Top 5 Things I Learnt from a Peace Boat Voyage around the World
Every Peace Boat voyage is unique as the travel route varies and participants join from different countries. While the voyages are different, every Peace Boat voyage shares something special as every voyage is life-changing. Hope what I have learnt from completing the 88th Peace Boat voyage will inspire you to embark on a journey of a lifetime!
1. THE WORLD IS YOUR HOME
After circumventing the globe and crossing continents and oceans, I found out that the world is not so big after all. Countries in the same region share not only borders but aspects of history, culture and heritage. Regardless of languages and nationalities, people have similar passion for life, love and even food. I have met so many people from all parts of the world that I feel much closer to the land they are from and welcomed to visit them in the future. The Peace Boat voyage makes the world your home and you may feel the urge to uncover more homes and embark on another expedition after your Peace Boat voyage has ended!
2. TRY SOMETHING NEW, LEARN SOMETHING NEW
I learnt the importance of taking first steps to try something new. From attempting Bollywood dance in India to learning simple Spanish phrases during onboard lessons to scaling Huayna Picchu breathlessly in the high altitude of Machu Picchu, every time I tried something I have never done before, I learnt much about other people, culture and ultimately about myself. While I accumulated knowledge as I travelled, I also learnt how ignorant I was. I did not know much about the Middle Eastern countries like Dubai and Qatar and Latin American countries until I attended talks by the Peace Boat guest educators and interacted with the locals. I learnt how fulfilling it was to challenge myself and overcome the fear of venturing outside my comfort zone.
3. SLOW DOWN AND SMELL THE ROSES
As we were given a limited time to spend in the different ports, most of us wanted to conquer as many tourist spots as possible. As a ‘kiasu’ Singaporean, I rushed from one place to another to check off the next destination on my travel bucket list. I eventually realised that the greatest enjoyment was not riding on a gondola in Venice but sharing the most sensational tiramisu with my friend in a dimly lit restaurant recommended by a street artist. I learnt that what mattered most was not visiting famous sightseeing spots but immersing in the country’s culture with my travel companions. Some of the most memorable moments were sipping wine in the old cobbled streets of Montenegro and lazing on the pristine beaches of Bora Bora with soul mates I have made on Peace Boat. I grew to appreciate the joy of slowing down so I could take in the sight, sound and smell of new destinations and enjoy conversations with friends and even strangers.
4. STAY OFFLINE, STAY PRESENT
While the internet is a powerful tool to facilitate travel research, planning and navigation, I learnt the joy of staying offline and not rely on the internet. Sailing through the open sea, without stable WIFI sets the ideal stage for an immersive travel experience. There are countless opportunities to be engaged in the plethora of activities organised by Peace Boat and participants. I had many meaningful conversations with participants from all around the world and most have interesting life stories which led to Peace Boat. With phenomenal sunrises and sunsets on the horizon with occasional dolphins swimming past the ship to captivate my attention, I never felt more connected to the world and myself as I disconnected from the digital sphere.
5. BE A CONSCIOUS AND RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER
It is a great entitlement and privilege to travel around the world. As I visited World Heritage sites one after another, I was constantly reminded that I was very lucky and not everyone has the resources to travel. I learnt how to travel consciously with an open mind and heart. When travelling in the countries which may not share the social economic and political realities I was used to, I realised that I should be a generous traveller and interact with the locals to understand beyond stereotypes. As I travelled in Panama and Peru, I learnt that their streets may be rough but as long as you are careful and respectful when you encounter people or activities which you may not be comfortable with, you will discover more about the country. I also learnt not to impose my world views on others and reduce my carbon footprints to promote sustainable tourism. It was incredibly liberating to leave behind judgements and prejudices and be enlightened by fresh ideas and perspectives as Peace Boat sailed from one destination to the next.