Just the other day, in the middle of a mountainous region of central Laos, I checked off something huge from my bucket list: riding in a hot air balloon. Doing something I have wanted to do for so long reminded me how important it is to stay present in those moments and to really experience what you’re experiencing.
Life is more than taking a perfect Instagram photo. Realistically, I knew that it would be pretty hard to take a good picture; it’s just not really possible when you’re in a basket with 5 other people. I wanted to enjoy the experience and enjoy the views. I wouldn’t let one person, or a group of other people, mess up my happiness or mindset during something that I’ve been waiting to do for years.
However, that’s not always as easy as you would hope when you’re stuck in a basket mid-air with a young woman nagging about something the entire time.
The balloon ride was about 50 minutes, and she spent the entire 50 minutes taking photos of herself and asking people to move out of her shots. She took a photo of me, with my proper digital camera, and it came out alright; to her, it was the best photo ever taken. Patting herself on the back would be an understatement. I was happy to return the favor. I really don’t mind taking photos of other people. But if you’re handing me a phone with a cracked screen and low brightness and insisting someone who’s 5’3 take pictures from high up, at an angle, and you don’t like the way they turn out… then I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Get an actual camera? Buy a new phone? Ask someone taller to take the pictures for you? Or maybe just shut the fuck up and enjoy yourself for 5 minutes of the trip and stop interfering with other people’s experiences?
This girl had the audacity to say, “I need a good picture because I’m not going to experience this again” as though her experience was more important than the rest of ours. Did she think I was planning on coming back to Laos any time soon and planned on riding in the same hot air balloon? Or was she really just that dense?
As I travel, I realize how frequently I run into people like this; in many ways, it’s just part of being a tourist in a touristic place. Not everyone is on the same wavelength. You’re going to come across a lot of people who have no self-awareness of personal space or of their own attitude. It’s best to ignore these people and not let them interfere with your own journey. Either way, I enjoyed myself. I let the fact that I was floating in a balloon between mountains, over small villages, over the trees, really sink in. I imagined what it must look like to onlookers. I chatted with the guy next to me about the landscapes and animals, and after a point, I began to ignore the girl who insulted my way of taking photos, and she stayed in the corner by herself with probably no memories of the balloon ride beyond being annoyed that she never got that perfect shot. If you aren’t living in the moment, are you really even living at all?
Moral of the story: don’t be that person. Learn how to enjoy yourself. Don’t be an asshole. Reflect on your own actions and how they’re influencing the people around you when you travel. Cause someone might write a blog post about you.
Until next time,