That defining moment....

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That defining moment....

Postby jimshu » Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:24 pm

I've been chatting elsewhere about travelling in a country, and with all our preconceptions, all our hype, all our expectations, just when does it hit you that you are indeed in that country you've dreamed of travelling too?
What happened that made you stop and think "Hey, I really am in India,Mongolia,Peru, Costa Rica , etc, etc.".or .wherever you are.

Kicking this off.
You know you're in Namibia when you're struggling up Dune 45, your wife gives up, and you struggle on to the top far in the distance, just so the oldest on the tour is up there with the youngies!~!!

Or hey, you get your nose up out of your beer, and find a big bull elephant chewing the tree you're sitting under!

Or you know you're in India, when you climb into this old taxi after arrival at their international airport ...and it won't start.But there's 100 people milling and yelling around while they all push start you...
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby francine_16 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:46 pm

Good topic. For me it ofen happens the minute I get to the country. I knew I was in Vietnam the minute I had to cross the street in Ho Chi Mingh. That was scary,but watching all the motorcylces are amazing to see.I knew I was in Thailand the minute I walked out the Bangkok airport because the heat is like nothing I have ever experienced.
However, in Africa it took a little longer. In Africa I knew I was there the first time I saw a lot of animals.

Looking forward to hearing what others have to say on this topic.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby mrbeland » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:44 pm

For me it was looking out the window of our Airbus landing in Iquitos with the rain streaming down, thinking.. Great, it's gonna rain for the whole week! Then stepping out of the aircraft door and getting hit with the wall of 95 degree heat and... HOT rain!!! It truely struck home that I was actually there in the Amazon Jungle in that moment! I also realized it CAN rain for the whole week and I'll still love it here. I did love it and it actually rained very little. BONUS!
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby PaulTeolis » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:52 pm

oh, I have dozens...
usually when I get ripped off by the cab driver getting to my hotel after just arriving in a new country, I know I am not in kansas anymore.

or the orangutan that stole a box of crackers off our boat while in kalimantan was funny as well as surreal when we tried to get it back.

having your passport thrown in your face while trying to get through pakistan immigration to get OUT of the country and figuring out what to
do next.

playing yahtzee outside a yert in mongolia among a herd of goats and sheep and it doesnt phase you.

setting foot on the antarctica continent among thousands of squacking, smelly and adorable gentoo penguins.

but favourite happened this year. Flew out of the new democracy of Bhutan back to Kolkata and upon landing was told we couldn't exit the plane, until Senator John McCain got off the plane first. This was less than a month after losing the election, him, along with 15 other republicans...the world shrank to me at that point...
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby hamilh » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:31 pm

What a great thread!

A defining moment in Peru for me was when I was doing a sun salutation on one of the terraces of Manchu Picchu. It was surreal and picturesque looking at Wana Picchu, all the lush green trees/forest below and the llamas... That was what I call a perfect moment! We sure don't have amazing ruins like that where I come from! (Canada)

A defining moment in Bali was when after celebrating New Years with the owner of the Villa we stayed in and his family, the owner took my husband and I to a different villa on his motor bike - we had our backpacks on and the bike was a moped... the owner waved to everyone we passed, it was incredible, surreal and a great story! Such a giving culture!
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby jimshu » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:34 am

Have I been chuckling...That's why I like this site so much.You guys are real positives.Hope we travel together sometime.
Francine.You realize you women are to blame for all those motorbikes in Vietnam?

Years ago, well 2001, we travelled down Vietnam.Now in those days traffic on those city streets comprised a conglomerate of pedestrians, 1,000's of bicycles, hand carts, old French era motored contraptions(looked like a rotary hoe digger) French era single cylinder trucks, and Soviet model trucks etc.And a good amount of motorbikes.
When we went back last year, 1,000's and 1,000's of motorbikes....and never a bicycle.They've all gone.
So we asked our driver why.He explained it's because of girlfriend's.No girl will accept a bicycling riding boyfriend.You want to be seen with someone who has status so you only hook up with a guy with a motorbike.!So the poor dudes up there are hocked up to the eyeballs,to afford that m/bike, just to have some sweetie on his pillion!

With their new found wealth and wanting to be seen to be successful, in a similar vein, you don't ride a bicycle to work now.You go by motorbike...or if you are seriously wealthy, by car.
So yes, when you can see a years motorbike production in one street , yeah. That's Vee et nammmmmmmm
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:19 am

Good topic! Everybody has stories like these, and if not, time to get some!

In Costa Rica it was when my coworker took me to his father-in-law's tiny residence on the poorer side of the San Jose valley, and the man showed me his secondary source of income - his prize cockfighting rooster, complete with a set of detachable spikes for the one hit kill.

In Kenya it was at a Peace Corp compound in Homa Hills, on the shore of Lake Victoria about an hour east of Kisumu, when they said we would have power between 7pm and 10pm every night (because those are the hours they run the generator), but when the lights started flickering at 9pm we had to hustle to finish getting ready for bed, because the generator was running out of gas.

In Japan it was wearing a full suit into a production facility only to remove my shoes, put on slippers that were 3 sizes too small, then gown up for the factory floor in what is typically described as a fully bunny suit. When we got out to the floor I couldn't identify my coworker because everybody looked identical... except for me, the enormous, pale white guy.

This is fun, brings back a lot of memories, keep them coming!
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby Zuleika » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:02 pm

My defining moment was in Australia when i first set eyes on Sydney Opera House. It was my first ever big travels.
I had already been travelling in the country for 3 months but arriving in to Sydney late at night and suddenly seeing it?? Well it was a culmination of a long term pipe dream, then a plan, then into fruition taking over 7 long years. (I had to graduate and save enough money first)
It totally represented Australia to me and signalled that I had finally arrived after so long, following my dreams, following my heart.
So when i finally, actually, saw it, I burst into tears!

I have travelled far and wide since then but dont think I have ever felt such intensity of emotion as at that moment.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby Zuleika » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:21 pm

jimshu wrote:You realize you women are to blame for all those motorbikes in Vietnam?

Years ago, well 2001, we travelled down Vietnam.Now in those days traffic on those city streets comprised a conglomerate of pedestrians, 1,000's of bicycles,



I went in 1997 and in Hanoi it was ALL bicycles, not a motorbike or car to be seen, just a million cycles - it was an amazing sight esp as everyone wears the lovely conical hats. But as you travelled further south, and gradually reached Ho Chi Minh - all are on motorbikes. This is because after the war more wealth was in the south - after the Americans left, and now gradually with all the tourism the north has caught up. So I would defo say its the influx of tourists that have 'ruined' (?) this one!
Im really glad I experienced it when I did if that has all gone now, but I honestly cant blame the Vietnamese for wanting more and better ways of life and travelling. Im just really glad i visited when i did.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby jimshu » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:44 am

Yeah, the Sydney Opera House.That is an amazing building.
I can quite imagine the emotion Zuleika.

Probably as much as when our Tuk tuk driver pulled up at the entrance to Angkor Wat and we looked across the causeway at that magnificent temple.
That was Cambodia to me.Awesome.
You know the first I ever knew of Angkor Wat was a Donald Duck and Scrooge comic way back in the 50's.I was a kid.And that comic strip drawing set off an urge to travel far and wide.
And when we looked at Angkor Wat I could hardly believe I was finally there.
One of those great moments.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby jimshu » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:48 am

playing yahtzee outside a yert in mongolia among a herd of goats and sheep and it doesnt phase you.

Hi Paul, and having to milk them?
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby Endless Journey » Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:45 am

Good topic...and considering how all airports look pretty much the same now, with those postcard stands and t-shirt shops, sometimes it takes a while to sink in that one is far from home.

Last year after arriving in Mexico City and standing in a slow immigration line, it was finally my turn. The officer must have taken five whole minutes sternly looking through all the papers I handed her. Finally came the stamp followed by eye contact and a smile, she then handed me the documents and said " welcome to Mexico."

That, I have to say, made my entire trip 8)
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby sinecure » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:18 pm

I normally have two, the first as many have said is a soon as you leave the bubble of the airport. But the second, is normally a few days into the trip. On my last trip to Thailand it was the morning when I got gently woken up in a small camp by the sunlight breaking through our bamboo shelter, and the sound of water being sloshed around.

Once I poked my head out side, it was an Elephant having a bath, no other sounds. Just nature and an elephant 15ft away having a bath. That was a cool moment where the light bulb really lit up saying "I'm not anywhere near home". I was so awe struck I didn't even think to grab my camera.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby The_Rolf » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:08 pm

Yea, after reading these I am remembering Costa Rica all over again... Not knowing any spanish, never being on an airplane before and having our baggage lost, my girlfriend and I stepped out of the airport clutching our only remaining bag and were wooshed away in a cab, in silence, and possibly shock. I don't know if it was the speed or the silence but when we sped up that onramp on the shoulder and proceeded to cut off that transport truck I thought we were about to die. I'd say my following breaths were my defining moment.
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Re: That defining moment....

Postby travelling_on » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:13 am

As a senior traveller, I have been privileged to have travelled extensively in this wonderful world but have had two defining moments which I truly believe will never be surpassed...one was my first glimpse of Maccu Picchu and the second was the keyhole sight of Petra. Both brought lumps to my throat and even my final ambition of visiting the Hermitage is unlikely to match.
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