By Josh Hoff
For many of us, nature is a place to go and relax, and to explore and push our selves. Hiking is a good way to have fun, and to see things that you normally wouldn’t see when you are home, or in a city. I tend to travel a lot, and occasionally I end up going on a hike. While trekking isn’t normally my first choice of a vacation, or even the full vacation itself, I have to admit that it makes my vacation a bit more interesting. At the very least, it gives me a story or two to tell back to my friends at home.
Like many of you, I live in a big city, New York City, to be honest, I was also born and raised in New York City, and never really went hiking or trekking when I was a kid. So for starters, excursions and walks in nature for most of my life was a foreign concept to me, it just didn’t happen. Over time, starting when I was a teenager, I began to visit interesting places, for example, Israel, Cambodia, Thailand. Places, where if you went, you had to go on at least one hike or trek. Don’t get me wrong, at the time being in nature was still mostly foreign for me, but at least I was starting to get comfortable. One early hike that stands out particularly well in my memory was a desert trek I took when I was 18 in Israel.
Before traveling to Israel, I never went to the desert before. While I still would have to concede that the environs of the desert are far from being my favorite, at the very least I do have a begrudged respect for those who live and work there, and for the desert itself. First off though, I need to hand it to those who have dwelt in the deserts for generations, I certainly would not have had the strength to do so. It is simply too harsh for me. With that being said, what I remember most about my time in the desert, is not the obligatory camel tour, it is instead the calmness and peacefulness that I found there. During my time hiking and camping there, I felt at times, like time was at a standstill, while many people would have found the silence to be a bit eerie, I have to admit, for me it was a peaceful escape from the chaotic cities that I was spending most of my time in. While I would never live in a desert town, at least I wouldn’t mind returning to the desert once in a while. My next really memorable nature experience happened far away from Israel, and in a land whose climate can only be described as tropical. I strongly remember my time in the jungles of Cambodia for many different reasons.
Cambodia is a land, which holds a very special place in my memories. For a short time, when I was 21, I actually lived there while doing a summer internship. With that being said, I was lucky that I had the chance to go out and travel every once and a while to neighboring countries, and also within Cambodia itself. One memory that stands out particularly well would be my time trekking near the Koh Ker Temple Complex. To be completely blunt, you should never do this one without a guide, and if you unwisely decide to do this anyways, do not stray from the beaten path, there are mines and other fun stuff, sunken deeply into the ground waiting for someone like you to step on them. Now that I have finished with my obligatory warning, I’m going to say that if you do head to Cambodia, try and see other temples other than Angkor Wat, The beauty of Koh Ker Temple was that it’s a complex of many different temples. Not only one. If you don’t want to see all of them, it is both possible and easy to relax with a cold beer in your hand while sitting on a hammock. Cambodia is like that. With that being said, since I went in the rainy season, I got soaked as soon as I got to the top. It was a memorable experience.
To conclude, even if nature isn’t really your thing, please try to spend some time in the great outdoors once in a while. At the very least you’ll bring back some great stories.