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The Flying Chef | The essence of travel | The Flying Chef

Updated: Dec 29, 2018

Like oxygen, water and food, to many people, travel is a necessity. Ever since my first international flight on board a massive Boeing 747 at the tender age of 7, travel became an instant burning desire.

In those days you were allowed up to visit the pilots in the cockpit which required an escort from the flight attendant from economy class, through the separation curtains into business class, then up a spiraling flight of stairs into the first class section where elderly looking men smoking cigars peered over their news papers and books to see who was disturbing their peaceful environment, but quickly lost interest at the site of an overly excited boy ready to question the pilots over what every button and flashing light in the cockpit were for.

My parents have always been avid travelers, and still are to this day. I was fortunate enough to be taken overseas several times growing up as a child, and nothing in the world seemed more exciting to me than the buzz of an airport and the smell off aviation jet fuel (the only thing that would offset that feeling a little was the fact that we had to put our much loved family pet dog in a boarding kennel for the duration of our holiday, despite my pointless begging and pleading to bring her along, she could even sit on my lap on the plane).

I was selected as an ambassador to represent my family, community and country as a Rotary Exchange student and live abroad for 12 months at the humble age of 16. This was an amazing experience where I was lucky enough to  meet so many other awesome like-minded people from around the globe, experience different cultures and create friendships that would last a lifetime.

It was during this time abroad that I made a simple decision, travel would become the purpose and passion of my life, and everything else were merely details.

The decision to become a chef was based solely on the fact that people, the world over, needed to eat. Food, along with travel, also became a strong passion and are very conducive to each other, cooking to travel and traveling to cook. As long as there was enough money for the next flight, the next train ticket, the next chicken bus, the next ferry, the next Tuk Tuk, nothing else seem to matter.

Travelling is a skill, and like all skills, the more often it's practiced, the easier it becomes, the better you get. Learning to blend in with the locals and distance yourself from the boisterous holiday makers. Wondering through back streets and having 'mamma' cook you a mystery lunch from a hand forged grill while her young kids play peek-a-boo with you. Learning that there's always a cheaper way to do things, which means money saved, which means more time abroad, and learning the difference between necessity and luxury. The best way to do this is to live out of a backpack. Your backpack can only hold a certain volume until it becomes full. Once full, if you decide to purchase a new item of clothing, a trinket or a souvenir, you must in turn take something of equal or greater volume out of your backpack. It won't take you long to learn what items are necessary and which a mere luxury.

The Essence of travel is the feeling of familiarity in a foreign place. It's the feeling of homesickness when you're at home. It's forming genuine friendships with people you just met. It's the ability to adapt and adjust to any circumstance with an open mind.

Everyone will have their own definition of "The Essence of Travel", but for me it's picking a country at random, flying in solo with no accommodation plans, no local currency in my pocket, and unable to comprehend the local language. It's getting drunk and arrested on a beach in in the Yucatan with a guy from Switzerland, ending up in a 5 star resort 3 hours later, then deciding to travel through Cuba together for 3 weeks without even knowing each other's name. It's carving fresh tracks down the Blackcomb glacier on a Tuesday morning after a powder dump with your Canadian mates. It's sharing a Coco Loco with your dive buddies in a tree-house bar in the Bay Islands after a gorgeous day of scuba diving in the Caribbean. It's racing two other Tuk Tuk loads of friends to a ping pong show in Bangkok, or "In The Tubing" down the Nam Song river in Laos with enough alcohol and amphetamines in your blood to sedate a small city. It's couch surfing in Paris, which just happens to be your very first night in Europe. It's cooking for the super rich on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, or playing soccer with the locals on the beach of Copacabana. It's a grueling 4 day hike up Machu Picchu in Peru, or to the base camp of Mt. Everest, or kite surfing in the Philippines after a super typhoon just decimated the island you were on and many surrounding. It's eating the freshest sushi while sipping warm sake in Japan. It's flying into Mexico during the hype of Swine Flu, spending 2 days camped out on the side of the road waiting for the border of Honduras to open, or being in Fiji during a presidential coo, or flying into Hong Kong during the Bird Flu, it's landing in Las Vegas the day America started bombing Iraq.

When travel is your passion, there are no excuses, no exceptions, no reason why not, no one telling you can't, you just do.

The world is a giant playground, who wants to play?

Continued reading The day I died

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