I headed to my local this morning for one last breakfast before I hit the road again to yet another town. There was an old frail looking gentleman crouched on the stool smoking a cigarette reading none other than the West Africa Lonely Planet. After ordering I naturally sat next to him and enquired where he was from and what he was doing. He was from Japan. He spoke some English and no French. He didn’t seem too interested in talking. Nevertheless I persevered and soon enough I found out he was travelling through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina and Niger to visit their respective World Heritage sights, and then off to Italy (which has over 40!) He told me there are 900 odd listed in the world, and he had seen about 400 so far. It was his passion. For him, that is what his travel was about. It got me thinking just how different people’s idea’s, philosophies and goals are when it comes to travelling.
So, what does travelling mean for me you ask? For me, I have never been one to have much interest in visiting ‘sights’ as such. Unless it’s a must see like the Pyramids or the Taj, otherwise you can leave it. Also (like my Japanese friend) I prefer to travel solo. I rarely travel with a group (truth be told I am hard work!) and being that I’m usually travelling ‘on a shoe string’ I have to avoid spending my evenings getting drunk. Don’t get me wrong I have spent more than a few drunken nights stumbling around (Kashgar 07, Dahab, Tbilisi 2008 comes to mind, just to name a few!) and great memorable times were had.
For me however, travelling is about meeting the locals, pushing my boundries of comfort and of course taking photo’s. There is nothing I love more than arriving in a strange town, walking in a random direction to find a place to sleep and then heading out with my camera. I have talked with thousands of faces from all over the globe and for me, these are the memories I will treasure most when I look back in the years to come. Through these faces I have to come realise that in fact the world, and it’s people, are beautiful.
So, what is your idea/philosophy of travel? Don’t be shy, we would love to hear!