Personally, I have always dreamed of exploring from a very young age, starting with my interest in Greek and Egyptian myths. And I still vividly remember, one day when I was perhaps about 12 or 13 years old, I saw a mesmerising footage of Provence on TV and fell so desperately in love with its lush lavender fields and luscious mimosa trees. I have yet to visit it, unfortunately, but it has always been on the bucket list, waiting to be ticked off at the right moment.
Traveling or rather, the desire to travel, has become so popular nowadays that some people look at it in a bitter (or jealous?) way, saying that it is another way to show off or boast of your success, etc. In some parts, it is probably true, but why bother evaluating one's reason or need to travel? Some people travel to shop, some to do sport, some to see concerts. To each their own.
I travel for several reasons, and here are some of them:
1. To eat.
I seek to experience new things and meet new people, and food is a big part of it. A bowl of a simple local dish could hold a deep and rich story of culture. And you bond over food, be it with the old uncle who manned the stall or with fellow strangers next to you. When you've finished your meal, sometimes you're left with a full stomach, a warmed heart, and a broader mind.
Clockwise from top left: Gurney Drive hawker's food in Penang (Aug 2013), tapas at The Bell Brook in Hong Kong (Nov 2013), dimsum in Hong Kong (July 2013), Beach Road prawn mee in Singapore (Nov 2013)
2. To discover the gift of gab.
I often travel alone and while this sounds depressing for some people, I like the solitude it provides, not to mention the amount of control I have over my itinerary (yes, admittedly, I am a mild control freak). Anyone who knows me well would say that I am a quiet and reserved person. I may look outgoing or talkative, but it's a part of me that I've trained in order to do my job. But sometimes on a trip, if I let myself go for a bit and relax, I could bond with the people I meet along the way. These small conversations could lead to some valuable insights and interesting stories.
Paris (May 2011)
This chic Parisian lady (look at her shoes, her hair, her well groomed Yorkshire Terrier!) was sitting alone on the bench when I sat down, and she started talking to me when she saw my Annick Goutal paper bag. "That is a very lovely perfume, which one did you get?" "Violet," I replied. "I have Gardenia," she said with a smile. A bottle of perfume could spark a story, and I kind of regretted not staying a bit longer to chat with her. I feel like there could be a deeper story hidden within.
Hazel & Hershey, Hong Kong (Sept 2013)
I was hanging out with an old friend at a small specialty coffee shop around Wan Chai area, when I got into a light discussion about chemex, aeropress, and moka pot with an Italian guy next to me and the owner of the coffee shop, who happens to be one of the top barista in HK. What followed next was two cups of coffee "samples" on the house. It was not the free coffee that lifted up my spirit that day but the discovery of kindness in strangers (and getting some valuable information about coffee didn't hurt either). It serves to remind me that it always pays to be friendly and sincere to the people you meet along your journey.
3. To be lost and to find myself.
Ultimately, I think this is it. Call me a hopeless romantic. Thus why I don't mind traveling solo for now, while I wait (and look) for the right travel partner to share my experiences with. For there is this strong need to be lost and a yearning to be found harboured inside of me.