Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Does Traveling Mean to you

This is a write-up for the #TSBreakaway contest organized by Tourism Selangor.

I have no idea since when I become a travel-holic. Like any addiction, your memory can be a bit hazy when it comes to finding the trigger point. My first taste of overseas vacation was in March 2011. It was nothing but a quick escape into the neighboring Thai city with a typical urban landscape. Yet, somehow, I came back all charmed and swore of doing more traveling once I graduated. Since then, I have been jet-setting once every few months over the years.

However, my insatiable wanderlust can be traced back to my nomadic childhood. Growing up, my family often move from one small town to another due to my father's work requirements. Before we can call the rented house we stayed in our home, we had to uproot ourselves to a new surrounding and the whole process of assimilation began again. Throughout these fundamental years, our weekends were filled with road trips back hometown and every now and then, family vacations to either Genting Highland or Kuala Lumpur. We found nothing unusual about it.

These family trips are something our whole family often look forward to as we can break away from the dry routines of our lives. We kids were gratefully happy to escape schools and home works while my mother smiled gleefully over weekends of chores-free. My father would be grudging out loud about the money spent but delighted in his heart. Quality times are spent among each other as we eat, sleep, explore, and basically doing everything, together.  

As I grow older, I begin to venture out on my own. My first solo trip was to Vietnam back in 2012 and I remembered feeling scared as hell. Why didn't I ask my friends to go with me? What if I come across thieves and robbers while on the road? Should I do this or perhaps, that? All sort of questions were in my mind, all begging to be answered.

However, as the initial shock wore off, I began to enjoy myself, opened up to sights and sounds the country has to offer, talked to the locals as well as fellow travelers. At the end of the trip, I came out feeling liberated, no longer confined by the fear of the unknown. Don't get me wrong. I am still afraid whenever I set my feet on a new place, but fear has lost its grip in dictating my life.

When I am traveling, I often see a different me. I am more easy-going, less prejudice and more open-minded. I am guided by my interests every times I travel which often revolves around heritages and historical monuments. My love of cultures, civilizations and arts comes as a shock even to myself as I often thought myself as a man of science. I guess traveling has unveiled my true self.

There is nothing quite like traveling. A simple exploration can bring you new friends and broaden your mind and knowledge, changing the way we see the world. Such liberation is a gift, one that can easily obtain with just a step out of your cocoon, and that is what traveling means to me.