Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My affair with Travel

As a kid, travelling is very exciting as I get to go to places outside the boundary of home and school: seeing the big city, order pizza for the first time, stop by a small town for a special meal recommended by dad, or picnic and swimming at the beach. It is all fun and adventurous, with no worry.

In my early twenties came the tour group concept, which bring me to many uninteresting places in a day, and won’t allow me to stay longer at places which I love. It is tiring, unsatisfying, and not exactly cheap.

I guess the tour group experience kill my enthusiasm for travel, and my logical mind believe there is nothing to be gained from travelling. I just spend money and getting nothing in return. If I spend money buying a computer, I get a computer; my money got burned in travelling, offering neither material or happiness in return.

I started joining some some friends for some self-organised trip: firstly to the national park, then to climb mountain Kota Kinabalu. I realise it could be affordable, fun, and there are interesting places to visit outside of city and monuments. I found something which would change part of my life.

I met some hiking friends and we started hiking and camping around Malaysia, an experience which no tour group could offer. We walk for 5-8 hours into the mountain, swim in the cool river stream, set up our camp at the perfect spot and a capable cook will prepare a delicious dinner. The friendship and the experience is priceless, and I owe them a lot for showing me what travelling (or hiking)  is all about. Sometimes we travel oversea in extremely big group (20-30+) and still manage to go through it without too much unhappy incident, simply amazing!

I started travelling more often with Mei Ru (my girlfriend cum wife). Oversea travel planning is more time consuming as we need to figure the transport, accommodation, places to visit, route, prices, booking, etc. At first we hire a small travel agency for our Nepal trip, then we rely on Rough Guide for our India trip, then planning got more time consuming and complex for our China, Europe, Vietnam and Japan trip. I always want to build a website to simplify travel planning, allowing less painful planning and more happy travelling. In the meanwhile, I would need to suffer the planning part until I succeed.

I was thrilled to see the snow mountain in Nepal, the big castle and desert in Rajasthan, the nice and beautiful Japan and the grassland of XinJiang. Travelling could be very tiring if we have to move from one place to another every other day, so I have to learn to travel at a slower pace. Travelling have many uncertainty so I have to learn emotionally handle surprises.

I think I got a bit tired of travelling. The big mountains no longer amazed me like the first time, and I never quite like the cities. No matter how beautiful the scenery is, my heart is not a peace; it feels like emotionally or spiritually I didn't blend in with nature, where I feel like watching the beautiful mountain behind a glass. I no longer yearn to be a traveller which move across places at a fast pace, I want to find a little heaven which I could blend in and stay a little longer.

Now, I feel like I am travelling to find the little heaven which could made me stay behind. I imagine a wooden house with a green grassland in front, where the river is not far away and the mountain is my everyday view, and the weather is just nice all year long. I would do my work (with Internet access) in the morning, where I would hike into the nearby hills for a picnic and afternoon nap.This would be my new dream home for a week, a month, a year or for a lifetime.

Now I travel to look for my little heaven. Perhaps it’s in Chiang Mai, perhaps it’s in Japan, perhaps I have yet to travel near it yet, perhaps it’s very near.