I’ve come to understand that truths behind words such as family, love, happiness, home and freedom are all based on a feeling versus a tangible place or object. During our travels people ask me where is home and it always takes me a minute to respond. There are so many places that are home to me, from the mountains of East Tennessee where I grew up, to the Philippines where I spent my childhood, or Chiang Mai where we have called home for the past few months. This past week we spent it on the island of Koh Lanta. It’s always a surreal feeling when you see familiar faces in completely foreign place. Aaron’s childhood friend Patrick came to visit, and though it has been years since we’ve seen him, our conversations felt like it hasn’t skipped a beat. Last time we saw Patrick was in our college apartment, bonding over cheap 40’s while him and Aaron played video games. Today we are here watching the sunset on an island in Thailand, (still drinking cheap beer), and catching up. The way he chain smokes and laughs is like deja vu, and seeing him felt like he brought a piece of our other home to us. While here, we stayed with our friends who were our neighbors in the same zen compound we once called home in the fall of last year. They invited us down to the island to catch up, so we invited Patrick to join us and for the first time since we left home, we are with familiar faces in a completely different place. I can’t pin why it felt like home, maybe it’s the island vibe that we connect to, it could be reuniting with Patrick after all these years, or sharing a small space with close friends again. Home is such a beautiful feeling, and its what keeps us traveling. We have found our pieces of home, friends, love, and freedom sprinkled in different places all along our journey.
We consider ourselves slow travelers, only after a couple weeks in a place do we really feel that we begin to crack its shell. This is when we start to know the personality behind faces, the story behind the past, and know which dusty roads leads to surrounding villages. I write this during our revisit to Cambodia, as we walk to the sandy coastline of Kampot and as we board a tiny boat to the small island of Koh Tonsay. This charming island inhabited by only 7 families, had no electricity but rather generators that ran a few hours a day. No clocks or wifi and all the food consumed is the food caught from the sea and eaten from the land. No matter how slow we go, there’s something about island life that flows even slower, steadier, and in the most content pace. Our days here felt like a constant state of meditation. The walls of our huts were only halfway connected to its straw roof allowing the breeze to follows us indoors. When I hear noises in the night that move about on our roof, or right outside our thin layers of leafy walls, I clinch our sheets and wonder why us humans have found ways to separate ourselves so far from nature. Why do these noises from other inhabitants of this earth sound so alien to me? Have I gotten so used to the chaotic sounds of the city, that I fall fast asleep during honking horns and drunken rambles of the street, yet lie awake at night to sounds of night creatures? Every step of this journey has been a rewiring of balance. I realize this worlds vastness, as I look up I almost get dizzy with the starry display of an even bigger cosmic world that reflects on the serene ocean. As it washes ashore against my feet, smile as I reflect myself to be a dust-like particle in this vast space and I couldn’t feel any smaller.