Star Date: 302-15
Lonely Train Station
I arrived in Arau after my cavale from the island of Langkawi.
Things were going according to plan.
I entered the train station hoping to get passage north to Bangkok.
I was quiet.
I found the station’s sole occupant.
I explained my wish to head to Bangkok.
I was taken aback.
The train was full… for the next 15 days.
Before I could figure out a way to sneak aboard my attention was drawn to the security booth where 5 armed men waited. They were charged with ensuring no unwanted passengers crept on board… passengers such as myself.
I began to rethink my plans…
There was no way I could risk capture. I wouldn’t go back to the bagne.
I had to formulate a new course of action
Perhaps I could detour south to eventually find my way north.
Yes that would give them the slip.
I took a ticket on the next train heading south. Gotta keep appearance of being a well to-do citizen.
Unfortunately the next train wouldn’t arrive for several hours.
So I settled in to pass the time…
in the lonely train station.
The thing about travelling alone is that you’re never alone, except those times that you are.
Solo travel opens you up to meeting new and interesting people.
You have to. It’d be pretty lonely if you didn’t.
You almost don’t have a choice in the matter.
You could keep to yourself, not talk to anyone, but what’s the point. Why are you travelling?
I’ve come to realize the reason I travel.
I enjoy seeing the amazing places of the world: The Temples of Angkor, The Roman Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu, The Amazon, and all the rest.
Their amazing, imposing, awe-inspiring, and yet they’re not everything.
The real reason I travel is people.
It’s the local family who invites you for dinner; it’s the fellow traveller who becomes your best friend for a week; it’s that person who tells you tales of adventure in far off lands; it’s the man you met on a train, who, despite not speaking your language, wants to talk and have beers with you; it’s lifelong friends you made that, despite living a thousand miles away, are still holding a piece of your heart.
It’s for them that I travel.
Even if I haven’t met them yet.
It’s the amazing connections we can make with strangers from far off lands.
It’s the fact that despite coming from different places, different races, different cultures and religions, we are able to so readily find common ground.
And then we realize we’re not so different at all.
We are just people.
We hope and dream.
We grow up.
We go out.
We’re fascinated by all our differences and similarities.
We ask about the food in other countries.
The customs, the weather, the cities and the towns.
We gain new insight and experience through our interactions.
We become wiser.
And more compassionate.
We begin to understand the human condition.
What’s the same, and what’s the ‘same-same but different’.
It’s for people that I travel.
It’s the amazing and inspiring individuals I am so fortunate to meet.
I travel alone to not be alone.
And then there are those occasional moments when you are alone.
Those moments when you set out in a new direction, in search for new adventure, and find yourself in a new strange situation.
The moments when you find yourself at a small boarder crossing without another English speaker nor a single note in the local currency; when you find yourself in a train station and all the trains are booked; when you arrive in a new town after sundown and you have to find where you are, and where it is you’re trying to get to.
In those moments you discover yourself.
You start to realize your own strength.
You learn contentment.
You learn that you can handle more than you believed you could.
And you realize that alone doesn’t mean lonely.
Lonely is a state or mind.
Alone is merely a temporary state of being.
A transitional phase between times with old friends and moments with new ones.
Alone is not forever.
It’s a time to reflect.
A time to digest new experiences.
A time for You.
You choose how you view it.
You can think of all the people you wish were there with you.
Or you can realize that you already have the most amazing company, that beautiful person you call yourself. Maybe you should spend a little time with that person. Get to know them a little better. Appreciate them.
I think you’ll find they’re actually quite a lovely person.
And when the time alone is over, you can introduce that person to all the amazing people you’re going to meet along the way.
And chances are if you like the person you are, others will too.
So enjoy those moments alone,
Because alone is not forever.
I travel alone…
But never lonely
are rarely alone…
Until next time,
“A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles. ”
– Tim Cahill