Uncharted Traveller

Going somewhere to see nothing


“I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something….” Richard, The Beach.

That photo was a happy time at Luxor, Egypt in 2014 but I began this year with food poisoning – five days horizontal staring up at the ceiling fan. When it was over, I finished writing in the afternoon and went straight to the train station to get out of Bangkok.

What is it that’s so satisfying about going somewhere? And maybe not even knowing where that somewhere is? Why do we travel? Is it just to escape routine or maybe just to run away from reality for a while?

I boarded the sleeper train to Northern Thailand. The illness and chaos of Bangkok had taken far more than I had to give and now all I wanted for was to wake up somewhere new.

That somewhere would be in the bottom bunk of second class with the sound of a train shuffling along and a thick jungle outside the window. As I watched the first light of morning creep down through the tree’s, I thought back to how me and my mother would watch recordings of Michael Palins “Around the World in 80 Days”. That must have been where it all began, I was a small child back then and was always mesmerized by these train journeys through India in particular. The distant voices, the exotic scenery, the wonder.

I sat up looking out the window and took stock of what was happening. Distant voices chattered while an oriental flavour travelled along the carriage and the scenery became even more unrecognizable as the train kept hurdling further into the jungle. I thought to myself how we could never have imagined back then, that one day I’d be living the life we used to record on the television. The voices, the scenery, that same wonder was still there.

I used to believe that travel was all about the attractions and seeing as many places as possible but actually, when I think about the importance of going somewhere now, I see little importance of the destination. To be honest, I don’t think we ever really go somewhere to see anything at all. We just travel to see how it feels.

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Uncharted Traveller

See the bald ginger head on the left? That would be mine. I’m Derek. I started travel writing many years ago but got caught up along the way, working for the man in the real world. However, I grew tired of staying in the one place all the time and decided to leave conventional living behind for good. Since then, I have been travelling the world with absolutely no plan, other than to go any place that looks interesting. It may sound simple, but that’s because it is, when you want it to be.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’ve said it before and I’m gonna say it again: your writing is awesome.
    And just out of interest: what are the sleeper trains to Northern Thailand like? I’m going there in July, so I just want to gather as much info as possible – and getting other people’s personal views on it :)

    • Hey Zascha, cheers!

      The sleeper train was the most enjoyable thing I have done in a long, long time – I think most travellers can appreciate the mysterious feeling on a foreign train, in a foreign place, with foreign people! On a practical note: it was extremely cheap, even ore convenient, super comfortable and very very safe…I had an amazing time just soaking in the experience by myself but there are lots of travellers to talk to if you want :) July – awesome!!

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