So why bother traveling?

So why even bother?

If the flights are long and the food is weird and the smog is slowly killing us all, what is the point of traveling?

This is ultimately a question that we can only answer for ourselves, but since I am lucky enough to have my thoughts published in a newspaper I thought it would be prudent to spend this last issue talking about my reasons for staying in China and for traveling in general.

It’s the little things, really.

It’s when you have a short conversation in Chinese with a cashier at the local grocery store.

It’s finding a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that looks kind of risky from the outside, but has incredible home-cooked meals on the inside.

It’s having a really good class with my fourth graders and watching their eyes light up at the exact moment that they learn something that they will remember forever.

It’s the big things, too.

It’s seeing the Shanghai skyline or peeping at Hong Kong harbor from on top of Victoria Peak.

It’s literally stepping into history while taking a once-in-a-lifetime stroll through the Angkor Wat archeological temple site in Cambodia.

It’s closing your eyes and popping that fried tarantula in your mouth like there’s no tomorrow.

We travel for the moments, big and small.

Sometimes they are few and far between, and sometimes you have several in the same day.

They are kind of intangible, and they are different for everyone; when they hit, you know you are in the middle of something that is incredibly special.

Truth be told, it is just like any other addiction.

You just feel like you need to keep doing more and more.

When I signed on for a year in China, I thought that I would finally exorcise the demons inside urging me to see the world.

The East would, I imagined, help me finally shake the “travel bug” that I have been feeling all throughout my teens and twenties.

China has done the exact opposite to me.

I want to see even more now.

Being on the other side of the planet and being much closer to places that you never really think about at home, makes you realize just how much stuff there is to do and see in the world.

When was the last time you thought about Bhutan?

I know that I didn’t even know what it was eight months ago, and now it’s on my bucket list of must-visit countries.

Travel is not a hobby, it is a way of life.

I think it is my way of life, and I’m going to try and keep living that way.

The author is a UDM graduate who is teaching English in China and writing about the experience for The VN.