I'm pretty new to the travel blogging scene, so while perusing through the latest travel tweets last night, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the hashtag#TNI, an apparently popular interactive tweet session between drifters, expats and armchair travelers alike.
The subject of the night was on the evergreen topic of 'solo travel'. This was question #10:
I thought about it for a few seconds, mulling it over in my mind. As some of you may have got from my previous posts, I prefer solo travel over groups. Not in the strictest sense that I must be alone at all times, but more in the habit of leaving for a destination alone, with the intent of meeting and making new friends there. So after a few seconds thought, this is the answer I tweeted: Whenever someone discovers who you are for the first time, it gives you an opportunity to REdiscover yourself. Short, sweet and less than 140 characters. A few minutes later I got this encouraging tweetback:
It was Aisleen Marley from"Life's Great Adventures". Now, being a relative nobody on the travel blogger scene, I was pretty stoked to get a tweetback from ANYONE in response to my answer, especially from a fellow digital drifter! Let's just say it was a great confidence boost. Just those 2 words from her, "Love this!", gave me the kick I needed. I tweeted back that maybe I'd blog about it. This was her encouragement to me:
This brief conversation encouraged me to get my creative thinking cap out, and it reminded me that my next post would be for this segment,"Days Go By". One of my favorite Instagram pictures was up for selection. It was of a young Taiwanese street musician, busking solo. I decided that this was the perfect pic to blog about!
So what's the story behind it?
Well, the night I snapped this picture I had been sitting around at Kaohsiung Main Station in South Taiwan, trying to catch up on some things. I was alone of course, and I found myself kicking back observing the people as they bustled by. This is when I noticed The Kid. He couldn't have been much older than a college student, and he was busy setting up his equipment for street busking.
Mind you, it's not very popular to be a street performer in Taiwan. Many locals see it as an act of desperation, craziness or a desire to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. So I was pretty impressed to see a young kid lugging around the full setup; guitar, mic stand, sheet stand and amp. And what's more, his amp was busted! It wouldn't project clearly. As he fiddled with it, he kept sheepishly muttering into the mic that he was sorry, that he had dropped it earlier in the day, and that he would fix it soon.
He didn't. The Kid never got it to work. He stood there for over an hour trying to fix it, but despite his best efforts the amp only sizzled and popped and spat out muffled, annoying sounds. But the thing that caught my attention was that he never gave up. He pushed through the setbacks. There was a pretty big crowd standing around and waiting, most walked away after a while, giving up on him. But The Kid never gave up on himself, and that's what I admired.
How does this fit in with someone discovering me for the first time? It doesn't. I never actually introduced myself to The Kid personally. But still, I definitely rediscovered things about myself.
I learned that I'm more patient than I was before, patient enough to sit there and wait for some stranger to gather himself and push through a street performance despite lack of ideal equipment. I also REdiscovered that I appreciate others more for their inner qualities, and not for what they have to offer on the outside. The Kid seemed to only play the basic chords over and over again, and his singing voice was mediocre at best. But it wasn't about that for me. It was about showing respect to a young guy who braved the jeering looks of his peers to do what he loved, alone.
This, to me, is reflected in the inner strength and determination of the solo traveler who dares to push through the doubt and laughter of his fair weather peers to discover that he really does have the strength to do it no matter what.
I sat there and watched this street busking solo performance for over an hour. After I got up to leave, I tossed whatever change I had in my pocket into the half opened guitar case in front of The Kid. Without missing a strum, he looked up at me briefly in the middle of his song, gave me a quick nod and said, "謝謝!"
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...