With Thanksgiving around the corner and everyone around me reflecting on what they're thankful for, I started thinking about some of the things that I am grateful I've experienced. Without a doubt, being able to travel the world is something that I am very thankful for. Traveling domestically and abroad has opened my eyes, changed my perspective, and ultimately made me a more empathetic person. I've seen beautiful sights, explored faraway places, and wouldn't take these trips back for anything! I decided to express my gratitude by compiling and sharing a list of some travel opportunities I have been blessed with having. I may make this into a mini-series. Each post will highlight five unique places.
1) Mt. Cook in New Zealand- Seriously, if you want your breath taken away, head here for some stunningly beautiful scenes. My friends and I hiked around the base of the mountain and did not regret stopping to take in the Southern Alps and the surrounding areas.
2. Outer Banks, North Carolina- North Carolina is special to me in general because it is where my sister Denise moved to. I have made several visits down and we have had a blast hanging out and making new memories together. Denise got engaged at the Outer Banks and decided to get married right on the beach in Kill Devil Hills. We decided to rent a house directly on the beach for a week before her wedding, so it gave us time to hang out and prepare for her upcoming wedding but there was still plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beach.
3. Bai Villages in Western China- When I visited Dali in Yunnan Province, I knew that I wanted to hire a driver to take me to some of the Bai Villages. The Bai people are an ethnic minority in China, and there are about 2 million people who fall into this group. The majority of the Bai people do live in Yunnan Province and practice Buddhism, although folklore plays a role in their beliefs. In Dali, I could identify people as being Bai because they were wearing traditional clothing, such as the headdresses.
When I thought of a Chinese person, I just pictured a Han Chinese person, since they are the ethnic majority in China. I never heard of the Bai people before planning my trip to Yunnan Province, so it was very interesting to me to see how they lived. The first place I was taken to was something that had obviously been set up for tourists. We were shown a Bai house, participated in their three step tea ceremony, and everyone was dressed in traditional clothing. My favorite part of the trip was when I was taken to smaller villages and markets because I got to observe how they really lived and worked. Unfortunately, my driver hardly spoke any English at all, so some of my questions went unanswered, but it was still such a cool thing to get to be able to do!
4) Newfoundland, Canada- While teaching in Korea, I became friends with three Newfie girls. Two worked at my school, and another girl worked about 20 minutes away, but she would always come and hang out with us. They talked about Newfoundland and how beautiful it was and told me how I just had to visit. I finally did and was able to meet up with my friend Leann, who showed me around St. John's. We also went on a road trip to Gros Morne National Park and stopped in her hometown of Gander along the way. I loved seeing where three of my good friends grew up and was lucky to have experienced the friendliness of the people firsthand. For more pictures of my trip to Newfoundland, click here and here.
5. Chitwan National Park, Nepal
We went through the national park where I saw a rhino in the wild...and her baby! We also got to go sit on top of an elephant while they were taking a bath!! It was so much fun--they splash you with water from their trunks. Also, I went to the elephant breeding center where I was in for a treat because two twin baby elephants had been born. Twin baby elephants are very rare, and it is even more rare for both of them to survive. This whole trip was completely amazing!
What is something you are very thankful for?