Note: I've never actually kept a travel journal, and would only write about my travels after I got back from them. But the Laos trip was different - there was plenty of time to think and write, so I did: at the airport, the cafe, on a boat. I had meant to edit my little drabbles from the road and put them together in one neat post, but there's something more raw and real about reading through the actual words I wrote while I was on my trip, so the stuff you will read below is mostly unedited, and nearly exactly as I had written them on my laptop, my iTouch or my phone while traveling around Laos.
Contrasting, 04 May 2012, NAIA
I am sitting beside a man having a video call with his family. I gather that he’s bound for Singapore, most likely to go to work there. I can sense in the way he holds his phone in his two hands tightly, in his intent gaze on his wife and daughter on the screen, that the airport is the last place he’d want to be in at this moment, that he would do anything to come home and stay there.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to leave.
There’s always a little tinge of guilt that taints my excitement to travel, right along that question that nags me more often than I would probably care to admit – why am I so eager to leave? Why so eager to go away? The guilt is especially tangible this time around, while sitting beside this man, who I’m sure feels exactly the way my dad does, because he too works away from home.
The thing is, it’s not that I long to travel so I can escape – maybe I do, to escape the daily grind of everyday corporate life, but certainly not to escape home and the people I love in it. If anything, travelling makes me long for home, and how does that saying go again, about how distance makes the heart grow fonder?
In a perfect world I would have a career that lets me frequently fly across the world on business-mixed-with-pleasure trips, a friend and family member in every corner of the globe and a home with every one of them, and the man beside me will be able to provide for his family in the comfort of his own country.
But life is never quite as practical as the humans who live through them seem to be, or perhaps it’s practical in ways we are not always able to see. Doing something you love and doing something for the one you love can sadly mean two different things, and perhaps in those two is how we, the man beside me and I, are different.
Airport Daze, 05 May 2012, LCCT
I’ve had my fair share of flights in ungodly hours, of back-to-back, no-sleep flying from one destination to another, and this trip to Laos is no different. I left Manila in the evening on a Friday night, arrived past midnight the next day in Kuala Lumpur, and now have time to kill at the LCCT before my morning flight to Vientiane. I was wide awake at one point, but now everything feels a little surreal – it’s freezing inside the scarcely-populated terminal, the cold seeping through my jacket while it rains buckets outside. My eyes are threatening to fall shut, and it’s only the fast and free WiFi plus MGMT’s “Boogie Down” that’s keeping me up.
Two Caucasian guys just sat a few rows across from mine, one holding a tiny green guitar (a banjo?), the other carrying a regular–sized one, and a book. I wonder what they’re doing so far away from home.
I’m so sleepy that I don’t even long for a bed – just my seat on the plane so I can doze off even before takeoff. But it’ll still be a few minutes before boarding time, and Jen isn’t even around yet.