Today the parents, my sister-in-law Anita and I are flying to Vancouver, Canada! Today I’m skipping the Friday Photos and am sharing my post on PEOPLE that I wrote for our #TRLT chat a few weeks ago, originally posted on Triptime Insurance.
Many people travel in search of that mind-shattering rush of adventure, to find their soul mates or simply to find themselves. Others travel to satisfy their tastebuds with bursts of local flavor or to dive into a completely different culture.
Many of us do it for all of the above, but the deepest, most intimate travel experiences I’ve had always came through the hearts, words and eyes of the local people I met along the way.
There truly is no better way to immerse yourself and discover other people’s cultures, cuisines, traditions or beliefs than through the people themselves and the stories they share. Participating firsthand in their lifestyles brings the most out in a travel experience. One of the first countries that come to mind when I think of the incredibly warm welcomes and hospitality I’ve experienced around the world is Mongolia. At the young age of 15, Mongolia was one of the first countries I ventured to with my travelling family (mother, brother and sister). I was left with so many vivid memories and the experiences impacted me so much, but it was the PEOPLE who made it so unforgettable. Despite no common tongue the gestures, laughs, smiles and jokes were enough to make us feel welcome wherever we went. The children were always curious, never shy to hold our hands and show us around their homes and countryside. The women showed us the ways of the kitchen and the men were quick to invite us for a drink of fermented mare’s milk, the common alcoholic beverage enjoyed in the countryside of Mongolia.
The star character of our month in Mongolia was Future. Future came into our lives through a recommendation by a local friend we’d made on a previous tour in the countryside. Without question or hesitation we headed into the Gobi Desert on a remarkable adventure with a stranger who instantly became family. Together we sang Mongolian tunes, pushed our van out of the sand with the help of local heroes, ate mutton soup, ventured into frozen canyons, rode camels, trekked over sand dunes, arrived unannounced at strangers’ doors asking to stay the night in their homes, got stranded and caught a wild camel together in hopes of finding help. We delighted in the ups and survived the downs and although we only spent a week together it felt like we’d known each other a lifetime already. Future showed us the best and worst of Mongolia and left us with the most precious memories.
In times before any of us had Facebook or Skype, we exchanged hugs and parted ways… Like many of the people we met along the way, we expected to never see him again but knew he would be in our hearts forever.
A whopping 12 years later we were thrilled to reconnected with our beloved Mongolian guide and friend via internet. When he reached out to us to say he was based in Austria for work as a liver cancer specialist, we knew it was destiny! He instantly booked a ticket and flew into Schiphol airport in Amsterdam just a few days later to meet us again after all those years. Both Mom and I were there to greet him and his endearingly big smile. My brother and sister live in Vancouver, Canada so were not able to join this emotional reuniting, but we did hop on Skype to reminisce on our crazy adventures together.
It was an absolute privilege to invite him to our table and introduce him and his wonderful culture to our Dutch in-laws. He joined us for The Netherlands’ very traditional holiday Sinterklaas, to which we added our crazy Canadian “onesie” twist to the celebration and danced around the house while Future was busy giving individual toasts with his Vodka. Our colliding of cultures was fun-packed and memorable. It was a wonderful feeling being able to bring his respectful, and traditional Mongolian culture into our home, reliving memories with him and being able to share that with our Dutch family. They may never get the opportunity to travel to Mongolia but they were still able to experience his culture. It was also a dream come true to sign a copy of my book in which he stars.
And just like us, they left with a friend for life! When travelling, be sure to let the people lead and show you the time of your life.
If you’d like to read more about our Future and our adventures in Mongolia or you’re hoping to tick it off your wander list this year, please check out my travel memoir, “I Grew My Boobs in China”.
Categories: Savannah Grace