Traveling to find oneself

Hanoi, early morning.

I am in Hanoi today. The sun and vibrant colors of Bali have been replaced with fog and cloudiness. I’m spending a few days in Vietnam to see my friend Anu, who I spoke about in previous entries of this blog. He’s doing a new workshop with Steve McCurry, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to meet him and explore Ha Long Bay, which I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time.

There are many more pictures of Bali to come, but I haven’t had time to retouch them yet. With my background in cinema, I find post-production as important as the act of taking a photograph, so I always refuse when someone asks me to send a picture without any post-processing done. This is great, but also very time-consuming, and time is not a resource that is abundant for me these days.

I am currently working on a new cut for a film that is about to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, while trying to explore Bali at the same time, take photographs, retouch them, write on this blog, record future episodes of my podcast, run my business, and I’m not even counting the time I’m spending meeting people and enjoying life with them. But who am I to complain? I go to work in my swimwear and with a coconut in my hands.

Speaking of people, I love the fact that I’m meeting fascinating individuals every single day. This is the true power of traveling alone. When we’re going on vacations with friends or family, we tend to choose the comfort zone and stick to our entourage. But when you’re alone, you have plenty more time to make new encounters and connect with them. You get curious about their life, and you figure out what you can learn from them. At least I do.

The truth is, we all want to feel special. We all want to think that we’ve done incredible things in our lifetime. But the more I go on this traveling journey, the more I realize that we’re all special, and thus the same.

So far in my life, I have quit the comfort of a 9 to 5 job twice in order to follow my dreams, and I recently left France to become a full-time digital nomad. But this week, I met an inspiring female entrepreneur who recently quit her very well-paid job in San Francisco to coach women online on how to land the jobs of their dreams. She sold all of her belongings, packed her bags, and moved to a new country she doesn’t know anything about, while running her new business.

I also like to think that I am a hard worker. Some of my friends or family will tell you that I am a workaholic who hustles a lot. But a couple of weeks ago, my Balinese taxi driver told me that he was working 14 hours a day, every single day of the week. Accumulating two jobs at the same time, and investing his earnings into stocks because he told me, “this is what Warren Buffet does, and I want to retire early to spend more time with my children”.

Not a lot of people know this, but I slept in the streets once in my life. I was in my early twenties, with a low-paid job in London but trying to learn a skill. I went to Switzerland to see a conference by explorer Mike Horn, who I really admire. I had money for the flight but definitely not for the hotel, so I decided to sleep in a public park. It was a cold November, and at some point, a strange man came by on his bicycle and started imitating bird singing (it was a weird night). However, a young man from Macedonia that I met in Bali told me that he slept in countless public places in his life because he had a dream: traveling the world, even if he had no money. And he lived that dream for ten long years and is now ready to settle down somewhere.

People on the road are awesome. We are all trying to find our place in this world, but especially people on the road. Why? Because being on the road allows us to meet all kinds of human beings that will inspire us in our journey to find our own path. Those three people certainly did that for me, and I thank them.