Travel for the Soul: Where I Want to Go and What I Might Learn (Part 2)

I love traveling and I have been fortunate enough to do some of it.  I’m also a complete geography/history nerd who lives reading about random happenings in other countries.  Hence, I occasionally post about a place in the world where I want to spend a decent amount of time.  This is the second one.

Why do did I not say live or vacation? Well, because I don’t really want to do either of those things.  I’m enjoying my life and don’t really feel the urge to leave everything I’ve ever known and start over in another county.  On the other hand, it seems very difficult to get a feel for a place when you just pass through for a few days.  This is especially true when it’s a foreign country where talking about.  Therefore, the cities featured here will be locales where I would like to spend say summer or a few months, learn to appreciate the culture by finding all the hidden gem restaurants and local attractions, and generally get to know the rhythms of life in a different corner of the world.

Furthermore, I believe learning about new cultures has potentially powerful spiritual payoff.  All people and cultures are both good and evil.  There are some aspects of all cultures which are wrong and need to change.  But all people are also “God-breathed” and thus all cultures reflect that origin with some goodness from which others can learn.  So after discussing what attracts me to each place, I want to point out an aspect of that place I perceive is a piece of the image of God there others perhaps are missing and thus can learn from.  The only caveat is I am only discussing places I have never been, thus I may not know what I’m talking about.  That being said, enjoy!

My pick this time is. . .

PERTH, AUSTRALIA

The Perth skyline viewed from the Swan River

Why:

Located on the west coast in an often forgotten corner of Australia, Perth boasts a sizable population of 1.5 million and more importantly mile after mile of white sand beaches combined with a hot, dry climate.  It is a humming, affluent city.  Western Australia supplies China with much the country’s coal and metal ores, thus money to pours into Perth where such companies headquarter.

Simply put, Perth has everything.  It is clean, modern, very livable and family oriented.  The great weather cultivates a friendly, easy-going atmosphere and outdoor activities of all kinds.  Being closer to Jakarta than Sydney, it is multicultural with large numbers of Hindus, Jews, and many others.  The city’s isolation also has another unexpected consequence.  A thriving local music, art, and cafe culture results directly from the city being ignored on the Australian tours of many artists and other cultural events.

Multiculturalism of course includes the original habitants of Australia, the Aborigines.  There are a variety of exhibitions in the city itself and the Yancep National Park an hour drive north of Perth features Aboriginal villages where tourists can see and partake in various aspects of this ancient lifestyle.

Australians in general love sports and Perth is a great place to see everything up close.  Aussie rules football is especially intriguing.  I mean what’s the deal with that circular field?

For the more adventurous, the geography of Perth’s coast makes it one of the best places on earth for wind and kite surfing.  When I lived in the Bay Area, the only place you could do this was in the water next to a prison.  No thanks.  But here I might reconsider.

A few hours to the south lies the Walpole Wilderness and its unique but little known (in the US at least) Valley of the Giants.  Here massive, red tingle trees tower 120 feet above the forest floor.  One can of course only fully appreciate such height by traversing the tree top pathway, a lightweight bridge gently spiraling up from the ground to the treetops.     Many of these tranquil giants boast trunks around 45 feet thick and some are four centuries old.  One is believed to be the oldest eucalypt in the world.  In addition to its arboreal majesty, the Walpole Wilderness contains a vast array of hiking and ATV trails, beaches, accessible waterfalls, inlets and rivers for boating, clifftop lookouts, and even a shipwreck.

Finally, Perth is the only city in Australia where you can watch the sunset over the ocean.

Oh and did I mention the miles upon miles of hot, white sand beaches?

Drawbacks:

Isolation.  Perth is sometimes called the most isolated city on earth.  It is over 1300 miles to the nearest large, Australian city.  Furthermore, Perth’s population is more than the whole western third of the country outside of the city itself combined.  Basically, you can’t go anywhere without getting on a plane for a long time.

Worthy Cultural Trait:

“Mateship.”  Australians value sacrificial friendship, loyalty, and camaraderie almost to a fault.  Everyone has heard the archetypical expression, “G’day, mate.”  What most don’t realize is the concept of mateship is deeply rooted in an egalitarian view of others necessary for survival in the early days of the colony (at least among fellow convicts).  When each person is necessary for survival, it is difficult to look down on others.  This attitude persists today in the stringent flatness of society, with those displaying narcissistic behavior mocked derisively as “tall poppies.”

Peace,

Ben

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3 thoughts on “Travel for the Soul: Where I Want to Go and What I Might Learn (Part 2)

  1. Nice post Ben! As one who has spent a little time overseas, I completely agree with your philosophy as described in your introduction to the post! The magic number is 3 months. Anything less than that does not give you enough time to really adapt to the culture. Anything more than that is a bonus.

      1. 3 months in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 1 month in Laos. Yeah, it was an awesome time! We launched an early morning street minisrty that is still going on today. It’s main mission is to be a light in the darkness to all of the many “women of the night” and tuk tuk (cab) drivers. The early mornings are a prime time to minister to them, because many of them are unhappy with their situations and their nightly practices are fresh on their mind. There was one girl imperticular that we were able to give hope to… she did not accept Jesus as her savior while we were there, but we certainly planted some seeds and it was evident that they fell on fertile ground. Yeah, Ashley and I would love to go back!

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