Travel Blues

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There comes a point in a long journey when travelling doesn’t provide the enjoyment you think it should. When you feel more inclined to stay in your room and watch films than go and see yet another tourist destination. Even meeting people wears thin. Always the same questions and answers in the ritual of greeting. I’ve never been one for ritual and this gives me a new license on creative answers and questions. I don’t think I’ve asked anyone in the last two months what they do for work, where they’ve been, where they’re going next and where they’d like to go. I’m barely asking names anymore. The only thing that gets me interested at all is a story or a question that isn’t in any way related to travelling. Spending four hours talking about social intelligence as it relates to spirituality and psychology is a highlight. I only remember he was Scottish. Having blazed conversations with drunken English guys at nine in the morning after ten hours already spent in the same bar is wonderful. I suppose I treasure these conversations whenever they come along, but it seems that travel talks stay on the mundane by default. You don’t know anyone long enough to build the kind of rapport it takes to keep a good conversation flowing. And most backpackers are wondering if and when you’re going to be asking for sex.

There is a point when seeing another temple, tomb, pagoda, building, statue seems empty and pointless. Your threshold of interest becomes incredibly high. Unless it’s the first, highest, largest with the biggest statues and most historical significance, it’s just another pile of wood and stone. Even beautiful natural landscapes get on your tits. Oh…another one…yeah…it’s stunning and shit..but I wonder if the bed at the next place is going to be as hard as this one. I wonder if they’ll have wireless internet or a cable, because I like the cable so much more for uploading stuff. Oh god…there’s so many more pictures to sort through to get ready to upload and I just cant be fucked. Maybe I’ll just take less pictures at the next place. Maybe I’ll just skip the next place and sleep all day. Yeah..that sounds better.

It’s only once you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. I have been that free for over half a year and what have I done? Wandered around about a third of China visiting a heap of rather amazing places that have ultimately served to make me weary of travel. I’ve seen so many things other people only dream about seeing. I’ve done it in a way that other people dream of doing and now I’m tired. Tired of hauling my possessions through airports, bus stations, train stations and town after town, city after city. Tired of packing and unpacking my bags every few days as the drive to see more continues. I can turn a room with my stuff strewn randomly around it into two nicely packed bags in under fifteen minutes now. Tired of endlessly meeting people only to farewell them a few days, maybe a week later. Most of them I’ll never see or talk to again. Tired of broken conversations in a language I don’t understand, of never really knowing what you’ve just ordered in a restaurant. Tired of never really knowing where you are or where you’re going most of the time.

There’s a daily comfort in routine. Waking up and heading to work. Packing up and going home. Cooking dinner, sitting in your favourite chair and watching TV because there’s nothing more pressing to do. You know more money arrives in your bank account every couple of weeks as a reward for living this life and you get to choose how to spend that in a myriad of ways. Check out a festival, see a band, go camping somewhere, write a book and send an email. And in all of that, you’re not constantly thinking about where you’re going to be tomorrow, or in two days, or two weeks. You don’t have to enter the curious world of trying to get tickets somewhere when you don’t read or speak the language. You don’t have to spend all that energy meeting new people in the constant ebb and flow of this ephemeral life. Life is easier, less of a challenge on a daily basis.

So, as in all things, the answer lies in the middle path. Ensure you have enough of one thing to make you properly appreciate another. Find discomfort to appreciate comfort. Work to appreciate not working. Experience new things to further enjoy the old things, because I’m not done with travel in any way. The world is still too vast to encompass in one life, so living my life large seems a necessity. That’s why I want to spend a year or two working outside Australia, infuse that easy daily working life with an element of travel. As I always like to respond to the Buddhist idea of walking the middle path; how do you know where the middle is, if you haven’t been to the edges?

Has this man been to enough edges?

Has this man been to enough edges?

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6 comments to Travel Blues

  • Interesting, very interesting. I’m in a similar position, very similar. But I already know I’m going ‘home’ for a few months (at least) in Feb to work, and then off again. But where too, how long, working, volunteering? That I need to think about more. Make some plans, but still free…find a balance.

    Good luck!

  • Interesting, very interesting. I’m in a similar position, very similar. But I already know I’m going ‘home’ for a few months (at least) in Feb to work, and then off again. But where too, how long, working, volunteering? That I need to think about more. Make some plans, but still free…find a balance.

    Good luck!

  • dhugalf

    I thought you might be thinking down the same paths about now :) I think my new balance is all about making the everyday more unusual and interesting to slow down the itchy feet syndrome for a bit… and there’s still couchsurfers to give you the feeling of travelling when you’re staying in one place too :) …but especially the idea of being based in Singapore or Malaysia would be awesome for weekend jaunts to anywhere in SE asia at minimal cost….

  • dhugalf

    I thought you might be thinking down the same paths about now :) I think my new balance is all about making the everyday more unusual and interesting to slow down the itchy feet syndrome for a bit… and there’s still couchsurfers to give you the feeling of travelling when you’re staying in one place too :) …but especially the idea of being based in Singapore or Malaysia would be awesome for weekend jaunts to anywhere in SE asia at minimal cost….

  • karel

    Hey man, I think I know where you’re coming from. At some points in our oz trip Mia and I felt like we couldn’t be bothered about this or that next highlight. I think it’s got something to do with the hectic schedule we set ourselves and I imagine yours to be similarly hectic. I think it helps to slow down for a while and just chill in one place. Also to allow yourself to soak up and process some of the recent happenings. When we got north of Cairns, we ended up just staying in one spot for an entire week. Had a great time with this pommie couple we met up with and just relaxed and really got to know the area.

    Aaahh, it’s tough being a traveller, eh? 😉

    K

  • karel

    Hey man, I think I know where you’re coming from. At some points in our oz trip Mia and I felt like we couldn’t be bothered about this or that next highlight. I think it’s got something to do with the hectic schedule we set ourselves and I imagine yours to be similarly hectic. I think it helps to slow down for a while and just chill in one place. Also to allow yourself to soak up and process some of the recent happenings. When we got north of Cairns, we ended up just staying in one spot for an entire week. Had a great time with this pommie couple we met up with and just relaxed and really got to know the area.

    Aaahh, it’s tough being a traveller, eh? 😉

    K

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