In the early days of my employment life, I view travel as a total waste of money: you spend money at crazy rate for a few days, and you don’t get anything physical in return; if a buy a toy, at least you get a toy. That is a logical perspective, until one funny day that I realize travelling is something I wanted to do dearly.
In the beginning it just about hanging out with friends, where we did have a really great time together. Eventually I was hooked with hiking and mountains, where I found it to be a liberating escape from the pressure of work. I just need to walk and walk, then have a great meal and rest, where there are almost no worries at all (except the task of packing is a bit daunting). I am a happier man in the mountains with the nature. I do realize I am more of a mountain person than sea person, as the beach is too hot and the water is too salty. I didn’t fall in love with diving, as the world is too dark and quiet (listen to my own breathing); though the environment is beautiful, and I can’t really “touch” it and be part of it, it feels so near yet so far, the diving suit and goggles feels like an aquarium trapping me in it.
I know the standard packaged tour and few days trip couldn’t give me the satisfaction of travelling, where it felt too rush with little time and interaction to let the feeling sinks in. I tried travelling for a month, where the experience at Nepal is all great because of the mountains and changing scenery, and amazing people. Rajasthan in India is photogenic with its magnificent ancient city, fort and temple, but it’s too much of the same: the only exception is Jaisalmer the dessert (tranquility and peace). When I did China, it’s too much city things and people, even the scenic routes are filled with tourists, which make it convenient but mentally tiring. I know I like travel, but the outcome is yet to be satisfactory: I need to learn how to travel.
I know of 3 friends who travel frequently, and view travel as an important part of their life, and each of them travel in different ways, and probably for different reasons as well:
- Christine is a good friend whom I met during my trip to climb Mount KK in Sabah, and I am guessing she travels for no less than 3 times per year, each time on a minimum of one week to a few. She lives in Hong Kong and work as a social worker, thus her holidays are limited, but she make use of her time very well. I’m not quite sure why she travels, but I do know she loves it.
- Si Theng embarked on a journey to Spain for a year, while sign up for a language class and learning flamingo dance in between, which seems like a good way to travel: school + travel. I am guessing she wanted this memorable and meaningful adventure before she settled down, and now she is busy raising triplets. She is the one where I set the idea of travelling around places for a year.
- Recently I met Ian and Maggie, where they decided to make nomad travelling their way of life. They don’t just travel, but they settled in each city for longer duration, engage with the local culture, people and the little things in life, while making a living out of it. So it’s not just travel, but a way of life. They have been on this adventure trip for 18 months.
An interesting question which Ian pointed to me is why would I want to travel, and such simple question seems to trigger a lot to be pondered upon.
- I like the idea of going to new places, the feeling of a new world, a different culture
- I wanted the escape, out of the daily routine, with no work and commitment to worry about
- I like the sense of adventure, with the hope bumping into nice surprises at every corner
- I like to ponder on how to live a meaningful life, where I felt traveling is a time and experience to rethink life, a “pilgrimage” to discover things; my passion and priority might be clouded by being too engrossed in the daily rituals, and I see travel as an opportunity to disengage and take a step back, hopefully able to see things in a clearer manner
- Somehow I planted the idea of a yearlong travel in my mind (the bucket list), it feels “right” as something to do before I die
- I want to learn to travel: not just visiting monuments and enjoy breathtaking view, but to explore the possibility of alternative lifestyle, learning to slow down, learn to appreciate life, and perhaps learn to live the life of another culture (it feels like a mini restart of life).
- Perhaps there is a certain rebellious nature in me of not wanting the walk the path where everyone expects me to take, but to feel what is it like to take the alternative path.
- To seek the paradise on earth.
- Perhaps travelling feels like Freedom.
- Perhaps I'm figuring things out as it goes, through trial and error, an elimination process through trying, to find what would I really want to do
May it be the excitement of an adventure, or the desire for a change, to understand life better, or enjoying the freedom: I know I should learn to travel, at least for now.