Friday, August 13, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Years ago I had a conversation with a co-worker who couldn’t fathom why I would ever want to go to Thailand. I tried to explain my motives; the food, the rush of the colorful markets, the fascinating culture, the renowned service and the value for money, and the diverse range of activities and tourist facilities available. My co-worker had absolutely no desire to ever see Thailand and preferred to use vacation time to partake in a poker championship at a Las Vegas casino.

Elephant Ride in Koh Samui, Thailand

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same is true for travel. One man’s paradise is another man’s purgatory. One traveller’s pleasure is another’s pain. While what constitutes the perfect destination and method of travel varies greatly for each person, there is undeniable beauty in the act of travelling. To far-flung locales or to the next town on the interstate, people travel to experience, discover, and relax.

What one considers a perfect destination depends largely on a traveller’s personality and character. Some people enjoy relaxing beach vacations, others like adventurous climbs on the world’s highest peaks; others appreciate fine food and culture in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. To each his (or her) own and that is what makes travel so universal- it’s subjective and ever-changing just like any form of beauty.

Some call me crazy; I just call myself anxious to take any trip I can. I like to journey to exotic locales all over the world. I also enjoy cross-country road trips, weekend getaways to sleepy mountain towns, camping trips and travel to just about anywhere that constitutes somewhere new or different. Something about the act of moving is undeniably attractive to me.

Our Camp at the Flat Tops, Colorado

I recently took a road trip with my husband and 14 month old son through the heartland of America. My husband drove along the dusty, barren highway and I sat in the back seat ‘playing the clown’, entertaining my baby for twelve hours. My best friend said she would never ever subject herself to something like that. What is unthinkable misery to my best friend was, to me, an economical, flexible way to travel that enabled us to bring much more luggage and spend LOTS of quality time together.

Taking a Roadtrip Break...Somewhere in Kansas

Aside from cross-country road trips, some travellers shy away from destinations due to uncomfortably long flights, multiple stopovers, and challenging situations along the way. To others, like me, the actual act of travelling is exciting. I look forward to each and every flight, my uninterrupted SkyMall reading time, the airline beverage cart and my Bloody Mary mix over ice with a lime. I look forward to frequent flyer miles, in-flight movies, free wine, and most of all, the anticipation and excitement of a new place. The long layovers, grimy teeth, achy muscles, blood-shot eyes, snoring seat mates, screaming babies and grumpy airline personnel are just part of the deal. You have to take the bad with the good.

The actual act of travelling does present quite a few challenges in the process of getting from point A to point B. This is why I say the beauty of specific travel preferences are in the eye of the beholder. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a well-travelled person I greatly admire. She said, ‘you guys are the kind of people that would travel to Scotland for the weekend with three kids and four layovers.’ I thought about this comment for days and agree completely. I’ll take whatever circumstance, ideal or not, that enables me to travel. I'll take what I can get. Call it being intoxicated by travel itself, anxious to get any action I can or just having beer goggles on when it comes to the method of travel I find attractive.

Being a travel obsessed person I find just about any destination desirable. Years ago my grandma, not a traveller herself, asked me, ‘why would you ever want to go to Ghana?’ I replied, ‘if you don’t know, you should go’. If you don’t know why something is attractive to someone else, the best way to find out is to get to know it. It’s like meeting someone that you don’t find attractive initially who grows more and more beautiful to you the more you get to know the person. The same is true with places. Though I wasn’t expecting to find beauty in Ghana, my 10 days spent there showed an irresistible quality that nowhere else in the world possesses.

Motherly Love in Accra, Ghana

Like beauty, everyone has a different opinion about what makes a holiday destination attractive. Whatever your preference, travel is like beauty itself- it’s subjective and universal. Though the ‘where’ and 'how' is a personal preference, the act of discovering new places, seeing how others live, experiencing different cultures, getting out of everyday life and seeking rest and recreation is an inherently beautiful thing.

Paris, France with My Best Friend

1 comment:

  1. You are an amazing traveler and I admire your tolerance to anything to get to a new (or old) destination. Your commitment to it shows your passion for the act of traveling itself. And your love for it comes through in your writing!