That’s me –after several weeks abroad and enjoying every day, immersed in a foreign country and language environment, I love to come home too.
To my own bed, quiet at home and diverse choice of food.
Not Get Too Lost
I’m not exactly your tourist, clutching tightly onto my pillow from home or I’m peering fearfully around each corner.
Yet I’m the person that doesn’t like to be lost for over half an hr. Even in my own home city. Who wants to be lost in the wilds of the sprawling suburbs? Then oops, I’m near a major highway interchange on bike.
I’ve been to Europe on 3 different trips over the past 30 years. In total, that’s only 11 weeks of my life so far. I haven’t even touched down on South America, Mexico, Central America, Carribbean, Asia, Africa nor Australia, New Zealand. I haven’t even bothered to create a travel bucket list of dream destinations.
Too Coddled or Some Diversity at Home?
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever jet off to these other non-North American locations. Especially when I’m bopping around visiting Vancouver and Toronto just to see family and friends annually. As I mentioned in an earlier post in Cycle Write Blog….Canada is very enormous, time-consuming and expensive to travel across.
Puny Defenses for Not Travelling Enough –When Ignoring Budget, Time
I probably sound naïve and foolish. Even though I haven’t travelled extensively and bankrupted my budget, I don’t feel my world is especially narrow and overly single-lensed. Here are my paltry self-justifications, my puny defenses:
*speaking 2 languages, 1 mother tongue (crappy Chinese fluency) and English as my primary language already gives anyone automatic cultural passport, into a 2nd cultural window . Especially if you are forced to speak a dying mother tongue because of relatives, family. Even if that 2nd cultural window is small, it’s still another window, another perspective.
*with immigrant parents who don’t come from an Anglo culture, it’s just a reminder every day in Canada, that I often ate different foods, understood different colloquialisms based on the immigrant experience (my parents never referred to us as “jook sing” or hollow bamboo meaning not really Chinese in soul), curious cultural mannerisms (thank you, mother for spitting in the bathroom but not out in public, or father drinking hot water on humid summer days).
*cycling as my preferred daily transportation for past few decades. I’ve explored my home cities, Canada and other countries abroad, in ways that’s a very different sensation than being car-bound. Bike explorations gets you into corners a car sometimes is not allowed.
*growing up quite poor in Canada and now living as middle-class. Though I did grow up in 1 bedroom apartment in Canada with 5 children (before 6th one), I know it’s not the same as being poor and desperate from serious malnutrition and lack of sanitation in other parts of the world. Some prolonged experience of poverty, keeps one rooted and not completely unaware of problems elsewhere.
*acute awareness how different my life would have been if I was born in China. I might have ended up as a teen, toiling in a rice field commune during the height of Maoism when high school, college and university education was reviled, teachers punished as “imperialist” in the 1970’s. A cousin was simply ordered to work full-time as a teenager, in the rice paddies in China. She complained of leeches latching onto her feet in the water. She later immigrated to Canada.
*being part of a large family with some interracial marriages and children.
*living most of my life in Canada’s biggest and most diverse cities each over 1 million people. I feel the contrast when I remember my childhood in smaller city, or going cycling with our camping gear into rural areas of Canada where the local population is more homogenous.
Yes, my travel experiences transported me in awe, gazing at world art in famous museums. I never knew paintings so large or colours still so brilliant after several centuries. Very different from cramped photos in art books. Or jaw-dropping richness of architectural history jammed in 1 city or town.
Or nearly in my own backyard, snow sparkling mountains and turquoise gem lakes.
It is not that the wonders of foreign travel don’t tempt me at all. It’s many of us have each walked our own different life journeys. Sometimes “travels” are multiple journeys we switch along, in our mind as we play different roles in life.
We also have a limited budgeted or don’t want to or know how to do an extensive foreign travel trip by just cheap camping.
I’m grateful for taking travel opportunities so far. I look forward to rare opportunities here and there later. But I haven’t been motivated to draw up a travel destination dream list.
After a long journey or even just a hop across the border to the U.S., I return home in Canada to see home in a new, but familiar way. To me that’s what travel is: exploring ways to find unusual among the common, common among the diverse. Ways to light your imagination and understanding from seeing and feeling the pulse how other people translate their world into words, art, architecture and culture.
Chong, J. Looking into Canada’s Soul: Part I. Freaking Out over Vast Time, Distance and Climatic Toughness. In Cycle Write. Jul. 2, 2014.