7 SAGES HOSTEL, XI’AN—I’m writing to you from our hostel.
Kate and the kids are on the bed doing their schoolwork. I’m sitting at the little desk, writing to you in pencil. We are having a rest day.
Here we are in the hostel courtyard…
With Kate and the kids at our rest stop in Xi’an
Seventeen months ago, we left Florida. We’ve been winging our way around the planet, dragging our three kids and a little suitcase behind us.
We’re currently in China. And we’ve stayed in a megacity called Xi’an. Here’s a picture of Xi’an’s skyline I took the other day…
The skyline in Xi’an, in northern China. It’s one of the country’s oldest cities.
Family bonding is the greatest benefit of this trip, but we’re still having a great time exploring everything else.
We’ve seen the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, and not long ago, we saw the Terracotta Army.
We’ve ridden in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia in Turkey, surfed sand dunes in the Sahara, and swam in the Colorado River. We’ve crossed four continents now, and we’ve made an effort to see all the big tourist attractions we’ve come across.
But we’ve also done other non-touristy things that have been just as memorable—like volunteering at a school in Rwanda and meeting acid attack victims in India.
Travel days are fun, too. Taking long-haul bus and train trips, wrestling with the subways and taxis in a new city, and dragging our little suitcase through the streets as we hunt for our new accommodation.
But the best part is arriving at our new lodgings.
The kids love this part. They run through the door and explore the new space—opening doors, turning on lights, and choosing beds. They never lose their sense of wonder for arriving at a new place.
Then, when we need a break from all the adventures, we take a rest day. We sit around in our hostel or apartment watching films, playing cards, or catching up on our sleep. When we’re hungry, we get food, and that’s the only thing we do all day.
We call these days taking a vacation from our vacation.
Tourist days, travel days, rest days… On this trip, there are never any bad days… They are all fun.
I used to wake up in the morning with a terrible sense of dread and foreboding. I think it’s what they call “anxiety.”
But these days, I wake up in a good mood, every morning. And I think it’s because this sabbatical has stripped away all the stress and anxiety that accumulated in my everyday life over the last 20 years.
Spending a year having fun gave me a complete stress reset. A regular vacation wouldn’t have cut it. Vacations aren’t long enough. I think it needed to be at least several months long.
And now, where I had stress and anxiety, in their place, I feel motivation and enthusiasm. I’m straining at the leash like a puppy to get back to work. And I’m feeling more creative than ever.
I wish I’d done this years ago.
In Xi’an, we went to the night market. We came across this street sculptor. He is missing both his arms, but he’s still able to make clay models that he sells to children from his box.
He gave the kids a powerful lesson in overcoming handicaps…
Editor, Postcards From the Fringe
Chaka’s Note: Tom and his family are on a mission to travel the globe by public transport. They’ve crossed North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East—and they’ve almost crossed Asia. With only Japan and the Pacific Ocean to go, they’ll have completed their mission.
What will they do once their journey is over? Not even Tom knows. But he believes when it ends, he’ll begin a new chapter in his life.
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