Life. What a wonderful thing! Waking up each morning with a smile on our faces, excited to see what the new day will bring is something we consider ourselves blessed to be able to feel. Having the freedom to go where we want, being able to sample new cuisines, discover amazing cultures and witness stunning landscapes, all while growing together as a couple is what brings us joy in life.
But even if we were suddenly stripped of these experiences, I think we would still be happy. We’ve been noticing lately that it’s the little things during our travels that bring a smile to our faces.
We can be sitting on the side of the street in India with a small cup of boiling hot, milky tea and do nothing but people watch and be completely content.
We love slowly wandering around a small village and making small talk with the local people, who are usually more than happy to chat with us and more often than not, it ends with a photo being taken.
Watching the sun set over the mountains or ocean is a very basic, but very enjoyable way to end a day.
Being a big, scary Westerner and chasing children around the town always ends in giggles from the kids and laughter from the parents.
Some of our fondest memories are of something as simple as sitting with a group of local people and having a meal or tea, or dancing and having my hair braided by village women in Africa.
Showing people items of ours from Canada that they’ve never seen before is always an interesting cultural interaction. On this trip, the men have all found Nick’s Leatherman knife very appealing. They love opening it up and discovering all of the gadgets inside. The women and young girls love looking at my necklace and checking out all of my colourful bracelets. The kids are always intrigued by the camera and seeing videos on the computer.
It doesn’t have to be something as extravagant as visiting the Great Wall Of China, sailing down the Nile River or Trekking in Nepal, truly some of our best memories are very simple, pure and authentic ones, almost always involving the local people and culture of whichever country we’re in.
Because we feel so strongly about making connections with people, learning about their culture and ways of life, we’ve been shocked lately when hearing fellow backpackers complaining about “such and such a place is so Boring!”
Recently, we were in Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan, a 100% Muslim village of 13,000 people. The place was teeming with cows and donkeys, the call to prayer blazed over the loud-speaker 5 times a day, the village was surrounded by towering mountains and the largest walnut forest in the world is a nice 30 minute walk away. The nearby rivers are stocked with fish and the food at the small cafes is delicious. There are 2 waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints across the village, as well as endless trekking opportunities (by donkey, horse or foot). Besides all of these appealing things, the people there are fantastic!
We spent 4 nights there and wanted more. We were shocked to hear other travellers complaining that Arslanbob was “boring”. It was totally mind-boggling. What more could you want out of a place? It’s a very authentic village and the people here are willing to teach foreigners about their ways of life, religion and culture. We spent some days just sitting at the waterfall reading a book, wandering around town, having tea and talking with some local families, and doing many other things.
Of course, we’ve had some down days while travelling too, but we don’t blame it on the country or the city, it’s usually something we’ve done ourselves (like travelling too fast!) More than a couple of times during this trip we’ve had others complain to us about being fed up with a country or being too bored, to which we both just kind of stop talking to them and walk away. Life is too short and incredible to be surrounded by negative thinking people.
Sometimes the smallest things in life can bring the largest amount of joy. We suggest everyone stops to smell the roses once in a while, look around you and take it all in. Find beauty and happiness in the little things.
Where do you find the most joy in life? Share with us below!