I was in love with mountain trekking starting probably around year 2002 when I met several friends with the same interest. We live in the city of Yogyakarta having volcanic Merapi Mt. as one of the most famous trekking destination along with Merbabu nearby. I was on fire with the new hobby back then agreeing on almost every trip invitation even for what now is considered to be reckless trekking like going up in rainy season without a single tent and proper packing (center weight, heavy down light up, etc. never heard of them), grab-what-you-like food stocks, never been to the trek, etc. but it was a great time. We managed to survive downpour in Merbabu with heavy 80 litres backpack on each back (I feel the electrifying effect of a thunder coming up knowing how close we are to it), carrying guitar up and down those hills, bringing analog camera to see if we’re good enough at non-digital photography, got lost in a trek, hypothermia (myself or team mate), two hours ride back from trekking feeling like drunk-driving, and others.
It was a luck, too, that not long after I started the hobby I met several other people who share the passion of traveling who not to my amazement love mountain trekking too. We went riding vespa 5 or 6 straight hours to friend’s house, went to coffee plantation out of town only for the coffee, literally walk all night long to a beach just because one of us said ‘Let’s walk to the beach’ at 7pm (I can tell you the route, still), organize blind traveling which now become routine agenda, and many more amazing stuff related to it.
Should anybody ask “What do you get from that” I guess there are many I can say.
- I like listening to people. During these trips they tell you a lot. And it’s nice to hear who they are. You hear their love story, family relations, their study, debt, crush, what their home looks like, next destination go to go, fave pet, their travel stories, what achievements are for them, see how they react to things, having good input for yourself, and you tell me the rest.
- Sense of readiness. We, travelers, build this sense of readiness in ourselves. Say somebody invites me to a certain trip, I now can select and pack my stuff pretty quickly with all the things I need in place. That sense of phone-charger first, wallet second, ID card, trousers, jeans, jacket, T-shirts, ATM, backup phone, extra socks, blablabla was built through the intense ‘training’ during preps for traveling or trekking. Traveling also build a habit, either you sense it or not. It’s a habit to be ready at whatever happen, because in real traveling things will go wrong. Believe me, things will go wrong.
- Thankful. Home? Yes, thank you for that. I know how cold it is up in the mountain at 2pm without tent sheltering only behind a big rock in the middle of rocky Pasar Bubrah. I know how cold the outside wind can be when you’ve just get caught in rain, all clothes are wet yet still have to walk three more hours to the basecamp. Coffee from the jar? Absolutely. I don’t need to unload the stove, light it up, cook water and finally a glass of coffee. Not to mention the remnant of dirty glass I need to pack again during camping. Water? I don’t have to store 5 1.5 lt bottled water to survive two days hiking. The list can go on and on.
- Traveling is learning. For those who travel solely for the purpose of having fun, you should add ‘learning’ to it before it’s too late. Not the kind of bargaining for the cheapest price on the best stuff but learn to read your surroundings. This might be odd but backpackers tend to be able to learn faster than luxury-travel. Backpackers, who travel from one place to another, mostly learn how in fact human have the same interest (the love their family as you do), the same need for recognition (you don’t act like an idiot traveler but being as humble as possible to the locals), same sense of respect (who the society regards as a king might not look like one for you but he’s worthy of anything entitled to it), same feeling of being human. Should you not learn anything from your trips, you failed being a traveler. Well, some people complained about ‘I don’t like the waves’ while they are at the ocean, ‘This food does not color the same with the one you advertise’ at the restaurant, ‘I hate this rain!’ when they travel to tropic countries and all. One thing is common among them are they don’t learn. You, on the other side, learn everything from every trip you made. And that’s good.
I know one person who live for traveling, been to the Antarctica for free (he’s on a different level of lucky bastard), wandering in and out of Indonesia a lot (he’s Indonesian), been through a lot of experiences, and definitely a speaker for a traveling forum should I have one but let’s start with these small thought from this travel newbie. Well, what do you think? What does traveling mean to you?