Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting There

by Ruth

Kevin bought a hugely-overpriced 7-Up for me in the Phnom Penh airport because I was feeling nauseous. This seems to be a common occurrence when traveling, even though we hadn’t actually started traveling for the day (although probably a loud, bouncy tuk-tuk ride through crowded, smelly streets counts). As I sipped on the 7-Up and thought about not throwing up, I noticed the slogan on the side of the can:

Getting there is half the fun.

And I thought, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Whoever came up with that logo obviously either has vastly different travel experiences than I do, or is one of those people who think that all manner of miserable, crappy situations are adventurous and funny.

I considered my past travel experiences. Sitting in airports, running through airports, getting stranded in airports, turbulent flights, long smoky train rides, long bumpy bus rides, sickening boat trips, buses breaking down, treacherous one-lane mountain roads. I was really having a hard time remembering the fun part. While Asia has more than its fair share of bad transportation, traveling in America isn’t usually joy-filled. Nit-picky security, long lines, stressed out people, delayed flights, traffic jams, endless road construction, getting lost…

As I walked through the Bangkok airport (the same one that held me captive for a couple of days/eternity last time I came through), I could really only think of two truly good travel experiences.

First, there was that one good plane flight with Kevin a couple of years back. That was one of the few times I wasn’t eager to just “get there” (and only partly because I was dreading China). It was the *significant* one where we really connected and then ended up getting married, so I’d have to say that was worth it.

Second, although chronologically earlier, a college road trip with friends. We got lost, pulled over by a cop, and almost smashed by a semi, but it was still fun. We laughed and talked and listened to Dixie Chicks for eight hours. I guess traveling with a group of friends makes things better. Except that some of my worst ever travel experiences were also with friends. Hmm.

Since my travel experiences seem to be generally bad regardless of the mode of travel, where I am or who I’m with, I am sensing one common denominator. That would be me. I am not a good traveler. I’m a destination kind of person. The Hanings, my past teammates, described our sort of travel mode as the brain shutting down to the lowest possible functioning level and focusing on the goal: arrival.

And yet. I still travel a lot. I guess that’s because most of the time it’s worth it. Seeing family, seeing friends, visiting students, skipping out on winter to spend a month in Thailand. So now I'm sitting in Chiang Mai, listening to the birds chirping, feeling the cool breeze, looking out on the lush green trees, with practically no plans for the next two weeks. Getting there was a pain. Here is my new slogan proposal: "Being there makes the rest worthwhile."

1 comment:

Molly J. said...

Hope you're having a good time now that you're there! (hopefully!) What was the college road trip you're talking about?? Remember when we got pulled over b/c Emily? :)