The Places We Travel From

Two visitors to Angkor Wat will see the same buildings, but find photoworthy completely different things. Two travelers will attend Carnevale, but write completely different accounts. Two passengers will fly the same flight, but one will write the airline a commendation letter, the other a complaint letter.

The origin we’re coming from is equally as important as the destination we’re heading to. 

An Italian Catholic priest and a Senegalese graffiti artist look at the Sistine Chapel ceiling at the same moment; their eyes and their minds are in two different worlds. My stories from Cambodia’s Killing Fields may sound romantic; my stories from Paris, tragic. They’re my stories: they’re not Cambodia’s stories; they’re not Paris’ stories.

There is no travel ‘to’ without a travel ‘from:’

  • The backgrounds we came from: poor, not so poor, almost famous, big city, big country, big headed
  • The jobs we came from: photographer, engineer, journalist, flight attendant, full-time travel writer
  • The lodging we just came from: a Hilton, a hostel, a home, a park bench, a bus station
Some people see things in black and white: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Some people see things in color: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Some people focus on other people: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Some people focus on themselves: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Some people focus on what’s above them: Angkor Wat, Cambodia

“The question you need to ask travel writers isn’t ‘where did you go to,’ but ‘where did you start from.’ Observations of abroad often tell you more about the observer and his culture than the people and place he’s commenting on.”  –A.A. Gill, AA Gill is Away (2003)

Above photos (from top to bottom) by: Ralph Combs, Mike Behnken, Trey Ratcliff, LifeIsAnArtForm, and Medhak

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