Back on the Blog!
I’m back in Hong Kong after two months of family travel. The four of us went to California, Alaska, Corsica and Berlin together, learned a lot and returned as a better team. I missed my blog, which has become my personal digital real estate, my laboratory, the space I come to when I try to make sense of things.
Here are 20 things I know are true after a summer of non-stop family travel:
- Privacy is a great privilege.
- Cheese, sandwiches and bananas look identical after 3 days in my son’s backpack.
- The logical opposite of Donald Trump is the Dalai Lama.
- Alaska disappoints nature lovers. Frontier land meets corporate America. If you like the northern nature experience, Iceland is the better place to go: educated people, stylish nightlife, and a great connection with nature.
- My kids are not snobs, yet. They disapproved of us when we struggled with a modest Airbnb apartment. “Mum, for many people in the world, this place would be luxury.” Good kids.
- Regarding travel and accommodation, however, this works for me: high end, low end or no end (i.e.: home, friends, family). Avoid everything in the middle. High end of course is great, because smart people are dedicating their resources to your well-being. Low end is good too: you know what you get and everything that exceeds your low expectations counts as value or adventure. It’s the middle end that’s dangerous ground for inner peace: it has to appear attractive whilst meeting the optimal profit margins. Inevitably, the shower collapses, breakfast is made with the cheapest ingredients and the gym holds the collective grime of dubious individuals. The middle is always too expensive for what it offers, so I’d rather stay home.
- You can meet great people everywhere.
- The glaciers ARE melting. They stare back at us, shrunken. Once turquoise and pristine, now a sad, sunken and dirty ice-monster, an instant diagnosis of the state of our planet. The glaciers, our casualty, reveal that we do not change fast enough.
- By the time a tourist in Alaska has had breakfast, he or she will already have thrown away their body weight in trash, or at least one styro-foam cup and plate, a plastic cup and various plastic utensils that come wrapped in plastic for the consumption of food, also served in plastic. I used to think Hong Kong was bad. Alaska is REALLY bad.
- Corsica is French, Italian and European. It is free of the global mainstream; no American or Chinese tourists. It felt like the holidays in the 1970ies.
- Berlin is THE place to experiment with real estate, start-ups and life style. It’s being discovered by the rest of the world as one of the few places that is affordable, livable and that gives its citizens a great deal of personal freedom.
- Food, shoes and accommodation need to work when I travel. For the rest: walk, talk and experience. Curiosity gets you to interesting places and saves the tour guide.
- It’s impossible to visit Alcatraz without obsessing how to escape, even though it’s understood to be impossible. Just like we do not really believe we’ll die one day, our mind does not accept that Alcatraz is final. I got as far as synchronizing the 50 seagulls I secretly tamed over a decade to pick me up and fly me over to Sausalito. I wonder why nobody did that before.
- Buy, intend to buy or pretend to intend to buy a place in a city: it’s a great way to get to know neighborhoods. I learned a lot about Chicago, London and Berlin that way. Why stop there? Ulaanbaatar, here we come.
- I want to become a good writer.
- The winner of family travel is my husband. He puts on a different pair of shorts, consumes a high-calorie-meal and is ready for the road. It takes him that little to connect with a place, whilst I feel that unless my and the kids’ entire wardrobe is organized on hangers by color and my cosmetics are prearranged in the sequence of use, labels facing front, I cannot breathe.
- I am neither an outdoor nor an indoor person. Looking at a mountain is the same pleasure as finding a good bookshop. There really is no preference.
- Going into any church takes stress away. So does walking on a beach. Again, beaches and churches have a similarly de-stressing effect. No indoor or outdoor preference.
- Friendships, family and relationships make us who we are to a large extent. Even when we are far away they work on us. No difference whether they nurture or trouble us. When we give our relationships the attention they deserve, they become powerful teachers.
- Taking time alone to unplug every day is a restorative potion for me. My kids are the same. It took me long to understand that they need this like I do. It should be a human right to be undisturbed for at least 20 minutes a day.
Anything you know for sure after this summer?