“Why do I like to travel?”
As the stranger next to me whispers, “this is the worst golf trip ever” to his companion, further delays are announced over the intercom in muffled Japanese. Alone with my journal on a cold floor after 24 hours stranded due to a blizzard at Narita International Airport, I begin wondering, “Why do I like to travel?” Searching for a reason, I look around the small airport gate and consider how lucky I am to be stuck here with so many interesting people from all over the world. There’s a sweet elderly Israeli couple, a cool-headed Australian surgeon, a hilarious Indian businessman, a calmly meditating Thai Buddhist monk and a student from London, with whom I traverse the airport many times over. After hearing the stories of people from more than a dozen countries, my understanding of the world as a whole begins to grow. ”Oh yes, now I remember.”
Sure, traveling can be trying at times, but a wise person once said, “To travel is to endure discomfort of the body in order to gain freedom of the mind.” Though the ruins of Angkor Wat are haunting and the beaches of the Thai islands are tranquil, I’ve gained the fondest memories while stranded along a Cambodian road, talking to a Bangkok cab driver, or stuck with interesting people amidst the great flow of international air travel.
Stagnating on the couch day after day, or alone on an airport floor with a journal?
I choose the latter.
First written: 25 January 2006