also, of course, a great spot for photography and having just bought a new camera, resulted in the Great Wall becoming my catwalk. You have to get a few poses in!
Silver: Volunteering in Madagascar
I spent five days in Madagascar back in 2009 volunteering and it changed not only my outlook on life, but the way in which I now travel. I was lucky enough to be posted there as part of a PR campaign I was working on at the time where we partnered with a charity which offers cleft lip and palate surgery to children in developing countries. Call it fate, but it was my calling and from then on I changed. People would comment that I was different, that I didn’t seem happy in the job that I was in and that travelling brought out a side to me that was more alive. I realised then that my future travels would always encompass some form of volunteering when possible. I’ve already volunteered at a Migrant school in Beijing and am heading to Cambodia in November to volunteer at a slum area in Siem Reap for a few months. Madagascar was just the start of many responsible and purposeful travelling experiences.
Gold: Visiting North Korea
I’m a firm believer in seeing a destination for yourself before making a judgement. The western media is too quick to vilify everything about this country and since I work in the media industry I was eager to see for myself the other side of the story. Although there is a lot wrong with the ideologies and practices of North Korea, I also saw a lot of positive progress there. Sure, I don’t know everything about it, and nor do I know its entire history, but I feel that there is definitely progress being made there. Nearly every person says: “they only let you see what they want you to see” which is very true, but there were little moments that couldn’t be set up at all; moments when you looked out the window and said to yourself “this is beautiful” and “this is totally not what I expected.”
I was also very lucky to be there on National Day where we got to spend quality time with the local people as they danced and sang, pulling us into the crowd and letting down the guard they have been predisposed with. The more the western world and North Korea communicates through such interaction the more open minded and trusting we all can be. I’m still so overwhelmed from my experience there that I haven’t yet put everything into words – the first time I have ever felt that way after returning from a new destination. I would like to go back in the future depending on how things pan out there. My only hope is that North Korea changes for the better, adapts, opens up, and lessens its ideological hold, just like China is doing – albeit very slowly and still in progress.