“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”
– Benjamin Franklin
When I was in the 8th grade my history teacher told our class that though we dream of doing amazing things, and that though we all have these visions of grandeur, most of us, if not all of us, would end up completely average. I wanted no part of that.
Lucky for me, I grew up in a biracial Swedish-Chinese household in New York with parents who engrained in me a keen sense of wanderlust, independence, and curiosity. By the time I was in high school I had seen most of Western Europe. At 16 I had seen enough to know that I wanted to see more of the world, and that I had had enough of life in America. At 23, I went for it, packed my bags and moved to Hong Kong.
Nearly four years later, I’ve run over 155 miles through the Gobi Desert, motorcycled my way through Vietnam, played rugby with the locals in Laos, surfed in Indonesia, climbed the Stone Forest in Western China, hiked peaks in South Korea with kindly old women, been chased by monkeys in Myanmar, and completed triathlons in Thailand.
A little over two years into my time in Asia, I met Rich while on a ski trip in Japan, and the dreams started getting bolder. So, greedy as I am, I’m leaving the job that afforded me all my Asian travels and am now plotting the next crazy adventure, because what’s the fun of leading an average life?
As a child, I often became anxious whenever I was in left alone in unfamiliar surroundings. That explains why my mother was so stunned when at age 15, I told her I wanted to go and live in Japan for 6 months as part of a student exchange program. She let me go nonetheless, and thus began my fascination with traveling to new lands, discovering new cultures and meeting new people.
I have since spent a total of 6 years in Japan, and have also traveled to several other parts of the world. I’ve backpacked through the US, gone clubbing with friends in Sweden, learned to surf in Portugal, played Australian rules football in Hong Kong and Thailand, snorkeled in crystal-clear waters in Malaysia, surfed in Indonesia and survived a scary-as-hell left-hand turn at a major intersection while scootering in Vietnam.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that I hate sightseeing. Walking around and taking photos of stuff doesn’t cut it for me. That’s not to say I’m not impressed by the sights – it’s just that I want to do be doing something, or getting involved. Tokyo, for example, is an amazing city, but nothing will ever compare to visiting all the major districts by running though them as a competitor in the Tokyo Marathon.
I’ve also learned that there is no end to the amount of amazing things to see and do in this world. Having been inspired by Lis to take on bigger and better adventures, like my first triathlon in Phuket, my first ultra-marathon in Madagascar, and a complete circumnavigation of the world as part of the Clipper race, life just keeps getting more and more exciting – just the way I like it.