Pit stop in LA - Reflecting on Australasia

Los Angeles Travel Blog

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At Maya Beach, where The Beach was filmed

I apologize to those of you who regularly read my blog and haven’t seen anything new since February in Australia.  Then again, if you're reading this entry, you are probably someone who reads my blog regularly and/or you gave birth to me.  I don't think I do justice when I rip through the journal entries to upload the pics.  However, the photos are the best part...too many words!  I have been taking a lot of notes on the way so hopefully I can deliver the same impact in retrospective writing. 

Suffice to say that the last 2 months (it's hard to believe it's only been about 2 months!) have been filled with new, challenging, and eye-opening experiences.

"It'll last forever..."
  I've also managed to remain in warm and tropical locales with beaches!

If Eat, Pray, Love set the tone for the start of my journey, The Beach by Alex Garland (and let's be honest, the much sexier/sex-filled movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio) is this segment's theme.  In addition to inspiring my trek to Thailand and the subsequent search for movie filming sites (thank you, Claire, for sharing/indulging my dream and listening to Orbital's "Beached" over and over), The Beach has a line that aptly describes my mindset: "For mine is a generation that circles the globe in search of something we haven't tried before."  The collective travels of Australasia definitely delivered on that search. 

From the incredible underwater scenes of Vanuatu, Townsville, and Koh Phi Phi to the impressive temples of Angkor and Bangkok; from the lap lap of Port Vila to the "try-not-to-cry-or-breathe" curries of Sri Lanka and Thailand, I realize that I am happy, genuinely happy.  Life's not perfect, but I'm living life on my own terms.  And maybe it's not a financially sustaining way in the long run, I am truly happy.  I am afraid to even say it, because I'm afraid I will jinx it.  It's not that I was so unhappy in the past but I felt stuck in a lot of ways.  Stuck by my own success and ambition.  Stuck by the expectations of myself and society.  Quitting my job to pursue this dream of travel was one of the most difficult decisions in my life, perhaps, the most difficult.  And though it was solely mine, I could never have done it without the support of family and friends, most importantly, my mom and dad.  

For someone who grew up wishing her life was more exciting (like on Party of Five, without the parents in a car crash), it's great that my real life has the same visceral drama and raw passion of the movies, basically the fruition of my life-imitates-art fantasy.  I can relate to all those movies of travellers crossing paths, the excitement of the unknown, the endlessness of possibility, all set in the unimitatable scenery of a far-off country with foreign smells, sights, and sounds, even your own voice sounds different in a sea of unfamiliar tongues.  The little details of real life just can't be created on a movie set...the blasting of love jams from the 80s and 90s as I get a massage in the lobby of my hotel in Bangkok; a hen and chick proudly strutting to the edge of the road only to flee haphazardly at the exhaustful rumble of my tuk tuk flying by.  Scenes that would have seemed exotic 2 months ago, feel if not comfortable, not unfamiliar.  When others look at my photos, they will see the exoticness and get a sense of adventure but will never feel the sensation of actually being there...dust blowing over everything - sunglasses, ears, face mask; loud honks of passing motos, cars, and trucks.  And this is what makes traveling distinct from a travel guide, photos, or even a really good documentary.  To quote The Beach, "Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.  And if it hurts?...It's probably worth it."

I feel younger and fuller of life than I did at 25, 24, or even 23.  My life seems open with more possibility now that I know that happiness or success isn't scripted and life is more about an amazing job and career success (although I do miss income).  And yet, I am more confident in my search for happiness and success. 

Through my travels, I have developed an inability / refusal to convert currency in my head anymore, especially given the continuously sliding dollar.  It really is depressing to know that every day I have less in my wallet, but you can't plan your life around the economy (or I guess you can but it's not as fun).  I know I can enter a new city where I can't speak the language or read the signs and know that everything's going to be okay.  Although I have to say that every place I've been to has made concessions for English speakers.  I really think if you don't speak any English, you're screwed when it comes to traveling around the world. 

It has been amazing and awe-inspiring to see how other people live in the world, how they view and approach life, and how much you can learn and share.  So perhaps, at the end of my travels, I will truly internalize The Beach's Leo's parting words: "I still believe in paradise.  But now at least I know it's not someplace can you look for.  Because it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life. And if you find that moment, it'll last forever."

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At Maya Beach, where The Beach was…
At Maya Beach, where The Beach wa…
Itll last forever...
"It'll last forever..."