The five things travel has taught me: Ainsley Melham, actor

 

Ainsley Melham, actor

COMMUNITY

In Myanmar on a charity trip, I visited slums on the outskirts of Yangon and Mandalay. Small shacks on stilts with little plumbing housed many families, some simply taking up residence in the space underneath the floor. Despite the conditions, the Myanmar people were warm, kind, welcoming and displayed a strong sense of community, like nothing I've witnessed before.

STILLNESS

Tasmania had never been high on my travel bucket list, probably because as an Australian it is right on my doorstep and we sometimes overlook what is right in front of us. I found myself atop Mt Wellington overlooking the capital Hobart. It was early morning, there was no breeze, the sky was clear, I felt like the horizon stretched on forever and I didn't want to leave. It taught me what a gift stillness can be in a world that seems to hurtle forward at an ever-growing speed.

RESILIENCE

Flying into Dubai during the day is one of the most fascinating sights. Sand, sand, sand, and then out of nowhere a gleaming metropolis. Here, the old city and the new sit side by side. It's a city that nurtures its past while reaching into the future. If it's one thing I took from my time in Dubai, it's resilience, displayed in both its architecture and culture.

OPEN-MINDEDNESS

I've travelled to Malaysia a handful of times now but I must admit on my first visit I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Perhaps it was my own expectations that led me astray; it's hard for me to pin it down. However, my second visit to the country totally thrilled me. While on the rooftop of a 34-storey tower in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, sitting on a heli-pad by day that converts into a bar by night, with not a steel structure or pane of glass between me and the rest of the city made me realise that everyone and everywhere deserves a second chance.

INDEPENDENCE

I spent some time in Edinburgh while my partner was working there. As a result, I had the days and sometimes nights to myself. I've always been comfortable in my own company but exploring the city alone suddenly daunted me. To my delight, Edinburgh welcomed me with open arms. I walked the streets of the old town, discovered the stunning landscape that hugged the city and enjoyed the many little food nooks tucked away down alleys that wound in on themselves. I learnt how to be more independent in Edinburgh and the sense of achievement and fulfilment travelling solo can bring.

Ainsley Melham was a member of Hi-5 before playing the title role in Disney's Aladdin on stage in Australia and Broadway. He is appearing in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Kiss of the Spider Woman, now playing at Southbank Theatre. See mtc.com.au

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