One can never be too preoccupied with work or academics. The pursuit to see the world in different angles is achievable if so desired. Mr. Aniano Jose “AJ” Poliquit of the DLSU English and Applied Linguistics Department shares his thoughts on traveling and his introspective travelogue, “The Transcendental Tourist: Reflections on the Road” (http://ajpoliquit.wordpress.com/).
TLS: How did you begin your journey as a tourist? Is there a cherished background for this hobby of yours?
Sir AJ: When I was a kid I would just spend time in our library and do you know what I read? The World Atlas. I read it from cover to cover. Even then I was really interested in places and countries like Zambia or Zimbabwe. I guess it started there and when I was eleven, my mom took me on a cross country trip to the US and Canada. It reinforced my love for traveling. But then it took many years before I really embarked on my first trip on my own, meaning not with my family but with friends.
TLS: What are the places you liked most among all your travels?
Sir AJ: My favorite is the next place I’m going to. It’s always that. I think for you to be excited or to get the most out of your trip, you have to think of it that way so your favorite place should always be the next one you’re going to.
TLS: What is the story behind the name your blog, “The Transcendental Tourist”?
Sir AJ: One of the movies I’ve seen a long time ago is “The Accidental Tourist”. The movie presented traveling as a metaphor for the journey of life. I want this to be like a metaphor that this is not just about my travels, it’s also about my journey in life. I want to transcend information. I want it to be more of a personal experience and about what I learn in places.
The word “tourist” is like a death sentence in online travel circles. There is traveler and tourist dichotomy. A traveler they say is someone who spends more time on the road, eats the local food, experiences the local culture or couch surfs. (Staying at a local family’s house). A tourist is someone who someone who goes with a tour group, doesn’t plan his trips on his own and lets other people do it for him or when he goes somewhere and it’s just to go and see a certain place and then leave. For most people, that doesn’t give you deeper understanding or a richer experience in traveling but I beg to differ because not everyone is a traveler.
TLS: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a traveler, if there are any?
Sir AJ: There’s a world of advantages between being a tourist but I think it gives you a world view. It could enrich your life and make you discover who you are. Traveling is also a journey into yourself. It’s really when you are in a strange place, you get to discover this stuff you’re made of. You get to live your life as you see fit, see the world as it is and you deal with it or extract meaning from it. But it’s not cheap and you have to make time for it. It can get in the way of your career or studies and of course, there are attendant dangers. You’re exposed and vulnerable in another place that’s not your comfort zone.
TLS: To every journey there is a limit or an end. For how long do you plan on travelling around the globe?
Sir AJ: I don’t believe that there is a limit or an end. You transcend the physical and go metaphysical. I would be travelling until my feet would allow me to but even then after that, you can still travel with your mind. For me, travelling is not so much about going to another place. Travelling for me is more of an experience of the soul. If you look at things with fresh eyes, then you’re travelling.
TLS: What advice would you give to young aspiring travelers?
Sir AJ: Travelling is a kind of education. My mom did say that “Travelling would be more educational than being in the four walls of the classroom. In travelling, you get to experience something and you learn cultures, mixing with different kinds of people.” As I’ve said it, it gives you a world view. It’s a way for you to broaden your mind. It’s very educational and inspiring. Just go for it and travel in your way or the way you are.
Perhaps it’s a cliche to think that travelling would involve a plane, a bus ride or a car. Travelling could simply be done in the confines of one’s mind, and being able to transcend one’s typical view of the world.