A few years ago, I read about a Facebook friend’s post about how she was relishing her slow travel abroad with her family. I was fascinated and at the same time desirous knowing that such privilege is not given to everyone.
However, it doesn’t and shouldn’t stop us from aiming for something we want and working towards it. Indeed, not everyone, no matter how much we want it can simply take off, and travel for weeks or months. Life sets us back. That’s just a fact for many. But one can plan.
I look at slow traveling as a kind of silent revolution, some sort of protest (against) the soul-crushing, body-burning fast traveling, which is counterproductive to what traveling should be. Travel should allow your body to rest and relax, inspire you, and awaken your creative spirit. Or at least that is how it should be to me.
The web defines slow travel as “an approach to travel that emphasizes connection: to local people, cultures, food, and music.” Further, it explores the idea that a trip is educational, that it should leave an emotional impact, and that one must be conscious about doing the part in making or leaving a sustainable footprint for the local communities and the environment. I know, big words. Simply put, slow travel means going back to the roots of why we travel. It’s not just about you— it’s also about the people and the communities you visit. I liken it to hiking where one is encouraged to — as the popular quote goes — ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.’
On a more personal level, slow travel should take off travel fatigue and whatever it is that (proverbially) ails the body as you fully immerse yourself in various experiences.
If I were to take slow traveling in that sense, then perhaps, what I am doing now is slow traveling. As I write this, I am well into my second week here in Singapore. I sit by the window from the 11th-floor apartment in one of the several mid-rise buildings in an area outside the bustling business districts of the city, which is minutes away by its efficient Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). On the couch and small work tables arranged in the living area are my friend and her housemates, all hunched over their computers; we are all working in silence and harmony.
The pandemic has introduced the hybrid-work set-up, and for many, it has allowed them to travel and work at the same time. I know a few new friends here who are employed in the Philippines but have been “working from home” in SG for a few months already. It can be done, although it’s not for everyone, and not all prefer it anyway.
This slow-paced kind of traveling has allowed me to fully appreciate this neighbor of my home country. When work is still hours away, and I have a bit of time to explore the city, I look for a new cafe to try, put on my shades, observe my surroundings, and take all the beauty in. My last visit here last June where I only stayed for five days did not allow me to relish my favorite spots. So far, my favorite places to explore on foot are Chinatown and the Bugis area. I don’t have a solid itinerary, and that’s the point. I don’t have to pressure myself into following a rigid schedule, something I am used to in my previous travels. Yesterday, my friend and I were thinking of going to a nearby hot spring and eco-park, we ended up taking a long walk in this nice community park at the back of the apartment building she’s living in. We have plans of hiking in one of the many eco-trails in and outside the city, but we will do it when “the weather is right.”
Last weekend, the National Museum of Singapore opened its doors for free to the public featuring live performances, storytelling sessions through films, and scavenger hunts among many other activities as part of the country’s National Day Celebrations. We happened to be free that day, so we were able to enjoy these activities.
The country has been allowing live events and gatherings, while still putting in place safety measures against COVID. The COVID cases here have been steadily dropping, mainly because the people and the government work together, perhaps something we should learn from as Filipinos. This is just one of the many observations this slow traveling had afforded me.
As days roll on, I get to learn more about the diverse mix of people that make up the society here, their culture, and the places I have been to. I’m certain, there is much more to learn and see. Perhaps, I’ll tell you more about it next time. For now, if slow traveling is something you have been meaning to do, it is my hope that you get to plan and do it soon. A life well lived is a job well done.
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