200 Days Abroad, 50 Lessons Learned

 

200 days Abroad. Saying goodbye at Schiphol Airport What I have learned during my 200 days abroad

200 days ago, I left my home for an indefinite trip around the world. During my days abroad, I learned many valuable lessons. Some lessons are cliches, some are unique insights, some are live changing thoughts, some are obvious, some are minor thoughts and some are huge insights. But all of these lessons became part of my ever expanding travel encyclopedia. These are 50 lessons I have learned during my ongoing travels.

Bangkok and Thailand 

 1. Bangkok is quickly changing into a commercialized jungle. Huge screens with advertisements are popping up everywhere
 2. The food quality in Thailand is often very bad and unhealthy

 3. The food in Thailand often tastes great, which probably explains why it is so unhealthy..

 4. The Central Plaza Ladprao Shopping Mall in Bangkok has an awesome supermarket with many healthy and organic foods

 5. Vegetarian food is sometimes hard to find in Bangkok

6. Vegetarians should visit Bangkok during the Vegetarian Festival around September and October

 7. Vegetarian Indian food is widely available in Bangkok. It is delicious and often more healthy than Thai food

 8. Bangkok is very expensive compared to the countryside of Thailand

 9. House rental prices in the countryside of Thailand are extremely cheap. Villas are easily affordable

11. Big cities like Bangkok are very unhealthy places to live in

12. Wearing a mouth cap is recommendable in Bangkok because of the pollution problems in this city

13. The best time to visit Bangkok/Thailand is during the short winter period in January/February

14. The Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) is the best place to buy Dutch tulips in Bangkok

 

me wearing a mouth cap.

Laos

15. When in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, visit the banks of the Mekong river

16. Vientiane did not change much since my last visit 3 years ago

17. Beerlao is the best beer in the region

18. People in Lao speak the same language/dialect as Thai people who are living in the Eastern part of Thailand

Malaysia 

19.  Many people in Malaysia speak really good English

20. KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) in Malaysia is a very suitable airport to spend the night

21. The Reggae Mansion Hostel in Kuala Lumpur is an excellent and clean hostel

22. Penang is a great travel destination if you like nature and food

Turtle beach in Penang.

General travel lessons 

23. Hot climates make you lazy

24. Twitter is an excellent social media platform to connect with other travelers

25. A healthy traveler is a wealthy traveler

26. Travelling is all about leaving your comfort zone

27. When traveling, have the courage to open doors. Every opened door can provide a life changing opportunity

28. Travel light

29.  Travel slow

30. The service of Singapore Airlines is great

31. The service of Lufthansa is sometimes questionable

32. Frequent flyer cards are very useful when it comes to saving money

33. You have to visit a place before you can form a good opinion about it

32. The news reports often do not give proper views about some places

33. Motivation is fueled by excitement

34. There is no perfect destination. Every place has its flaws

35. The grass is always greener on the other side

36. There is no place like home

37. The life of a permanent traveler is an ongoing adventure, every day

38. Unexpected must see travel recommendations like Columbia, Iran and Georgia

39. Professional travel writers have to defend themselves against distractions but also conquer motivation and inspiration

40. What is crazy on one side of the world is normal on the other side and vice-versa. Normal does not exist

41. People should never detach themselves from nature. Always include nature sights in your travel plans

Mountain view

42. Friendships and encounters are short for long term travelers. Treasure your long term friends and family members back home

43.  A few bad people do not represent a complete country

44. Traveling teaches you to be patient

45. Travelling teaches you to be humble

46. Traveling teaches you to be open minded

47. Learning the local language is extremely important if you stay at a place for a long time

48. Problems are no more than positive challenges which help you improve your life

49. There will always be bad people and problems on your route

50. There will always be good people and positive experiences on your route

200 days abroad. It seems like ages for me already, but really, my quest just started. There are many more places that need to be visited and many more lessons that need to be learned. I hope to continue learning and I will continue sharing my knowledge for another 200 days.

What are the most valuable lessons that you learned during your trip?
Useful Links

 

Night train to Butterworth

Watiing for the night trainA narrow bunk bed, clean white sheets and a pillow in the form of a square. A small rectangular window, providing a view to the outside world. A decorated brown curtain on a rail, providing privacy from the world inside the train. My private little habitat on the night train to Butterworth.

The window provides me with the view of a light dotted Kuala Lumpur, when the night train departs and snakes out of the station. Then, when we slitter into more rural places, I am mostly entertained with a theater of darkness. Sometimes small lights pierce through the theater curtain. Looking at them, quickly passing by, like falling stars, I feel like I am a very small object. Floating through a dark universe in my little spaceship.

Whenever the night train reaches a station, it feels like we are the temporary visitors of a small unknown planet. Each station seems unattached from reality, and the rest of the world. What is it doing here in this black universe? Is it just floating around in an endless see of darkness?

New people emerge on the train. They speak to each other in a strange language. Words and sounds which I do not understand. Probably the local language on this small stroke of light and concrete, surrounded by the dense black jungle.

The night train continues its journey, slowly traveling from one planet to another. Picking up passengers along the way. Passengers who normally provide live and culture to those small planets. For a short moment however, everybody share’s the world of the train. The train cabin becomes a travelling bee hive, smelling of sweet culture, buzzing from strange languages spoken.


I lay on my bed staring out of the narrow window. Somehow train travelling at night makes me sad. In my thoughts, the moving train, and the changing view outside, represent a vastly passing life. A life where I constantly look for answers in the dark. Sometimes there seem to be solutions floating around. Piercing trough the darkness, in the form of small and hopeful lights. When seeing those lights, I want to grab them, and hold on to them tight. They seem like touchable objects, providing answers and revaluations. Yet the train moves on. To fast to capture any clear images. To fast for me to grab the truth or the reality.

Unable to grab the present, I often try to imagine about what lays ahead, when the train reaches its final destination. Yet even so often I end up thinking about what is left behind. Imaginations of Butterworth turn into memories of home, old memories of a past live. I guess living in the darkness makes me crave for something familiar.

For now I try to hold on about one certainty. Out of this darkness will emerge Butterworth. That is the destination I am going to. However, the outcome of what will happen at that destination is still dark and unknown. I imagine being some sort of space astronaut. Traveling to a strange and exotic destination. Not knowing what will happen when I arrive. Like an episode of Star Trek. The crew heading out to examine the the creatures on an exotic world which is being called Butterworth. B-u-t-t-erworthhh I mumble before I fall a sleep, and enter a different dark dimension.

Did you ever traveled with a night train? What did you see and what did you think? What was your destination? 

KLIA – Dream Away Airport

AirportI had thought about the possibility before, but I never had the courage to actually do it. Or maybe I did not yet found the right airport.

When I arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport it is already 20:00 a clock in the evening. Before my trip, I failed to book a room in a hostel or hotel. Determined to save some money, and to step out of my comfort zone, I decide to stay at the airport for one night. However I have no knowledge of this airport. It is my first time visit to Malaysia. I have also no knowledge of the language, the people, or the city of Kuala Lumpur. This is another reason why I decide to stay at the airport at my first night. I want to get to know this country slowly, step by step. Exploring the airport is my first step.

I have always liked airports. In the past I used to spend most of my working days at Schiphol airport. It is nice being around people from all over the world. A safe environment where nobody looks at you in a strange way, if you hang around. Just another passenger waiting for a flight.

Walking around airports at night also makes me think hat nobody cares if you just set up camp, spread out and take a nap. For me however this is a new challenge in stepping out of my comfort zone. For some reason I  feel slightly embarrassed with crashing out at the benches. A bit as feeling like a bum. Then there is also a safety issue, which always kept me from doing it. I have never been keen on losing control, and taking my eyes of my luggage. However I always see so many people crashing out on airports that I start to feel I worry to much. All these people are doing it, why not me. Time to overcome my fear and just do it.


Walking around Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I quickly start to realize that this might be the perfect place for my little experience. Unlike Schiphol, this place is a  much more comfortable location for travelers who want to take a nap. The benches have no annoying armrests. This is great because because you can sleep in a horizontal position. What makes it even better is that the benches are faced to the outside windows of the airport. Then you are not in direct sight, so you can actually have some privacy.

I look around, and sneak over to a bench. Uncomfortable fears try to nest into my head. My brain detects what I am about to do and starts to rationalize me away from the idea. What if someone steels your shoe’s? that would be a really annoying problem. What if someone manages to steal your valuable belongings?  What if you are dragged out of the airport by the guards?

Luckily I am tired and it makes me overrule my thoughts. I put my bag under my head. Bag up my shoes, and hug them like a teddy beer,while I stretch out on the bench. I manage to take a nap for two hours. Not a record breaking one but I feel like a hero. I did it, and I passed some time. Outside daylight is awaking. I survived the first night  at an airport,  in a far away country. Next step, surviving my first day in Kuala Lumpur city.

Your experience

 Have you ever slept at an airport before? If so which one? Do you have any advice for sleeping at airports? Share your interesting responses in the comments section below.