Friday, January 12, 2007

Overall Sentiments

Blessed. Humbled. Thankful.

Those are the words that I can think to describe what I am taking away from my three weeks visiting Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand. Overwhelmed could be another. The past three weeks have been life changing, emotional, and spiritual for me. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw and experienced over the last three weeks.

Given the opportunity, I think everyone should take it to visit, especially if you are like me, and your roots come from a country other than the one you were born and raised in. No matter how many books you read, how many stories you are told, how many pictures you see, nothing...absolutely nothing compares to experiencing it yourself. Nothing could have prepared me for all that I have seen, felt, and heard.

I have never felt more blessed and thankful for what I have and the opportunities I have been given. I have good health. I have an amazing family, a great husband, supportive friends, a job I love, a home. I live more than comfortably and the stresses I deal with from time to time are surmountable with the support of my loved ones. God has given me so much to be thankful for. He also gave me the opportunity and means to be able to take a trip around the world.

Being immersed in different cultures humbles you to see that what you are surrounded by every day is not the same as what everyone else is. I loved learning the different cultures, traditions, habits and quirks of the various places. You learn to pick up on them pretty quickly and to adapt appropriately. Like how in Hong Kong, their young people have their own sense of fashion and absolutely love to shop. How they all take pictures with peace signs (why?). Or in Saigon, despite the constant traffic flow in all directions, there are unspoken guidelines on how to maneuver your motorbike or cross the street. How in some places, you bow when greeting someone, in others, you bow and clasp your hands together. I saw how hard some people will work all day for the same amount of money that I would spend on a cup of fancy coffee in the morning each day. I saw and heard of the hardships that people deal with day to day and from tragedies, and how they take those in stride and are still thankful for what they have. I also learned how quickly your frame of reference changes once you have learned to live somewhere else for awhile. How something that once before would have been shocking, is no longer shocking and instead you are thankful for it after you have seen worse or less.

It was one amazing trip.


A DiG said...

Wow. Few people get to travel as you have, and far fewer take away from the experience all that you did. I think you and Bertrand are two amazing people. To immerse yourselves in the culture like that, you return with more than just pictures, souvenirs, and a handful of stories. Welcome home, and more importantly...

... whatcha bring me back?!! ;D

Olive Jopia-Abarquez said...

I am impressed on how you have articulated your thoughts on your travel to Asia. I wonder how many second generation Asian-Americans feel the same way with you when they do take the time to visit the country of their cultural roots. Bet you know have a deeper insight of your family traditions by now, that they're not mainly to keep your identity, roots or tradition but they are to simply make your life meaningful.

I was the one who made a comment on how much you can be surprised if you will spend your Christmas here in Asia and eversince, I have been a fan here in your site. Oh mosquitos? We live with that fact everyday and the many others that you hear there in the U.S. that makes Asia primitive, exotic and sometimes sound like a poor continent. And having to refer to Asia like its just one continent of the same culture is not correct. From one country to another here, is an experience totally different from the other.

If I were to add a word to your describing your trip here, I will add 'enlightened'. After all, Buddha also comes from Asia. =)