Throughout my life, I’ve seen countless people living on the streets of various cities – asking for assistance, asking for money, asking for food, asking for clothes. Some ask for a ride home. Some ask for money to buy drugs or alcohol.
They all have stories to tell.
How often have I stopped to listen, to care? Sadly, horribly – not many times.
On my recent travel through the Southeastern region of Turkey, I came across many refugees from nearby Syria. While riding long distance buses between Turkish cities of Antakya (Hatay), Sanliurfa (Urfa), Gaziantep (Antep) and Harran – I’ve seen refugee camps from afar and up close.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Solo travel has helped shaped me to be who I am today.
I started traveling alone out of necessity and not for pleasure.
As you see, my family immigrated to Canada as a whole when I was young. However due to various circumstances, they all drifted back to Hong Kong. I was left in Winnipeg, Canada to finish school alone. During my summer vacations, I’d travel to Hong Kong to see my family. That was the only way for me to spend time with them physically. Fortunately, my family was able to finance these visits each year.
It’s a mixture of complex emotions that I did not realize until much later. That was life as I knew it. I was in survival mode without conscious awareness.
After the fact, some friends and acquaintances see it as a sad childhood. Maybe so, however, it definitely helped shape my independence and ease with international solo travel. It also inspired an intrigue to learn from exploration and feed my curiosity.
My Canadian Passport with airline stickers