Traveling is more than just spending time in a particular place. On a deeper level it enables us to learn many things from our destination, such as the language, culture and its people.
Agustinus Wibowo is an Indonesian travel writer whose travel experiences have taken him through Asia and the Middle East. He said that he was fascinated by the world's cultures and traditions and was curious about how the world works despite its historical and cultural divisions.
Agustinus started his journey going around Asia with just US$2,000 from his savings during his study at Tshinghua University in Beijing, China. When he ran out of money, he stayed for a while with local people and worked with them to collect money and continued his journey again.
"I loved traveling from when I was a student in China. I used to be a homeboy and scared of going around my own hometown. That changed when I studied overseas and lived far away from my parents. I realized that being a grown up was not as hard as what I thought before," Agustinus said.
"In 2002, I was backpacking in Mongolia and have been in love with this way of traveling until now,” continued the 32-year-old.
Agustinus decided to be a backpacker because of a its ability to interact with the locals and being a part of the society. A limited budget also means he needs to find ways to survive. Although he admitted that not all backpackers are willing to interact with the locals because they only visit certain destinations and leave immediately.
As a passionate backpacker, Agustinus said that he never counted the number of countries he has visited. But he said he has traveled extensively across Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.
While traveling around Asia, he said, he encountered a few language problems.
“In order to communicate with the locals, I learned their language, so we could share our story. The purpose of my journey is indeed to know their story and share it with other people. Language is not really hard to learn. I learned those languages by interacting with the people and living my live like them.
When he was backpacking, he too learned to appreciate the little things, like what he discovered when he was living in Afghanistan. One may think that Afghanistan is a poverty stricken war-torn country. However, he discovered that Afghans lived a live like everyone else he knew back home.
According to him, a journey isn't about distance.
“If we are curious, we will have a meaningful journey. A journey is not just about going to another place. We can even travel around our hometown and discover new things that we never knew.”
There were a lot of challenges that Agustinus faced when he was traveling as a backpacker, but those did not stop him from having the time of his life.
“Funds, visas, frustration, fear, crime and bombs. For me those were the colors of my journey that successfully made it such a meaningful story," he said.
"Don't be afraid of challenges, that is the most valuable lesson we will get from our journey."
This article originally appeared in the Student Globe.