Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I’ve always been fascinated by the way our minds work to cope with the vastness of the world, the uncountable places and landforms we move through as travelers over the course of our lives. A place, it seems, can exist in our consciousness in one of three forms. First, as a mere name, a place on a map, a dimensionless data point. Leaf through a guidebook, or browse the web, and thousands of these pop up. If the name is in a foreign language, it can prove stubbornly hard to remember at this stage. And why should the mind remember it? What good does it do?

Then, as itineraries start to take shape, places start to fall into place in relation to one another. Relation of distance (“Loboc is only 30km from Tagliabara”) and in term of desirability (“Bohol has decent weather this time of year”). The sea of names starts to fall into a hierarchy, sketched in pencil on the inside of a Lonely Planet cover, or perhaps posted to a Google Doc spreadsheet. One starts to be able to recall the names of such places. More information gets attached to the hierarchy (“the ferry to Cebu leaves at 2pm”, “the woman on the phone sounded alright, the rate was reasonable”) as a plan unfolds.

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