The Traveller’s Resolution

The Traveller’s Resolution

Let's wrap up the travel memories of 2016 and turn the page to a new year.

For some reason, more than any other year, 2016 has been particularly anxious to get its job done. It felt like yesterday when my television set came to life with energetic emcees helping to usher in the new year, and just like that, they are set to do their jobs again. So begets the question: how was your year?

Like all end-of-year reflections, looking back yields a crop of memories both cherished and forgettable. An upward trajectory of hopeful progress in your life has probably, at some point, been punctuated by trying times. In that collection of positive moments however, I hope that your travels have managed to find their way into it.

Like a travel writer that scours the world for stories, now is the time for you to gather your thoughts and experiences, delicately stringing them up together into a mental montage of your time abroad, as you approach the end of yet another trip. Where did you go? How did you go? Whom did you meet? The list is endless, because there is surprisingly a lot more to reminisce over than just those few sentences that you have on repeat whenever someone asks you how your trip went.

Perhaps this year was your first time travelling all by yourself — it is a brave new world, as they say. How did it feel to pack your bags knowing that at the airport, neither your family nor your friends would be joining you on the other side of the immigration kiosk? How did it feel to see an unfamiliar face sitting beside you on the plane, or to be lost in a sea of people in a foreign land upon your arrival? Fittingly, that very same sense of nervousness gave way to one of joyous fulfilment and accomplishment as you prepare to head home, after days of living in a whole new environment on your own two feet: making plans, getting lost, and engaging in every aspect of your destination.

Perhaps this year, you decided that travelling by plane was too mainstream, and in your conviction, you traded fuel for electricity and occasionally, coal; runways and airspace for rugged railway tracks. You discovered, to your horror, that not all trains were air-conditioned, so you sat stifled and sweating, sometimes in cabins packed like sardine cans. But, irritable you might seem, the chug-chugging of the train’s trustworthy engine, coupled with the curious and sometimes beautiful sights and sounds all around you, permeating your senses, makes the physically uncomfortable journey mentally soothing. It was an experience you would never have traded for the comforts of a modern plane.

Yet perhaps this year, you were so tired of only viewing the country you were visiting the way its tourism board wanted you to view, that you promptly returned, only this time, you took the first detour off the beaten path, choosing instead to immerse yourself in raw, unfiltered local culture that encompasses all its beauty and quirkiness in one authentic package. There were no expensive boutique shops, generic restaurants, or overhyped tourist districts — just you, the unbridled charm of quiet towns and the vibrant countryside, almost free from pesky commercialisation.

For some, 2016 was but another chapter in their thick, leather-bound travel novel, and yet for others, that book remains empty to this day, even though they already know how they want their stories to start. To those who can only dream, bounded by circumstances, I say to you, do not despair, for a lengthy novel is not a correlation to its quality. One can spend a month around the world, but witnesses precious little, compared to one who spends a week in a neighbouring country, but returns home a changed person, having seen, heard, and felt a plethora of things.

As we bid farewell to another year, however well or poorly lived, there goes another chapter done and dusted. 2017 presents a new opportunity upon the horizon to write on a new page. Will it be the year you finally see what is beyond your shores? How will this story go?

I can’t wait to read all about it.

About Author

Benjamin Tan
Benjamin Tan

As a nomad, Benjamin believes his place in the world is not determined by the borders of one country, but by wherever the sweet nectar of exploration tickles his nose. He continually hones his writing in the hopes that his documentation of his journeys can do the beauty of what he witnesses some justice.


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