What Travel Means Series – Week #5

Hello! It is the fifth post for my weekly series of guest authors. As I mentioned here, the authors are friends of mine, people I know and like. I asked them to sum up in their own words and style what travel means to them and a favourite place (or two).
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Today’s guest author is Tony Chan. Yes, you guessed it – I also met Tony through Couchsurfing. He is a cool, funny and an adventure-loving guy. He always smiles and lives to travel. Check out his traveler profile at Bootsnall: Tony Chan
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Paris Changed My Life

She was the perfect girl for me. At least I thought she was. We had great times together. She was funny, intelligent, beautiful, everything I hoped for in a partner. I did everything to make her happy. Being with her was more than a relationship, it was an adventure. Just like every adventure, I came out of it a changed person.

The day she told me she wanted to end things with me was crushing. She wanted to be with a Canadian. After all, that’s why she came to Canada from Japan. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. I felt used and discarded. She had made her decision and I had to accept it.

Accepting it didn’t come easy. During the day I had my career to keep me occupied and distracted. In the evenings I had my friends and hobbies to hide behind. The nights were the hardest part. I did what I could to put up a brave face. You can only wear a mask for so long before your true face shows through. So it did. I became withdrawn. Sleep became a luxury. I lost weight. Nothing was the same anymore.

Metropolitan

Metropolitan

“What did you want when you were young?” Those words, said by a good friend of mine, echoed in my head long after they were spoken. “I once dreamed of going to Paris” was the response – before the expectations and commitments of adulthood took over. Seeing the City of Lights turned from a goal into a passing fancy. Something only said at parties and bars with no intention behind the words.

I don’t believe in Fate. I believe we make our own destiny. There isn’t an invisible hand pulling our strings telling us what we want. We decide what we want. That night made me question my belief. Looking at Flight Center’s site I saw a flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt, Germany. It was 60% off the regular fare. What I saw next stunned me…

…the days were for the exact same days I booked off for vacation just 2 days earlier…

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Paris just turned from a dream to reality. I instantly booked my flight. Borrowing a backpack, I began what would be a turning point in my life. For the first time I traveled alone internationally. I saw incredible sights. Tried new foods. I walked in history. I met other travelers just like me. I fulfilled a dream. Most of all, a new dream was born. The hole in my heart left by her was filled with the continued desire for travel. The world looked a lot smaller and attainable. The sorrow and sadness I had leaving Vancouver were lost to my new found freedom. For the first time in a long time I can honestly say I was happy.

Seven years later, I’ve been to 24 other countries across 4 continents. The path I was told to follow is no more. My life isn’t about getting married, buying a house or having kids. Getting a girlfriend now is like hearing a voice from the past. My life is about traveling independently. Travel gave me purpose. It gave me direction. It gave me a sense of belonging. I’m planning an around the world trip next year. No matter where I go, no matter what I experience, I’ll never forget it all started with Paris.

Paris really did change my life.

Gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

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Photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju.

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