My parents never traveled for pleasure, and they rarely went out to eat. I, on the other hand, craved adventure – not only to see the world, but to pacify my curious palate. So I slowly started to save money under my mattress. I had limited funds in that stash, but once it would build up – and I was old enough – I would invest it in an airline ticket or imbibe in some new culinary treasure. Whether it was in town or across the globe, I eventually became a bona fide travel junkie.
Today, if I am presented with the opportunity to travel, I take it; if not, I create it. In the past five years alone, I’ve journeyed to a dozen countries from China to Austria. One of my favorite trips was visiting China for 10 days with my sister, where we climbed the Great Wall of China; picked tea in Souzhou; ate the local food; watched the Chinese version of Cirque de Soleil; and rode a high-speed, magnetic levitation train in Shanghai. I visited a Chinese traditional medicine doctor who told me I needed to chill and not stress so much. Spot on. So I took his advice – at least while I was there. I picked freshwater pearls from a lake. I leisurely shopped and treated myself to the purchase of a jade bracelet which, in their culture, is thought to enrich your life and balance your body, mind and spirit.
My children travel with us now and are at the age where they can actually appreciate the experiences. They have acquired a tolerance of other cultures, and they don’t look down on anyone who is different than them. Traveling not only enriches their lives, it makes them better people.
The important thing to remember when traveling – besides the pure pleasure of it all – is to step outside your comfort zone, “go native” and embrace the culture and the air of the people. In Turkey, we have a saying. “The wise man is not the man that reads a lot, but one who travels a lot.”
Hulya Aksu, Founding Publisher