In what country are you the most well traveled?
Are you well traveled in your home country?
My answer for the first question is New Zealand. We’ve traveled nearly end to end, and have experienced its beauty in many different ways. We also had challenging experiences, like the horrible storm and flood of 2010, being eaten alive by its fierce sandflies, and I even had fallen into its omnipresent sheep poop.
New Zealand is the country we are best traveled in, and we love the country to pieces. Now that we’re back in Canada to celebrate the holiday season with Ryan’s side of the family, a friend of mine asked, how come I haven’t traveled a lot here in Canada? Do I know my own country like I know New Zealand? My answer is regrettably, no.
Are the countries we come from not worthy of travel? No, they are very traveling worthy! Both Ryan and I came from gorgeous countries with so much to offer. So, how come we haven’t traveled a lot there yet? Let me bring you to a little of our background.
I was born in Surabaya, Indonesia. You probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s Indonesia’s second largest city after the capital Jakarta, and it’s located on Java Island in the east. If you don’t know Java, it’s the long island west of world famous Bali. I was not a very adventurous girl when I was small, and as a kid I had only traveled around Java and Bali. At that time, you could find me easier at home doing my school work or reading some novels, at local malls, or at those places you do extra curricular activities. Even in holidays.
One exception was when we went to Manado in a family trip after I moved to Canada. We went back for visiting my family in Surabaya, and together we went to Manado and surrounding, including the Bunaken Island, a heaven for SCUBA diving. In the same trip, we went to Central Jawa around Borobudur temple, enjoying the famous Suharti Chicken and witnessing the giant mud spurt in Bledug Kuwu. The best holiday I’ve ever had in Indonesia! However, other than that, I haven’t been around much at all. Indonesia is a very large, diverse country, with hundreds of cultures and thousands of islands to explore, and I’ve only really seen a few of them.
When we lived inÂ Ryan’s home country of Canada, instead of traveling in Canada itself, most of the time we ended up traveling in the USA. Everything in Canada is far away and flights are not very cheap among Canadian destinations. It’s easier and cheaper for us to cross the border to the USA, only 2 hours away from home, and from there either taking cheaper flights among USA destinations or taking a road trip. The only time we spent more than a week for traveling in Canada was when we explored the breathtaking Canadian Rockies in Alberta.
When we finally decided to be a long term backpackers, our imagination went wild! We were thinking about faraway places. Places that we didn’t imagine we will get to know closely and thoroughly before. Far-flung places like Europe, South East Asia, Down Under, Africa, South America, Pacific and Atlantic islands, even Antarctica. And somehow in our excitement we forgot to include our own countries in the picture! I guess they’re just so close to us, we felt as if we knew a lot about them already. Even though in reality, we knew those places just from books, TV and internet, rather than actually experiencing it ourselves.
Indonesia is a very diverse country. There are approximately 18,000 islands, where only less than 1,000 being permanently inhabited, and over 300 ethnic groups, which some of them still live traditionally. Many different cultures, architectures, arts, foods and social lives to explore. There are untouched beautiful beaches, wild and active volcanoes, deep and wild forests with exotic animals and plants. Several world famous (or infamous) giant corpse plants that I’m dying to see are growing wild only in the deepest forest of Sumatra.
I’ve overlooked these things, and I thought I knew about Indonesia just because I was there for 22 years, in which I received education and heard news about those places. But now, as I traveled around the world, comparing what I know about New Zealand and Indonesian exotic places, I don’t know much at all. I read many travel articles from non-Indonesian backpackers that delve deeply into Indonesia, and I feel a bit ashamedÂ to realize how much these people experienced, and how little I experienced, about my own country.
Same deal with Canada. There are a lot of Canadian things that we haven’t experienced, that other backpackers that have explored Canada are more familiar with. Exploring the French side of Canada, checking out the tundra and forest of the northern wilderness, traveling the coast of British Columbia, learning and getting close with the Inuit and Native American culture, exploring the fishing villages of the Maritimes, trying adog-sled-ride with the Siberian huskies, witnessing the aurora borealis, and the list can keep growing forever.
So now we’ve put backpacking through Indonesia and Canada on our agenda. We still don’t know when, (it’s a very long to-do list), and we don’t usually carefully schedule where we go, just go where the wind blows us. But we are quite sure that one day we’ll be able to proudly say, we have explored our own countries.
So… tell us… In what country are you the most well traveled?
Are you well traveled in your home country? If not, why?