I’ve travelled, but I wouldn’t call myself a traveller yet. I haven’t had enough experience to know what the word really means. But I’ve met travellers before; they spend their lives roaming the world, making friends and losing them, getting into and out of trouble and packing more life into their life than any other creature on Earth. In the last few days in particular, I’ve met a lot of them, on my trip to Thailand.
I’m staying in an accommodation, and I’ve already mentioned its many problems, and more importantly, how they don’t bother me. The experience is worth the experience, and it teaches you not to expect perfection in everything, nor comfort, nor special treatment. I’m here for three weeks, and I’ve been shown the ropes by the more experienced in this house and with this school (my next blog will be on the school, by the way; I’m waiting for a couple of days before talking about it). They tell me how they make the best friends they’ve ever made in their lives in this place. And then they leave, and they know they might not ever see them again. This is alien to me – the idea that such perfect interactions should be allowed to be temporary. Most often, reunions with people who they’ve met on their travels occur by accident. I wonder how accidental it is. They may not have planned to meet, but it’s no surprise that the minds of two good friends converge on similar places and ideas, more than once.
They adapt to every place, and every time, and every culture. Every misfortune is another opportunity, every difficulty is just a challenge, and when you’re in a place you’re unfamiliar with, in which you’ve spent so little time, those challenges happen a lot. It changes you as a person. I’ve always talked about the importance of seeking perspective. Travelling gives you it. You forget about the little things that irritate you at home because you’ve lived with worse elsewhere.
Last night, I was sat on the decking of an outdoor cafe lit by lanterns, at nine in the evening, sipping an ice hot chocolate and eating pineapple from a plate. I sat with a mate of mine who I’d met less than three days ago, chatting about everything from his crazy experiences in Bangkok, being chased through a canal by dogs and scuba-diving in Australia, to university, politics, ancient history and our days in the school. There was a warm breeze rushing through the tables and it was just cooling down for the night. The night was pitch black, and you couldn’t see the ocean, barring the occasional light from the moon flashing off the waves, but you could hear it crashing against the beach. It was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. Others would join us later that night, and we sat and laughed, exploiting the Wi-Fi and cracking jokes and drinking with the owners.
I’m never going to have that conversation again. I might never see any of these people ever again. I’m two days in, and I already know I’m going to miss them when I leave. Travelling, for me, breaks this rule: Time flies when you’re having fun.
It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. Every day passes slowly, and you live in every moment. I’ve packed more life into two days than could get in a month back at home. It makes me wonder why I would ever want to go back.
The traveller’s mystique is the air of sadness coupled with ecstasy that surrounds them when they speak of their experiences. Everything is so temporary for them, and they know it is. So they live the best life they can, meet the best people they’ve ever known, see things they’ll never see again and then miss them dearly when they have to leave. Most people thing that they travel because they are bored of home. In reality, travellers love home. So much so, that they make everywhere home.