As I have shared many times, I traveled for 11 years. One million miles in the air. It sounds like a lot (if you count both airlines I used, I was closer to 1.3 million miles in 11 years). I landed in many countries over those 11 years. In the best sense of both sides, I was in Malaysia when there was an issue in the area between Malaysia and Thailand. The first time I was in Malaysia, the team took me to the Elephant rescue reserve. The second time, because of the growing conflict in Northern Malaysia, they didn’t take me. I, however, never felt like I was not safe when wandering around Kuala Lumpur. The city always felt safe to me, and I enjoyed my time there.
I knew things happened. When I landed in Istanbul, I was a day early for the meetings I was going to have. I went to the hotel from the airport. My cab driver was not conversational, so I just watched the scenery. There were a parade and event that made the driver more grumpy than he was; we had to take a detour. I don’t know if he thought I was going to cut his tip because it took longer to get to the hotel. I gave him a very good tip, and it was the only time he smiled that entire trip. We had ended up taking surface streets and drove through what is called the old city. I came back to the old city one evening and walked around with a group of people.
I was at the hotel and wandered up to the lounge on the top floor. It was a beautiful lounge, and I was relaxing enjoying a beer with my feet up. The server came up to me, she looked a little scared, and asked if she could turn on the television. I said, sure. I ended up watching the aftermath of the bombing that had occurred just a few moments before in the old town. The very part of town we had driven through. For the first time in all my travels, I didn’t feel safe. I had that feeling three times in traveling. The first time I had that feeling was in 2001. On September 11, 2001, I was in a plane heading to Chicago. I didn’t feel safe for the first time in the city where I was born. The second time was Istanbul. The last time was in Seattle, and all three remain with me.