White - World Traveler
When I first met
Darren White, he was sitting on the steps of a brooding stone temple
in Kunsan, South Korea, dispensing valuable travel advice to a gang
of awestruck tourists.
"I'd stay away
from Bangkok, especially right now," he told them. "The
heat and the Europeans will get to you, after a while. Take my word
for it - Phuket's the place to go."
I poked my head in
to listen. Darren, who was 26 years old at the time, was playing
travel guide to these American college students, and I found myself
likewise enthralled. It wasn't so much that I was listening to tales
of 3 $ a night' huts on a southeast Asian beach and 18-cent'
pints of imported beer - I was in Korea, after all - but
that these tales were coming from such an unlikely source.
Darren was a skinny,
pale-complexioned Canadian of British descent. Aside from his easygoing,
immensely-likable demeanor, he looked like someone who'd get lost
in his own backyard, much less be giving out travel tips on Thailand.
But my fellow students flocked to listen, setting out often based
solely on his word. Before long, I did, too.
Over the course of
seven eventful days on the Korean peninsula, Darren and I would
become good friends. I would grow to marvel and appreciate such
an erstwhile and seasoned traveling companion, and needless to say
his tales continue to inspire me.
Darren was a chiropractic
student at Life College of Atlanta when we met. He was quite the
pauper in those days, as I was, but the difference was that he had
somehow managed to see over 40 countries in 6 continents in a matter
of years. In the process, he also found enough dough to pay his
own tuition for medical school. This intrigued me immensely, and
I couldn't help but ask him how he did it.