Weekend Travel Inspiration – Paulo Coehlo

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Weekend Travel Inspiration Paulo Coehlo

When I was planning my first foray into China, I was a little anxious.  Jim wasn’t going with me.  Instead I was going to travel just with Devon and Erika, who were teenagers at the time.  Three females traveling by themselves.  I was so unsure that I almost did sign us up for a tour.  I didn’t speak Mandarin (or any other Chinese language), and I was worried.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t book a tour, but I was unsure of how it was going to go.

We flew into Shanghai where we were to change planes.  What I hadn’t understood was we were also changing airports, and we were spending the night there.  I had no idea.  There was an airport worker that without more than a few words in English told us, we were going to take a bus and they were putting us up in a hotel near the other airport.  Ok…  We just went with it.  What were we to do?  It was a little scary, but we didn’t feel unsafe just completely useless.

Needless to say, we had an amazing experience.  Even though communication was difficult, everything worked out.  We met wonderful people, and had the time of our lives.  It was a turning point in my life of travel.  I had always heard stories of communist China, of this ancient male-dominated, closed-off society.  It was worrisome.  I thought that it would be strange, foreign, different.  I worried that I would have many troubles, as a woman, as an American, all without the comfort of a tour guide telling me where to go, sleep, eat.  Instead I found inviting people, the sights amazing, a beautiful countryside, delicious food, and loaded up on memories of the “new”.

Now, whenever I head to a country that holds a bit of mystery, places like Mongolia or Moldova.  They are shrouded in the unknown.  It could be strange, but it isn’t.  Every country I’ve visited, every new culture, has been warm and welcoming, and immediately put me at ease.  Now, I crave the “new”.  There is no place on Earth that I won’t go!

Do I love Europe?  Absolutely, with all heart.  But, most of it isn’t new.  That’s why Jim and I are trying to explore as much of Eastern Europe as we can.  With only 20 years of independence from Soviet control, they are still emerging with their own personalities, and trying to reclaim their cultural traditions.  It’s a fascinating area, and we’re excited to be spending some time exploring them this summer!  I can’t wait!

How about you?  Do you find some places “strange”?  Are there some places you won’t travel?  Why? 

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Weekend Travel Inspiration Paulo Coehlo
























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  1. I will never forget the first time I travelled in China, it was overland from Hanoi by train and it was certainly very different! But like you, my friend and I met so many wonderful people even with very little language in common, we communicated with gestures and smiles and spent many days on trains as the only foreigners. I also love Eastern Europe, and was lucky enough to experience living there behind the iron curtain (as a Westerner) and have been in love with it ever since. Can’t wait for our trip to Poland this summer!

  2. Your story reminds me of my own China travel story. I was supposed to visit as part of a graduate group studying business in the country. I decided to arrive 3 days before the rest of the group and stay 2 days after. My family and friends thought I was crazy by doing this. They thought I should have traveled only with the group not by myself. Oh, they talked about the worst scenarios you can imagine. I went anyway and had a fantastic time. The best thing is that I was able to take members of the larger group to places I discovered the first couple of days. I was also able to show them how to use the metro.

  3. Hi Corinne, Your invite inspired me to do a post and link it to yours. Real Weekend Travel Inspiration lol. We are in Skraidin and are going to Split via Trogir in the morning. I am glad you and the girls loved your time in China and that it changed your view of travel. I have not ventured there yet but I found out in my early 20’s that places I have been scared of venturing are OK once I am there. I travelled overland through Java when I was 20 and it was tough, but amazing too and it whetted my appetite for more adventure. Thank Goodness.

  4. I must be reading your mind. Just yesterday, I was thinking about the time we road bikes on the city wall around Xian. China is actually the only place we’ve traveled as a family where we booked a tour instead of traveling independently. Hubby had visited as a teen and hated most of the experience (other than the fab historical sites), so he was very reluctant to go again. Booking a tour and promising to stay in nice hotels was one of the ways I was able to twist his arm into coming along. It was a private tour, though, so we had full control over the itinerary. I actually enjoyed for once not having to be in charge of figuring out all the logistics. I would really like to visit Eastern Europe. Hubby visited the USSR back in the 70s and liked it so perhaps it won’t be such a hard trip for me to sell him on.

    1. Michele, Wow! It does sound like we had similar thoughts. I thought riding the bikes on the Xian wall was a blast! I hope you get to Eastern Europe…It’s worth it!

  5. The language thing is more intimidating when you’re on your own (everything is harder when you are on your own). When you are with another person you have two heads and somehow you figure things out. Oddly enough, in Europe I feel compelled to try and speak the languages and of course can’t and get frustrated by that. In Asia We really couldn’t even try and in a way not having that pressure made it easier!

  6. I have never been to China but can completely relate to how you felt when you first arrived. That feeling of being unsure and helpless to communicate and yet almost immediately calmed by that feeling of newness and just being there.

  7. China was one of the first stops on our trip around the world and while my experience was quite different, my reactions were much the same. The people were warm and helpful. I agree with you on new experiences, although there are still places I wouldn’t go.

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