Friday, June 9, 2017


While in Paris, our daughter was interviewed by French television the morning after the terrorist attack at Notre Dame. She told the reporter, "We don't want to live our lives in fear. We want to show our solidarity with the French people."  
The world often seems beset with an endless array of threats and dangers though in actuality we live in a relatively peaceful time.  Not everyone has an interest in foreign travel. The U.S. is beautifully diverse both culturally and physically. Leaving the country can be expensive and time-consuming.  I want to share why I travel to foreign lands and why it is especially important today.

Many believe the best the world has to offer is right in our backyard. Some are "scared" of traveling abroad with the news of terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflicts, and health scares. In spite of the news, Americans are the 2nd most well-traveled people though only 36% hold a valid passport, compared to 60% of Canadians and 75% of Brits.  Mexico and Canada are the most popular destination for U.S. travelers, with more visiting Canada than all of Europe. 
For me, world travel has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I have seen the amazing kaleidoscope of humanity and confronted my misconceptions and biases with a new insight. Foreign travel has positively changed my world view, opened my mind to new beliefs and ways of life.
    “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
      I shot the picture above through the window after our driver took a two-hour detour driving from Agra to Jaipur, India due to the main highway closure.  The site of our white Toyota brought half the village out to see us. I'll never forget it!

Foreign travel has taught me that people want the same things we do. They want to be happy and safe, make a living and provide for their families. I love being my own tour guide and venturing off the normal tourist track.

      “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Marla said, "Let's see where this goes" while in Rabat, Morocco. 
     “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

New cultural experiences are a traveler's greatest reward. We saw practice for the famous "Giostra del Saracino" while staying in Arezzo, Italy. Tuscans love the ancient tradition of the "Joust of the Saracens."

Wandering down a narrow lane of a Hutong in Beijing we came upon a courtyard with residents playing mahjong. I'll never forget the clicking of the tiles.
 “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

I'll always remember looking out at the horizon while descending a steep staircase in Pienza and seeing a Tuscan landscape in a mesmerizing new light.

While walking on a narrow path on the island of Hvar in Croatia I heard EDM music blaring at a small seaside club. Of course, I had to check it out!

I recommend immersion into a new culture even if you don't feel comfortable at first. A little effort yields big rewards. This was in a fabric store in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia's Sabah State on the island of Borneo. I was fascinated with the colors and styles of local fashion. 

I always try to make new discoveries wherever I travel. The Montmartre Cemetery in Paris' 18th arrondissement, though much smaller than the Pere Lachaise, was amazingly interesting. 

Balinese dancers await their performance during an Ogoh-Ogoh Nyepi (Balinese New Year) festival in Tegallalang, Bali.

You never know who you'll meet on the road. Marla and I were cycling near Tanggayuda, Bali and met this woman coming back from the marketplace.
    “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I never cease to be amazed at how many foreigners try to make you welcome. We were in a rural Balinese village to see a religious ceremony and everyone was so happy to see us. 

A favorite destination (I have too many to count.) is Thailand with it's smiling people, colorful temples, sights, sounds and smells. This was a village Buddhist ceremony for someone going into the monkhood near Ayutthaya.

A fabulous discovery was the islands of Thailand in both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. We visited Muslim fishing communities built on stilts above the water and relaxed on the softest sand. A Singha beer was never far away!

The sights, sounds, and smells of morning commerce in Hanoi Viet Nam were very interesting. 

Go back in time,...I mean way back to the Medieval era with a visit to Carcassonne in Southwest France. 

A favorite way to immerse yourself in a new culture is to watch them shop, as on this street in Istanbul.

A traveler doesn't need to go this far to see an ocean vista like this one on the Island of Sark in the Channel Islands, but it truly was worth it!

I am made up from so many intricate pieces, just as you are. Many of mine have come from what I have learned from foreign travel. 
    “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
***I will create more future posts on some of my secrets to rewarding, safe, and transformative world travel.

IMAGES: DICK GENTRY, LISA DECKER. Not to be used without written permission.

1 comment :

  1. What a fabulous post Dick! Your photos, perspective and quotes beautifully illustrate the myriad benefits of travel. I agree wholeheartedly with you that we should not let anything stand in the way of our exploration of other cultures and our understanding and acceptance of both our commonalities and our diversities.