Page 16


I never consider myself to be a traveler. I’ve never dreamt of traveling the world. The demand of packing and unpacking are just too great for me to overcome. My favorite holiday destinations? A local Starbucks and a Pizza Hut store; because they’re quiet, cozy and they have comfortable corner sofas for me to read and write for many hours. Today though, I find that my current passport – which was issued in 2011 – have been used until page 16. Something has changed significantly.

Indeed now I’d recommend anyone to travel. Traveling has greatly enriched my experience, enlarged my view of the world and humanity, triggered a variety of thoughts that in a number of ways have redirected the way I live my life. There are things one just doesn’t get from merely reading books, browsing the Internet and watching movies. For me, these are still good exposures and they have indeed augmented my travel experiences, but the immersion one gets from living in a different society with different lifestyles and values are simply irreplacable.

My preference for traveling is to stay at one place for at least a week. I also prefer to stay at a local’s home rather than at hotels so as to maximise my immersion to local culture and lifestyle – hence my fondness of using Airbnb. I build my itinerary based on cultural significance factor of the prospective venues / activities instead of their popularity as tourist destination.

As late as a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d use so many pages on my current passport. There have been many serendipitous moments in my life and this current passport is a significant testimony to them. I’m especially grateful for @lilymano who’s been instrumental in providing several nudges when I need them. In my life, every time I look back, I’ve always been amazed by what God has done: everything looks great, everything coheres so beautifully beyond my wildest imagination.

In recent weeks I’ve heard for so many times people around me complaining about some “European graduates who speak fluent English but ….” It’s still fresh in my mind the many (emotional!) hours spent just spilling out the part after the “but”. It’s amazing how these people who seem to have been so bright and priviledged to have the opportunity to study half around the globe from Indonesia still end up not really showing enough hints of brightness and the expected accompanying proper manner when they have the real-life situation to perform.

Traveling matters. That’s why the Grand Tour was a very important part of European upper class education long before it became much more affordable and the middle class caught up with it. Traveling alone doesn’t suffice though. It takes deliberate effort of mental preparation and readiness (e.g. reading, observing, analysing, synthesising) to augment the traveling experience and allow oneself to be changed and enriched by it – otherwise, it won’t be much more than “Been there, done that, seen some, spent some, got photos to post, got stamps on my passport. Next travel.”

When you have traveled, would the travel be a matter of your past or your future? Would it end up being a badge of pride, or would it actually be impactful?

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