What's Special about Travelling? (Day 205)
What is it that is so special about travelling? Is it the sights, the sounds or the smells? Or something else?
Is it seeing sights like one of Shikoku’s most photographed views of the steep V-shaped Iya valley that changes colour for each season? Or the beautiful statue of a little boy peeing on top of a giant rock representing the local boys’ test of courage? Both wonderful scenes that we saw today and many more around the world. Yet for me, it is also time with people, getting to know them, understanding their culture and what makes them tick.
Funny times like this morning, laughing with Jan and Simon when they arrived dishevelled after their night in their campervan while we were in our Kimono robes after a comfy night on our shikibutons. Continuing our laughter at the Hotel Onsen, men in one and ladies in the other. We forgot our towels and flannels for our heads. Special moments whilst relaxing in steaming hot natural water overlooking the green foliage of the mountains on the other side of the valley with butterflies flitting by, deep in conversation. Cute moments as we left when the Hotel maid stood waving goodbye to us. Sad moments that we are going our separate ways; them continuing in their campervan and us catching trains to our next Airbnb. We so enjoyed our time together, much laughter – food for the soul.
We arrived just outside Takamatsu and our host Yoji kindly picked us up from the station. What a lovely man. We chatted for ages about all of our travels. He and his wife have travelled all over the world, a lot more adventurous than us, hiking over high mountain ranges and sleeping in tents. Yoji now supports JNPOC – a national infrastructure organisation for the growing non-profit sector in Japan and actively helps with the Pilgrim walks here.
Later, Olivia arrived, another Airbnb guest. She is a young lady from Belgium who, two days ago completed the 1,200 km Shikoku pilgrimage on her own seeing the 88 temples during this circular route. How amazing and inspiring is that. We had such an enriching conversation with her. She shared how at times she felt a deep loneliness walking for days not seeing another human being and then the joy of seeing people, connecting with a smile and special moments when meeting a stranger.
Loneliness is such a growing problem within the western world. I shared how I’d seen a clip a few months back of a guy being on his own in his flat. He’d turned off the internet and phone, just occasionally talking into his video camera, and after a few days, feeling intensely lonely. After his self-induced experiment, he visited an elderly man in the same block and discovered that this man often would have weeks being on his own; his normal existence since his wife died 18 months previously.
So what is it that is so special about travelling? We meet such interesting people and talk about a wide range of subjects. I realised that at times I become complacent, talking about the same old, not exploring different subjects with people. Travelling is opening my mind and I hope I am reciprocating. It really is very humbling meeting people like Jan and Simon, Yogi and Olivia, adventurous travellers experiencing wonders around the world of sights and many incredible people.