Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
As a journalist, part of my job is to attend international conferences in other parts of the world.
I have seen the Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand. I have scaled the Petronas Twin Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have walked through the fine white beaches in Bali, Indonesia. I have toured the award-winning zoo in Melbourne, Australia. I have experienced an authentic safari while I was in Durban, South Africa. I have learned to speak French (not fluently but just barely) while staying for almost a week in Montreal, Canada (more so when we traveled to Quebec).
I have been to the United States several times. I rode a snowmobile while I was in Hibbing, Minnesota. I did surfing twice – once in North Carolina and the most recent one while I visited my aunt and uncle in Savannah, Georgia. I marveled at the mysterious Wakulla Springs in Tallahassee, Florida. In Iowa, I saw the Old Faithful, the world’s best-known geyser, spew out hot water. I have been at the top of the Washington Monument. I have touched the Statue of Liberty in New York City. I became a little kid again as I toured Paramount’s King’s Island in Ohio. I got tired after board walking in New Jersey’s Atlantic City.
As I write this, the song popularized by Nancy Sinatra comes to my mind. Well, while in the US, I have never been to Texas, but I have been to Utah. I have never been to Alabama, Nebraska, or Alaska, but I have visited Indiana, Montana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Now, can you name the title of the song? The chorus said, “I know you’re tired of following my elusive dreams and schemes; for they’re only fleeting things, my elusive dreams.” (If you hear me singing this song in videoke bars, now you know the reason.)
Indeed, there are many songs in which travels are featured. Frank Sinatra’s “Around the World,” tells the story of a man who travels around the globe searching for the right girl for him. “I traveled on when hope was gone to keep a rendezvous,” the song goes. “I knew somewhere, sometime, somehow you’d look at me, and I would see the smile you’re smiling now.” At the end of the song, the man in love expresses his final thought: “No more will I go all around the world, for I have found my world in you.”
But for those who are madly in love and who love to travel at the same time, “the world is not enough,” to quote the title of a James Bond movie. The film’s theme song has these words: “The world is not enough but it is such a perfect place to start, my love; and if you’re strong enough, together we can take the world apart, my love.”
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” commented Saint Augustine. “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go,” novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once said. “I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
When you travel to another uncommon place, you don’t have to worry about what other people will say about you. As William Least wrote in Blue Highways, “When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
When going to a foreign land, ask not those who have never been there but those who are always on the go. Here’s a piece of advice from Susan Heller, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” Got that?
One of the most important documents to bring when traveling is a passport. It is very important, but Lemony Snicket can’t help making fun of it. “A passport, as I’m sure you know, is a document that one shows to government officials whenever one reaches a border between countries, so the officials can learn who you are, where you were born, and how you look when photographed unflatteringly.”
Traveling gives you all kinds of emotions: sadness, happiness, fear, excitement, disgust, politeness, inconsiderate, hunger, pain, thrill, loss of energy – name it, and you have it. Award-winning film director Orson Welles (of Citizen Kane distinction) observed, “There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” For those who experienced the latter, Mignon McLaughlin has these words: “Whenever we safely land in a plane, we promise God a little something.”
Flying is indeed not for the faint-hearted. But even if you travel by bus or boat, you still encounter a lot of hazards like accidents and typhoons. But these are just a few reasons why some people don’t travel. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home,” advises James Michener.
Funny incidents every now and then are bound to happen while traveling. A family living in Montreal, Canada, traveled by land to Orlando, Florida, last November. A day before their departure, the mother told her two kids: a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. “Let us make this clear. No one should ask if we are almost there,” the mother said. The two children agreed.
Almost two days later, they were still on the road. The mother was driving while the father took his turn to sleep. The two kids were already feeling bored. They wanted to ask their mother if they were almost there, but they backed off such thought, remembering their agreement before. The little girl could not hold any longer, so she inquired, “Mom, will I still be four years old when we get there?”
Robert Frost penned this famous line: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” Wherever you are, enjoy the most of it. “To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world,” said Freya Stark. And try to get the most of it. Listen to the words of wisdom from Moslih Eddin Saadi, “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”
I have been to different parts of the world. But there is no place like home. Most of the time, I always look forward to coming home. After the excitement has died down and fatigue has engulfed your being, all you want to do is to go back to your familiar surroundings. (That is why I don’t get enough when I am in Davao.) How true were the words of Lin Yutang: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”