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Melbourne, VIC
Australia

The 10 things I learned through travelling

Les Petites Choses

The 10 things I learned through travelling

Kelven Ng

I was born and raised in Vancouver, a city that by all accounts has and always will be considered home for me. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I finally left the city to stay in Toronto for a summer. That was my first real taste of what it was like to leave my bubble. When I decided to pick up my bags and move to London for a year, I left with the feeling that there had to be more – more to be seen, to be heard, to be tasted and to be experienced. Since then I have had the privilege of living for extended periods in Melbourne and London and I have travelled to so many amazing places in Africa, Europe, Asia and now Australia.

I have learned so much while travelling. The thing is, everyone takes away something different from the experience. But if I had to summarize what I had learned, it would be this: 

1. The world is much bigger than your own backyard. It might have been easy to be content with staying in my home town of Vancouver but if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that the world has so much more to offer. Home will always be home. Travelling to Ghana/Zambia, Japan, Turkey, and Ireland amongst other places has taught me that not only is there so much more out there. Had I stayed in one place the entire time, I shudder thinking about what I would have missed out on. 
That moment when you glance upon something that leaves you breathless... that's when I knew that I made the right choice to come here. 

That moment when you glance upon something that leaves you breathless... that's when I knew that I made the right choice to come here. 

2. What matters most. What is the saying? “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone?” While I did say that the world is huge and I’m so glad that I didn’t remain content to stay in one place, being away from home has slowly made me realize what is truly important. Some might say that it would have been easier to realize sooner, only, you don’t really understand what or how much to appreciate something or someone until you do.
There's something about the west coast that will always draw me in. 

There's something about the west coast that will always draw me in. 

3. To reserve judgement. We’ve all done it. Whether in high school, uni or even now, we’ve all judged people or developed an opinion of someone or some situation. Travelling all over the world, you see all kinds of people, in all sorts of situations. You see people in a rush to catch their flight, people who drink a pint alone at a pub, people who make conversations with random strangers and it made me realize that we are all individuals and that we should never be so quick to judge.

One of my most memorable moments in Europe wouldn’t have even happened if we let our judgements get the best of us. Myself and my friend Angela met a lone traveller on our ferry ride from Split to Hvar island in Croatia. He was really friendly and offered to drive us to Hvar town. This guy was huge and much older than we were (I mean, he could have easily crushed me and who knew what would have happened to Angela haha) but after some consideration, we decided to go with it. We ended up having a bottle of white wine in a completely off the road Croatian bar that a tourist would have never found, on a “VIP” table overlooking the Mediterranean – it was incredible. The bottom line, we are all different. We are all our own individuals and as much as coexist, we each have our own world. 

People are inherently good - travelling has not swayed me from that belief one bit. You would be surprised at the goodness of people that you meet on the road. 

People are inherently good - travelling has not swayed me from that belief one bit. You would be surprised at the goodness of people that you meet on the road. 

4. The world is not based on how others see you. When I lived in London, one thing I found about living in such a transient metropolis is that people will get by regardless of how others think of them. And that's the point – chances are you are never going to see them again. So, much to point no. 3, even if you had your opinions, you know what? It doesn’t matter. Worrying less about what others think and more about what you think of yourself is one of the most critical things I learned over the years. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s going to happen. So embrace it.
When you think about it, being happy in the moment has little to do with how the world sees you. 

When you think about it, being happy in the moment has little to do with how the world sees you. 

It's a work in progress but I really learned to be comfortable doing... whatever. That included eating on my own while travelling through Europe - in fact, it became one of the most relaxing moments of the day. 

It's a work in progress but I really learned to be comfortable doing... whatever. That included eating on my own while travelling through Europe - in fact, it became one of the most relaxing moments of the day. 

5. The little things make the biggest impact. I heard someone say once that the most dangerous thought that someone can have is that their contribution is going to be so small that it doesn’t matter, so they won’t do anything. I couldn’t disagree more.  From standing on the Cliffs of Moher watching the sun set, to listening to the current over the Victoria Falls as we swam on the edge, to sipping wine al fresco in the town of Vernazza, so many times, I remember moments where I stood there thinking… what could be more perfect than this? To me, it is the small things that make all the difference.
6. Shit happens. Forget travelling, in our everyday lives, shit just happens sometimes. To quote Bruce Wayne’s father, “why do we fall?” It’s so we can learn to pick ourselves back up. Travelling isn’t all great, all the time. From being ticketed at the beginning of my trip to Cinque Terre for having the wrong train pass, to having heat stroke in Zambia, to suffering food poisoning at the beginning of a road trip through the Isle of Skye, you learn to roll with it - to adapt. I learned that even if something happens, you still get there – if you want it. If we let every obstacle hold us down, we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. Push through.
Ah, Barcelona. The place where it rained all week long and I encountered bed bugs for the first time. 

Ah, Barcelona. The place where it rained all week long and I encountered bed bugs for the first time. 

I turned off my alarm and nearly missed my early morning hot air balloon ride in Cappadoccia, Turkey. Good thing the driver banged on every door to see where I was! 

I turned off my alarm and nearly missed my early morning hot air balloon ride in Cappadoccia, Turkey. Good thing the driver banged on every door to see where I was! 

7. That you may end up more lost than you were before but most importantly, that you are ok with it. Some people think that people who are well travelled just know what they want in life - That they are more enlightened. If an increased sense of wanderlust counts, then I agree with you. You realize that there is so much that you want to do, to see, to experience still and that even if you came back even less decisive, you’re ok with it. A trip doesn't change the person you are instantaneously. But you might find that your perspective on things change without you even realizing it.  
Getting lost is not the end of the world - especially when you have views like this along the way. 

Getting lost is not the end of the world - especially when you have views like this along the way. 

8. The realization that the place you left behind is actually perpetually in a time vacuum. After coming home from living in London, it was strange to see that nothing of significance had changed. You ask friends and family what’s new and most would say, “not much really.” It makes you think… how can that be? It feels like I have changed immensely over the same amount of time, how come it feels like time stands still here. If anything, this feeling gave me the push to keep exploring, to keep experiencing. It was a feeling that told me, "don't waste time, do whatever you can now." 
9. Who your real friends are. I have had the pleasure to meet some incredible people along the way. From living in London and Melbourne to travelling elsewhere, I am so grateful to be able to call some people that I have met, friends. I learned from them that it is not at all about the amount of time that you've known a person that determines how good a friend they are. It can be hard to leave behind friends and family back at home, but I realized that true friends will be there no matter where you are. You make an effort, they will keep in contact and you will still be able to share your experiences with him, if only vicariously. Those that don’t stay in touch and don’t make an effort, well … they were not much of a loss in all likelihood.
You know you were a part of something good when you look at everyone and say that these are not just coworkers. 

You know you were a part of something good when you look at everyone and say that these are not just coworkers. 

10. To live a life that you won’t regret. I’ve come to realize that we have one life to live, so I’m going to live. Without regrets. Without the thought, “I should have done this” or “I wish I saw this or experience that.” Travelling to me, was a good step in that direction. Travelling with her makes it all complete.