In the cathedrals of New York and Rome
There is a feeling that you should just go home
And spend a lifetime finding out just where that is
First, let me start by saying, I'm not a lyrics girl. I can anticipate melodies and harmonies, but it is entirely possible that I have heard a song a bazillion times and have no idea what the song is about. So when I actually hear lyrics, and they mean something to me, they stick. They find a place deep inside of me that's hard to get to and they don't leave.
There are lots of travel songs out there, but this defines what travel is all about to me. About finding yourself, and figuring out what home really means. I call Seattle home and I'm deeply in love with my city. But to see the world is to see home with added perspective. To see yourself through a worldview. To get out of yourself, your routines, your ruts, and discover new layers.
Ok, I admit it. In the last several years, I've gotten a little addicted to "voluntourism." Service projects. Taking my own vacation time and money to pay and spend time in a place where I'm volunteering. Tonight I leave for two weeks in Thailand.
My addiction enabler is Seattle Works. I've been passionately involved with this organization for the past 4 years or so, participating in just about every program they've offered and even receiving their SWVOTY award in 2007. I participated in their first week long service trip to Biloxi, Mississippi in early 2007. I met some amazing people. Most I have kept in fairly close contact with over the years. It's a pretty special connection you get traveling and volunteering with a group of like-minded folks.
I went back two more times. Each trip exposed me to more of a city I absolutely fell in love with. And I connected with even more wonderfully amazing people from Seattle. NOLA has a solid place in my heart. And the people I've traveled with on these trips are some of the people I am most honored to know and consider friends.
But I told myself after my third trip that I needed to get out of the US and do some more international travel. I was super tempted by Seattle Works' first partnership with Crooked Trails. They went to Peru a year ago. I wasn't able to make that one happen (I was moving into my new condo and figuring out how a mortgage works!), but some dear friends and people I had traveled with before did go. And they all had nothing but wonderful things to say about their experiences.
So, when I heard about a trip to Thailand, one of many countries on my list of places I'd love to visit and haven't yet, I was stoked. Even though it seemed like I couldn't afford it, and I would *barely* have enough vacation time saved up, I made it happen. I watched airfare prices drop. I made my deposit. And now, tonight at about midnight, I'm leaving on my Next Adventure.
I'll be traveling with 8 other folks from Seattle and a guide from Crooked Trails. I have traveled with 3 of these people before - Jan and Kevin on my first trip to the Gulf Coast post-Katrina and Nora, who I met on my last trip down to NOLA. Our super simplified itinerary is as follows:
Nov 14 - Arrive Bangkok (I'm actually getting in a day earlier)
Nov 15 - Fly to Phuket and go to Andaman Discoveries office in Kuraburi
Nov 16-18 - Work at Burmese Learning Center school grounds
Nov 19 - Burmese Learning Center until lunch and then to Tung Dap
Nov 20 - Mangrove restoration in Tung Dap
Nov 21 - Tung Dap, Kuraburi, Phuket; Bangkok
Nov 22 - Explore Bangkok
Nov 23 - Bike Riding on Koh Kret, back to Bangkok
Nov 24 - Ayutthaya (History)
Nov 25 - Go Home!
Lows will be in the 70s and highs just under 100.
I don't plan on actually blogging while I'm there, but I do plan on keeping good notes/journaling and then transferring some of that, with highlighted pictures and reflection after I get back.
I have gotten a really great vibe from this group at our pre-trip meetings. I am really excited to get to know my fellow travelers, stay in our homestays, take tons of pictures, and come back home, being just a little closer to finding out just where that is.