You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. // Miriam Adeney
I’m currently on a train in Scotland, rolling through the lush green countryside. There are deep blue-grey lochs on my left and clean white light filtering through the many windows in my car.
This is my life, or at least it has been for the past 5 years. I somehow find myself in the most beautiful places, usually by myself, or all to myself, if you frame it that way.
It’s my 28th birthday this Saturday. The past years have been a whirlwind of travel memories, some of my strongest friendships, losses, and countless new beginnings.
Taj Mahal facts and information to plan the perfect visit to a famous World Wonder.
Although usually one to dread overly touristy spots, visiting the Taj Mahal had always been a dream of mine – as I’m sure is the case for many of you reading this post.
When my friend Pascale and I decided to backpack around Rajasthan, we knew that the Taj Mahal would be one sight we didn’t want to miss. Agra, where the famous monument is located, is just outside Rajasthan in Uttar Pradesh, but near enough to not be (too) much of a hassle to get to.
Even if you only have 2 weeks in India, it’s possible to pack in a lot when you narrow your trip to one state.
India was always one of those places at the back of my mind, often in my thoughts as a faraway land that I dreamed of going to one day. The truth is I’d been wanting to go to India for years, but had never made an active plan to do so.
It was always too far, too expensive to get to, and I never had enough time – most people recommend at least 1-3 months for a trip to India.
I was also concerned about traveling alone as a female, even though I’d been told numerous times that most female travelers are completely fine traveling around the country on their own. It’s still hard to not get sucked into the common media perceptions of India.
It’s weird to think of the past sometimes and where I was in February at this time last year – in Thailand, then Vietnam, and at the very end of a bad relationship. I was at the cusp of so many things – both positive and negative.
I was in a place where I had shut myself off from the outside world (i.e. living on a tiny remote island). And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also preventing myself from appreciating quality connections – both nurturing the old and creating the new.
Fast forward a year later, I’m back in California, surrounded by some of the closest people in my life, and I feel more grounded than I have in years. Maybe it just took coming home for awhile, or realizing that California is still very much a ‘home’ for me even after all the times I’ve left it and come back.
All this is to say that my February this year kicks last year’s February’s butt.
A look at the average per-day cost of backpacking India for two weeks on a mid-range budget.
To continue my travel budgeting series around Asia, next up is India!
I’d been wanting to go to India for years, but it was always one of the few countries that I was hesitant to do alone – at least for my first trip. You hear so many negative stories about India in the news, especially in terms of its seemingly rampant rape culture and its overall intensity as a country to travel to as an outsider.
With that said, I’d actually only ever heard good things from people (read: fellow women) who had been to the country and loved their time there.
And yet, I still had a reluctance to tackle it on my own. I’m not exactly sure why. I so very rarely travel with other people, maybe it was just one of those countries where I wanted to treat myself and travel with a partner in crime. To take on the extreme cultural differences and busyness with another well worn traveler and wanderlust soul.
One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.
My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.
I never expected 2017 to be a year to myself, but then again, I guess you never really know what life will bring you with each new year.
I should know better by now.
Even though I didn’t expect it to be a year to myself, I can say with full clarity now that I’m so very glad that it was. This was the year that I found my independence again, understood fully what I deserve in my life, and embraced my alone time.
I’m someone who is already pretty good at being alone. I’m an introvert, most of my pastimes are solo ones – reading, playing my guitar, listening to music, cooking. And my work is very much a solo pursuit, from writing to doing digital marketing for clients.
I’m used to being alone, but 2017 was a year where I really just had myself to pull me back up from my bootstraps, to lean on, to make sense of stressful, happy, and sad situations.
I’ve always had a big heart for animals. That heart has only grown fuller as I’ve traveled more and seen the amount of animals that need help around the world.
From the many stray dogs I saw roaming around Greece, to the homeless kittens in Thailand, and yes, even dogs who were rotting from the inside out in Myanmar, there is plenty of help that is needed around the world and right here at home.
I’ll be the first to say that before this year I had never volunteered at an animal shelter. And to be honest, I initially did it for selfish reasons. I was going through a difficult time in my life in Thailand, and I just wanted to feel that unconditional love that animals are so good at giving.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect with my return to Malaysia this year. The brief time I spent in the country in 2013 was a good experience overall, but it’s also the first place where I was aggressively groped in broad daylight.
Granted, gropings can happen anywhere, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t taint my experience while in the country.
It stuck with me so much that even today, four years later, when I hear a scooter coming up behind me I get a dose of adrenalin and and my sense of awareness goes into overdrive.
I knew I wanted to come back to Malaysia someday to have a more positive experience, and focus on all of the good that the country has to offer.
My friends and I made our way giggling in a tuk tuk to the party. The night before we had danced on a moonlit beach, Leos in hand, swaying in time to the palm trees and chill electronic beats.
“Wow, you seem to be doing so well. If I was in your position, I would not be this okay right now,” one of my friends said to me, when I mentioned my abrupt breakup from two weeks ago.
I shrugged my shoulders, “I guess I just want to be happy. I don’t want to be sad over something that wasn’t meant to be.”