Why travel?

There is something competitive and narcissistic about travelling these days. In an age of Facebook and Instagram, people seem to flaunt their travel photos and selfies rather shamelessly. Before I embark on my next adventure, I want to remind myself why I love to pack my bag and travel. I think the moment when I started to enjoy travelling was the moment when I stopped putting up travel photos on Facebook. Photos are really just the tip of the iceberg of the travel experience. Even the words on this blog are insufficient to document the travel experience. Personally, I find it sad when people are looking at something magnificent and thinking about the photo poses and captions to go with the photos. Here are some reasons (not exhaustive of course) why I love to travel:

1. Travelling broadens my mind.

When I travel, I meet fellow travellers or locals who lead lives that are very different from me. They grow up in cultures that are so different from mine. I love to learn about the different cultures and socioeconomical issues around the world. There are so many pockets of culture beyond this little red dot. It is through these conversations that I fall in love with the world and its cultures. It is also through these conversations that I realized what is unique/ peculiar about Singapore. I was very bad at introducing Singapore to foreigners at the start but I am getting a lot better these days. Even though Singaporeans tend to find Singapore boring, I realized this island is really special in its own way.

More seriously, it is also through these conversations that my thinking gradually has changed. And very gradually, the way I think about some things greatly differ from the majority here. Take university courses for instance, people here usually choose prestigious courses or those that seemingly have better pay prospect. When I talk to people from other places, I learn about the word “interest” and I slowly found my interests. People in other places, particularly in the US, seem to be driven by their interests. That seems right. After all, what is education but an avenue for people to discover their inner potential and interests?

2. Travelling is a humbling experience.

The more I travel, the humbler I get. As I walk the streets of Shibuya in Tokyo, I understand that I am really insignificant in the world – who would have noticed my presence? Who would have remembered that I was here? When I see ancient monuments, such as the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, I understand that I am just a tiny water droplet in the history of Mankind. The world has existed longer than I can even imagine. The world existed before I was born and would go on for many, many more years after I die. My life is not so important in the greater scheme of the world so all I can do is to enjoy my life and try to make a positive imprint on other people’s lives.

3. Travelling makes me feel alive.

Travelling alone or in a small group makes me feel alive. I love the freedom to go wherever I want to and stay in one place for as long as my heart wants to. For this, I hate to conform to a must-sees list. There are surely many beautiful places off the beaten path. I love the feeling of navigating foreign cities and I love the feeling of getting lost and getting re-oriented in foreign lands.

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