Thursday, February 22, 2018

Disconnectivity = Anxiety Free

On a daily basis, I feel overly connected to the internet and often feel FOMO if I don't read up on the latest news. If I don't pay attention to the stock market, I feel like my investments lack care. If I don't check my email, it seems like I'm missing something important. If I don't check my notifications, anxiety hits me. Why am I so super connected? This can't be healthy.

One of my favorite parts about traveling around the world was the off chance that we would be disconnected from the internet for more than a few days. This happened a couple of times along the way.

It really allowed us to not worry about the happenings of the online lives of our family and friends. Being distanced from the internet of things we were able to focus on the locales we visited. We reflected. We contemplated. We observed our surroundings. We talked amongst ourselves and with the friendly faces who crossed our paths. We shared meals with other foreigners. We learned customs and offered up local beers as a toast. It was fun and anxiety free.

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The most disconnected of all the remote locations we visited was village of Pan Pet. You have to drive off-road just to get here. It's where the Kayan long neck women are from. You may have seen them in Thailand, but they originate in Myanmar. The women ventured to Thailand for work purposes, leaving their families behind, and essentially displaying their long necks as a site to see just to make money. Pretty sad, but they do it to survive; these women brave the unknown to send money back to their families in the poor villages. And I mean poor. As an example, one of the shanty homes we visited received artificial light by electricity for the first time ever. Talk about disconnected.

The village of Mrauk-U in the Rakhine State of Myanmar (Burma) was just as disconnected. Just to get here, we had to fly a couple hours Northwest of Yangon (the capital) to the town of Sittwe on the West Coast of Myanmar, then take a 4 hours slow steamboat upriver to arrive at the tiny village along the riverbanks.

Known as a major archeological site, the Buddhist temples and pagodas and town itself have been nominated for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dirt roads are common here. Bicycles are the major mode of transportation for most people.

And another 2 hour speed-canoe ride (canoe with a weed wacker for a motor) further North on the river takes you to the Chin State where one of the last tribes of tattoo-faced women reside. These women were so friendly, normal, and lived their lives free of worry. Everyone lived off of the land and trade along the river. Life is simple here.

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Sometimes I wonder how simple life should be or could be. I know it's not possible given our circumstances. So I just hope and look forward to the times we can be disconnected from the reality of our daily lives. I think that's why we travel. To get away. To allow our minds and bodies to roam free from limitations, problems, negative thoughts, and struggle. But sadly, travel is only possible after we've been challenged physically and mentally for long periods of time. And travel is only a break from the nearly constant stresses that we subject ourselves to to fit in to society's molds. I digress. Maybe it's time to disconnect again soon.

How often do you disconnect?

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