CC Manual – Project 4

MTM Aaminah Kabli  |  Wanderlust

How many of you’ll here have been tourists?

How many are travellers?

 

Have a think about it…

 

Dear toastmasters and guests, Good Evening!

 

In 2009 I went to Switzerland. I remember it in flashes, no progression, just moments here and there.

 

I don’t remember the name of the mountain we were on, but I remember feeling snow in my hand for the first time in my life, thinking that it was so soft and sparkly. I remember just then my sister ran up to me and dumped a fistful of icy cold in my clothes, leaving me screaming and wiggling like a worm trying to get it out.

 

For some reason I remember that the air was so fresh wherever we went. You could feel the cold, clean air filling your lungs every time you inhaled.

 

I remember the flaming red hair of the old lady who owned the B & B we stayed in, butI don’t remember what her name was or what she looked like.

 

Funny isn’t it? The way memory works? The things you can’t quite remember and the things you can never forget.

 

We are all travelers in someway or the other. Whether it is traveling to see the world, or meeting family back home, traveling for adventure, or a spiritual quest. It could be as simple as reading a book or as complicated as travelling through life, but we are all travellers.

 

Ibn Battuta one of the greatest travellers in history once said: “Traveling - It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

 

For those of you who know me, know that I love a good story. When I travel I don’t just want to see the Eifel tower or the TajMahal, I want to know the story behind it. And not just the once upon a time…happily ever after. These stories are the stuff of fairytales. I want to know the real story. Reality is much stormier, murkier,scarier. Reality it’s so much more interesting than the happily ever after.

 

Knowing the history behind magnificent structures and cities, the paintings and the architecture, the struggles and the triumphs, is what gives meaning to the experience. If you don’t know the Colosseum for the great Roman masterpiece it is, and can’t picture a time many years before ours, you are just looking to click a picture with a ruble of ruin, because that’s just what all the other tourist are doing!

 

There is a difference between a traveller and a tourist. The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. I have done both. In fact most of my travel hasn’t been that “mindful experience”.In L.A., we went on a touristy tour through Hollywood hills where tour guides pointed towards celebrity bungalows while we stared with star-eyed wonder hoping to spot Jennifer Lawrence or Tom Cruise. I got off the tour bus disappointed and a feeling little ripped off.

 

And that’s okay, because travelling is not supposed to be a history lesson! The memories WE make counts too, beading them one at a time, good ones, bad ones, and my favorite, the unforgettable gemstones of first times. Like the first time I was brave enough…or stupid enough to hug a tiger in Thailand, or when I had a paranormal experience in Florence.

 

So when in Rome do as the romans do. Go all out and take it all in. If you go to a lot of Asian countries like Seychelles, Singapore or Malaysia for example, you are not really going to go looking for ruins, because there are hardly any, if any.  You want to immerse yourself in having new experiences, in adventure!  Night safaris, swimming with dolphins, rollercoasters and waterparks, adventure sports, Sunsets on the beach.

 

Which leads me to my next point…

 

J.R.R. Tolkien famously quotes in the Fellowship of the ring: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

 

I am all for planning trips out. That’s how you get the most out of it. But it is the moments in between seeing the statue of liberty and the empire state building that you actually taste, the city of New York. Get lost a little, meet new people while trying to find your way, wonder into a street shop and take a bite of that cheesy New York style pizza, or maybe just stop for rest on a near by bench and feel the city that stages all the great TV shows and rom-coms unfold before your eyes.

 

Be it the narrow stone streets of Rome, or the beaches of Seychelles, to wonder, to explore, to find, to meet, is what travelling is actually all about.

 

I ask you once again…do you want to be a traveller or a tourist? Because I really don’t want you to miss out on the wonder that travel is.

 

Thank you

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