Version 0.30 (What it Means to not Travel)

01-30-19

I’m on a bus from Perth to Albany. Six hours with not a thing to eat. That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, but if Jay, a bloke I met and chatted with a bit yesterday and who gave me the idea of going to Vietnam instead of Bali, had not chewed my ear off this morning I would have had the opportunity to grab a snack. Oh well. Maybe it’s for the best. If ‘Nam is as good as he says it is I’ll thank him regardless. I’m just glad I made the bus, even if I am sweaty and sticky as a result of speed-walking and jogging with my hiking pack to get to the station before the bus departed.

I plan on doing a walking tour from Albany, kinda following the coastline west. Might take busses or hitch a ride here and there. This is very loosely planned. There are a few specific “sites” I wish to visit along the way. I put sites in quotations because it’s all a site as far as I’m concerned, but these are things labeled on a map, so i guess that makes them of some greater significance.

I do have a decision to make re: Vietnam, and that is what city I will choose to stay. Then will need to find an apartment, and apply for a visa.

Peering out the window of the bus everything looks the same; but looks different too. It’s like a mashup of eastern Nebraska, American southwest, and Mid-Atlantic landscapes, but the plant species are different. It’s all forested and hilly, but extremely dry and rocky. At least this is how it appears to me. This is the world over of course: same but different, different but same. It’s what makes travel so stimulating sensorially and mentally, and so exciting. The sameness gives one a sense of security, even if only slight. It’s a center, a nexus, a pivot which all that is different swings from. It’s a bastion which one can repair to when one feels threatened or is frightened by that which is different and foreign. Deep down we all know we are the same—all the same dreams and desires, the same suffering, the same joy. And if one bothers to zoom out, and I mean really zoom out, even all the differences we observe on this micro level of cities, states, countries, cultures blur into one humanity speeding and spinning and revolving around one star, on a tiny blue, green and white sphere. One which seems to be slowly going black, like a bit of cheese slowly molding in the back of your refrigerator. The differences we notice so close up are things that make travel so exciting and exhilarating (and frightening, perhaps): the different cultures, the different animal and plant species, different money, different languages, different customs. No one travels for the sameness of travel, but “the same” is the thing that one can latch onto if necessary (if one can see it—that is, he doesn’t miss the forest for the trees).

Of course realizing all this can beg the question why travel at all if at heart, or from a perspective really zoomed out, there is no difference between one place and the next. And what about those people without the wherewithal to travel? Where comes their excitement? Well obviously life is flux, change. Sit somewhere that is not the interior of a windowless room (this is why people go mad in the madhouse) and every five minutes, every five seconds something is changing if one cares to take notice, to focus her attention. Day to day always brings the new. This change, this difference, this excitement, this joy can be found anywhere, even sitting in a chair. So, why travel if that which can be got by traveling can be got by sitting on the porch at home, or in a cafe? But why not travel for the exact same reasons? Ultimately, you see, it doesn’t matter what you do—travel, or not travel—because to travel is to not travel, and to not travel is to travel.

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