Vera Koo prepares for the adventure of a lifetime — across the ocean to India.
I have a philosophy about opportunities. Opportunities are fleeting. When one arises, you should be careful not to miss it.
You might never feel like the time is perfect to act on an opportunity. Opportunities can pop up at any time. You might feel like you are not ready when they come, and when you feel you are ready, they might never come. Yet, whether you feel ready or not, if you see an opportunity, you should grab it. Otherwise, you will miss your chance and might never get another one.
Sponsored by Vera Koo
My philosophy about opportunities explains my fall trip to India. I left Oct. 27 for the 3-week trip. I had given the idea of traveling to India little thought until a friend asked me if my husband and I would be interested in going. I soon became excited about the idea.
I will be turning 70-years old in about 2 years. At the time of the trip, I was healthy and able to travel. I need to go on these trips while I am still able. Although my husband did not care to make the trip, he supported me going — as long as I went with other friends. So I went with a young married couple and we all joined a very reputable tour group to visit India to see the Taj Mahal and other treasures of India.
After first being presented with the idea, I learned more about India. As I increased my knowledge about the country, I looked forward to seeing it even more. India houses many beautiful structures, such as the Taj Mahal. We also planned a trek to a national park and made plans to attend the annual Pushkar Fair, a major festival at which camels and other livestock are bought and sold. In addition to the attraction of seeing the livestock, the fair features various competitions (Editor’s note: such as the longest moustache and a bridal competition).
This trip offered me an opportunity to experience the art, the culture and the history of another country. Such trips have been rewarding in the past.
In 2011, my daughter and I traveled to Italy and visited Rome, Tuscany and Florence with a Stanford tour group. We attended the Palio di Provenzano horse race in the town square of Sienna. Before the race, there was a 1-hour parade of pageantry featuring Renaissance regalia. We had great seats right next to the parade’s path and the race. A crowd of about 35,000 gathered in the center ring of the town’s square and in the surrounding area, not unlike the crowd that gathers in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
Also during the trip, our traveling party was treated to a private, after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums. We saw the paintings, sculptures and tapestries without fighting a crowd.
We sat in the Sistine Chapel and meditated on Michelangelo’s fresco of “The Last Judgment.” We also heard interesting lectures on Italian history and politics from Roberto D’Alimonte, an Italian political scientist.
Everyone in my family is an avid downhill skier, and we have gone skiing in Canada, France and Switzerland, along with our skiing adventures in the United States. We also have traveled to Singapore, Thailand and Japan and also to China, which is where I was born, and Hong Kong, which is where I spent much of my childhood.
Why I love traveling
I had majored in art at San Francisco State University, and my love for art has always stayed with me. Partly because of this, I found Thailand particularly enjoyable. I liked the country the minute I arrived. Banana trees were set against the colors of the river, which were contrasted by the rustic roofs of the tin huts near the water. I see the presence of God in such beauty. The people of Thailand were very gentle and spoke softly.
Recently, I have become more interested in history. When you grow older, you begin to look at life with depth. When you consider an object or an idea, you think, what does this say? What meaning does this convey? What is the origin? You look beyond basic facts.
And now, India
I hope my trip to India will not be the end of my travels. I would be interested in visiting Mexico and seeing where the Mayans lived or traveling to South America to see where the Incas lived. Those tribes have been in my memory since studying them in high school, and I am interested in learning more about how they lived. I have long been interested in Egyptian history, but I have never made it to Egypt. I am also more interested in learning about Chinese history than ever before.
Of course, I have made trips to Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Australia for shooting, but traveling for sport and traveling for pleasure are different experiences. Even so, I prepared for my trip to India much like I prepare for shooting competitions.
Although I did not anticipate any problems on my trip to India, I prepared for potential problems in case they came up. I made sure I was in good physical condition, just as if I were going to India for a competition. I added a little weight, trained and exercised leading up to the trip. I took my necessary shots. I brought antibiotics and basic medication with me, along with treating my clothes with mosquito repellent, plenty of power bars, water boiling pot and a face mask to help with the air pollution in India.
I am accustomed to traveling to competitions with 4 seasons’ worth of clothing, and I brought clothing capable of handling any weather scenario I might face. I even brought boots in preparation for rain or rougher conditions.
I did not turn my mind completely away from shooting. Previously, I had not incorporated much visualization when it comes to shooting, but because I was abroad for 3 weeks and not practicing shooting, I may needed to visualize my shooting and proper techniques while I was gone.
Mostly, though, I looked forward to this journey because it offered me a chance to broaden my knowledge and appreciation for another country.
Traveling to India presented a great opportunity – one, now in retrospect, I am glad I did not let pass me by.
Vera Koo will take us to India with her, in 2 future installments of her column here at The WON.
Vera Koo is a first-generation Chinese American woman. She’s a wife and mother, author, entrepreneur and retired competition shooter. Along with Vera’s fantastic memoir and life story, "The Most Unlikely Champion," she writes her column, Vera Koo, at "Women’s Outdoor News." View all posts by Vera Koo
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