My name is Kristen and I’m currently a college student/wannabe-nomad/traveler who is slowly making her way through a college degree and around the world. When I get an idea I can’t stop thinking about it. If I make a decision to go somewhere, I typically become consumed with researching, planning, and dreaming about the place. I can’t seem to stay in one location for very long, which has kept me in school longer than planned. I can’t help but take semesters off here and there to see the world. You can learn more in a foreign country on your own than you ever could in a classroom. I’m typically pretty indecisive when I’m with other people, but I think it’s a good quality to have when traveling. I’m very laid back and open minded, and I like to find beauty in the world, especially in places where you wouldn’t normally think to look. I believe that we are blessed to live on this earth, and by not traveling and exploring, we are taking advantage of what we’ve been given. I’m not a religious person, but I do think that something is responsible for us being here, whether it’s science, aliens, or God. Maybe someday I’ll figure out the answer.
I spent a semester living just outside of London, England, which allowed me to spread my wings and travel solo throughout parts of Europe. Having a roommate in England kept me from living completely solo on another continent, but traveling alone to Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Ireland, and Poland gave me a sense of freedom and independence that I had never experienced before. After descending the steps of a bus at a stop that I prayed to God was the right one, stepping foot in a dark alley that resided in a genuinely foreign country where I understood zero percent of the language, and feeling the need to kick myself for being so ambitious as a group of shady men catcalled out to me as they walked my way….well, needless to say, the travel bug had bitten me. Was I crazy? I was an 18 year old girl in a non-english speaking country, alone for the first time at night in a sketchy alleyway with no idea where I was, and THAT’S what made me never want to stop traveling? It’s funny how things work, isn’t it? It’s all a learning experience. Needless to say, after that I started scheduling flights, trains, buses, etc. so that I would arrive during the day.
After going to school in Oklahoma for a while on a rowing scholarship, I decided to give my life a much needed change and tranfered to a university in Dallas, Texas. I spent a summer volunteering in Lima, Peru, and was fortunate enough to be able to travel around the rest of that beautiful and unforgettable country. I spent a long weekend in the mountain town of Huaraz with some volunteer friends. The “beginner” mountain biking experience is one that tops my list of either “lost in translation” tours or “I’m completely bull-shitting you” tours. The three other volunteers and I became progressively less and less talkative the farther we drove up this nearly undrivable mountain “road.” (I could honestly feel the jagged rocks hitting my feet through the bottom of the car as we drove) Once at the top and after setting up our bikes, instead of hopping on his own bike to lead us on a leaisurely beginner mountain biking expedition (as we somehow assumed), our helpful tour guide hopped back in his car and took off with a “don’t forget to wear your helmets, suckaaas!” (He was speaking spanish, and I’m not sure what the word for “suckaaas” is, but I’m sure that’s what he said.) (By the way, we lived.) Aside from the amazing Huaraz trip, I was also fortunate enough to see Macchu Picchu, which is still the most breathtaking sight I’ve ever laid eyes on. Another short getaway with one other female volunteer to the jungle town of Pucallpa awarded me with a more developed sense of independence and a further love of travel and the challenges that come with it. Despite being the only two young white girls (not that there were any old white girls…or other white people at all), we were able to get our feet wet in the art of haggling with tour guides whos one goal in life isto rip you off, and have an amazing time while doing it. Think amazon rainforest tour with a guide named Pablo (or Pablito, according to his Peke-Peke, which is a small, motorized, wooden boat), and lounging on the edge of the jungle overlooking part of the Amazon river in hammocks and a sufficient supply of rum. And while I’ve focused mostly on the traveling aspect of my trip to Peru, the main intent was to volunteer in a country that is gripped by poverty. I lived with the most amazing and welcoming host family that loved each volunteer as if they had spent their whole lives there. I learned more about myself, life, and the world around me during that time than I ever had before. Seeing the way other people live in this world really does open your eyes and give you a quick reality check. At the same time, though, the beauty I found in a country full of smoggy cities and streets drowned in trash was overwhelming and definitely made an impression on my outlook in life.
I’ve gotten in another year of college since my trip to Peru, and it’s definitely time to set off again, which is why I’ve formed this blog. I’m taking a semester off to travel around China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philipines. During that time I hope to keep readers entertained, informed, and updated about my life and travels. I also hope to develope a community of interactive readers while I’m gone. In the end, my goal is to become a published travel writer, and being part of a community along the way that lives right inside my laptop is just the kind of support I’m looking for while setting out to live my dreams.
This blog will follow me from August to December of 2010 on my solo backpacking trip through China and Southeast Asia. What I am hoping to gain from my journey is best described by a quote I came across while reading another blog. Make of it what you will; give it your own meaning, as I’m sure I have interpreted it differently than its’ author intended…
“Your body will collide with the earth, and you will bear witness.”