Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Adventure travel teaches an important human attribute, patience

Ted Nelson
Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner

Adventure travel teaches a very valuable human lesson. It teaches us patience. You cannot enjoy adventure travel without having patience and if you are short on this important attribute then you will improve yourself if you continue to travel.

I would define travel as seeking amazing experiences through enduring a series of minor and sometimes major inconveniences. Some people cannot handle the inconveniences and therefore decide to stay at home or seek the easier travel destinations. There is nothing wrong with this as travel is not for everyone. However, I do feel people are missing out because with time and effort incredible life changing experiences are out there.

I can think of two experiences that changed my life that both took incredible patience and endurance in order to attain. One was a canoeing trip in Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario just north of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota. The other was a bus trip from Bangkok to Siem Riep, Cambodia in order to tour temples of Angkor.

In the middle of Quetico Provincial Park is the majestic Lake Kawnippi. Since the park does not allow either motorboats or plane access the only way to access this incredible lake is through a canoe. It takes three grueling days in order to make it to the far northern tip of Lake Kawnippi. If accessing through Cache Bay there are several waterfalls and rapids that need to be portaged. Portaging is the act of taking everything out of your canoe and carrying it on a trail to either the next lake or around the obstacle. Then someone needs to carry the canoe on the trail. Each portage takes two trips to complete and to get to Kawnippi there are nine portages and one is almost a half mile long.

When we finally reached our destination it was like reaching Valhalla. We were greeted by a Bald Eagle flying over us as we reached our camp spot. Finally reaching one of the most beautiful destinations in the world we camped there for four days and fished nonstop. The fishing was amazing and we lived off of fresh walleye and smallmouth bass, which was a most welcome supplement to freeze dried food and granola bars.

On a trip through Southeast Asia a couple of years ago, I booked a bus trip from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia despite warnings regarding the hardship of the trip from other travelers. The trip from Bangkok to the border was a breeze in a huge air-conditioned bus. I thought the warnings from other travelers were way overblown until I hit the border and reached hell on earth. We all had to stand in near 100 degree heat for three hours waiting to get through customs.

After getting through customs, we were packed into a tiny bus with all of our gear uncomfortably smashed against us for one of the most maddening experiences I have ever lived through. The trip was only around 100 miles yet it took six hours as the road conditions were horrendous. In fact, calling it a road is being generous. The windows were open since there were like eighteen of us packed like cattle in the small bus with no air-conditioning. The roads were dirt and since the windows were open the dirt just kept billowing in making us all miserable. I was just about to scream in absolute frustration when suddenly we hit a paved road and gained speed and finally reached our destination.

The next three days were spent touring the amazing temples of Angkor. It was well worth the struggle to get there although I never will do that again. Seeing the sun rise over the main temple is something that will be etched in my mind until the day I die.

When adventure traveling, nothing ever goes as planned and for some people they cannot take it. For those that can, great experiences are just around the corner. Some adventurers are naturally patient, but it is a trait that can be worked on and improved upon. Adventure travel is a great way to build this important characteristic.

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