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A Red Mouse goes to Asia…and Channels his Inner Bourdain

The Raton Colorao in full travel mode

Yes, I am off to Asia for close to three weeks! I will be spending most of the time in Taiwan and a few days after the new year in Singapore. I have always wanted to go to Asia, and have been planning a trip to Hong Kong next year for my 40th, but someone close to me recently said, “Why wait? You never know when you will get another chance.” So, time to put a few new stamps in my shamefully empty passport!!

Speaking of travel – I have been thinking about Anthony Bourdain a lot lately. Ever since I read Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour years ago, I was hooked. His shows from the Food Network and The Travel Channel are legendary (His Cook’s Tour shows from the Food Network have the pre-fame Bourdain edge to them that is missing a little bit from the newer shows). Ever since he got married, stopped smoking, had a kid, and made up with Rachael Ray – he has become a kinder, gentler soul (Except for ripping on Alice Waters of course). But one of the elements I found fascinating in watching his programming on TV was how much Asia affected and inspired him. He seemed to really change after visiting Asia.

But it makes me wonder – am I putting too much pressure on myself to have a good time? In my quest to have the “Bourdain-like” experience, will I try too hard or miss something along the way? I hope not, as I consider myself to be an experienced traveler – but Asia is another animal. Not since I lived and worked in Prague 9 years ago have I been to a country where I could not at least understand the language.

Instead of worrying about that, I think I will just channel some of Bourdain’s thoughts from the opening of his old “Cook’s Tour” show – it’s especially fitting since I live in NYC…

So I’m leaving New York City and hoping to have a few epiphanies around the world,
And I’m willing to go to some lengths to do that…
I am looking for extremes of emotion and experience -
I’ll try anything, I’ll risk everything, I have nothing to lose

Photo from Travel Channel

One of Bourdain’s mantras that has always stuck with me is that “Travel Changes People.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. I was going in a completely different direction in life until I started traveling. I grew up in Delaware – enough said? I took my first flight at 21 and did not get a passport until I was 26. Once I started traveling overseas I felt my mind open up in ways I never thought possible. I started eating foods that I only wish my late Grandmother Beverly could see me eat now – the, let’s call them “exotic foods” (Bev, I am sorry I never tried these things more while you were alive – I can only hope you are proud of me now). And wine – well, let’s just say that if it were not for travel to Europe, I would not be the wine person I am today.

I think the passage that gets to my heart the most is at the end of the No Reservations Malaysia episode, where at the end, while contemplating his journey Bourdain says:

Travel isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable
Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart
But that’s ok – the journey changes you
IT SHOULD CHANGE YOU
It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness,
in your heart, and on your body
You take something with you…
And hopefully you leave something good behind

To me, this passage the essence of travel, this is why I travel, and this is why I consider myself to be a traveler – not a tourist. I want to experience it all – the good, the bad, the uncomfortable situations – because it’s our experiences be it travel, work, relationships, and leisure that make us who we are.

After all, we only get one chance at life – and regrets are for losers…

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Lori December 28, 2009, 9:38 pm

    I hope everything is going great so far in Asia, I’m glad you decided to get out there now instead of waiting and I’ll surely be following your updates!

  • Tommy Ronquillo December 29, 2009, 12:31 am

    Dan,

    Nice post brother, can’t wait to hear about all the up coming culinary adventures! I watched a PBS documentary tonight called “Sick Around the World”, Taiwan was featured as one of the best countries in the world that provided universal health care to their citizens, so when I say “break a leg” do it there cause they’ll take good care of you! Seriously though enjoy your trip, take lots of photos, and eat everything!

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