The author lives in a quiet rural community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler, and photographer.
Right now, I’m supposed to be at a wedding in France! A dear friend is getting married in a 17th-century château in the Normandy countryside. The wedding ceremony is to be held inside the castle’s chapel. The reception is under a big tent set up in the apple orchard behind the castle, surrounded by fields of red poppies. There will be dancing and fireworks in the evening. Mon Dieu, quel bonheur!
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I cannot go to France. A non-essential travel ban – imposed by the European Union (EU) – is in full effect. Visitors from the U.S. and other high-risk countries are not allowed to enter Europe. There’s nothing I can do.
But honestly, I’m not sure if I would go even if France let me in. As we know, travel during these challenging times is not simple. We can’t just choose a spot on the map, book a flight, and go! Now we have to deal with shut borders and complicated travel restrictions, like 72-hour mandatory testing before departure and 14-day self-quarantine once we arrived at a destination. And then there’s the risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel at this moment will significantly increase my chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.
After months of shelter-in-place, I’m anxious to venture out to see the world again. But for now, I must wait. And be patient.
Why I Love Travel
For me, travel is pure excitement! I’m thrilled to visit places far away from home, explore unfamiliar landscapes, discover new experiences, cultures, and people. It broadens my perspectives and shapes my beliefs. It teaches me tolerance, humility, and appreciation. The more I traveled, the more I realized that we humans are basically the same – in our needs, desires, and dreams – no matter where we live.
Travel is also about self-discovery. It often takes me out of my comfort zone. It challenges me to be honest – facing my fears and accepting my shortcomings. It inspires me to make peace with myself and others.
Moments Become Lifetime Memories
I’ve been keeping my love for travel alive during this pandemic by looking at old vacation photos. They bring back memories of a better time when we traveled freely and safely. As I look at these photos, I relive the moments captured by the camera. I recall the specific location, time, and reason why I took the picture. Often, in our busy lives, we rarely have time to reflect on these special moments from the past. Plagues and diseases are here temporarily, and they too shall pass. But these moments will last forever!
I remember the dinner at a crowded restaurant in Carcassonne in southern France. My partner and I shared a table with a young French family on holiday – father, mother, son, and daughter. And their dog! Despite language barriers, we bonded over baked camembert. We ate, drank, and laughed. The dog slept soundly under the table between our feet.
I cannot forget the first time we came to Ubud, Bali. These two Balinese women carried our big heavy suitcases – on their heads! – all the way up the hill to our vacation rental. We repeatedly pleaded with the ladies to let us take our own luggage, but they just smiled. Halfway up the steep hill, we were out of breath! But the women kept on walking, in perfect balance and serenity, as if they were just carrying baskets of flowers on their heads.
I have a terrible fear of heights. And sometimes, I forgot that I have this problem until it is too late. In Barcelona, Spain, I eagerly and foolishly went up the elevator to explore the famous Sagrada Familia basilica's tall steeples. Once at the top, I froze! My legs turned to jelly. I was petrified and could not move. Somehow, I managed to snap a few photos and captured the city's incredible birds-eye view from 200 feet in the air! I even feel dizzy now looking at these photos!
Trips To Dream About
I've never been to Egypt or Malta or Australia. I've traveled extensively around the U.S., but I’ve never visited Alaska or Maine. These extraordinary places are on my dream travel list.
I studied French history and architecture in my college years. I visited France many times during my 20s and 30s, often with friends, but sometimes as a solo traveler. I kept returning to France whenever I had a chance. A few years before the pandemic, my partner and I spent an unforgettable summer living in a small village in Provence. We rented a charming stone farmhouse with a friendly ghost (supposedly a Catholic bishop who lived here centuries ago). We can’t wait to get back to Provence, to stay in the same old haunted farmhouse and reconnect with friends in the village.
Share Travel Stories
In the Comments section below, please share your most memorable travel experience! I don’t know what travel will look like next month or next year. But I do believe that one day we will be able to explore the world again. Yes, we will travel again. Until then, let’s celebrate life moments together.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Viet Doan
Viet Doan (author) from Big Island, Hawaii on November 09, 2020:
Thanks Kathi for your kind comments. I hope you will fulfill your travel wish someday soon. Travel brings humanity together and promotes understanding and acceptance. Peace instead of hate and violence. Aloha!
Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on November 06, 2020:
Absolutely gorgeous travel photos, hopefully you'll be able to travel again soon and capture more beautiful scenes around the world. Someday, I hope to do some traveling, it's on my bucket list.