1. You’re already graced with fortune if you have the essentials. If you can also find the time to take care of your health & well-being, that’s a luxury!

Traveling to Myanmar felt like taking a step back in time, where the internet was still not prevalent within their infrastructure. It allowed me to disconnect with the rest of the world and lose sight of all the familiar. It felt rather empty but, there was something magically internal about it all – having just the essentials like the air, sky, water, sleep, dreams and the time reconnecting to myself. There was something about just waking up to see the sun rise, looking forward to meals, walking and exploring, catching the sun set and living life very simply- you realize that, often times, we get too caught up with our own lives that we forget to appreciate and take in the present moment of what we have around us. We forget that many still live lives with barely or no connection with the rest of the world or even have the choice of living the life that they want.

2. The world is a much safer place than the media would have us to believe. Wherever you are in life, we’re in this altogether!

I was traveling on a shoestring budget at that time and it was very uncomfortable. If you have traveled on a shoestring budget before, it can mean having to sacrifice meals to visit sights. I remember even intermittent fasting to save extra money, just to be able to make it work and visit attractions.

Traveling on a shoestring budget also means having to take safety risks, trusting strangers and putting yourself with the unfamiliar. It’s within our human nature to try and travel as safely as possible or do what’s ‘familiar’ in order to avoid all things written in guidebooks or the stories we hear or see about. Thus, especially in developing worlds, the most affordable and accessible option is taking public transportation. So, being left with no other choice, I took a 17-hour train ride from the capital city, Yangon to Bagan (an ancient city)- after having experienced bullet trains in countries like South Korea, I questioned the train. I wondered if it would even make it that long!

And… it did! Surprisingly, it was also a very comfortable and enjoyable train ride too, with even sleeper beds!

Uncomfortable situations like these while traveling confronts your fears and forces you to trust the unfamiliar. And, it’s these types of experiences where you take away a lot more than just seeing sights or the destination itself – it’s experiencing how others live and discovering that many people face a lot of the same challenges as yourself. You also realize how much safer the world is than portrayed through our media.

Ever since, I’ve taken in the beauty of this experience and I always remember in the back of my mind, that there is always someone living uncomfortably. This is an important lesson you learn, that you should never take the more minor things in life for granted. The little things can be more significant in someone else’s eyes and much more important in life.

Written by J-Min