Travels to the East: Preface

I wrote this book in 1987, 13 years after I embarked on a solo journey at age 19 that would change my life forever. I am now freely sharing this story as a part of my history of why I am now a Simplified Living Coach. I hope you are inspired. Any words in italics are things that I have added to the original story.

This book is lovingly dedicated to my now diseased  parents, Beverly and H. Donald Hughes, who encouraged me  and enabled me to take this journey. They believed in me, and for this I will be forever grateful

In 1974 I dropped out of college in order to travel in Europe. But after spending almost two weeks in Germany, I decided I wanted to take the overland route to India. Before I arrived in Europe I had never even considered going to India. This book is an account of my travels through Southwest Asia to India and Sri Lanka and back again to Europe. In the 1980’s the overland route has been closed to most wandering travelers because of the revolution and war in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It is my hope and prayer that peace with justice will come to these countries of Southwest Asia, home of some of the world’s oldest known civilizations.

Southwest Asia is the place where Asia, Europe and Africa meet.. Since earliest times it has been a crossroads for trade, people, armies and ideas. Camel caravans have carried goods all the way from China to Europe and back again, carrying gold, silver, silks, rugs, spices, gems, dates, perfumes, and many other items. Great civilizations there have risen and fallen over the centuries. The Persian empire was dominant for a long time during the years before Christ; then the Greeks under Alexander rule; and they were followed by the Roman empire. After Islam was founded, the Arabs conquered the area. During the Middle Ages the Turkish people established the Ottoman empire. They eventually gave way to the British power. By the 20th century, all of these empires had vanished, replaced by the modern nation states, most of which have fallen behind the times in terms of industrial and material development. Nevertheless, they have a rich culture in many non-material ways.

On my way to and from India, I spent much time in the countries of Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. The climate of those countries is predominantly hot and dry.  Most of the interior is high desert or dry grass-land. Although people have lived in that area since the earliest known times, the climate has limited the population. Many of the people are still nomads with herds of goats and sheep. Islam is by far the dominant religion in that area of the world.

My goal, of course, was India, but I also stayed for a while in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All of these countries seemed “exotic” to me. I didn’t study about them before I learned about them as I traveled. I didn’t go as though on a conscious pilgrimage. I wasn’t seeking God or a guru at that time in my life, but I did learn many lessons that have helped me in my life. Much of this story was printed in our Cosmic Connections Newsletter, but it has been re-organized and edited into a book form by my husband (now former husband), Cliff. I have also added some more recollections. I hope that you will enjoy reading this story and gain some positive benefit from it.

I would like to thank the people who encouraged me to put my “Travels to the East” in book form, especially Sally Green who contributed for the printing expenses and sent me several inspiring letters.

Patricia Mikkelson

Encinitas, California

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