Wariness and Anticipation: Travelling in the Digital Age.

We travel for pleasure, for a door-slamming sense of “I’m outta here,” for a change of air, for edification, for the big vulgar boast of being distant, for the possibility of being transformed, for the voyeuristic romance of gawping at the exotic; and sometimes we travel because we have been banished. I was banished once, and it fortified me.

Paul Theroux restoring my faith in travel, 2013.

Anticipating India has made me anxious and hungry to devour anything written about the country. I’m excited and I know it but I’m also hitting that point when I feel like I’ve researched too much and read loads more than I should. This is the one thing that baffles me about today’s set of explorers. We want to be so realistic about expectations that we go out of our way to know everything that can be known. I’ve had over 25 tabs open and running since last week–each one a portal into someone’s India that narrates everything spent, experienced, done. These days, all travel decisions can be made without even stepping foot in the places we’ve yet to see. Do I want to see Hue or Hoi An? Are these places worth my money? Will I enjoy a bus-ride or a train-ride? What can I do if I stay for x number of days?

Dispatch Magazine.

Tonight, the tabs are still around but I’m ignoring them and opting to read this magazine instead. It’s a handsome little volume that excites me and seeing that it’s published here in the Philippines makes me even more thrilled.

Admittedly though, I’m a bit let down by what I have read–not that the magazine failed to deliver but rather, the itinerary I have for India has been taken on by others–as if the internet wasn’t bad enough. They’ve written about all of it–and it’s silly, I know, but doesn’t this get to you? Do you feel some slight ache over this?

For a brief moment, I lost my will to roam only because it hit me that there are no longer any uncharted territories and only places where others have been. I know this is not what travel is about and I know that tomorrow I will regret whining in public but still, there is some disillusionment to be felt knowing that the places you ache to discover have been stripped bare of their mystery by many a traveler.

Thanks to Theroux, though, there’s hope for all of us. Maybe the lesson to be learned is that exploration is as much a journey into oneself as it is a journey outward into the world.

2 thoughts on “Wariness and Anticipation: Travelling in the Digital Age.

  1. cent cent says:

    If only touring were more economical and less constrained by time, I’d suggest that visiting a place having read the bare minimum beforehand is the best way to see it. The more real and defined things become, the less faith we have to have in them, and the less likely we are to care enough to fly our houses to them with balloons. The internet makes things so bloody passe.
    But as much as we’d like to “get lost”, it’s not really “discovering” anymore, is it? That we can read about it somewhere tells us that much. Discovery and mystery mean facing the unknown – setting off in wagon trains or through uncharted waters or to the moon – places where monsters might live and all men, animals, plants, rocks and even the air are hostile. Discovery means going to a strange land and, upon seeing the water flow up, you question not the laws of physics but the people who live there.

    • I had to keep reading this response of yours over the past few days before responding because I feel like i can’t do justice to what you said. You’ve so wonderfully captured everything I feel about discovery and the perils of traveling in the digital age! I’d give you a prize for what you just said but something tells me you are so far away. Oh well, that’s one thing technology affords us–some belonging despite the actual space that separates us.🙂 Thank you for dropping by. Please come again next time.

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