When you hear the word ‘travel’ what is it you think of? A backpacking trip around Europe? A plane ride to some slightly more exotic locale than the one you inhabit? A visit to the beach or the mountains?
Obviously all of these answers are correct – but I think a lot of us undervalue the shorter trips. I’ve mentioned before how something as simple as going to an unfamiliar suburb and exploring it can be an adventure in and of itself, and I firmly believe that. Some of the most fun days I’ve had in Sydney this year haven’t been meticulously planned expeditions. A day spent exploring Milson’s Point proved to be far more fun than I’d anticipated. Who’d have thought such a cute little suburb existed at a train station I pass every day on the way to work?
Likewise, while I went on a great many long distance trips in my two years in South Korea to explore places such as Jejudo and Busan – some of my fondest memories involved venturing only a few hundred meters. Fallon and I once spent a morning simply exploring the streets in my dong (Korean equivalent to a suburb) that I didn’t walk every day on the way to walk. We found little parks, a Belgian waffle place that become our brunch location of choice, and discovered a pair of ratty looking trampolines upon which hordes of unsupervised children seemed content to while away their only day off of the week.
On another occasion when weather ruined a planned trip to Jindo to participate in its famed Moses Walk – a few of us decided to stick around closer to home. What started out as a short trip to pick up delicious hot pretzels lead into a whole series of random adventures. We explored an abandoned shopping mall and spotted bedding in a few of the long out of business shops. Were the previous lessees having to sleep amongst the ashes of their failed business venture as a result of their ill fated gamble?
While exploring we found that the entire centre hadn’t been abandoned. On the top floor, sandwiched in between the ghosts of two former restaurants with poorly translated names, we found a store that was full of wigs, funny hats, costumes, and the kind of cheesy photo booths you spot all over the place in Chinatowns across the world. We took a string of sickeningly cute photographs and had a fantastic time – and all in a place we’d never had known existed if we hadn’t wandered just a few metres off of the path that ran by the mall.
Later that day, to continue the random theme, we decided to go up onto Fallon’s roof and ‘camp’. We took a small BBQ, a tent, and a tiny iPod dock up and braved the wind and occasional rain to make the best of the food Fallon had prepared for our excursion that never was. Huddled around the tiny gas burner we cooked marinated chicken breasts, cinnamon baked pineapple, hot-dogs, and finally roasted some s’mores as the sun set over Mokpo. It still remains one of the most randomly fun days I had in my time in Korea – and the farthest we travelled was the short cab ride to a pretzel place (Tom & Toms – look it up if you’re ever in Korea) we visited every other weekend.
Too often we let the logistics of travel daunt us. We decide we want a holiday and, for whatever reason, decide that this needs to be an expensive and stressful thing. And sometimes maybe it is expensive and a little stressful. But sometimes it’s as simple as taking a left where you usually take a right and seeing where it takes you.
9 times out of 10 it might only lead you to a bunch of cookie cutter houses and shops you have no interest in visiting. But sometimes you might just find yourself on a random adventure you never thought you’d be having – and those days, those spontaneous detours that make your day – are worth every time your detour ends only in being five minutes late.
At the risk of sounding like a preachy new age guru, here’s my challenge to you. Next time it’s a lazy Saturday and all you have planned is vegging on the couch and surfing the net – get up, grab a bottle of water and your camera, and head out the front door. Look in the direction your travels usually take you and then go in the opposite direction.
I can’t promise it’ll be the time of your life, but I can promise you it will be more exciting than another day of Farmville, Twitter, and hitting refresh on the football score. And those things will all still be there when the sun goes down.
Today’s question: Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a good, random time without going too far out of your way? I’d love to hear about it.