In 1973, I embarked on a 3-month journey to Europe on $5 a day! Today, my son, 23 years old is embarking on a 6-month journey through S.E. Asia for a bit more than that! I traveled via railpass throughout Europe with a girlfriend; our son will be traveling by himself with his bicycle. He plans on arriving in Bangkok on Jan. 16th, then bicycling to Cambodia, Laos, possibly Viet Nam and ends his trip touring Thailand.
In order for my family & friends to reach me in 1973, they sent letters to American Express offices across Europe; today all it takes is a blog or email to connect. For me to call home wasn’t even a thought it was too expensive; today there are SIM cards and international phones. To see the photos I had taken all summer on my adventure, I had to wait until I got home and have them developed at Sav-On! Today – we will see photos in his blog immediately!
So, as parents of a 23 year old son departing on an incredible journey, I must admit I feel a little uneasy. But, I can’t even imagine how my parents must have felt watching me board a plane at LAX without all the conveniences we have today! I am fortunate to live in 2009.
What has not changed over so many years will be the experience our son will have emotionally. To be young and vulnerable. To make new friends. To figure out how to get from here to there in a foreign country where few speak English. To plan each day with precision in order to get to his next stop. To get along with many types of people and cultures and to fit in. To not be an “ugly American’. To share knowledge, feelings and pride of country.
And…. to ponder the same questions I did in 1970…..Why are there wars? Why can’t nations get along? Why can’t we love our sister and brother? We all have similar feelings of wanting to belong and be loved, but why are we not understanding each other? So many questions that are still unanswered, so I continue to travel and promote travel – especially to families. It is the reason I encourage crossing borders so children from an early age can learn cultures of distant lands and gain understanding of people worldwide. I will keep traveling, learning, and trying to understand; and I have faith that our son will do the same. We gave him wings………….and we are proud!
You can follow Daniel on his journey at http://www.bikemandan.com/blog/.