TEXT: Kaycie Gayle
Looking at the glass wall while sitting silently in a restaurant from a heritage district, I see a group of friends taking photos of their selves on each side and corner of the road. On their background is a historical site where a museum is housed and a destination restaurant is across it, but they never even bothered to explore to get to know more of the roots of the place. After snapping their cameras and phones, they were happy browsing and seeing their selves beautiful on the recently taken photographs with the scenery on its background. I paused for a while and wonder is this what traveling is all about? I wonder what happens after it. Have they ever really known the place after this?
How do I want to know the place? Upon seeing it, I want to understand its character and history. I want to know how it is in the past and how it has changed to the present. I walk, feel the air, and enter the narrow alleys and wide streets for a culinary experience and look for a food I can never find in my home. I sit in a park and watch people to understand the culture and customs of the place. I go to museums and look at the old photographs, relics and artwork collection that has been preserved and treasured by the place so I can understand deeper its heritage and dig its history. I go to market to encounter the locals and mingle with them and see how commerce is in the place and appreciate the produce and products they are abundant with. I want to experience how to be a local in a place wherever I am.
Every place I’ve been to has a way of introducing its self to me while I find myself mesmerized and enjoying in discovering deeper. The more I learn about the place, the more I want to get know more of it, the more I’m falling in love with it, the more I wanted to stay. I am discovering both its good and dark side but because I have so much appreciation by knowing it deeper, I understand even its flaws. The more I accept it, the more I become attached, the more I wanted to stay, hence, when I have to say goodbye something inside of me is sad to leave it. Even I have move on, it has a way of making me miss it for having left a mark in me. Whenever I hear a news about it, I can’t help but reminisce the memorable experiences it has shared with me and wishing I can go back there soon, if not the soonest at least some day.
I travel not to take pictures of myself with its tourist spots on the background. I travel because I want to learn more of the places I go to, from mingling with the locals, experiencing their culture, understanding their history to appreciating beautiful sceneries they have. I want to have a real encounter with the place that would leave me learnings I would treasure for a lifetime. I travel not just to have a collection of photos to show to people nor to claim that I have been to the places that people include on the bucket list destination. I also don’t travel to have my passport stamped on different countries. I just simply travel because I crave to learn more through real exposure that no educational institution can provide to me.
Traveling is like a relationship that teaches you lifetime lessons. You cannot learn and fully understand it unless you explore and experience it yourself. The process of traveling from pursuing to engaging to exploring to learning and eventually saying goodbye is certainly riveting. As you find yourself mesmerized with the places you’ve been in you eventually realize that you are already in love with traveling and that’s what makes traveling like a relationship.