Life Lessons from Travelling the World Part 2

Wherever you go, there you are

New York City

Central Park, New York City. Guess which one is me?

Travelling will definitely open your eyes and open your mind, and it will probably change the way you think about life and other people, but it won’t change your core personality, or who you are as a person.

Who you are is who you are, and always will be.

No matter where you go, you will still be you. The exact same person you’ve always been. Strengths, weaknesses, faults, warts, and all.

You cannot run away from yourself and you cannot escape yourself. You don’t magically become a different person just because you’re in a different place.

If you’re friendly in Vancouver you’ll be friendly in Vienna.

If you’re happy in Amsterdam you’ll be happy in Thailand.

If you’re insecure in Hong Kong you’ll be insecure in Tokyo.

I was an introvert before I travelled the world and I’m still an introvert after travelling the world.

Magic is real 

People levitating and meditating

Levitating and meditating. He can probably fly, teleport and walk on water too.

Prior to 2014 I believed that we lived in a mathematical universe and I thought that logic, reason and the scientific method was EVERYTHING.

I loved listening to the ‘new atheists’: Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, David Silverman etc. debate and destroy stupid religious beliefs with common sense logic and after reading Carl Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World, I was extremely condescending and skeptical of anything I considered pseudoscience or superstition.

In fact, I’d get very angry and annoyed when I’d see people believing whatever they wanted to believe without evidence just because it made them feel good. (Angels, Healings, Miracles, Heaven, Supernatural events, The ‘Secret’ etc.)

But early in 2014 I drank Ayahuasca in the Amazon Jungle and it changed all that forever in one night.

Magic is REAL. The spirit realms are REAL. Other dimensions EXIST.

If you think this is the ONLY reality – think again.

There is so much more to life than what we can think, see, hear, taste, touch or feel.

It’s NOT my intention to try to convince the reader of any of this.

I will simply say that if the reader would like to KNOW – not argue, debate, believe, or speculate, they can experience it and see for themselves.

You don’t need to be believe. You don’t need to have faith. You don’t need to trust. You don’t need to take anyone’s word for anything. You don’t even need an open mind. You can doubt, distrust and be as skeptical as you like and still see it and experience it for yourself.

Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga, LSD, Magic Mushrooms and other psychedelics are the key.

Doubters will doubt and haters will hate, but truth seekers will look for themselves.

The world isn’t the way I think it is

Giant Babies

Before travelling the world I had certain beliefs about the world.

I used to think that the world was like X or that people were like Y. But when I travelled my eyes were opened and I could see that the rest of the world was often very different than what I was used to back home.

I think that’s a common mistake: To mistake our part for the whole. To confuse our perspective for what is. Just because things are a certain way where we are, we often tend to think that the rest of the world is that way. ‘That’s just the way it is’ ‘That’s the way life is’ ‘That’s how people are’. But in another town, city or country things might be completely different.

You might think: “It’s hard to get a good job”. But it might not be. It might just be hard to get a good job where you are. In another town or city job opportunities might be abundant.

The same goes for everything:

Business might not be tough – it might just be tough where you are.

Wages might not be low – they might just be low where you are.

People might not be selfish – they might just be selfish where you are.

There is no there, there

Know this: There is no there, there.

‘There’ is an illusion. ‘There’ is a fantasy. ‘There’ is a mirage. ‘There’ is a lie.

Yes, if you’re looking for Antarctica, Australia or America you can find it. But most of the things you’re looking for: A perfect job, a perfect mate, a perfect life etc. don’t exist. They’re simply projections of your own mind. Figments of your imagination. Hollywood fantasies that have been sold to you. That’s why you haven’t found them and never will, because they don’t exist.

Everyone seems to think that somewhere else contains happiness, that somewhere else is the ‘place to be’. I’m not denying that some places are DEFINITELY better than others, but generally speaking: If you’re not happy ‘here’ – you won’t be happy ‘there’.

Your inner state is everything 

It doesn’t matter where you are: Disneyland, Thailand, Hawaii or Venice, if you’re feeling angry, grumpy, tired or pissed off, even the best places suck.

I learnt this sitting meditating in a beautiful ashram in India. I didn’t feel what was going on inside of the ashram anywhere near as much as I felt what was going on inside of me. Some days I felt blissful, other days I felt anxious. My location hadn’t changed, my thoughts and emotions had.

The same is true anywhere you go in the world: You don’t feel what’s going on outside of you anywhere near as much as you feel what’s going on inside of you. If you think a certain way, you will feel a certain way, regardless of your location.

People make the place

Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh, India: Never a dull moment.

One thing that has become more and more obvious to me the more I’ve travelled is this: What makes a place great isn’t the buildings and landmarks – it’s the people that live there. People make the place!

Believe me: You can be at the Pyramids in Egypt, but if you’re surrounded by dickheads hassling you non-stop trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, the experience isn’t going to be that great, and you probably aren’t going to enjoy yourself very much.

On the other hand, you can be sitting in a coffee shop in Bangkok or on a park bench in Brussels talking to a complete stranger and having the time of your life.

Travel has taught me to appreciate people more than ever before.

Change is easier than you think

No matter where I’ve been or what I’ve done the funny thing is how quickly I’ve gotten used to it.

I’m not a person who loves change either. I’ve often clung to the familiar and when I’ve had to break a habit or go outside my comfort zone I’m definitely not happy about it.

I’ve always been a meat eater. I grew up eating meat and I’ve always loved it. Especially Chicken and bacon. My favorite pizza as a kid was always ‘Meatlovers’. I couldn’t stand the thought of ever becoming a vegetarian and giving up meat no matter how healthy it might be.

But when I lived in India for 6 months in 2016 I couldn’t eat meat. The ashrams I was staying in definitely didn’t have it, nor did most of the restaurants in the towns I went to, so I was forced to eat vegetarian food whether I liked it or not.

Honestly, I thought I was going to hate it… but the funny thing was that I loved it.

The food was so delicious in India that I almost forgot about eating meat and for a time the concept of eating meat actually became a little strange to me despite having eaten it my whole life (I’m 37). I also quickly got used to eating with only my right hand (no utensils) whilst sitting cross legged on the floor when I was staying in various ashrams in India.

There were many other things I experienced travelling around the world I would have thought would have taken me months to get used to. However, in reality, most things only took me a few days at most to get used to.

This is good news for anyone wanting to start/stop/change a habit: Change is easier than you think. You are far more adaptable and changeable than you think you are.

So often we doubt our ability to adapt to new environments and situations:

  • A new job
  • A new career
  • A new relationship
  • A new city
  • A new country

But you can get used to anything if you commit yourself to it. You can get used to eating healthy, exercising and meditating just as easily as you can get used to eating junk food, playing video games and watching TV.

Don’t rest on your past achievements – evolve or die

The Temple of Zeus in Athens

The Temple of Zeus in Athens, built in 131 AD. 1800 years ago this used to be a thing.

Athens, Greece

The Acropolis in Athens – the most famous ancient citadel in the world. 2, 500 years ago this was a big deal

The number one thing I learnt from my time in Greece was this:

DON’T REST ON YOUR PAST ACHIEVEMENTS!

Greece is a country that has produced some of the greatest minds of all time: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Aristarchus, Pythagoras, Democritus, Euclid, Epicurus, Hippocrates, Homer, Thales, Zeno and many others.

There is no doubt that ancient Greece was brilliant, but what about modern Greece?

Where are all of the modern Greek inventors, philosophers and scientists?

What has Greece accomplished in the past 2, 000 years? What is Greece doing today?

Athens, Greece

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus stone theatre built in 161 AD

To be fair Greece isn’t the only country stuck in the past. Too many countries seem to have a sense of pride and entitlement just because of something great their ancient ancestors did thousands of years ago. Instead of continuing to evolve and improve they haven’t moved with the times.

Cambodia: Not quite as advanced as we might have imagined the year 2017 to be

This is what I LOVE about America more than anything else and why I believe the USA is so SUCCESSFUL: America is constantly evolving and improving and trying to find a better, faster, smarter, more effective and efficient way to do everything.

The difference between a country like America that has continued to evolve and a country like Cambodia that hasn’t is incredible. I cannot imagine the difference between these two countries in 500 years if America keeps evolving at its current pace (as quickly as possible) and Cambodia keeps evolving at its current pace (slower than a dead snail). It will be like some kind of super advanced Alien race of Gods meeting primitive cave men.

America will soon be sending people to Mars.

What will Cambodia be doing?

Most people are followers

Lining up

Why are we waiting? No one knows…

Not many people think for themselves.

Most people are followers and just do what everyone else is doing no matter how stupid it might be. That’s why they get called sheep or ‘sheeple’.

I learnt quickly on my trip not to follow the crowd and do what everyone else was doing. Apart from the fact that following the crowd is almost always a bad idea, specifically there were a few times in Europe where I was stuck behind a huge line of hundreds of people and after waiting for it to move for 5 or so minutes I would ask my friend to hold my place in the line whilst I went to the front of the line to see what was taking so long… only to find out that there was NO line!

Instead it was just a bunch of people from a large tour group who had stopped to take a break whilst other people lined up behind them to see what the fuss was all about.

If I had followed the crowd and waited for this imaginary line to move I would have wasted an hour or more waiting around for no reason!

Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul

This photo makes me laugh. It perfectly illustrates the stupidity of crowds. ‘Legend’ has it that turning your thumb in this wooden hole is ‘good luck’ so everybody waits in line for 20 minutes for a chance to do it. (This is inside the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul)

The lesson is this: Don’t just follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing.

What everyone else is doing is not necessarily a good indication of what you should be doing. In fact, it’s probably a good indication of what YOU should NOT be doing.

No one cares about your holiday

Israeli West Bank Wall

The Israeli West Bank Wall separating Israel and Palestine

One Saturday afternoon in Jerusalem I decided to visit the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is built on the spot where Jesus was born.

Bethlehem is in Palestine so I decided to take a taxi with my friend but we couldn’t get a taxi to the church itself because taxis coming from Jerusalem have to stop along the Palestinian border.

We had to take 2 taxis: One from Jerusalem to the Palestinian border, and another from the Palestinian border to the church.

The drive over from Jerusalem to the Palestinian border was fine, but the moment we arrived in Palestine and got out of our taxi, a bunch of local taxi drivers immediately started hassling us super aggressively to get in their cabs.

One of the taxi drivers was sitting on the ground with a shitty look on his face and started yelling at us to get in his cab, but because I was getting bad vibes from him (he was acting like a crazy person) I tried to ignore him and walked past him and got into cab with a driver that didn’t look so crazy.

However, instead of letting it go the cab driver got up and immediately followed my friend and I to the cab we just got into, leaned through the backseat window and told us in a very aggressive and threatening manner how hard life was in Palestine with the wall the Jews had put up and how difficult it was for him to feed his family.

He said he didn’t like people who were just coming to see the tourist sites and then just leaving again. He told me that he couldn’t stand these people. The way he was talking to me it was as if he was about to pull out a gun at any moment and shoot me in the face.

Our cab driver was not a small man (around 6 foot 4), and he seemed to know this cab driver quite well and was visibly uncomfortable, and said “you can get into his cab if you like – I don’t mind!”

However, I wouldn’t budge and wasn’t going to be threatened or intimidated into going on a tour I wasn’t interested in and didn’t have time for, with someone I didn’t feel comfortable with. Still the cab driver continued to threaten my friend and I very intensely for the next 5 minutes if we didn’t show him ‘respect’ and get into his cab.

I wonder if he thought he was showing us any ‘respect’?

I understand that the situation isn’t good between the Jews and the Palestinians. But my friend and I were just some random tourists passing through which these taxi drivers very well know. There is no need to be aggressive or hostile to random tourists just because you are having a bad day and are not happy with life or the way things are going.

Still this is often the way it is. It may be your birthday, or the first time you’ve ever been overseas or on holiday, but to the locals it’s just another day and they don’t care about your happiness or your holiday. All they care about is themselves and getting what they want: a commission, a customer, a sale etc.

Believe me: If the locals aren’t happy you’re going to feel it. No one wants you to be happy if they’re not happy. If they’re not having a good day, they don’t want you to have a good day either. You just want to relax, see the sights and be left in peace?

Too bad. I have some crap I want to sell you and I’m not going to leave you alone or stop hassling you until you buy it.

Stereotypes exist for a reason

I used to think all stereotypes were racist, stupid, and unfounded. That they were a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

But I was wrong.

Traveling the world I frequently discovered that stereotypes often exist for a reason. It isn’t for no reason that people think and say the things they do. Some reputations are deserved. Some places really are a certain way, and some people really do tend to talk and act a certain way. I would say more, but I don’t think this incredibly fake, politically correct culture could handle it.

I know nothing

Before my trip I was sure of so many things and now I’m sure of nothing. Drinking Ayahuasca and travelling the world I’ve had my beliefs challenged, refuted, ripped apart and destroyed by reality. The only thing I’m sure of now is that I know nothing. Less than nothing. I honestly don’t even know what it means to know something.

This is part 2 of a 9 part series: Life Lessons from Traveling the World

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 1: Don’t believe the hype

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 3: Things that surprised me

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 4: Highlights of the trip

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 5: My favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 6: My least favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 7: Travel tips – Part 1

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 8: Travel tips – Part 2

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 9: Why you should travel the world

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