Michaela and Stephan

Stephan and Michaela

In November 2008, we met German tourists Michaela and Stephan on vacation in Southern India. A few weeks ago in Bangkok, we reunited with Michaela and Stephan, now travelers and novice nomads traveling around Asia on a shoestring. Their short trip to India sparked their interest in doing the travel circuit full-time. So, taking a year off to explore the world, they said good-bye to Deutschland.

Just 2 weeks into their travels, we got together over green Thai curry and Shanga beer in Bangkok’s tourist hub Banglamphu. Still shell-shocked from the huge transition into a nomadic lifestyle, they were trying to cope with all the changes: plenty of free time, living out of a backpack and having had to say good-bye to the people they were close to. “It’s difficult to leave your family behind,” Stephan told me, “but, somehow, our departure drew our attention to how important our family and friends are to us.”

After visiting Hindu India last year, Michaela and Stephan came to Southeast Asia to experience the Buddhist culture, the unique landscape, and the gentle people in this region. Starting in Thailand, they’ll work their way to Laos, possibly Vietnam and Cambodia and then continue their trip to Northern India, one of our favorite Buddhist territories. Once they get to Leh in Ladakh, their focus will shift from traveling to volunteering. Yes, these two are thinking ahead in times of economic crisis. Both of them quit their jobs as social workers / care givers, but they will use their time volunteering to bolster their resumes. They’ll be visiting different areas in Ladakh helping people with physical and mental handicaps. Luckily, it shouldn’t all be work. It sounds like a wonderful way of getting to know locals on a very different level.

Michaela and Stephan in Ellora, India

Michaela and Stephan at Ellora Caves in India, 2008

After listening to them, I wonder if they are Buddhists in the making. During our conversations, Michaela and Stephan mentioned how good it felt to leave most of their worldly possessions behind and that this should be a lesson for their future life. I think there is a little Buddha in all of us nomads.

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