Yesterday, I bumped into Kak Claradevi’s blog post on what it means to travel for her. It’s a very beautiful piece. As it is for her, 2016 is also a record-breaking year for the most travel I have done in a year which I am extremely thankful of and wishing to do more of it this year!
Traveling is a very personal experience; unique to each of us, even if we go on a trip with somebody else, and unique in every journey we go through. So my nocturnal mind thought of why I did it and why I will do it, over and again.
Traveling gives me the realization of the importance of balance. That no matter how independent I may think I am, I am still so very much dependent. That however adaptable I feel myself to be, I have been in more awkward situations than I can count. That after a quite a while away from home, no matter how fun it is, it still feels so good to be back home. It is a humbling experience to travel.
Experiencing the country for what it really is, instead of the watered-down, twisted, spun version of a country that the news wants us to think.
Traveling makes me think that maybe things don’t have to be the way it was, back home or with myself. A spin to the existent habits, adding new ones, less of the old. Even just the mundane things of walking more and taking the stairs, or bringing bento lunch to school after being pampered to 2 weeks of it in Japan, or doing BBQ after roast night with my friends in London. More internet detox after 3 days in the bliss of Komodo Island’s lack of signal.
When you go (and also in life..), you meet people. However brief, you may find a flicker of cmoment where your lives intertwine and you go, “Hey, same!” or it may lead to a good banter about something. I fell asleep on a chair on a day cruise where I woke up to a Chinese couple who started conversation in Chinese. I proceeded with telling them that I don’t speak Chinese, in Chinese. Then they were delighted thinking I know how to speak Chinese when it’s so obvious that I don’t. We ended up talking with the help of dictionary and at some point, the husband told me to be an accountant. It was quite an absurd conversation, I never saw them again, but it was a connection, friendly faces in disguise.
Been hearing that word a lot? It’s true though! I can’t lie that I still do get travel bugs. Not the one where you want to travel again and again (well, ok, that too.) but also the REAL one where I got sick days before a long journey (long journey is a trip of more than a week), nervous as hell. Then I went for it and I did and at some point it will be like, “Hey, you got this!”
A day trip to Tallinn, Estonia with a Dutch girl I met just 2 days before taught me to expect less and in return, be happier. Not as in being pessimist, but as in how 5-year-olds (I happen to have a niece who is..) react to seeing something we thought is just ordinary, the sparkle, the awe, the excitement. How can you be disappointed when you have less expectation?
Well, isn’t it obvious? Can’t stray far away from that when you travel with me.
Oh, it took me quite few journeys to come to the conclusion that being happy comes from simple gratitude of real experiences, not from those clicks, taps or tags. Nothing like a piping hot Indomie after a day of minus degrees weather, or eating fresh berries even if the thorns kept poking at you or a good cup of coffee, anywhere. Or daydreaming whether God spends more time drawing sunsets in Bali than anywhere else in the world. Or getting drunk from too much chocolate-tasting.
Finding home everywhere I go and leaving traces of home, too. That it is not always where we come from but also where we are and who we are with, and you can’t not go back home, no?
In translation, in direction, in random thoughts; then found the word, the way, the answers you were looking for.
Of doing something for the first time, of experiencing what it’s like to be a teacher, of the fact that Czech dumplings are actually boiled bread, of many things I never encountered in my daily life, of people’s happiness upon something I usually complained about (Finnish with your short summer and I with the eternal summer!), of sailing, of God’s amazing creations, wonder of so many.
So, what does travel mean to you?