We all have problems, and more often than not, the simplest thing to do is to pack up and run away. Many of us stop ourselves from doing just that because real life menacingly stands in the way. Despite all of that, you have to understand that only when you heal yourself and find your way will you be able to positively impact the lives of those around you.
Whether you have been scarred by a personal tragedy like the death of a loved one, an illness, or simply a heart-wrenching break up, there is no shame in admitting that time off from reality is what you need to heal yourself. You must understand that your life might never fall into place as easily as it does for others.
Sometimes, you have to work at it to finally discover the meaning of why you are here. Look at it as a privilege and not as a burden. Not many people can say that they were gifted with the rare chance to figure out for themselves just what they were made to do.
12 soul searching destinations to visit
I am not going to pretend that I have been to every corner of world. Neither am I going to pretend that I know just which places will touch your heart and which won’t. No matter what, you have to make an effort to discover just how beautiful it is to be alive. If you’re stumped, here are 12 recommended travel destinations for some much needed wanderlusting and soul searching.
#1 Sarawak, Malaysia. Sure, there are lakes, caves, jungles, and mountains to see in Sarawak, but the main focus of this trip is to experience how man and nature can live as one. Pay a visit to the Penan people, and live with them for several weeks. They are a nomadic aboriginal tribe who call the rainforest of Borneo home, and they are one of the last few people on earth who live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
See for yourself how deforestation affects their simple way of life, and learn firsthand what it takes to survive in a cruel and selfish world. You will get the privilege to live with them, learn their survival techniques, embrace their loving and giving culture, and be overwhelmed by how much kindness there is in people who live a life unmarred by the evils of money, government, and the outside world.
#2 Taiga, Mongolia. When one thinks of Mongolia, one can’t help but envision Genghis Khan and his fierce army riding across endless plains. Mongolia today is very much like it was eons ago, sans Genghis, of course.
What remains is untouched nature and the Dukha. They are nomadic reindeer herders who are strong advocates of their ancient way of life. So long as you do not disrupt their herding and nomadic patterns, this community welcomes visitors to stay with them for up to 3 days. Learn their fascinating history and traditions firsthand, and discover what it is really like to live off the grid.
#3 Varanasi, India. If spirituality is what you seek, then India is where you need to head to, particularly Varanasi, a holy city perched on the Northern banks of the Ganges River. This city has played a vital role in the development of both Hinduism and Buddhism, and today, over 16% of its inhabitants are Muslim.
This makes for a wonderful spiritual and religious voyage and is not to be missed. Overlap your trip with one of the many festivals that take place, such as the five-day musical festival known as Dhrupad Mela and Nag Nathaiya that celebrates mythological tradition.
Keep in mind that your senses will be overwhelmed by the barrage of sights, sounds, and smells there. From rotting corpses to the sickly sweet smell of jasmine flowers, this is not a trip for the faint of heart.
#4 Mount Koya, Japan. Mount Koya boasts eight peaks and is known as one of the most spiritual places in Japan. Pilgrims travel from far and wide to pay homage to the serenity of the mountain. You will come across everything from purification ceremonies to moss-covered tombstones, but no matter what you see, you can be sure that every aspect of it will be steeped in spirituality.
There are hundreds of temples in the area, many of which offer lodging and vegetarian meals to travelers, so take your pick and live like a monk for as long as you can. [Read: Why it’s so great to be single in your 20s]
#5 Green Island, Taiwan. The East coast of Taiwan remains generally untouched, what more, a small volcanic island that lies just off of it? Its magnificent geographical landscape, natural beauty, and rich cultural background as the base of the aboriginal Amis folk make it a wonderful place to explore on your own. Scuba dive, hike, swim, and enjoy great seafood when you’re on Green Island.
This rock is also home to one of only three saltwater hot springs in the world. Head over at night for a soak, and be sure to look up at the stars. No matter what problems need solving, you will find a solution right there and then. At the very least, you will be at peace.
#6 Koh Phangan, Thailand. Whoever said that a soul searching trip has to take place on a deserted island with zero signs of social life is a wet blanket. Take back your power, and check out one of Koh Phangan’s many parties that take place every night, all of which lead up to the monthly Full Moon Party that takes place on Haadrin Beach.
If you need to take a break from partying, step away from the madding crowd, and head north. Zone out at one of the many yoga retreats, meditation camps, and laid back bed and breakfasts peppered along the coast. Sometimes, when you are searching for yourself, all it takes is a deep breath and a chance encounter with a fellow wanderer for everything to fall into place. [Read: 10 easy ways to find your holiday hookup]
#7 Bali, Indonesia. Bali offers inspiring spirituality, happy people, and a unique sense of identity. Sure, there is nothing spiritual about go-go dancers and drunk tourists who call Kuta Beach their base camp, so be sure to venture past that for a truly Balinese experience.
I recommend checking yourself into a bed and breakfast in Ubud. Filled to the brim with breathtaking rice paddies, local boutiques, spas, art galleries, and delectable local restaurants, there is no place on earth quite like it. Other untouched areas include Sanur and anywhere north of Ubud.
#8 Mount Kailash, Tibet. For stillness of the mind and peace of heart, head to Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Bon hail this place as being the most sacred on earth, and many believe that Mount Kailash is the ultimate paradise and serves as the final resting place for wandering souls.
If possible, join pilgrims who make the centuries-old annual pilgrimage to walk around the scared mountain of Kailash. It is taboo to actually climb the mountain, so if you intend to set foot on its slopes, be sure not to do so during the annual pilgrimage.
#9 Sulawesi, Indonesia. I recommend heading to Bira, a coastal area located 5 hours away from the closest airport in Makassar. When I was there, I stayed at what can only be described as a basic dive camp and indulged in remarkable scuba diving for 10 days straight. Although there are zero signs of luxury living, the dive conditions are pristine, and the beach is one of the best that I have ever visited.
Because of how secluded it is, you will probably only come across a handful of likeminded travelers during your stay there, making it the perfect place to unplug and live simply. Internet connection is spotty, and so is cell phone service. I felt like I was given the rare chance to live off the grid without actually falling off it. Living this way will certainly put things into perspective. [Read: The pros and cons of being attached to our gadgets]
#10 Maasai Mara, Kenya. Although this trip won’t come cheap, it will be an experience unlike any other. The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is a huge game reserve that is connected to the Serengeti National Park in neighboring Tanzania. It is renowned for the Great Migration, an epic annual migration of over 2 million animals such as wildebeest, elands, gazelles, zebras, lions, and cheetahs to and from the Serengeti.
Starting in July of each year, the animals migrate north from the plains of Serengeti in search of lush feeding grounds further south. In October, they make the long journey back up north, traversing a migratory path that spans 6,000 kilometers. This wildlife sanctuary is a must-visit if you want to be in awe of the incredible natural occurrences that make up the circle of life.
#11 Trans-Siberian Railway. Writers, poets, and curious travelers from all over the world have claimed the Trans-Siberian railway to be one of the most fascinating journeys that one can take. It is the longest railway line in the world, and third longest continuous journey that one could make by rail. The complex network links hundreds of remote cities and connects Moscow with the mostly unexplored Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan.
Stretching over 9,259 kilometers long, the railway crosses seven time zones, and depending on which of the three routes you opt for, takes up to 9 days to complete. Keep in mind that this isn’t a hop-on, hop-off affair, so unless you want to spend more than a week without getting off the train, be sure to break up your journey and purchase separate tickets for different legs.
#12 Dades Valley, Morocco. You need to venture much further than Marrakech and Casablanca to get a true taste of Moroccan life and culture by trekking with a nomadic Berber family. Not only will you be welcomed as a family member, you will also be accompanied by hundreds of sheep, goats, camels, mules, and dogs on your journey.
Known as the annual Berber migration, this life-changing 6-day trek through Dades Valley will bring you over the snow line to the pastures of High Atlas. You are expected to camp and dine under the stars and pull your weight every step of the way. There is no doubt that you will be reminded of how valuable time is, and you can take solace in reflecting on the wonders of living a life free from convention.
[Read: 8 tips to have a great time when you travel as a couple]
From the vast plains of the Serengeti to the lush pastures of the High Atlas, earth is a big, beautiful place just waiting to be seen by your eyes. So wait no longer, and head for a much-needed soul searching adventure before time and self-doubt catch up with you
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