Where Travel is Pulling You?

Do you ever feel a dying urge to travel to a destination, or do you have an unexplained fascination with a certain place or period in time?

I often find these urges are taking me to a certain place to learn something about either myself or life. These travel directional pulls need to be listened to with close attention.

Vietnam Travel pull
Trust in the pull

Growing up, I had a fascination with the Vietnam War. I watched TV shows and movies, listened to music, and read all the books I could get my hands on from that era.

I often thought that perhaps in my previous life I was a soldier in the war or a peace protester on the streets. My friends used to call me Little Hippy.

Whether or not this is true about my past life, I don’t know, but I do know there was an urge that was pulling me to Vietnam. I followed it and first visited Vietnam in ’99 with my best friend.

It was my trip of a lifetime. I did all the war tours, crawled through tunnels, hung out on China Beach, and traipsed around in the steamy jungled landscape I had seen in all the movies and books. I loved being a part of this exotic world that had enchanted me for years and I could see why so many soldiers became trapped in its allure.

Within this captivating world, however, lay a world of destruction, and the horror of a land and people ravaged by war was evident everywhere. In many parts where the war was heaviest, craters still remain deeply embedded over the countryside, and dirt exists permanently where lush grass used to grow.

Bombs and unexploded ordnance threaten to continue killing daily, and children and grown adults walk the streets visibly showing the effects of war through their Agent Orange disfigurements. Life intended to teach me that war is never a good thing.

Life intended to teach me that war is never a good thing.

Upon returning home, the reading of the books continued but with somewhat diminished fervor. Then the attack on the World Trade center happened and planted some seeds of doubt within me. I was not completely satisfied, and the pull returned, dragging me and Craig with it in 2002.

One morning, Craig and I sat on the beach chatting as a woman sat over the cooking stove she carried across her shoulders, like a set of balancing scales all day along the beach.

She was barbecuing some fresh prawns and we communicated using the universal language of smiles and laughter.

A young boy walked up with a pineapple for sale. Before we had a chance to ask him how much, we heard an unmistakeably loud explosion coming from the jungle behind us.

Fear and sickness struck a blow to my stomach and I swallowed hard. The young man shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly and said

‘Bomb. Cow dead,” and in the next breath continued “So do you want to buy a pineapple?”

I will never support war as a result of my time in Vietnam, instead , choose to work for peace by first allowing it to exist in my own heart. Since that last visit my fascination with Vietnam, or any war for that matter, vanished. I’ve never picked up a book or watched a movie about it again.

It was not just truths about war and peace that I came to learn in Vietnam.

It was while lying on a beach in Nha Trang, that I met a man who was to forever change my thoughts about my life.

I was absorbed in a book I had purchased the day before from a book seller on the beach, and yes, again it was about the Vietnam War. The clanging of change close to me caused me to lift up the side of my book and peer around it. There on the sand, sat the trunk of a man’s body. Holding it up on the sand, at the hip, were two little deformed feet, in the place where legs should have been.

My eyes moved up toward his face, which was covered by the shadow of his large baseball cap. On either side of his shoulders, where arms should have been, sat two deformed hands, one of them holding the small calico bag containing the coins he was begging for.

My mind’s shutters clicked at that moment, etching finely the snapshot of this man forever into my memory.

From that day on, his image would appear, followed by a phrase that I would use and remember during all times of my life, happy or sad, and no matter how small or big my problems may be,

“I  have two arms and two legs, I’m doing well.”

This small little man had taught me the power of gratitude:

there is always someone who is worse off than you, so you have nothing to complain about and everything to be thankful for.

Life is always going to pull you in the direction you need to go to learn the things you need to fulfill your purpose. Trust in those, follow them, and pay attention so you can learn the lesson and move on.

The only challenge is trying to work out what it is all for and what your purpose is, but when you ask the right questions, the Universe tends to answer them for you.

Now when I feel the urge to go somewhere, the questions I ask are:

Why am I feeling this? What is it I need to learn?

And then I’ll follow with eyes and ears open.

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trust where travel is pulling you

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a place before through urges or unusual fascinations? Where did you go and what did you learn there? Or do you feel it now?

Photo credits from flickr upyernoz 

26 thoughts on “Where Travel is Pulling You?”

  1. Great write
    Having also traveled to Vietnam a couple of times, I agree with everything you have said
    I have a great respect for the resilience of the Vietnamese people, as well as a huge admiration of their work ethic.
    And it is an absolutely beautiful country to bout, from Halong Bay to Phu Quoc.
    Just shows how wrong war is.

    1. It’s in your face just how wrong war is hey? If only the leaders instigating all the wars could see this and come up with better solutions. We didn’t make it to Phu Quoc but I have heard and seen through photos that it is stunning.

  2. A great, great piece of writing. Your fascination with Vietnam perhaps isn’t unique, but the things you’ve learned from it and the story you’ve told with it certain are.

    I’ve never quite been moved to visit a place like you have, but I do have the unexplainable urge to visit Eastern Europe (especially places like Hungary and Romania). Hopefully someday I’ll get there to explore the pull this area of the world has on me.

    1. There will be some lesson there for you, no matter how small. Just start paying attention a little more to what your fascination is with those areas and you might be able to uncover something. You’ll get there!

    1. I think travel is our only hope to bring about peace and joy. That is why I am such a huge advocate for it and one of the main reasons for this blog. I just want everyone to travel so they can see a world that is full of joy, wonder, peace and love.

  3. Great post! I too feel pulled to visit Vietnam. but I can’t really explain why. Actually, I think it’s more of a pull towards S.E Asia in general. But, I’m a huge proponent in following gut instincts, so I’m sure I’ll make it there one day! Thank you for fueling my urge to work even harder towards this goal!

    1. No worries, love fueling the urge to travel. You’ll love Vietnam and S.E Asia. Have you been there yet? My favorite place to travel.

  4. This is one hell of a post, and I think you’re right. If we’re experiencing the pull, might as well embrace it, right? Wow, what an experience for you.

  5. wow, that was so well written… i wish to write like that.. and the 2 photos (Trust in the Pull & All in a day’s work) are fabulous! I have a French/France fascination and dream of speaking it fluently.

    1. Thank you! It’s funny to hear you say that as I often read others blogs and are left wishing I could write like that too. He He! Time for some French lessons for you I think!!

  6. Very nice article and I really love the opening picture! As an Asian, I always feel that pull to visit Indo-China, so far it’s been all good except that I need to re-visit some of the amazing countries again. Vietnam namely as there is so much they have to offer.


  7. Nice post Caz. The pull of a place you have never been to is an interesting one. Once you explore that pull and get there, it is amazing how impressions and ideas can change like it did for you. I don’t think I have ever been pulled to a place. I feel this need to go to Greece at some point, but for some reason (despite being in Europe multiple times) I never get there. Perhaps that is another facet of the travel pull. Do you actually go or keep your notions at bay?

  8. Love this post Caz. You created such a compelling story that is highly identifiable… at least for me.

    Places definitely have an attraction that pull each person differently and lures them to go there. For some reason, since I was young I felt an attraction with Thailand… I dreamt about visiting that place all the time. I finally got to visit it in 2008, but still, I feel the pull calling me back. And just like you, for some reason I feel a certain “fascination” with a period of time. In my case is WWII. Last spring I took the time to visit some places in Europe to try to look first hand the effects of WWII and what it left behind. I wrote briefly about some of the WWII places i visited in my blog. http://wp.me/pUmHK-tg

    I let myself be pulled all around the world… I don’t resist it, there’s no reason to.

  9. I always relate to your posts! This so gracefully explains why I never “worry” about where I want to go next — the opportunity always arises, and who am I to argue. I always have such a hard time explaining it, but I do go where my travel gut tells me. This gave me a lot to think about!

  10. I have never been disappointed by a country that I have felt drawn to, maybe it’s because we’re more open to the culture and the possibilities of travel.

    I just arrived in Colombia and I’ve been looking forward to it for so long, fingers crossed it won’t disappoint.

  11. Great post! I agree that the pull you feel is something that is seeking a completion in the place you’re drawn to. I love that there are these mysteries that we occasionally feel in certain places. We know we must go but not why. I do agree there are lessons the Universe sets us up for. These days I wonder about that. I should be asking myself exactly what you suggest– what is it that I’m to learn?

  12. Talking of Vietnam War, we would recomend to read some books such as “Quite American, Diary of Ms Dang Thuy Tram. Even though the war is behind but lots of Vietnamese are suffering from its results especially orange agent.

    I hope that we all together can do something to help those victims of Vietnam War.

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