The one that collects countries.

So there’s a book that’s called “Die Ländersammlerin”, written by Nina Sedano, a woman that says she is the most well traveled woman in Germany, she literally collects countries.

It’s almost been a year since I got this book and today I would like to share an excerpt of the book’s prologue with you as there is no text that has ever captured my thoughts and my true essence as much as this. Nina Sedano seems married to her adventures just as I am and her hunger for the unknown seems just as boundless as mine. So here it goes:

It all starts with a prologue and a woman without roots. 

It is September 30th, 2011. I am 45 years, 7 months and 11 days old and I made it – finally! 

I have reached my personal goal, the one that I set myself only five years ago : I have traveled to all 193 countries recognized by the United Nations. I didn’t ever doubt myself or my enormous willpower but I expected to somehow fail because of the entry requirements of some countries. Just now I am coming back from Turkmenistan, the last country on my long list.

[…] I want to travel, explore the world, experience everything myself, smell, taste and hear, enlargen my horizon, dive deep into new cultures and try to understand the people around me. Whenever I travel I know no solitude. Being homesick is also a foreign feeling to me. At home, surrounded by my oh-so familiar four walls I experience cabin fever and the urge to wander. 

Why do I feel this need to go and visit all countries on our planet? Why doesn’t it suffice to read about traveling, watch documentaries about faraway places? The typical 30 day annual leave you get as an office worker will never be enough for me even though I often manage to stretch them out to 80 days and try to relish those few days as much as possible. […]

My willingness to leave everything behind and travel the world evokes different feelings in the people around me. There are some that even go as far as saying that I am fleeing from something – myself and my problems. I am definitely not trying to run away from myself, I would never be fast enough. I rather try to escape people that do not fathom my adventurous spirit, name me a gadabout and regard me as a failure for being 36 years old and quitting my job. I always have my goals in sight, in the world and in my life so their opinions are a strange concept to me. 

On my journey I have learned that every country is different just as every human on this planet is different. It is essential to me to talk to these people from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. To laugh with them, listen to them. I also truly need my friends and family back home that do not begrudge my lifestyle. 

Until today, I have crossed many borders. And by that I do not mean only those borders that wrap around countries. Living this life I also challenge my emotional and physical limits. Those experiences are the ones that count the most and enrich my soul every day.

Traveling is my elixir whenever life gets tough. Being on the road all over the world I feel alive with every threat of my soul and every bone of my body. I feel that I am alive and not only exist. You have to make the best of the most tricky and dodgy situations, conform with local customs and practices, use foreign tongues to talk to foreign people, ask them for advice, trust them and myself and take everything with a little sense of humour.

A journey into the world is always a journey to yourself.

I have to say that I often need a little time until I get used to a book and its author. But Nina Sedano really captured my attention with the first words she wrote. In the course of the book she explains how she first traveled to a foreign country as a child and then eventually decides to travel the world. A definite must read!

 

Travel Planning…or not?

Here I am sitting at my desk with a pile of uni-stuff to do but my head is somewhere else. As usual, I am dreaming of being far away – my favourite way of procrastinating. This time my thoughts take me to Southeast Asia. I have been dreaming of visiting this mesmerising place for such a long time and now it is finally happening!

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The plan is to get lost – again. Not getting lost on a road and not being able to find my way back to where I was heading. It’s about getting lost in the bliss of travelling. Indulging in every second of being abroad and taking in every experience that comes across. For me, this can only happen if I give myself the freedom to not plan every detail of my journey. I need space to breathe and to align myself to the vibes of a place and get into the groove of that particular culture. I am not a fan of these vacations that are thoroughly planned day in and day out. Some people say that’s a weird coincidence because that’s exactly how I live my everyday life. I like plans and I like them to go well. Maybe that is why I enjoy travelling so much. Suddenly it feels okay to loose control and to just “go with the flow”. Only this way I can discover all the enchanting places that are hiding away in Asia. It is about taking my time to to unravel their secrets and giving myself the space to decide right there and then how much time I want to spend in that place.

Don’t get this wrong, a vacation has to be planned out somehow. Especially when you’re travelling on a budget like I always am. My goal is to acquaint myself as much as possible with the different countries by rifling through all the travel guides I can put my hands on. You need a rough idea of what you think you want to see, right? And then, once there, this will give me a path I could follow. But I don’t have to. My dreams are currently circling around Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Bali. Maybe more of Indonesia? Maybe Malaysia?

Are there any places I simply cannot miss? A jaw-dropping beach, a dazzling street market, a unique and mouth-watering dish in a tiny restaurant?

Wild and Reckless.

We are the reckless,
We are the wild youth
Chasing visions of our futures.
One day we’ll reveal the truth
That one will die before he gets there.

Does this sound familiar to you? I guess sometimes we just don’t want to admit that we are on a constant journey to seek ultimate happiness. But what does this ultimate bliss entail? We come across thoughts in our minds that are dedicated to dreaming of this better future. My generation is born with this feeling. We were born into an era of open doors – this made us become high achievers, always urging for more.

This is how I feel every day. I can’t seem to settle in just yet, I am always in the search of this place of ultimate happiness. But does it really exist? I am not going to stop moving, I know that. But what I am trying to tell you is this: let’s not always look for this future, these “other” places where life seems to be so much better. I want to live in the here and now and relish every second of it. I feel blessed of being able to live this lifestyle of endless travels and journeys, of meeting new people and admiring the world’s beauty.

Just as I put out a solemn pledge to travel the world, I am promising to make every second count. Don’t get disturbed by obstacles or downfalls that surround you – without these we wouldn’t be able to learn to appreciate the peaks of life!