Published: July 13th 2011July 12th 2011
So, firstly thank you for everyone who cheered me up with emails and comments after reading my last blog. For every down there is an up. My last blog was aimed at the my feelings of myself within the expat world, rather than on the road or settled at home, and it wasn’t meant to berate people who don’t stay in contact, as the old adage goes “It takes two to g-chat”. It was meant to be a look inward at my own personal disgruntlement and dissatisfaction.
But to revert to a happier mood as I am not one to dwell in a hole, and in celebration of the onward trip. I thought I would compile a list of the 7 Wonders of the Traveller’s World! These things are either so wondrous or so useful to the modern traveller that no-one would really like to think of a world without them.
In no particular order…
1. Email –What an immensely functional form of communication. It allows us to organise our visas, contact our family, gives a point of contact to us that have no permanent abode. Allowing us to communicate with other travellers that in the past would have
been a photo of the guy from [insert place name here].
2. Cameras – This immensely amazing and wondrous device captures a trip in either spectacular images from a good photographer or simply a snapshot allowing a bad photographer to reminisce about their journey. Its status as a wonder can be proved by its prominence on the list of essential travel items although in no way essential to travel.
3. Trains – How can this, the most excellent form of transport, ever be removed from any country’s public transport repertoire? It boasts the best combination of speed, safety, price, comfort and excitement. You can get up and walk along the carriage, pretend you are on the orient express being chased by Interpol, look out wistfully out the window whilst noting things in a leather-bound journal, have an actual bed on a form a transport! I mean it beats all others on that alone. No check-in’s, no traffic, no seasickness, even the bumps are hypnotic, allowing you to sleep like a baby. Someone will even come and wake you up when you need to get off (well sometimes). You can even sit on the roof or sneak
onboard a freight carriage. They build them in deserts, cities, over bridges, under channels, in tundra, even through mountains. And if you are particularly interested you can just go and spot them. Wow, just thinking about them makes me think I should write a whole blog about them.
4. Hospitality – From a friendly smile to a police escort, hospitality has to be one the finest displays of humanity that any traveller can experience. It lifts you up when you are down and makes you feel that all is well with the world. The symbiotic bond of local and traveller, the joy to be hosted and to host. It can be adlib “hey, do you need some help buddy?” to fully organised with a website eg. Couchsurfing. But whatever it is, without it explorers would have not returned to tell their tales and travellers would hardly exist. To think it was hospitality that allowed for those first settlers on many continents survive.
5. Tea – This innocently simple drink, just a few boiled dry leaves makes the ugliest water supply safe and tasty. Its varieties knows no bounds and there is a brand for everyone, from
the salty bitter Tibetan tea to the sweetest builders tea. The only topic I can imagine HRH The Queen and Osama Bin Laden and Michael Collins could have sat round a table and really agreed on – “Can’t beat a good cuppa”, It’s an icebreaker, it cheers you up, it warms you up when you are cold, and with a bit of ice it cools you down if you are hot. You can drink a cup or a gallon and it won’t mean you are running round like a headless chicken. Maybe I just love tea, but the traveller has a special bond with it. It compliments hospitality due to its non-extreme, cheap and universally enjoyable taste, and when water is bad, the tea can still be damn good!
6. Internationally accepted bank cards – Thanks be to the all the humans involved in developing the computer, mathematical theories on card security and anyone involved in plastics. This handy, light, durable, secure, easily hidden, worthless without its user device is one of the most useful a traveller can have. You can use it at midnight or in any currency, it doesn’t require an exact replica signature, or carrying
around reams of paper. It’s a security blanket, in times of desperation it can be relied upon to airlift you to safety. Without it, travellers would be ransacked like the caravans of old.
7. Rucksacks and Backpacks – As much as the idea of slinging a couple of saddlebags over old Boxer and riding around sounds truly romantic. The new age of transport requires loading oneself up like a donkey and ee-awing around the world. The rucksack has revolutionised the ease of this burdensome task and as such results in an agile traveller, ready to run or rest. Many a moon have I used mine as a pillow or a bag to keep the mossies away from my feet or even as a weapon against pickpockets and queue jumpers. Its not life threatening and its super practical. It carries the same as a huge brown suitcase, but doesn’t bump into your legs as you run down a platform. It isn’t as cumbersome and doesn’t require years of experience like the head mounted basket of Africa and the head strap bag of Nepal. So until the invention of teleportation this bag is king. Special Note: as much as the
rucksack breed of bag is king, my heart belongs to my green shoulder bag, may it live longer than I. Special thanks to Peter my dear brother who gave it to me so many years ago.
There are more photos below