Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not a Backpacker

I awake at dawn and wander the nearly deserted streets of this sleepy little Indian beach town. I follow the dirty, hidden path to the back of the house and climb the crumbling concrete stairs to the rooftop where my yoga class is held.

I sit for hours reading and writing in the outdoor living room like atmosphere of the cafe below the yoga shala.

I lounge on a different beach each day brainstorming story scenes and blog ideas. Some days I hike to the Banyan Tree, most days I don't. I get lost down the alleyway like market streets buying cheap clothes and coconut smoothies.

I meander down the beach every night seeking out fun music and having awkward conversations with expats and locals and travelers.

When I get emails and messages from friends back home asking what I've done since I've been here...I think, well, I'm living an amazing dream like life, but I haven't really done much. I'm not out to see all the sights--living out of hostels and taking 12 hour overnight bus rides to see some ruins. I'm not keeping myself on the go because I'm not a backpacker. That is not my intention for this journey.

My intention is to plant myself in one spot and live. Not to say I won't take day trips here and there, but I'm not a backpacker. I'm out to become local where ever I am. At the ashram, I became an ashram resident and kept an ashram schedule. Here in Arambol, I'm living the beach bum life in the tropics.

I have become, as Liz Gilbert once put it, someone "who has been so ill-treated and badly worn by life that they've dropped the whole struggle and decided to camp out here in [cheap, tropical location] indefinitely....but generally, all they are doing here is seeing to it that nothing serious will ever be asked of them again."

Don't get me wrong, I've been know to pack more activities into a 10 day or 3 week vacation than many people do in 5 years, but that's not what I'm doing here. I'm immersing myself into these places and into life with no responsibility or agenda. I don't want to flit across the surface like a bug on water; I want to dive deep (as deep as I can in a month's time) and see and feel what's inside.

I measure my days in how many new pages I've written and how many submissions I've made. I seek to learn something new about my town and meet someone new or get to know someone better, try the local food and follow the acoustic music pouring from the outdoor cafes that line the beach, to be ever present where I've landed.

What kind of a traveler are you? Whether you are on vacation or a long term traveler--do you land and stay or are you always on the go? Comment below or shoot me an email. Let's keep these conversations going!


Tanya Edwards said...

I didn't realize that people backpacking were excluded from staying somewhere long term and immersing in the culture. I am a busy traveler. I have never gone on a trip longer then 9 days so I've been limited by this. I try to compromise my time constraints with my desire to immerse in local culture by doing my travels in off seasons (less tourists) and spending my time getting advice from and having lovely conversations with local people. I'm really looking forward to my next trip to Costa Rica because I have 10 days unplanned and I hope to spend it in one place lounging around like a beach bum :)

Sarah Seymour said...

Oh! I definitely didn't say they were excluded. There are all types of travelers--most folks fall in-between these two extremes. I was just using the hard core backpacker example as a contrast to what I'm doing. Have fun in Costa Rica :) I'm looking forward to hearing about your experience! Costa Rica is on my radar for future travels :)

Maitland said...

I'm with you, (now). I like to take it easy and not plan too much when I'm on the go. I get stressed when I travel with someone who has too much of an agenda.

(Bad flashbacks to the pickup trip straight into the fires of hell :D )

Sarah Seymour said...

Are you referring to the Alaska trip? That trip was epic! Fires of hell and all :D That's a story you can now tell folks! You're welcome :)

PaulE said...

Fun hearing/reading how you're immersing yourself in living as a local. Thumbs up! :)

Annica Nord said...

So far I typically am one with an agenda to be able to get out and see as much as I can on my short vacations. I love what you are doing and I dream of doing something similar one day. Do you have a set amount of time for each place equally (1 month) or do you have a different amount of time set for each location? How do you determine the amount of time? Will you allow yourself to stay longer if you so desire? Can you see yourself living abroad for many years or permanently? Love reading your adventures and seeing your beautiful photos!

christi kirk-wheeler said...

I have not been on much of a schedule, but seeing lot n lots of things n meeting very interesting people. I really enjoy your post n pics. Hope u have been keeping up w Matilda n Hilda. See in a few months

Sarah Seymour said...

Thank you! Glad you're enjoying the posts :)

Sarah Seymour said...

Hi Annica! Thank you :) This is the first time I've traveled like this--normally I get out and do a lot too, but my circumstances are different here. I basically needed a way to live without having a job so I could focus on writing and rewiring myself. (I was kind of a mess the last couple years I was in Santa Cruz.) That, and you tend to spend far less money staying in one spot--a found that a lot of places will give you a discount if you plan to stay a month or longer, transportation is a huge expense (planes, trains, buses, taxis, etc really add up). Since I've landed in India I have spent more on transportation than I have on my accommodations--and I'm not even traveling around--that's just getting from one town to another. I walk everywhere once I get to a spot.

The amount of time is really arbitrary. And yes, it's different for different places. I was in Kerala for one month, I'm here in Arambol just over a month, then Rishikesh for 2 weeks (yoga teacher training) & Dharamasala for 2 weeks (volunteer work). Nepal for one month--not yet sure if I'm going to stay in Kathmandu for the whole month or head to a mountain town. I'm leaning toward mountain town because I want to be able to have easy access to hiking :) Two months on Bali (Ubud), one month Cambodia--want to see Angkor Wat then head to the coast to stay for a bit. Two more months in Indonesia (Gili Islands & Lombock probably). Then I need to be in Chiang Mai, Thailand by October to look for a job. If I get a teaching job, I'll be there for at least 6 months, and if not, probably only 2 months.

Everything up until I get to Bali (early May) is pretty set because I already have plane tickets. Everything from there on out could shift & change. I LOVE it here in Arambol. I could honestly stay here much longer, but I'm signed up for a yoga teacher training in Rishikesh so I need to be there by a certain day.

I could totally see myself doing this longer--maybe even staying longer in fewer spots. We'll see how I feel after this year is up. A lot of it will depend on income as well. I'll eventually have to start making money--haha! We'll see how it all plays out. I'm leaving it all kind of open ended at this point :)

Thank you!!! So glad you're enjoying the pictures and blog :D

Keep in touch!

Sarah Seymour said...

Thank you! Glad you're enjoying :D

Yes! I've been seeing your pictures :) Looks like it's all going really well!

And yes, looking forward to seeing familiar faces on Bali :) Are all 3 of you coming or just you & mom? Do you know the names of the places you have reservations for in Ubud & Lovina? I want to look them up!


christi kirk-wheeler said...

So far it's just your mom n me. No, I don't know the names of the places were staying.

Jennifer Walters said...

Sarah, I recommend you find a way to set up a "donate" link on your blog so us readers can help fund your travels. Then you can write a post about tithing ;)

Sarah Seymour said...

Good idea! I hadn't thought of doing that. I'll look into it :) Yes, I was already going to write about tithing. I was going to include it in a post about generating money for traveling. Do you & Janelle & Hazel still have manifestation meetings?