I got lost in Thailand, literally.
Getting lost is probably the last situation any traveler would want to find himself in. Armed with a creased map, dusty worn-out shoes and lots of guts, I found myself standing in the middle of nowhere under the scorching sun waiting for any form of mobility that would pass by. Then there it was, like an apparition to a fervent prayer, forming its shape while removing the blurs of the mirage from afar, a bus with weathered paints and clanking bearings. I boarded it, trying to look confident and familiar, showing that I belong. I removed my eyeglasses, put my map inside my bag and grabbed the bar black in corrosion. A woman in a patched skirt was rolling her fingers along the handles of a woven basket. The man sitting beside her, stocky in built, kept looking at a hand mirror, retouching his lipstick, while obviously enjoying the wind flowing through his rust-colored hair. The man with a mismatched slippers at the rear end was looking at him, manifesting disgust. The lady in her mid-thirties sitting beside me was alternately talking to the child on her lap and to an old lady beside her who was also looking at the man with a stocky built with similar disgust.
I smiled at myself and realized that I am not lost after all. If I was not lost, I will be naive of reality locals face everyday and insensitive to the elements they either escape from or enjoy.
I want to walk along the similar pavements locals walk through, or sometimes, eat, buy, sell and sleep. I want to see the real faces behind the superficial smiles on expensive TV commercials. I want to hear the real stories behind the grand advertisements and paid travel reviews. And in that old, slow-moving bus, I found something that is usually invisible to luxurious travelers and even to locals confided in their narrow cities.
My take is that this is the essence of traveling. Otherwise, it will be a mere fleeting dream–beautiful but unreal.
Beyond the beautiful facades of Buddhist temples in Bangkok, I tried to understand the other aspects of Buddhism for the people of this country.
There is still a myriad of countries and cultures await me. And at this point, I made a travel oath to myself–i.e., I will not just be traveling; I will start seeing, listening and feeling.