Why travel?

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December 15th 2009
Published: December 15th 2009
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Before the travel bug hit.. when i was clean and fresh faced!!
I was recently reading a travel article which asked the question, “What are your travel passions?” Well I’m not sure... I haven’t really thought about it!! I’m usually asked, “What is my passion?” to which I am able to confidently reply, “travelling”. But asked to elaborate on this and I’m not really sure how to respond. I love meeting new people, seeing new things, experiencing new cultures, having adventures…simplifying i.e. living out of a back pack with minimal luxuries and no T.V. And I like to think I am on some sort of spiritual journey. But my travel passions? Gosh... I don’t really know.

The article then elaborated, “Think about your three most recent trips. What activities were common to all three? What are the things you seek out when you travel, the experiences that really move you? Why?”

Well I can do that. Although rather than the most recent trips (because one was, unusually for me, a relaxing pool holiday with friends in North Spain which is very out of character for me, one was a skiing holiday in Switzerland which my parents took me on and so somehow doesn’t count, one was a three week stay in an Indian ashram and another was Dubai which wasn’t really a trip but rather a short 5 day city break!) So the three most recent ‘trips’ rather than holidays, were;

An awesome road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles via Vegas in an RV with two friends in October 2009.
A breath taking (literally!) trekking trip to Nepal with a friend for two weeks in April 2008.
Backpacking round Vietnam and Laos for six weeks in August 2007.

So. With that question answered I moved on to, “what activities were common to all three?” Well. Firstly, I met new people with whom I spent a lot of time with talking shit too! Secondly, I guess all three involved travelling rather than holidaying - i.e. I didn’t stay in one place I kept moving … it was the journey rather than the destination that interested me. And thirdly was adventure; In all three trips the route was determined by what I would see or do. In America it was hiking in the red wood forests, experiencing the longest coast road I’ve ever driven on, finding my HP in a desert and getting lucky in Vegas. In Nepal it was about trekking the best route we could in the time we had and then riding on elephants and seeing as much wildlife as we could. Vietnam and Laos was a longer trip and was all about doing seeing what it was like backpacking on a budget whilst trying to visit all the places that people recommended on my way around.

Ok, question number three; “what are the activities you seek out when you travel?” Well I definitely seek out adventure. I like to be taken out of my ‘comfort zone’; to feel that I am learning and growing from an experience in whatever capacity that might be; In America it was a hike into the desert in order to learn to trust my Higher Power, in Nepal it was the Annapurna trek where I learnt about my fitness and stamina, and in Laos it was zip wiring 50 meters above the canopy of the jungle where I learnt how to let go (physically and spiritually) and really see the beauty around me.)

I also seek out food… I love to eat and whilst I am very careful about what meat I eat when in some countries (especially the ones where you see the meat being sold from dirty rugs on dusty roads, with flies being occasionally swatted off) I do love to try the street food and different dishes on offer. In America my favourite was probably a heart attack on a plate in the form of an open burger with a mound of beef chilli and cheese piled on top and finished off with curly fries! In Nepal it had to be the little cones of spiced puffed rice and lentils sold on the road sides and in Laos it was probably the fish amok served in banana leaves by the Mekong Delta.

The next question was “What are the experiences that really moved me and why?” As well as the experiences I’ve already mentioned, I vividly remember having a python draped around my neck whilst sitting in a ‘café’ in southern Vietnam. A monkey sitting (and shitting!) on my rucksack and chattering in my ear whilst I hiked out of a jungle in northern Laos. I am grateful that I managed to safely drive a rickety moped through the fiercest rain I’ve ever experienced with only the dimmest of lights to navigate round huge craters in the road full of rain in Hoi An. In all the places I have travelled to, I remember the people who I met who became guides, companions, card players and more importantly, friends for the short time we travelled together.

Recently when my mother asked me what attracts me to travelling in such a rough and ready manner, I told her a story of a particularly memorable overnight train journey from Hanoi to Sapa where I learnt some valuable lessons;

To deal with any situation that is thrown my way rather than to run away from it.
To look after myself and ‘get on with it’ rather than bury my head in the sand and cry.
To trust myself and to use what I have available to me to get where I need to go!
And whilst at the time it was one of the most stressful times it is also the one I learnt the most from and sticks most vividly in my mind. I have learnt that it is often through pain or difficulty that we learn the most about ourselves… but it is when travelling that I really put myself out there, see amazing sites, value what the world has to offer and really live my life. That is why I travel.

To grow...to learn…to experience.


18th December 2009

"Travel Passions"
Katie, I read your blog from Auntie Christine's e-mail.Travel has been extensively observed since time immemorial,but it's different for everyone and for every journey. Firstly, the purpose should never be to run away,unless it has a healing purpose. Secondly, it is often the case that although the traveller has had many and varied experiences abroad, which are not available at home. He/She returns to find friends have moved on, and maybe matured in a different way. In fact Henry Miller proclaimed that the greatest journey an individual can take is the journey inward, and from what you say it seems your route is at least partly through travel.(All very Phsyco Babble) I agree with you that your travels will be much richer with a bit of challenge and discomfort, as it forces you to take risks, and the sense of achievement is a pleasure. Luxury cushions you too much. Finally, a quotation from Hilaire Belloc: "I have wandered all my life, and I have also travelled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment". Which is it for you? In these days of Richard Dawkins and the like, I'm not sure it's PC to say it, but anyway Godspeed, and have great time. Love Uncle Pete

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