Welcome back to Thrive Outdoors! It’s Friday here in the Land of the Rising Sun. What better way to kick off the weekend than by scaring yourself? Check out this great perspective on ditching your comfort zone through the eyes of our newest author, and get some inspiration for the weekend!
By Evan Crump
For a Wyoming boy like me, Southeast Asia was about as far from home as I could get. Before my trip I had only flown once and my traveling experience was confined to the Western United States and short stints in Mexico and Canada. I had not had a job in two years due to pharmacy school, but I had saved money from my school money for an emergency. I instead purchased a ticket to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Jon, Alex, and I had never been there and just learned some phrases before we left. None of us would know anyone for thousands of miles. All we had were our backpacks and each other. None of us knew what the next 9 weeks would have in store for us…
We left Casper, WY at 6 A.M. on June 6, 2011. 26 hours later we were in the Ho Chi on June 7, 2011 at 9:00 P.M. My mind was blurred and my body broken, but when we walked out of the airport, the shock would make me forget completely about how I felt. We were in the right place, but we were lost. No matter where we were we did not have a clue. For the next ten days, every second became a moment of survival. We had no control over anything really. We had no clue where we were, even with a map, and a little fear would creep in at certain times. This all combined to form an emotion I had never felt. No drug can compare to that feeling, and that feeling will drive me to explore this world for the rest of my life.
We did all sorts of amazing things throughout the trip, and we did many more things than I can write here. In Northern Vietnam, we hiked through the mountains close to China and stayed in a hill tribe village, and we sailed through Ha Long Bay for three days. In Cambodia, we celebrated Alex’s birthday and explored the ruins of the ancient empire of Angkor Wot. In Thailand, we rode elephants, watched Muay Thai, whitewater rafted a river through the jungle, and we lived on tropical islands in the Gulf of Thailand for three weeks. I hate to show my photos these and other amazing things, for you cannot experience the moment for yourself like I did. However, the most memorable parts were not the grand outings, and these parts translate over even worse. These were the moments in between.
Being blessed to be able to travel to Southeast Asia for nine weeks, I saw plenty of amazing things, but that is not what I will remember most. Standing at a train station or searching for food on a street whose name I have long forgotten is what I will remember. These short times are even harder to capture with words or photos, but they were the truest moments of my trip.
Some find this confusing. I saw the world’s greatest Buddhist temples, Ha Long Bay, the jungle, rode elephants, and partied with 15,000 people on a beach, but eating meat on a stick while sitting on a corner in Bangkok will always be a dearer memory.
As I get farther from my trip, the more I realize how much nine weeks will affect the rest of my life. My mind and heart are constantly going back over a ride through the countryside, stopping on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or sharing meals with friends new and old. My life will forever be affected by seeing the harsh realities of this life exemplified by seeing dying children in Cambodia, but I will also continue to be moved by the kindness and generosity of a people that have so little. My life will also continue to be affected by what I saw inside myself.
Without leaving my comfort zone, I would never have now what I as capable of. Leaving perceived safety behind and just sending it almost made me vomit, but instead I learned more about who I really am than I ever could have imagined. You do not have to go around the world to leave your comfort zone. All it takes is doing something new or doing something that makes you feel that twinge in your stomach. And if you can, take somebody with you and meet folks on the way.
So much of this life is all about our connections with people. I will never forget the times spent with my traveling mates, and I will never forget the time spent with all the good folks along the way. The emotions created by the human experience throughout the trip will further remind me of those people and moments that have impacted my life.
I was supposed to write this piece two months ago, but I am glad for once that I procrastinated. I may never fully understand the impact of this trip, but I can see it has made me evaluate myself and my role as a human on this earth. I will continue to travel this great country and amazing world. I will continue to be proud to be a Wyoming boy, for I feel we are just a little tougher and more ready for life’s curveballs. A nine week adventure in the wilds of Southeast Asia will forever shape my life, and I hope that you will also be blessed with people and events that change your life and give you hope for purpose and adventure tomorrow.
My life’s experiences and what I take from them will be different than anyone else’s, but I feel I learned something that applies to everyone: No one knows just how much life we will be given, but we can choose to fill it with profound moments shared with meaningful people.
–Photos/ experience courtesy of Evan Crump, Alex Crump, and Jon Horton. Thanks Gents! Let ‘er Buck! -THRIVE