Traveling, the Relativity of Literature

The very last one, of the month of August, translated…

Yi-Wei Wu: Traveling, is the Matter of Onself

A few years ago, I went to Prague, all of the other guests in the homestay were all females, and the owner of the B&B switched me to a small bed in the attic, and although, there was just that one drape, separating me from the rest of the guests, but, pulling the curtains across, it’d become like I was in a separate room. I was happy, with this arrangement, the very next day, the owner of the B&B asked me if I’d liked to switch back to the larger room with everybody else, I’d naturally told him no. The owner smiled, and started talking about how Asian tourists seemed to want to have their own space, that if it were Americans, they would totally grab at the chance, to sleep with everybody there in the room, to meet some new friends, to find someone to hold conversations with.

cruises 的圖片結果not my photo…

Acutally, it’s not just the room, the business of going on trips, it’s all a matter of one. I rarely traveled with a companion, I’d planned out my itinerary, set up my transportation, leave, book my stays, I’d done all by myself, and even if I traveled with someone else, we usually go our separate ways, visiting the sights we wanted to visit, we’d not forced each other to travel along. Recalling it all now, the sights I saw on my trips rarely contained other people’s faces or words, mostly filled, with my own reflections, and my own, footprints.

In 2014, my teacher took her daughter, “Tiger” all over Europe, I’d, followed along and this, was a very rare experience for me. Recalling how back then, “Tiger” was into Disney’s “Frozen”, she dressed up as Queen Elsa, and hummed “Let it Go” along the way, and, in the lobby of the Viennese museums, she’d gotten so trapped inside the scenes of the cartoon, started twirling around, and everybody else made way for her to dance. Travelilng alone for a long time, it’s hard, to imagine having a younger traveling companion. Teacher, you’d written about what you’d gained, travelling alone on your own, did your views about traveling change, after you’d started, traveling with your own child?

Yu-Xiang How: Taking My Child on Trips

not my photo…

Actually, I’m like you, enjoyed traveling alone, I’d hated the raucous of traveling in a tour group. I’m a dictator when I travel, I’d set up everything from room and board, to dining, I’d not allowed anybody to meddle.

But after I’d had my daughter, my views turned around. And, I gave credit to how I’d already, traveled like crazy for almost twenty years from before, hiked up the mountains, scuba dived into the depths of the oceans, I’d especially loved traveling far off, and most of my dreams of traveling far, had been fulfilled, after I had my daughter, and, I’d gained the understanding of what I’m looking at, may not at all, be what I see. So after I gave birth to my daughter after forty, I’d realized, that my child, is my best traveling companion. From before when I traveled alone, I’d felt lonely every now and then, that I couldn’t, share the beauties on the way with anybody else, and, the adults are too opinionated, but a child, would follow me, wherever it is that I go, and, in this sort of a way to travel, I’m still, a dictator, but, I’m no longer lonely or alone.

I loved bringing my daughter on trips, because she’s easily entertained, and, everything she sees is intriguing to her, and all I need to make her day, is order a scoop of ice cream for her. Some of the scenes we’d taken as normal that we see, became the very first time, filled with excitement, and life for her.

And so, I’d started, learning, to see the world, through my child’s eyes, and, I’d gotten, this brand new experience. Recalling how I’d trekked the world alone, it felt like a lifetime ago, although I’d missed it so, but, it’d become, too distant from where I currently am, that I can no longer imagine it anymore.

What’s odd was, taking my daughter along, it seemed, that it’s easier for me, to meet and know people from foreign nations. Children seemed to be the best medium of communication between people, and, the topics usually started with the kids, and, because of this, I’d gotten to know a lot of kids abroad, as well as their families too, and, they’d become the stories I’d re4ad, and helped me, open up my world-wide view of imaginations.

And so, some people traveled, for the gourmet dining experiences, some, for the sceneries, but for me, I’d cherished the strangers I’d met on the way. Don’t know what is the most unforgettable thing to you, who traveled alone on your own?

So, this, is the changes, in this woman’s views on traveling, and, things are different, after you’d had a child, and, having a child, makes you experience life in more depth than you ever can imagine before.

not my photo…

Yi-Wei Wu: the Moving Crowd

What’s most unforgettable to me in traveling, is not the sights, but the state of moving.

One year I’d gone from Shanghai to Beijing, I’d gotten a bunkbed train ticket. That, was the very first time I’d stayed overnight on a train, so I was, too excited, there was an elderly couple who were going to visit their son in Shanghai in the same quarter as I, also, a businessman too, who was on a business trip to Shanghai, it was, a relaxing evening, the businessman learned I was from Taiwan, he’ed started chatting about the changes in Shanghai, and how he was in awe, at the speed of change, of modernization that Shanghai had taken. As it’d gotten late, they went to bed already, but, I was, too excited to sleep, thought, that it was romantic, for me, to experience the bumpy ride, with the roaring of the train engines, I’d followed the passing lights along the way. I’d finally gotten tired, and drifted off to sleep, a nd, I’d heard the elderly couple from the bottom get up. It was only seven in the morn, but the train compartments came to life, I’d pulled the covers over my head to sleep some more, until the elderly couple ordered their bowl of breakfast noodle from the servers, and I got up, and, as I, flipped over, my pillow fell off the bunk, and the businessman hollered to me, “Young man from Taiwan, your pillow fell off!”, I’d quickly gotten up, and saw that the corner of my pillow had, fallen, right, into the noodle soup, I’d apologized quickly to the elderly couple, and chased after the server, to get one more bowl, but the elderly couple had stopped me, said it was okay, that they’d already eaten, that they just wanted the foods. I kept apologizing, but, as I returned back from the restroom, the elderly couple had, finished the bowl of noodle and soup already, and the pillow, stained with the soup, was placed by the businessman, onto his bunk, and that corner that was, dipped into the noodle soup became, apparent.

Because fo moving, a group of people met up in Place A, and, after several hours of socializing, they’d arrived in Place B, and said goodbye. I think that this, would be, the most poetic moment on trips. In the earlier years, I’d always wanted to, elongate this sort of nostalgia, and traded contact information with my traveling companions, but later on, I’d, discovered, that the most unforgettable moments, are in the serendipity, that as the time is up, we should just, let go. The accidental meeting or companions I’d found, to travel witih, are supposed to merge, into the moving frames, and only as we recalled the trips, those people are fitting, to surface back into our minds.

I’d enjoyed, waiting for the trains or the flights so, the migration is about to begin, seeing people running to and fro, everybody, belonging, to her/his own unit of space, constantly, merging, separating from others. The endless number of possible combinations, the endless possibilities, like in Run, Lola Run, how the main character ran like hell on the streets of Berlin, toward the various possible endings. I’d especially loved that extension of the multiple possibilities, the people we’d bumped into on our trips, may be, our selves.

So, through the journeys you’d gone on, you’d not only met the interesting people who were traveling alongside you, but, you also might, find a version of your own self too………

Yu-Xiang How: the Heart Adrift

That sense of “moving” that you’d talked about, is my state of mind as I took my trips too. I’m enjoying the process of going to and fro, more than arriving at my destination. In the process of going somewhere, it’s, as if, I’d, detached from the rails of my life, objectively, with NO fears or cause and effect, examined everything and everyone around me, it’d made me feel that real sense of freedom.

When I was younger, I’d loved staying at the airport, or the train stations like you, sleeping, daydreaming, people watching, wandering aimlessly, and just, wait for my flight or train. And, all of these, extra moments in time, was like the segments, cut out of life, useless, without, a purpose, but strangely, they’d become, what I’d cherished and remembered most on my trips.

Usually, many years later, I’d, recalled certain trips abruptly, and, all I recalled, where these moments in time, when I’d, waited, alone, at the airports or stations, along with all the other people going to and fro around me, with various nationalities, different languages, different skin colors too, but, in that particular space, we’d become, equals, we’re all, floaters, in this life.

at a busy train station…not my photo…

Or mayne, because of how I’m so intrigued by the feelings of moving, now, I’d loved, going on trips by ships. There’s, NO other transportation, that allows people to move and live at the same time, and collecting the assortment of tourists from all over in one place for a couple of days. And naturally, the cruises became a petri dish of story cultivations, and, a lot of the novels are set in the backdrops of ships, for instance, “The Heart of Darkness”, by Joseph Conrad, or “Siege” by, Jung-Shu Chien, and my favorite British writer, Henry Graham Greene, often sets his stories on ships.

Every time I’m on a ship, it’s, as if, I’d, entered into a castle of stories set adrift, it’d reminded me of what Zhi-Mo Hsu said, “You and I met, in the darkened night on the seas, you, with your way, I, with my direction too, but, because of that, the moment we met, created such, bright spark, more unforgettable than eternity.”

So, you loved traveling, because of the events, of the strangers you may encounter, and, what you might find out about yourself that you failed to notice before, and this, is why, people should travel more, not just for vacation’s sake, but because of the amazing discoveries of the world, of oneself, that’s waiting on these trips and journeys that you’re on…

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