Jet lag kicks in as assistant math teacher Jimmy Huynh returns from his Thanksgiving break trip to Taiwan. The trip introduced him to a completely new world, one that constituted a variety of night market dumplings, stinky tofu, boba, and shaved ice.
“Every night my friends and I went to a different night market,” Huynh said. “We ate so many fried foods to the point where I would get a sore throat.”
Prior to Taiwan, Huynh traveled to 14 other countries, including Czech Republic, China, Morocco, Sweden, and Thailand, as well as five U.S. states, such as Washington. He considers traveling to be a way of life.
“I did things I’ve never done before, such as bungee-jumping in Peru and eating snails in Morocco,” Huynh said. “Through traveling, you get to see different cultures, foods, and hear different languages—it’s just an eye-opening experience.”
The traveler first experienced international culture in 2012 when he visited his home country Cambodia to mourn the loss of his late grandmother. However, he was very close-minded and did not enjoy his experience there.
“I was like, ‘Cambodia is such a dirty country,’” Huynh said. “I didn’t want to eat their food, I didn’t want to talk to the people.”
After flying to Denmark and then Sweden in November 2015, his outlook changed. He traveled alone, walking from city to city, but ended up befriending many other tourists from places such as Austria and California.
“I became addicted to traveling,” Huynh said. “Every summer, Thanksgiving, or winter break, I would travel.”
His most memorable trip was in November 2016 in Japan. In Tokyo, he and his friends dressed up as Mario Kart characters and drove Go Karts around a race track with their tour guide. While in Kyoto, they immersed themselves in Japanese culture by visiting various temples, shrines, a bamboo forest, a monkey park, and a deer park. They also observed sea life at an aquarium in the port city of Osaka.
“Japan was my favorite country because the people are really nice, the food is so good, and it’s super clean,” Huynh said. “I’m into anime, so I really like the culture too.”
Although he describes his experiences abroad as mostly positive, Huynh had a near-fatal experience in Hawaii in the summer of 2017. The ground was slippery from rain as he was hiking the Haiku Stairs, or Stairway to Heaven, with a group of tourists. He rushed down the steps and slipped.
“If I didn’t catch the railing, I would have kept sliding down the mountain and died,” Huynh said. “However, I would still hike it again but wear better shoes because I didn’t have the right pair.”
In the future, Huynh plans to explore the East Coast, a region he has never visited. He wants to observe life in New York and Chicago, and he advises others to travel as well.
“To those who are scared of traveling, I think you should just do it,” Huynh said. “You will love traveling; it’s one of the things I live for now.”