“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversations.” — Elizabeth Drew.
Personally this quote makes a lot of sense: new experiences should cultivate our minds and give meaning. How much do herds of tourists learn from visiting the Eiffel Tower? I wouldn’t say we travel all that much, but we’re always on some kind of a journey – not necessarily looking for stories to tell, but to experience something new: new sights, new sounds, new smells.
It has become typical to start a trip with a certain routine, I can’t think of a different way to do so: early morning, over-air-conditioned trip to the train station, coffee, train. It’s a routine, though it never gets boring. We find spending a few moments waiting for the train to arrive so relaxing, that whenever we plan our trips we try to incorporate a train journey to our itinerary. It is also because we love the Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok – it has such an authentic feel to it. We also like train travel as we associate it with a slower lifestyle.
Auste and I had an interesting discussion recently that whatever we do in life, our actions represent our values. In other words, all that we say and do reflects our thoughts and beliefs. Consequently, whatever happens to us in life – is a reflection of those values. In terms of train travel, it kind of makes sense: organization (of train tracks), punctuality, communication, stability – all are not alien to us.
Train travel isn’t just jumping from A to B. It’s a time-tested way of travel that has been around for centuries. It allows flexibility to be productive, as many cannot sleep, read, or eat on other modes of transport. Train travel is almost a world of its own, which echoes an experience most of us are familiar with: a certain leg of the journey has to be spent collectively before each individual parts their own way, whether it’s school, relationships, or work.
Taking a train to places with names we can’t pronounce also adds extra security of not ending up in a completely unexpected setting – there’s just one track!
Travel in general adds a level of excitement to certain things that are generally mundane. For example, packing. Putting stuff inside a backpack is such a dull activity, but when you assess each item individually, you kind of place yourself in your future destination before you even travel. In addition, I find packing my half-moon shaped Osprey like a Tetris game – each item has to be rotated, bent, and squeezed a certain number of times before it fits properly!
And of course coffee. Sitting in our favourite spot, people watching, and adding finishing touches to our trip plans. It’s like a ritual. Even if the weather’s bad, or the actual trip turns out to be less than great – we will have done at least one thing we enjoy!
Obviously it’s impossible to experience every walk of life, but at least travelling slowly, overnight, on 3rd class trains, and so on, has helped broaden our horizons so to speak. We have met interesting people, observed locals and strangers and had chances to peek at their ways of life, which have also influenced ours.
Everyone knows that we need balance in life, but we also need balance in our travels – too much and it loses meaning, too little and we struggle to settle our minds each day. I see our own little routine as a tool to keep that balance when we get out to see the world.