Sunday, August 30, 2009


I have always wondered why people like to travel. What is the lure that sends people on adventures? What do they hope to find when they get there? People? Culture? History? Souvenir shot glass from each country?

There are bloggers from all over the world and some of them take the most amazing photos. I am mesmerized by one site called Random Shots. I stare and stare at the images...and I'm not sure why. I try to imagine living there....and I can't do it. Is that what travel will do? A looking glass experience. What is it like to live in a city that is over 2000 years old? Do they even see it?

P. J. O'Rourke in "Holidays in Hell" writes about places suffering "....insurrection, stupidities, political crises, civil disturbances and other human folly...because it's fun. Like most people who don't own Bermuda shorts, I'm bored by ordinary travel. See the Beautiful Grand Canyon. Okay, I see it. Okay, it's beautiful. Now what? And I have no use for vacation paradises. .....Nor do attractions attract me. If I had a chance to visit another planet, I wouldn't want to go to Six Flags over Mars or ride through the artificial ammonia lake in a silicone-bottomed boat at Venusian Cypress Gardens. I'd want to see the planet's principal features--what makes it tick. Well, the planet I've got a chance to visit is Earth, and Earth's principal features are chaos and war. I think I'd be a fool to spend years here and never have a look."

Is travel good for paradigm puncturing? Culture clash awareness? This video absolutely gives me the heeby jeebies. Is this what it's like to go through the looking glass and land in another country?

Think of all the assumptions going on this video. (And you know what they say about assuming. ) First, people push and shove their way in to make sure they get on the train and then the people who work there finish shoving them in the way I used to shove myself in jeans when I was 23. Lying down, jumping up and down, and sucking in my gut. I used to think I was fat because I was shoving myself into jeans that were a size 3. Gack. What I wouldn't give to be double that size now. Second, is there not another train coming? Are there so many people using the train that EVERY train is that packed. My personal body bubble is cringing just thinking about this and I can't help thinking how naive that is.

I haven't even talked about history. Which is probably a good thing. One thing on my bucket list is to learn some more history. Not that it is always an exact science but it does bring some context. George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, right? History changes....which used to bug the crap out of me as a kid. Teachers would get their panties in a bunch as if history was like the multiplication tables, immutable and unchangeable.

I have always imagined traveling in outer space but after seeing District 9, I'm beginning to think that that may not be a good idea. Instead of Captain Picard on the USS Enterprise, I might end up in a refugee camp on a planet in a galaxy far, far away.

So why do you travel?


@eloh said...

You and your videos! I love "Random Shots" always so colorful even in the slums. That's what I want to see, the "lived in" portion of the country.

I remember being told that I was running away from something..back in my years of globe trotting..maybe it was myself, I don't know.

Most places I landed I had to live among the "desperate people". All the time I felt lucky. My best memory is being soaked by rain, dressed in filthy clothes stinking of wine and thinking "this doorway I'm laying in is 2,000 years old...I love this job."

Jeanne said...

I don't, and it's not just 'cause I have no cash to do it, either. To me there is nothing worse than living out of your suitcase, packing, unpacking, packing back up again. I want to go somewhere where I can truly relax, which means I don't want to bother with anything.

Dude, I'm so grumpy about it!

Amy said...

I would LOVE to travel more! My reasons for loving to travel and wanting to travel are pretty simple. I want to experience and see the world from perspectives other than my own. When I hear a story on the news about something that has happened in a far off place, I want it to be "real" to me. I want to feel connected to people and events around the world. I want to know my brothers and sisters and see them as real instead of as news stories or lessons from my history books. In Hawaii, everyone is a "brother" or a "cousin." That's my bag, baby! Traveling kind of makes me feel like a citizen of the world, like part of a great big family. (And, so long as it's not my ACTUAL family we're talkin' about...that's totally cool!)

Wine and Words said...

Actually I don't travel for the exact reasons you spoke of. I don't want to see the worlds biggest ball of yarn, or the mountain when general whosewhatsit died. I don't give a damn. What I would want to do is immerse myself in another culture for awhile. Eat where the locals eat, shop where the locals shop and just hang with the people... absorbing THEM. But I don't have the money nor the vacation time to do that. So I just go to the lake for my 1 week and do nothing but absorb nature. It's something, but I wouldn't call it travel.

W.C. Varones said...

I travel to spend my dollars living well for cheap in third world countries before Ben Bernanke reduces U.S. dollars to toilet paper.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

@eloh...Wherever you go,there you are is a saying that never made sense to me for the longest time, but now I totally get it. You have been on some incredible journeys in your life...not the least of which you traveled with your mom recently. Is it wrong to feel lucky when you see things like some of the those pictures in Random Shots because that is how I feel...lucky to be here.

Jeanne...I so know what you mean. What was that movie, "If It's Tuesday, It Must be Belgium"? I am so torn on this subject. The hassle of travel is enough to keep me a hermit but some of the comments made here make me realize perhaps I need to think harder about this subject.

@Ann...I love your enthusiasm and I bet you would make traveling a blast. I am so awful I have known to say I would love to travel to places but I wish all the people would go away! They say when you travel a lot, you realize people are the same all over, but half the time I feel like there is a chasm so deep in understanding I'm not sure how to even cross it. If people all over the world are like family, then heck you can keep Uncle George and Cousin Bertha thank you very much. I know what you mean make them real and not just images in a newspaper or on TV.

@wine and words...There must be two kinds of travelers in the world. People who travel to meet other people and people who travel to see places. I think we need each other~!

@w.c. varones....Since Ben is here to stay it seems, you are probably right. I keep wondering how this inflation is going to hit us though. Deflation seems to be battling inflation just as hard. I wish travel were cheaper, then maybe I would enjoy it more.

W.C. Varones said...

Prior response was a bit too crass. Bernanke is destroying the dollar, but I've loved third-world travel since before Greenspan decided to blow the biggest asset bubble in the history of the world.

I love Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. I have spent about a year total in those regions, living dirt cheap, seeing beautiful sights, and meeting good people.

If you get laid off in the current Depression, consider taking some time to see the world. Traveling can be cheaper than paying rent/mortgage here.

The Good Cook said...

Happy Hour,

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm especially happy you did because it led me to yours!

That video was absolutely creepy. Can you imagine?? No, no, I don't want to even imagine being on the inside of that train.

I love to travel. I will spend my last dime (and my children's inheritance) on going away. Why? I don't really consider it traveling. More like living somewhere else for awhile.
Absorbing the local culture, experiencing the food, the people, the sounds, the sights. No 5 star hotels for me - give me a local B&B - on a little side street - in the middle of the market district.

That to me is traveling.

Aunt Juicebox said...

Most of my traveling has been done to visit my sister, who lives 900 miles away. Other than that, I have done very little traveling, mostly for financial reasons. But I would love to eat my way around the world. ;)

FRANNIE said...

Thanks for the follow :).

That must be one hell of a morning commute!!

I'm cranky riding on my minivan and I have it all to myself!

MJ said...

I love to travel. I never traveled as a child, but my husband likes to wander--um . . . travel--so I decided to like it too. We travel for many reasons, but one is because we like to read. When we read, we learn about different places which makes us want to go to those places. (You can see where I'm headed with this.) Also we have children who tend to learn more from their travels than from their textbooks.

I think I may write a post one day about traveling. Thanks for the blog idea.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

@good cook...I love your blog and thanks for stopping by mine~! I bet you would be a hoot to travel with...people who don't mind stepping out of their comfort zone and into something totally different. I may have to practice being less of a hermit.

@aunt juicebox...I would happily eat my way around the world...when do we leave? Have stretch pants, will travel.

@frannie...Can you imagine doing that commute EVERY DAY? You are probably less intimate having sex than doing that every day. The only hazard I have in my commute is making sure I don't fall down the stairs at 4 in the morning. (I work at home!)

@MJ....You have probably given me the best reason to travel! I love to read and I always imagine the place I am reading about...even if the book is kinda silly. Wandering...yes, I like that word, too. Of course, this explains my frustration when reading fantasy and sci fi type books, you can't actually go visit Middle Earth or Hogwarts or visit Jupiter on Discovery One. Makes history seem more real when you can see where it happened...and then go eat a fabulous dinner later~!

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