Adapting to a New Continent
I had traveled South East Asia for the past four months. I hopped between five countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and finished my time in Bali. Between each country, I experienced what each country had to offer from jumping 10 meter cliffs in multiple countries, exploring the beautiful caves of Vietnam, soaking up the culture of Bali and submerging myself in prayer at many temples. The people in each country were overly joyed to meet you and travelers from all over the world actively engaged in conversation in order to find out more about one another’s countries and culture. It was constant and endless adventure from the time you woke up to the time you slept each and every day. With the sun beating down on you, it was hard not to want to explore. Stimulus was all you ever knew.
My four month trip ended and it was my time to now take over Europe starting with London. I met my best friend since middle school at the airport after traveling 36 hours from Bali to Heathrow London Airport. I was clearly exhausted and with only Southeast Asia wear, I knew I had to hit the stores to buy all new winter gear to adapt to the now 2 degree celcius weather that I was in. The wind was freezing cold and my body had literally gone into shock from the extreme weather change of beautiful Bali to now cold and gloomy London. Anytime I stepped outside, I put my hands to my mouth immediately in order to begin my routine of blowing hot air into my palms to warm my hands. For the first few days, all anyone saw of me outside were my hands to my face, both a beanie and my jacket hood on, multiple layers and a grim expression on my face that pretty much read, “How the hell am I going to survive the next few months”.
Aside from the cold, I was getting used to London culture. Speed walkers took over the underground, where people looked in the direction they were walking with tunnel vision on and no regards to what was around them or who they may bump into. I spent those first few days dodging people and looking confused, trying to not get ran over by a speed walker. I noticed when going out, it wasn’t as easy as Southeast Asia to chat with the locals, a few times getting shut down when chiming into overheard conversations in the pubs bathroom- my attempt in making new connections. I was met with awkward glances and rather than being replied back to, simply ignored.
Those first few days, I realized traveling Southeast Asia is not going to be like traveling Europe. But once my body began adjusting to the weather, I then quickly accepted all the differences that these two continents held. This is the reason I am exploring anyhow, to understand new and different groups of people. So, like the traveler I am, I began to adapt. I put on my tunnel vision when in the underground, carefully examined people to see which ones would be open for a chat with a stranger and by day four I daringly even went about town with just a sweater on.
Adapting is one of the strongest qualities a traveler can have. When you are willing to accept a culture and adapt, you are much more willing to enjoy the place you are in. After my first few days, I began to once again fall in love with a new place. I walked across Tower Bridge, took in the sky views from Sky Garden, found my way to the bustling Camden Market where stores and a food market took over the whole area. I was so wrapped up in London culture, I even found myself randomly walking into a piercing shop in Camden and had my nose pierced. Live bands played beautiful music often at the bar next door to my hostel by London Bridge. I clearly was delving myself in all that London had to offer.
One of the highlights to my London trip, however, had been reuniting with past travelers, Jodie, Joe and Stef. I was blessed by my decision of traveling Southeast Asia first because I had met European travelers all over Southeast Asia. Three of which I got to visit while staying in London. Jodie, I had met in Bali. Her and I both had been traveling solo, but from day one of meeting each other at Layday Hostel in Canggu, we knew we couldn’t leave each other’s sight. We made the decision to travel three weeks together around Bali and our time there ended in tearful goodbyes. It was in London that we were reunited once more to now take over another place. She took me in, letting me stay at her apartment every weekend and together we took over London. From nights out in Shoreditch to ending my last weekend by partying at the famous nightclub Fabric with her brother Mark, we simply were living up our lives as if we were back in Bali. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to have met or a better way to spend my weekends in London.
As for Joe and Stef, these two I had met in Vietnam briefly and then surprisingly bumped into each other at the same hostel in Boracay, Philippines. It was there that we made our friendship Facebook official and discovered that we all were headed to Bali the same time. Three countries worth of each other seemed crazy enough, all three of us having insane nights out, unstoppable laughing fits and lunch dates together. We never expected that country number four would come into play until I had told them London was my next stop. By that time, they had already met Jodie and the four of us made plans to meet up once more once we were all in London. We all met out for drinks and a brief catchup, all of us in shock of now meeting in country number four. We shared stories and our undying obsession with traveling, one where all of us our plotting our next escape (though I still am currently on my own travels).
I feel once you are a traveler, you’ll always be a traveler. We figure out there is so much more to life than materialistic belongings. There’s adventure, open-minded people, different cultures and beautiful sights to see all around the World. You can’t ever replace a lifestyle like that of a travelers. Though I still have another 8 months of travel, I too, am planning my next escape or even my continuation whether that means a working holiday in Australia or doing my grad school program abroad. For us travelers, staying in one place is a trap for us. We just don’t accept simplicity and sameness. We will always find a way to chase more. So, cheers to a lifetime of travel I now plan to have. After all, memories hold more weight than money ever will.
Travel on my loves!