What is the value of a travel experience?
Difficult question. You know how much a physical trip will cost you: just add up the transport, food and lodging. But how much is your experience worth?
I notice how many people compare their (travel) experiences. Comparisons are made on distances, costs, places and events.
“When I was in Thailand I saw this temple and that palace and I also attended a dance performance!” OK, cool. Does that mean your trip was better than mine?
Of course not!
When you compare it to my travel, maybe I didn’t plan a thing and ended up watching an old man sweeping his porch at 6am, dressed in orange monk clothes. Or just walked through the neighborhood and watched how people live.
Two totally different experiences, impossible to compare. And we shouldn’t. The value of travel is priceless where to me it’s all in the details. Something ordinary can mean the world to someone while another one passes by without even noticing it.
It’s like a relic. A relic is important to some, while meaningless to others. Most of the time it is nothing special and the value is hard to explain.
Take the car in the picture. OK, it’s a classic now, but it used to be nothing more than a car. We bumped into it in Vietnam. After looking at it more carefully, we discovered more than a car: a relic.
This is the car in which Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese monk, drove to a busy intersection in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on 11 June 1963. He then stepped out of the car, calmly seated himself in the traditional Buddhist meditational lotus position and set himself on fire….
His self-immolation was a protest against the Vietnamese government’s persecution of Buddhists. This car changed from being an ordinary vehicle to a symbol of freedom and personal sacrifice.
You cannot put a price tag on that, same as one cannot value our encounter when discovering this relic during our trip to Vietnam.
Do you happen to know about an interesting relic with a great story? Maybe one you discovered during travels?
Note: this staggering story of Thich Quang Duc reminds me of what happened earlier this year in Tunesia. How painful to see that human sacrifice is sometimes needed to open up people’s eyes to inhumane behavior in our world.
The car mentioned in this blog post is parked at Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam.