Travel with Purpose // Angie Park June 01 2016
----We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Since we were hunters and gatherers in search of food.
Since we began to build roads that allowed us to travel and caravan through continents.
We moved and travelled for the purpose of trade, commerce and religious convictions that took people like Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo to foreign parts of the world to encounter new strange lands where they were confronted by people who spoke different languages and believed in other types of deities. Our movement spread stories, expanded minds and changed the way we view others and ourselves.
How can we continue to enhance ourselves
through travel in a truly meaningful way?
In my early twenties, I travelled as an extreme tourist. Being a tourist is great if you want a condensed version of the world. At certain times in your life, it makes sense. I spent a lot of time “touring,” which means that I jammed everything I could based on a list I saw in a Lonely Planet book. It reminds me of my first trip to France, when I spent couple days running through the streets of Paris, taking photos underneath the Eiffel tower, in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and next to the Arc de Triomphe. I was exhausted and in a way, there are a few things I remember from that trip except that “I saw what I needed to see.”
"The traveler sees what he sees,the tourist sees what he has come to see."
I had come to see what I had to see.
|Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland (captured by film camera)|
In 2004, I decided, on a whim, to head to Krakow, Poland. I took an overnight train from Prague, Czech Republic and sat in a car with a bunch of old men drinking their way through the evening. When we reached the train station, a kind, old Polish lady offered a room in her apartment and I stayed with her and her family for several days. I remember that she played the piano all day and all evening— and the music felt sad with the dreary weather of Krakow. While I was there, I spent time exploring the city and took a long bus ride out to Auschwitz and Birkenau, where the most notorious concentration camps were built by the Third Reich during World War II.
It was also the first time I remember having a different understanding of travel. I took a train and bus ride out to Zakopane, at the extreme south of Poland to the Tatra Mountains. I'm not sure what took me out there. I did not intend to hike, but I ran across a solitary hiker who carried nothing but a bag of bread for an overnight weekend hike. He told me that the mountains were special and would be an important experience. Indeed, it was.
I was dressed inappropriate for a long arduous hike. I climbed the mountain for four hours in thin sneakers with a large wheeled backpack on my shoulder. I remember reaching my peak destination point and looking out into the wide and majestic landscape and thinking "Why?" "Why are you doing this [traveling]?" And though it seems like a simple question, it was the most profound, and it continues to be my driving force today.
At that time, I used to write long journal entries on sheets of paper— some of which I've kept over time. So much of my writing earlier on is about the loneliness of traveling alone, and also trying to figure out what I'm taking away from it.
Location: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Around 7 years ago, after three months interning in the frenzy of New York, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience. I've always been interested in Nova Scotia, and I knew that the journey there would allow me to process my thoughts in the way I needed to before heading back to California. I rented a car and drove for 10 days up New England into Nova Scotia and towards the prehistoric views of Cape Breton Island where I stayed a couple days at a charming but isolated bed and breakfast run by an old German lady. I spent the time hiking, and driving around the island which was tremendously vast and untouched.
Location: Hongdae, Seoul, Korea
After my Dad passed away, I really wanted to spend some time in the country he was born and raised in. I wanted to reconnect with my uncles and aunts. I spent most of my time just hanging out in coffee shops and walking around without a destination in mind— soaking in his presence (which was omnipresent).
Location: Wakayama, Japan
After a rough year, I needed time to heal. I ventured on a week long walk on the Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage with sacred sites along with route. Along the journey, I also spent time by the Yunomine Onsen, which is known for its legendary healing effects. Regardless of beliefs, there's something undeniably mystical in this mountainous trail. I knew that walking would provide me the healing I needed.
Wishing you fair winds and following seas!