Having the opportunity, freedom and desire to travel has created endless opportunities for me to visit countries outside of my own, explore different cultures and meet a variety of diverse and interesting characters. I've lost count of the lessons I've learned along the way, but here are my most memorable:
The Top 5 Things I've Learnt from Travelling
- Freedom is the greatest gift in life
- Every child has a right to a childhood
- There's a difference between being poor and living in poverty
- The most memorable moments happen when things don't go according to plan
- The greatest enabler of change is education
On a lighter note, the Top 20 Things I've Learnt Whilst ‘On The Road’
- There is always one annoying person in each group and if you don't know who it is – it's you
- It's impossible to stay dry or clean during a Cambodian or Laotian new year celebration
- Ice in beer or red wine is not only acceptable in Southeast Asia, but essential
- There's nothing like the topic of “volunteering in developing countries” to start a heated debate with fellow travellers
- Burger King after a month of Burmese food will make you sick. McDonald's after two months of African camp food will make you sick. KFC after two weeks on a motorbike in the Vietnamese Central Highlands will make you sick.
- The Spanish word for "flea" is "pulga" and the only cure for more than five hundred infected bites is antibiotics
- An elderly woman dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing, stopping traffic in the middle of a road in Shangri La to chant whilst pointing a crooked stick at you...is not a friendly local greeting
- Sometimes ‘no toilet’ is more hygienic than the toilet provided
- It's not easy standing on the back of an elephant whilst washing him in the Mekong River, but it sure is fun
- Paying $1 for a meal cooked by locals on a street stall and sitting on a 'too small' plastic stool to eat with them in Myanmar is better than any 5 star restaurant in the world
- Spiders and insects cooked in garlic in Cambodia simply taste like garlic
- The definition of international stardom is having a 76-year-old blind Malawian village chief break the news of your death to foreign travellers. RIP Michael Jackson
- Karaoke is only taken seriously in Japan and Los Angeles.
- It's impossible to walk past Victoria Falls in Africa without getting soaked through
- "The bus is full" is not part of the Southeast Asian vocabulary
- There has never been a more accurate saying than the Burmese quote of “why use ten words when you can use ten thousand”
- Be prepared to lose weight in Bhutan if you don't like spicy food
- You can get your hair washed, scalp massaged and hair dried in Monywa, Myanmar for less than $5
- If the month of Spanish lessons you took in Bolivia doesn't help you understand your co-workers at a village day care centre, it's possible they are speaking their own indigenous dialect of Quecha
- Altitude sickness doesn't always prey on the weak and reward the fit.
And the greatest lesson of all?
There's no greater education than the one taught outside the classroom