Friday, June 29, 2012

The Meaning of Home

Home. For long-term travelers, this word can take on a strange meaning.

This is especially true now as I write this from my childhood home in Fremont, California.

Having grown up in Fremont and with the majority of my family still living here, this should be the one place where I feel most at home. But it's not. To be honest, there isn't a place where I feel more out of place and alien. Having moved out of the house when I was 19 years old, I find I have next to nothing in common with most of the friends and family members who have remained. It's pretty sad, and I find it depressing.
To long-term travelers, "home" is no longer a place of residence or somewhere completely familiar. The idea of having a "home" gets replaced with temporary spaces to leave your things; a series of fleeting moments of rest in hotels, hostels, airport lounges, overnight bus and/or trains, a kind stranger's couch, or sometimes, even just out underneath the stars.

Not quite feeling at homey on an overnight bus in Vietnam

For all intents and purposes, long-term travelers are essentially "home"-less.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Is it?

In my Facebook profile, I describe myself as a "happy homeless girl wandering across the world, lost somewhere between the earth and the sky..." Being without a home has never been much of a problem for me, but sometimes, particularly in those extremely rare moments when I feel out of place and isolated from my environment, the sense of homelessness can be jarring. Fortunately, I soon get swept up in the thrill of exploring the new sights around me and I am back to being myself.

Happy and homeless in India

In general, I still see myself as a happy homeless girl and the more I travel the world, the more I've come to realize that "home" isn't necessarily a specific place, but rather a sense of belonging.

I feel most at ease striking up conversations with complete strangers on the street. I feel most like my true self when the excitement and momentum of daily challenges and discoveries drive me forward. I feel most comfortable when I'm lost and wandering in unfamiliar locations, with no particular destination in mind.

Yes, it's true; I feel most at home when I don't know what the heck is going on around me.

My home is the road and that's where I belong.

And if that requires more nights in strange beds in small towns, so be it. I'm not ready to give up this home. Not just yet.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Mountains

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Mountains!" 

Q1 via What do you think it is about the mountains that attracts travellers? 
  • : The challenge of attempting to dominate a feat of human nature 
  • : The serene calmness of seclusion
  • : Escaping all those who aren't adventurous enough to go up 
  • : The massive amount of biscuits, chocolate, and sandwiches you can eat at the top and not feel guilty
  • : Crisp pollution free fresh fresh air. The views aren't bad either  
  • : It is a great feeling once you reach the top and knowing that you have achieved something 
  • : My travel to the mountains is about taking in their majesty, fresh air and pristine landscape  
  • : Close to mountains = closer to heavens = closer to being able to fly. We're all little kids who want to be superheroes 

Q2 via Most interesting mountain town you have visited and why?
  • : Bansko, Bulgaria. Cows on the street blocking traffic and so little English
  • : Loved Cusco, Peru, near Machu Picchu in the Andes. Great vibe with people from all over world
  • : Whistler is a great mountain town. The city lives and breathes mountain life
  • : Meteora, Greece although more monasteries than town - incredible and spiritual
  • : Kasauli, quaint hill station in Himachal Pradesh in India. Quiet green and can smell the pine trees, awesome treks and friendly people
  • : I loved Sapa, Vietnam - trekking with the local villagers was fantastic
  • : Positano On the Amalfi coast. Turquoise Sea, colourful houses, mountains and sky all together
  • : Merdia in Venezuela... quite mystic, with clouds hanging around the peak, and a pretty impressive furnicular 

Q3 via What 3 things need to go in the backpack when you go for a mountain trip?
  • : Energy bar, GPS, and water
  • A pocket knife, a quality water bottle, and my travel journal in a plastic bag
  • : Plasters, suncream and plenty of snacks 
  • : Pocket knife, rain coat, camera  
  • : Sunscreen, warm clothes and sturdy shoes, add a sense of adventure on top
  • : Peanut butter (energy), water (hydration) and layers of thermals that can be whipped on and off 
  • : Camelbak (best invention ever when hiking!), camera and GOOD WALKING BOOTS
  • : My kettle for rooibos tea, my freeze dry food and warm comfortable sleeping bag 

Q4 via What's the most underrated mountain in the world?
  • : The Transylvania mountains in Romania
  • : Monchique mountains in the Algarve aren't well known, but they're beautiful, especially Foia
  • : Le Shan in Sichuan is pretty awesome 
  • : The snow-capped Taurus mountains over Fethiye in winter. Simply stunning
  • : Diamond Head on Oahu. How often do you get to go through a tunnel inside a volcano, then walk up the crater? 
  • : Mt Erebus in Antarctica is pretty interesting - an active volcano in the Antarctic 
  • : Zugspitze..although highest in Germany, it goes unnoticed next to Switzerland and Austria's 3000 and 4000 high peaks 

Q5 via What mountain ranges are on your bucket list?
  • : I wish the Karokorum wasn't so dangerous, looks so wild and beautiful
  • : The Himalayas, and the East African mountains 
  • : Anything in Patagonia looks crazy cool 
  • : The Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan 
  • : Mount Bromo and surrounding volcanoes in Indonesia. That landscape is spectacular 
  • : The Rockies, the Andes, the Alps, and why not, Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • : I want to do the Bontoc Citruit, Philippines
  • : Misiones Mountains in Argentina or the Pyrenees with sangria in my backpack
  • : Since I saw Mount Fuji for the first time, I promised myself one day I will climb it. I have a picture on my wall as a reminder 
  • : I'm reaching Everest basecamp at some point in my life. For sure 

And there you have it, "Mountains!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Jobs in Travel!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Mountains" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Travel Surprises

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk! Just follow the #TTOT hashtag!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Travel Surprises!" 

Q1 via : What's the best surprise you've had on your travels?
  • : Finding a leatherback turtle laying eggs on the beach in South Africa
  • : When my mom and I got free airline tickets and other coupons for taking a later flight (which we preferred), that was REALLY great
  • : When I realized that in most countries I can linger after a meal at the restaurant and they just don't care
  • : I've loved how nice people have been to me. When you're alone on the road, you're frequently relying on the kindness of strangers
  • : That I can convert currency in my head when travelling, despite being terrible at maths. If shopping is involved then I step up
  • : How landmarks actually look like in real life, TV gives a very different view
  • : Biggest surprise: the world is a lot smaller than you might think

Q2 via What surprises you most when traveling?
  • : How people connect despite differences in cultures and how we find ourselves 
  • : How much more of the world there is to see and experience 
  • : I'm still always pleasantly surprised by how nice, welcoming, and generous people around the world can b
  • : How good street food is wrapped in newspaper. Grosses out the wife though 
  • : How you can go from "stranger" to "friend" so quickly. Beer and shared experiences make friends for life
  • : When I see someone that I think looks just like someone I know - except the Chinese version
  • : How badly I deal with the heat
  • : I am often surprised at how many people complain about how it isn't like home-that's the point of traveling

Q3 via Which country has challenged your preconceptions the most?
  • : Fiji. It was the first time I felt like a minority. Met some kids who had never a white person before. It was amazing
  • : India for sure! India has tested me on so many levels and it is for that same reason it is my favorite country 
  • : Germany, it's much more interesting than I thought. Many preconceived ideas annihilated 
  • : Columbia! Everybody was telling us horror stories so we were a bit scared but then it was the best of all on our trip 
  • : The US surprised. Especially when this cow-boy in Texas told me : "You know what? Jesus told me to give you 100 bucks." So he did 
  • : Pakistan. I expected cold stares and to feel uncomfortable, instead the people thanked us for coming to see their beautiful country 
  • : China. you think you got it all figured out then BOOM ass-less chaps for kids. Whuuut?!

Q4 via What's been the most unwelcome surprise whilst traveling?
  • : Worst feeling is realizing the bag that just got stolen had a passport in it
  • : The poverty you find when venturing out of the very touristic areas. It is sad, like taking off a mask 
  • : Every bout of surprise food poisoning
  • : People trying to rip you off because you are a tourist
  • : Usually the expats and the expat 'Scene'
  • : Getting stung by lots of baby Jelly Fishes off the coast of Zanzibar whilst diving 
  • : Pretty much every time I checked my bank account
  • : having my round-the-world flight cancelled by the airline for no reason half way through trip

Q5 via Which destination was surprisingly different than expected, and why?
  • : I wasn't expecting the Philippines to be so very different to rest of SE Asia
  • : Scotland. I assumed they spoke English, but I couldn't understand any of the people there
  • : I bet Israel is surprisingly different to what people gather from the news 
  • : Iceland's tiny population was surprising (325,000) and how village-like Reykjavik is
  • : Everywhere in the Middle East has been so welcoming - very unlike common perception
  • : How much there is to do in Luxembourg. It may be small, but good things come in small packages 
  • : Oman. wasn't expecting to be treated well as an american solo female traveler. Completely surprised by amazing local hospitality  

And there you have it, "Travel Surprises!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Mountains!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Travel Surprises" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Worst Thing About Travel? Saying Goodbye

Well, it's finally here. After making my announcement that I was leaving Hong Kong months ago, I have just a few days (DAYS!) left in Hong Kong before I leave. For good.

I'm going to miss this Hong Kong view and my friends who live here
Sure, I'll come back to visit Hong Kong in the future, but after this year and a half roller coaster ride of ups, downs, highs, and lows, I know there is slim chance I will ever live here again. I love Hong Kong, but there are just too many things that I also can't stand.

But this post isn't about Hong Kong. It's about saying goodbye to amazing people and as a traveler, how much I hate it.

My favorite thing about travel is definitely meeting new people and forming friendships. Unfortunately the nature of a transient lifestyle also means that at some point, those friendships come to an end as I leave a particular destination and venture to further travels. Sure, with social media it's easy to stay "connected," but it's not the same as simply being able to call up, say, Harold for Sunday brunch and beat him at a game of Scrabble. There's something beautiful in being able to do that, and not just because I enjoy winning!

I've come to accept that saying goodbye is just another part of my nomadic life, that with every new friend I meet, it's inevitable at some point I will have to bid them farewell. In the end, I would much rather have had the opportunity to make these incredible connections with these amazing people than to never have had the chance all.

But saying goodbye? Yeah, that still sucks. 

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Summer Festivals

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk! Just follow the #TTOT hashtag!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Summer Festivals!" 

Q1 via : What is your top tip for surviving a festival?
  • : Water. Lots of it
  • : A toilet roll and some Imodium! There's nothing like "peace of mind"
  • : Leave your wallet and valuables in the safe, carry minimal cash in your shoe
  • : Eat small, light meals throughout the day so you don't feel like you're carrying a rock in your stomach the whole day
  • : Wet wipes
  • : LOTS of Ibuprofen and Wellington boots in case of bathroom floods
  • : Carry a small empty bag, for your clothes... just in case
  • : Plan a holiday to recover afterwards

Q2 via : What is "must-pack" for going to a summer festival?
  • : Bring cash. It sucks when you realize you can't purchase anything with your cards
  • : Camera, reusable water bottle, snacks
  • : Sunscreen! Saves you for the next day, and for your life of travel
  • : Sunglasses
  • : Lollipops. They are inexpensive and can make SO MANY people happy when you hand them out for free 
  • : A friend who will bail you out of jail
  • : Sunscreen, comfortable clothes and even more important comfortable footwear, lightweight rain gear 
  • : Water, but you can always barter for that. So fresh underwear. You don't want to barter for that
  • : Sunscreen, a hat and DEODORANT 

Q3 via : Best Summer Festival to travel to ever would be _____!
  • : Burning Man in Nevada. Or AfrikaBurn would do too 
  • : I would like to go to Tomatina is Spain and Oktoberfest in Germany
  • Croatia Music Garden Festival is on my list
  • : I've always wanted to go to Soundwave in Australia
  • : Jerash Festival in Jordan. Largest Roman city outside Rome with music, dance, performances by artists from Jordan, Arab region and beyond
  • senyoritamyx: Will film festivals count? I would like to attend the Cannes Film Festival
  • : Never been but the Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland Scotland sounds GREAT 
  • : Rocking the Daisies. As the name suggests... It rocks
  • : Portugal's Festas de Lisboa: lively streets filled with dancing, music, food and wine 
  • : Love Amsterdam's Uitmarkt summer festival filled with every type of live performance
  • : Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen for sure 
  • : Glastonbury is the correct answer 
  • : Fete de la Musique in Paris is fun 
  • : La Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico 
  • : Benicassim and Flamjangled Tea Party. Both wild but in completely different ways
  • : Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, Australia! Always a good line up, and best atmosphere 
  • : Still have yet to go to Coachella.... A must next summer 
  • : Midsommar, in Sweden... Think: pole dancing, pagans, vodka shots, and seafood. What's not to love about that? 

Q4 via : Show us your best festival picture!

: A4: It's in Brazil's summer, so I'd say Carnival

: A4. Jerash Festival in Jordan

: Lamere festival, Almere, 2011

Festa Major in Sitges, Spain

Q5 via : If you had the power/money, what summer festival would you set up and where?
  • : A space travel festival! Astronaut ice cream for everyone
  • : I want to set up an overnight stargazing festival in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
  • : The Foodie International festival, on a Boeing 777 for a TRUE moveable feast 
  • : The Melting Man festival on a floating iceberg in Antarctica. Music stops when the ice vanishes
  • : Week long festival to follow summer across the globe, cover both hemispheres, with music/great bands, beer/wine, on beaches
  • : Indie festival on boats in the Mediterranean - you can jump onto a different boat for a new band, all food and booze included
  • : A combination of the greatest festivals in a perfect climate: think Air-glasto-chella-Man on a beach somewhere 
  • : I'd set up a NASA festival, without gravity, flying bands and pogos

And there you have it, "Summer Festivals!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Sports Travel!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Summer Festivals" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

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