( MINUTE READ)
Three people who love to travel share a memorable story
Ria – Creative Director
When I was nineteen, I moved from my home island in the Philippines to San Francisco.
I remember it vividly. Although I felt ready and perceived myself as mature, I was young. It wasn’t your typical moving away experience. I was leaving home to move back to Northern California- where I was born and stayed until I was six.
My first day of art school, I took the train alone for the first time. I made my way to the station. The distant smell of pine trees, the crisp air, and that San Francisco fog were all so familiar.
I was breathing it all in, tasting my new found freedom until a sudden breeze swayed my petite body slightly.
The trains were arriving on the platforms. My eyes shifted from side to side. There I was not knowing which direction to turn. A keen sense of reality set in. At that moment, I was lost—definitely lost. All familiarity abandoned me so quickly. I wasn’t home anymore. The dawn of the experience became this homecoming to an unfamiliar place—a reintroduction.
It felt like sitting in a stranger’s car while reading your favourite book. It was something uncomfortable and, at the same time, reassuring. San Francisco and I were only somewhat acquainted then.
I had to reintroduce myself; tell the city some of my secrets as San Francisco revealed many to me. The entirety of the experience revealed mere fragments. The lesson I learned: You don’t find yourself all at once.
Robbie – Brand Manager
I have just one tattoo.
I have been meaning to get more, but am yet to stumble upon a phrase that possesses the same kind of profound sentiment.
It’s a statement in Thai script, on the right hand side of my rib-cage. It reads ‘Mai Pen Rai,’ and essentially translates to ‘no worries,’ or in the words of famous pop philosophers Timon and Pumbaa, ‘Hakuna Matata.’
Myself and my friends in the region delighted in cheap whiskey, cold beers and bad karaoke
This solitary ink was applied in the traditional bamboo stick and poke method, in a small shop in Kalasin. Kalasin, a place untouched by the tourism which shapes so much of the country, came to mean a lot to me during my tenure as an English teacher. Myself and my friends in the region delighted in cheap whiskey, cold beers and bad karaoke, but my affection for the town grew mostly due to the fact that it was the only place within 100 miles that had a KFC.
On my first excursion to Kalsin, the Kentucky Fried break from sticky rice that had I so longed for came to an unfortunate halt, when I was gleefully informed that this particular KFC had run out of chicken. No worries though, they still had rice.
This brief encounter of first-world heartbreak was one of many that would teach me that in Thailand, ‘mai pen rai’ is more than a throwaway statement or light-hearted response to a mild inconvenience. When they say no worries, they mean it.
The profundity loaded in mai pen rai shapes the everyday lives of just about every Thai person.
At times it can be frustrating, because you’ve missed the last bus to Bangkok or just lost your last few Bahts to a street hustling kid. However in repeated exposure to the phrase, the more you’re able to explore the full wealth of culture and diversity outside of the well-trod backpacker routes, you come to learn that it’s about perspective. There’s always another bus. The kid who won your cash deserves it, and might use it to buy a rose for his crush from a persistent flower-seller.
Thailand teaches you to care less, and enjoy more: To that end, mai pen lai is a wonderful phrase from a wonderful place, and whether it remains my only tattoo or not, it will always be my favourite.
Garance – Colour and Material Designer
I spend most of my time travelling. I can thank my grandma for this.
She had lived in many countries during a time where it was unusual for a woman to be exploring the world alone.
One tale that still moves me is the story of when she had to return to France from Hong Kong in the late 60’s.
She had to travel without her husband because of political issues and while he took a direct flight, she couldn’t.
Instead, she took a Russian boat from Hong Kong, passing through Japan and Tokyo before making it to Russia where she would take the Trans-Siberian in Vladivostok. She traveled alone and with two little children- my father and his brother aged five and three respectively.
The three of them spent the next three weeks exploring the cabins and classes of this train, crossing empty, beautiful landscapes and stopping in the small cities scattered along the railroad.
Grandma met many different characters on board, she was beautiful and educated and, probably also because she was alone, she attracted a lot of attention. Some wanted to marry her, others made her their muse.
She eventually arrived in France to join her husband and prepare for their next adventure- relocating to Djibouti in Africa.
My grandma is first a traveler and then a story teller.