On a very random evening in mid-2011, I logged onto Facebook to respond to some messages. The first thing that caught my eye was an amazing picture of an Australian friend basking in Vietnam’s sun with the background of Halong Bay.
I had no idea that Vietnam was that beautiful...
As soon as my friend gave me information about her holiday, I immediately booked over a month long trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam via my favourite tour company, Contiki. I figured, why go all the way over there to see one country when it’s so affordable to see a combination of four?
Prior to seeing this picture, I was planning a 2012 spring holiday, and most of the options I could think of were in Europe. Grateful is not a strong enough word to explain what I felt about seeing that one picture. With about 12 countries under my belt, mostly in Europe, I was becoming disillusioned about the concept of travelling and experiencing more beyond my comfort zone.
None of the countries I had visited pushed me out of the little box I seemed so comfortable lounging in, and that was entirely my fault. That one picture showed me there was more to what I defined as travelling.
A few months down the line from liking the picture, I found myself roaming the streets of down town Bangkok trying to find a hotel – because for once, I wanted to go with the flow during my travels. Well, at least for a week before I met up with my Contiki family. English was nowhere near the second language and I was trying not to get swindled into paying too much for a hotel room. I ended up paying $10 more than I should have, but I was ecstatic. I was in Thailand!
I found myself partying on an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, watching the sun rise over Angor Wat, sailing on the Mekong Delta to different towns, draping a python on my shoulders while sipping on a snake whiskey concoction, cooking and drinking with the locals, and diving into the beautiful waters in the Gulf of Thailand. I haggled my way through many night markets for cheap trinkets, crawled through tunnels in Vietnam, fed monkeys at dawn, and made friends to last a lifetime.
That one picture opened my mind to seek travel destinations in countries that were far outside of my comfort zone. Without that one picture spurring me on, spending a few weeks exploring the beauty and culture of China would never have crossed my mind, or spending over a month travelling from Australia’s Gold Coast to the Outback and Northern territory would have remained in the crevice of my deepest travel fantasies.
Oddly enough, my adventures in Asia have now led me to look at Africa, my home continent, in a very different light. With many news outlets shaping the way the world views Africa, the thought of experiencing travel through Africa scared me more than jumping on a flight almost 48 hours away from my home in Lagos.
We live in an age where anybody can access personal travel stories, and more accurate images of the adventures one can experience in off-the-beaten-track places has changed the way people now travel.
In December, I created a short video on my YouTube channel, ZeeGoes, showcasing my road trip to Anambra. Many countries that I would have never thought of travelling to have been added to my bucket list after seeing Instagram images that made me pause and stare in wonder. Most of these are places not showcased by the popular media outlets but by locals and travellers raising the veil on the beauties of their home.
In 2008 the thought of long road trips or flights within Nigeria or undeveloped parts of Africa frightened me. Now, the thought of going to Africa to experience travel fills me with excitement.
If you’ve recently seen content that has inspired you to travel to a new destination, or see travel in a different light – share your experiences with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…