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A drop of sweat dripped from my brow as I kept climbing the next steep stairway. The Big Buddha was getting bigger and bigger as I continued to climb the last set of stairs before me. A thick blanket of warm air covered my whole body, making me yearn for my water bottle which was dangling around my neck.
With each step I took, the weight of the water bottle felt heavier, only making me more determined to reach the top. Nothing could stop me once I got on this island, via the glass cable car where I clearly saw the rocks and trees under my feet.
The only thing holding me inside that cable car was basically a piece of glass. So, if I had already survived that, nothing could stop me from seeing the Big Buddha with my own eyes. And I did, after the 100th time I was complaining to myself of how tired I was.
But then, all the weariness had vanished as soon as I reached the top. I turned around and saw how many stairways I actually had to climb to be on the spot where I was standing.
It was overwhelming.
Because I did it all by myself.
When I’m in a foreign country, something magical happens inside me.
I put more trust in myself, because I’m the only person I can trust at that moment, in that specific place where I don’t know a soul. I rely on my gut feeling and I listen to warning signs that I pick up from certain people. My intuition has never failed me before. It is my guardian angel, looking out for me when I’m having too much fun and forgetting to keep my guard up when it needs to be.
Traveling all by yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
When I first saw the endless display of cherry blossoms in full bloom surrounding me in South Korea, I couldn’t believe my eyes for a moment. Back in my own country, every time when I saw a cherry blossom tree – I think back of that particular day, filled with wonder, beauty, and new memories.
You begin to see – what was once regular and ordinary to you – moments of flashbacks from your adventures. It can be a tree. A song. A type of food. Or even a type of person.
It can even take you back years ago, leaving you reminiscing and feeling bittersweet at the same time. Because you know you can’t go back to those moments, but also know that you once experienced them with all your awakened senses.
Traveling sets your knowledge back to zero, even though you thought you had enough of it at first.
You are basically a little child in a strange place. Forcing yourself to ask strangers for directions when Google Maps is too hard to unriddle. Stroking your taste buds when you are trying food you have never even seen before. Surprising yourself with how much patience you actually have when you need to wait half a day for your next flight home.
Traveling fuels your curiosity the moment you step on soil you have never set foot on before.
When I looked down from the Great Wall in 2014, I imagined soldiers preparing to shoot their arrows, ready to start war. When I touched the ancient stones, I imagined countless of people putting brick after brick – dried up from thirst under the blazing sun, craving food and rest.
This weariness I felt, after having climbed a couple of stairways to the Big Buddha was nothing compared to that.
Traveling makes you grateful. It makes me grateful, when I go to places.
I’m hoping when people have spoken to me, they will tell other people while pointing at me:
She is that girl.
That girl that went places.