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International Voices

Why is it important to travel?

Have you traveled before? Most of you may answer “yes”. Of course, with the development of technology, traveling is becoming more common. Advanced technology broadens people’s traveling opportunities, not only domestically but also internationally. Relaxing and having a good time with our family and friends are not the only benefits of travelling, it is also a great opportunity to open our eyes, increase our knowledge, and build our worldview. During our travels, we see new things that we have never experienced in our daily life before. By travelling, we can make new friends, and, most importantly, we can understand how tiny we are. In short, travelling is not just only a mean to go sightseeing in a new place; it is a deep interaction between one’s self and culture.

Traveling helps you  jump from your original world to a world you cannot see from your computer at home. Depending on how much you immerse yourself, you will discover different things. I have traveled with my family and friends many times, locally and internationally, but I find that this is not the most memorable form of travel. Travelling on my own was. I did so for the first time when I was nineteen years old. After reading many travel books, I became curious about the wonderful experiences and adventurous trips backpackers had. A bold idea took hold in my mind, “why don’t I try to go traveling by myself?” I was excited by this whimsical idea, and I started to prepare an unpredictable trip. I imagined myself traveling like a professional backpacker in the books I read.

First of all, I needed to find the right time. To celebrate International Labor Day in China, we are given a three-day holiday. This was my opportunity! Next up was deciding where to go. Xiamen, a seaside city, was my ideal destination because of its pleasant climate, and because a famous traveling resort, Gulangyu Island, is nearby the city. I reserved my hostels online, I created my traveling route, and bought train tickets by myself. I used my pocket money to pay for the trip which meant I had to make the perfect plan to accommodate my limited funds. I read many tourists’ travel guides to get useful and practical information. I packed my luggage, I marked down emergency phone numbers. I learned to plan my travel map step by step. I had never done it before, these preparations reminded me that I would launch a unique journey, this cognition made me feel excited. Once I planned everything on my own, all that was left was to begin my solo journey.

Even though Xiamen city is not far from my hometown, I still needed to travel fifteen hours by train to get there. Because of my limited travel funds I could only afford to buy the cheapest hard seat ticket. As the train accelerated and the station slowly disappeared from sight, I was aware that my solo journey had begun. I held my bag tightly and observed the carriage. It was crowded because of the vacation time; people were close to each other because of the limited room. I loitered away the time by chatting with the other passengers. The variety of life was displayed to me in this crowded carriage. I saw how parents took care of their kids patiently, I heard young people on the phone happy to go back home. And I saw many backpackers who, like me, were hidden in the carriage in order to go on their unknown journeys. We were complete strangers, but we communicated with each other happily and pleasantly. It was a new experience for me because I had never chatted with people that I did not know before and yet I was finding it easy. We were all friendly with each other which made me feel warm.

Fifteen hours later, I arrived in Xiamen in the morning. It was a gorgeous seaside city full of palm trees. I found my hostel, a beautiful and peaceful place located in Zengcuoan village. I dropped my luggage off, took a shower, and fell asleep immediately. After that short rest, I began following my travel plan and went to visit Gulangyu Island by ship. It was a beautiful island which was interwoven by modern and vintage building. I walked along boutiques and snack bars, I tasted delicious snacks and famous flower teas, I interacted with shopkeepers and learned many anecdotes about them and their stores. I had no idea where this unknown road would guide me, I just kept walking following my curiosity and did not stop until my feet were tired.

During the next three days, I visited many historical sites such as Xiamen University and  Zhongshan road. These experiences were unique and freshly. I tried the famous satay noodle, I walked two kilometers following the Baicheng beach around the city. I appreciated the eddy and flow of the tide when I walked on the boardwalk by the Baicheng beach on a light rainy day. I admired a memorable sunrise with other tourists. When I saw the sun gradually rise from the sea, I realized that compared to nature, human beings are as small as dust.

Traveling is not only defined as simple sightseeing, but also as communication between you and yourself. It offers you buffer time to revise yourself, to think about what you hear and see, and decide on the next step.  Travelling allows you to pass through space and time to witness the sedimentation of nature, culture, and history. When you get rid of your original life and arrive in a new environment, get in touch with a new culture, see new things that you could not  see in your previous life, your worldview will be created by your unique and unrepeatable experience. You can get a new feel for life from a completely new point of view. You start to look at what happened objectively. Traveling teaches you to try to consider things from the other perspective. Your soul will become stronger based on what you learned from your fabulous experience, and your life may be changed because of your new feeling. This is also a way of growing up, not physically, but spiritually.

“You can either travel or read, but either your body or soul must be on the way.” This is a line from movie Rome Holiday. Maybe this is the answer to why traveling is important. Do not wait until you are too old to walk. Try to fill your soul and body by traveling as soon as possible.