One of the most common questions asked to a travel blogger is “what inspired you to travel” and for me it is a question which always draws a blank. I don’t really follow things; movies or TV, magazines, blogs or people… I just travel because I always have. It’s like being asked what inspired you to breath or to eat. Since I was in nappies my parents would bring me on annual adventures, short holidays through the UK and Ireland, the longer holidays crossing to France and Europe and this continued as a norm throughout my life. Today things haven’t really changed bar my current location in Asia… and I’m not really sure what inspired me to come here (maybe the food). Anyway, if anything inspired me to travel it was my parents and, as they do every year, they are making me envious with their travels and adventures. As I write this my backpacking parents are travelling (on pensioner passes) on boats, buses and trains from Northern Ireland through to Russia. Note I won’t say their exact ages but they are guaranteed old.
My mum is now savvy with her tablet and has been sharing her adventures through Facebook, no doubt just to rub it in. Above they just left Riga (Latvia) and below they arrive to Tallinn (Estonia). While my mum has joined many of my own adventures here on my blog (incl. Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia) it is my dad who hasn’t really featured since his guest post with Oldies on a Train. Of the family my dad is by far the most adventurous and interesting but he does refuse air travel which means all of his travels follow land and maritime routes leaving the UK to travel in Europe.
We always prioritized travel in our family and while we travelled well, we also travelled like hobos. In truth this often worked to our advantage with many of our more memorable adventures coming from disasters along the way with our old beat-up cars. The vehicle of choice in our family was the cheapest, many where parts no longer are in existence and in some cases the manufacturers or even country of origin no longer exist. Our Yugo (from Yugoslavia) makes the perfect example where we once spend days stranded in Poole (UK) as the mechanic scours the world for something comparable to fit and fix it. Of course tradition does follow through to myself and my first road trip in the driver’s seat ends with an exploded engine in the Pyrenees mountains and the cost to have my Ford Fiesta scrapped in Perpignan costs more than the car itself. To be fair this same car was successful in an earlier adventure scraping along sparks flying through Europe as, on leaving, we find that four persons, plus baggage are too heavy a load for the car to handle (the scraping problem fixed temporarily by blowing up tires really high). My only successful road trip to date was in New York County and the USA. If I had to chose a favourite road trip from my past it has to be my first extensive journey through the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Belgium and Holland. At the time I was around 10 and the highlights include myself getting lost in Duisburg Zoo and then again in Bruges city centre.
Both my backpacking parents are still in full-time employment yet they travel better and more than many. If anything my parents have shown me that life isn’t too short and I don’t need to live everyday as though it were my last. ‘Life is too Short’ is more of a backpacker ideal and often comes before a cracked head on a waterfall or being pulled off in dangerous tides. In honesty it probably suits best to a mid-life crisis. Going by my parents I can double my age and still have plenty time spare to explore so I’m in no hurry to see the world. Instead of rushing through life I am happy to savor and enjoy what experiences I have and while on occasion I do force myself from my comfort zone I do find it much more comfortable staying within. Since moving to Thailand I have been more focused on local immersion and learning from Asian cultures and while I love every past journey through car windows I now have enough free time and opportunity to slow down travel and make the most of it.
Photographs with Wilson signs. A couple of years back my dad got his hands on a digital camera and since then he has racked up a good number of them. Rue Wilson, Le Pont Wilson, Parc Wilson…. I’m not even sure if it’s by coincidence or if he goes in search of these locations (we might clear this up in a future post). A lot of them are found through France and are in reference to the former US President Woodrow Wilson who helped the peace negotiations after World War I. Anyway, as family tradition, myself and Fanfan have joined the hunt for Wilson signs and my best to date would have to be in Sandakan, Borneo (Wilson Trading) and Fanfan being new to the Wilson clan has only managed to point out a Wilson on a map in Paris. We of course have plenty time to catch up.