I have. Plenty of times. But as I travel more, I am more careful with how loosely I share that phrase. Maybe it has to do with my experience of living in 3 different continents within the last 10 years.
It’s one thing to arrive in a place, receive a fruity welcome drink, discover new places to lounge, and feel like everyone is smiling at you.
It’s a completely other experience to arrive with bulging suitcases well above flying allowance, grasping at orientation as your senses are overwhelmed, and enter the new empty space to call “home”.
Yes, it’s exciting and new and a wonderful learning experience. But, it’s hard too. This is why I can fully appreciate the rich colors, smells, and noises of India or enjoy the lovely islands of the Philippines while being fully aware that I could not live there.
Maybe it was the sun shining on my shoulders as I took in the Mekong life. Maybe it was the daily morning reverence of the monks’ procession through the streets. Maybe it was
the natural beauty.
Wait. Hadn’t I felt that elsewhere? Bali? Thailand? Yes, but somewhere inside me, something was saying: All of your life experiences, all of your travels have brought you to this point in time and space. You can create something here.
A year later, my husband and I returned to Luang Prabang. It was gloomy, raining everyday. There were less tourists…it was super quiet. Normally, this kind of experience while on vacation would put me in a sour mood. Where was the sun? the bathing elephants? the novelty of someplace new?
Surprisingly, this mood was fleeting. I felt just as content getting to know some of the people who live there, to take a book to read at our favorite coffee shop, to practice yoga in our room. I could imagine being there day after day and the more we met with other expats who live there, the more our vision took shape. We were giddy. On our last day, we ate our last steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf, had our last delicious coffee. We said so-long to the Mekong, knowing we’d be back.