I tend to read a few blogs. I don’t read many travel blogs because I tire rather quickly of the same things on them. The run of things tire me out when they consist of the 5 things to see or the perfect itinerary in Stockholm or what to do in 24 hours in a place. When I do read a blog I would like to find out the content and feelings behind the place. What the honest impression was and whether you found yourself, lost yourself, or were able to transcend and get that rarity of enlightenment. One day when wandering in Tokyo, I set out down a small sidestreet, maybe it was an alley. It had casual turns that I followed. Soon other smaller alleys came together and I was faced with thinking about a left or right turn or a straight ahead thing. Truth is I don’t even flip a coin. If the turn to the right looks all shiny and bright, I will usually go left just out of spite. This time, I determined to not use Google Maps whatsoever so continued. If you have been to Tokyo and particularly Shinjuku you know its huge. It also has many small neighborhoods, schools, businesses out and away from the downtown and the big buildings. I found those and took turns without really considering where I might be.
Left and right and left and right I went. Kind of like life goes you know. I remember vaguely driving home from work after another frustrating day in IT. Driving over the Dumbarton Bridge and realizing I was trapped even after exiting the bridge. It was perhaps a Friday or a Tuesday but all I could think of was making it home. Perhaps a stop for dinner after my 14 to 16 hour day. Then of course, my work phone would start chiming. Incoming call. Of course. So I had to stop. It was a damnable WebEx that I was not invited to but that I must attend or perhaps my group VP calling me to find out if I had a bad day or my manager calling to tell me to not forget the 20 things I had to do as he headed off on medical leave for weeks or months. The damned phone stopped me dead in my track so I had to get off the bridge and park in some mall or shopping area in Newark California. There was no choice like later. I could not decide to ignore it. I guess I was too dedicated. I could not turn the phone off.
Flash forward to Tokyo and Shinjuku. Now I had the choices. Left or right or straight ahead. It did not matter a bit. Tokyo was much bigger than I could ever hope to see. It ambled along endlessly so I just took the turns as I would that day.
Imagine my surprise when I finally saw a big street ahead and it was close to the Starbucks that I had started at that morning. Surprise surprise! I laughed at how I believed I was an adventurer, a finder of mysteries, a vagabond or a hobo. Then I end up back where I started.
Traveling and Thinking…
Then there is traveling. We travel or we think about traveling or we consider thinking about what we think about when we travel. I read all the time that travel blogging is hard work. It requires painstaking dedication and one must give of oneself tirelessly to become successful. One person that shall remain nameless painstakingly creates a schedule of hours of work each day starting or culminating with their blog post or Pinterest Pins or Instagram moments. Every picture at some beautiful Angkor Wat ruins has them in the picture too. I guess when other people think about travel its proof that the person was there. They can say,
Hey! I was at Angkor Wat on such and such a day in 2019. Here’s the proof. See? I am in every picture and I’m wearing flowing gowns and I have a Nikon something or other camera and I am thinking about how I will blog this, pin it, and create more instagram posts.
I always feel in the end when I think about what I do is that its not traveling or being a tourist. Its slower than either. I could spend months in a place if I wished. Like I could go think about traveling in Kampot Cambodia for 3 months. I could wander the wondrous street art in George Town and consider that no moment leads to another. In the battle of traveling and thinking about traveling and blogging and thinking about blogging; I operate at no space in time. I sit down and decide like now to write and its a particularly good feeling to find that empty canvas where my words move from left to right and the content springs to life. Words and feelings. Thoughts and deeds. Knowing I am not that person that spends the hours each day creating. For me it will always be the living in a place. Finding the little side streets and alleys in Hiroshima or Osaka and maybe I don’t see one of the big instagrammable places. Okay.
I did think about it though. And the side street became much much more to me that day and the other days in Hanoi.