If only I could find my passport

Mong Kok, Hong Kong

‘Stay home, travel is overrated’ says Maura Kelly in a recent post she made. While I appreciate her insight, at the same time you realise she is advising you not to travel because she has travelled so much. Thanks, but no thanks for the advice. The problem I have with this article is the same problem I have with my parents, who don’t believe in trying anything new or letting me experience things for myself, believing that they know the best (‘white guys must be evil and sleep around’ — I’m not bitter).

I admit, she has a point that any type of overseas travel is expensive, not to mention the added costs of delays and cancelled flights. It’s true also that these planes are contributing to global warming (why don’t you explain this to the Australian government who still think flying between the different major cities is a better idea than a bullet train system for Australia?).

But I don’t see airports as “dystopian metropolises”, nor am I disappointed by the similarities between cities. In fact, it is the pleasure in seeing the little differences that excites me the most — like the fact that Starbucks serves different drinks to the ones they do in Australia. Or the subtle differences in the way they choose to construct their buildings. The shape of their skyline. The difference in their customer service.

Hong Kong International Airport

I don’t travel for relaxation or ‘enjoyment’ necessarily either. In fact, I slept less on my trip overseas last year than I did while I was at home, but I was there for the experience which I got. The language swirling around me was just like at home, yet at the same time completely different. Being in another country for me is liberating, completely and utterly like home is not because of all the people you know who will readily judge you for anything that you do. There, you are just another tourist, there for a limited time anyway. Be free.

You don’t have to go to remote places to experience culture. You don’t have to spoil the ‘unsoiled places’ to gain a worthwhile experience. An experience is what you make it.

‘Frankly, I’ve learned far more through regular trips to the library.’ she writes, and once-upon-a-time I would have agreed with her, believing that imagination and photographs is all that you really need. “Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home”, she quotes. But how far? Imagination can only stretch so far with such limited information, when they can only ever receive visual cues (text, photographs).

No, learning from books is not less worthwhile, but to me it is less fulfilling. What I’m really looking for when I travel, is a home where I can really feel at home or feel comfortable in. Yes, at home in a foreign country. Isn’t that strange to say that of a place you potentially can’t even speak the language of?

I’ve stayed at home for 20 years of my life, and only been overseas once. You flew frequently in your twenties to varied places, you’ve already done your time. So why don’t you let me do mine and figure out for myself.