Wanderful Words No. 28: The Grandeur of Traveling Slowly

by Ekua on August 4, 2012 in slow travel,solo travel,wanderful words,why i travel

Nose pressed against the window, you watch the world go by. Maybe you’re in a train or a bus or a boat. On one side of you, you might have a seatmate who wedges a strange sack of goods where your leg room should be. Or a heavy sleeper whose wobbly head insists on using your shoulder as a pillow.

It’s probably too hot or too cold. Your seat may not recline properly. Maybe you’re by yourself, alone with only a head full of thoughts that are sure to come undone without any activities or people to repress them. And it’s hours to your next destination.

But on the other side of you, through the glass, you see dramatic cloud forested mountains or unexpected rock formations jutting out of the ground or mind-bending desert scenery or a coastline that’s so beautiful beyond anything you could imagine that you don’t dare to close your eyes because no dream can top it.

You pass through villages and cities and it’s the purest form of cultural observation without your appearance or nationality to alter everyday human interactions. Inside the vehicle, it’s a cultural stew and you’re the special ingredient for the day and no one knows how it will turn out.

In the unglamorous movement of traveling slowly by land or by water, travel is at its most grand. Life is never as close — the way of life of the people in the new place you’re visiting, the glory of the Earth, and the life within you.

"The great affair is to move" on a road in Yosemite

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Wandergirl August 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Lovely writing. I love travelling by land. Yes, it’s slow and often sweaty and uncomfortable. But it feels more like part of the travel experience than just a way to get from point A to point B.

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Ekua August 7, 2012 at 12:10 am

Thanks 🙂 I think a lot of travel and travel writing focuses on what happens after you arrive, but I often find that I’m most inspired by the process of getting there!

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Hannah August 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

So true. Overland travel is difficult but so rewarding. When you’re not the one doing the driving, that is 😉

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Ekua August 7, 2012 at 12:12 am

For the most part, yes, but closer to home, it can sometimes be nice to be the one driving and have the opportunity to stop whenever something inspires you to pull over!

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Sunee August 6, 2012 at 10:25 am

This is one of the reasons why I’d still like to take a train holiday. I’d just like to sit at the window and watch the world go by. Wouldn’t it be great to take the Orient Express from London to Istanbul? Or the Trans-Siberian rail? Or any long-distance sleeper train for that matter. It’s so unfortunate that they are all so ridiculously expensive.

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Ekua August 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

The Trans-Siberian railway would be epic! But you’d definitely need a nice wad of cash for sure. I’ve filed that kind of journey into the more elusive section of my travel dreams 😛

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Sojourner August 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I love that notion of the purest form of travel being when you can observe the world from a bus, train, boat, etc.
I often wish that I could be invisible when I travel so that I can get a closer look without altering things.
Beautiful post!

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Ekua August 7, 2012 at 12:31 am

I think there are ways of traveling that get you closer to a culture, but I don’t think that any type of travel is more pure than another! It’s more that from a vehicle you can observe a culture without your presence interfering with it and be somewhat invisible, like you say. So often, you read travel writing that discusses the character of a culture, without thinking about or acknowledging the fact that the traveler’s interactions with locals might be very different from an everyday experience because they are a foreigner!

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Pernilla August 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Beautiful post! And so true!!!!

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Ekua August 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thanks, Pernilla! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Fly Girl August 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm

This is a refreshing perspective that I often miss. Since I’m sometimes plagued with motion sickness, land travel isn’t something that I like to focus on but You have unveiled the beauty that can be part of that experience.

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Ekua August 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

A frequent traveler with motion sickness??? How do you typically get around once you arrive?

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