(This picture was taken in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia back in 2008. We had started our journey from Kuala Lumpur; toured the city and I gave a lecture at an arts space on Contemporary Alaskan Artists. It was a good turn out and I met some lovely people and students.)
Some time upon leaving on our treks I seem to absorb fear; I get this nervous anxiety before our departure. In fact, I hear these random horror stories from people here and there and of course my ears are wide open for the media coverage in the part of the world I will be visiting. Accidents can happen anywhere. In fact, coming back from a tedious trip to Bali and Java in 2006, at home in Anchorage, the week later I slipped on ice and broke my wrist. Things happen! Things can happen in your home. You can even trip over your dog and break a leg. What about car accidents? Of course, I don't want to amp up the hysteria, but I do believe that a little fear is good to have. My father told me to always fear the ocean. He taught me how to swim in the Atlantic current and I practiced doing my crawl in the bouncing surf. Fear teaches you to be respectful. It teaches you to do a head's up, to pay attention and listen. However.......
Years ago, before venturing on my first major jaunt to Egypt in 1989, I had a girlfriend tell me how the men over there pull out your hair. My trip was astonishing fabulous; the people kind and welcoming. In fact, whenever we visit places, we are greeted with openness. Of course, there were places that are edgy too, but most of our travels have been successful and timeless. My travel agent, who is Cambodian, told me not to travel to Laos. She exclaimed that they will kill you! Maybe there was a little prejudice happening with this comment, but Ken and I seriously look into the travel warnings, alerts and read up from other people's comments who know of this area and have traveled in those parts. There is also the Thorn Tree Website that lists areas of the world; people can ask questions, leave comments, most everyone gives recommendations and wonderful, helpful advice.
I do think the older you get, you are more hesitant to travel. Why wait until you retire? You need to be in excellent shape to walk, experience challenging places, must transition and adapt easily. I have noticed a grand malaise over the years from the American people about traveling though and maybe this has happened since the 9/11 incident. We have become a nation of fear. In fact, we see more Australians and Brits on our trips, along with Italians, French and many German, not to mention Koreans, Japanese, Israeli and Russian. However, Americans seem to be seen the least on our journeys.
Once over in the country, I seem to forgot all these fears and settle on the adventure. The anticipation before going is always the worse part of the escapade and so this will be my last posting in my blog until I RETURN home! Adieu America!
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