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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

How time stretches when you travel

EGYPT | Wednesday, 20 January 2010 | Views [1528]

Time. It does the strangest things when you travel. Three weeks goes past in the blink of an eye when occupied with home, kids, school or work, but the same time travelling, filled with new experiences and rich memories not only seems to stretch and feel longer but remains with you. Now we are home once more. It's been a good trip. Now I'm poring over the several thousand photographs and only then does it hit you quite what a wonderful experience this has been; as is usually the case when you are actually travelling, you get caught up in the mechanics of the day to day so it's easy to lose a sense of perspective.


Twenty years ago when we were travelling around Asia for more than a year, long before the advent of digital photography, I found that with a camera to your eye every day you really honed both your photographic eye and the mechanics of using a camera. I really miss this; now we go away only a couple of time a year, and each time you have to re-learn it all again and no sooner have you got into the groove than you are home and back to square one. Photography (proper travel photography) is also nigh impossible because most of the time I find I'm keeping our boys safe from falling overboard or being hit by a rickshaw or simply getting lost which obviously takes precedence over any image. Most of the time you can't even think about it properly which means you end up just taking little more than one handed snaps. Frustrating.


Now that the boys are 5 and 7 everything suddenly gets both simpler and easier; no strollers, no nappies to deal with and the boys organise and largely look after themsleves at checkin, immigration and security. This was the first trip in years that the boys were of a level of capability and independence such that we could relax a little. Riu has always been a pretty resilient traveller but suddenly he's now so much more useful than on other trips, being able to think, to operate things and quite confident enough to ask local people if we aren't around. Late one morning near the end of the trip the boys were quite content to remain in the hotel watching a movie or two allowing us to hire a couple of bikes and head off exploring which allowed us to climb up behind Hatshepsut'stemple on the route over towards the Valley of the Kings, something we simply couldn't have done with them in tow.


When I was younger I was always something of a reluctant reader even from a very early age. It wasn't until I spent a significant time travelling in a foreign land that I found a passion for it; devouring any and all English language content, which, did wonders for my general literacy. Now a family intrudes, and while it's always good to carry a book, the time to enjoy it quietly and for prolonged periods is rare. Is it this that makes you choose what you carry more carefully? Or is that just an age thing? For this trip I chose "Travels with Herodotus" by Ryszard Kapucinski a Polish journalist with decades of experience who died just recently. Reflecting on his travels and the reasons people travel in a wonderful dialogue with Herodotus, a Greek writer of 500bc who has been described as the world's first travel writer. The pace and style of the book is like few others I've ever read and prompted me on returning home to find "The Shadow of the Sun". If you are going to Africa or want to understand this continent, this should be mandatory reading as it lays bare the real Africa without any burden of ideology and has a touching affection for the place that can only be drawn from years of personal experience. It isn't a journey, nor is it history, nor reporting, but literature in the best best sense. Exquisite writing that finds a permanent place in my travel library.

Tags: reading, travel, travel literature, travel photography

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