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Backpackers on mobile phones

I’m getting old

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It’s good for my ego, which is worse for my yoga practice, trying to get rid of my ego, but everybody around here thinks I’m way younger then I really am. It has to be the yoga, keeping me young. But the truth is: I’m getting old; an old traveler. Why, because I’m one of those people who thinks everything was better in the early days.

I can still remember Henny lecturing me: when he was travelling, there was no internet, no e-mail and there where no mobile phones. He was still writing letters to his family and friends and giving them an address of a post office in a town he would go to, so people could sent him a letter in return. In his eyes I was a modern traveler, having internet and e-mail. But when I started traveling – in 1999 (Australia)  – I still had the odd mail by post. I only wouldn’t make a phone call to let people know where I was heading, I would look for an internet cafe and sent an e-mail. My sister – mainly – sent my post over to the towns I was visiting. It had something ‘romantic’, coming in to a new city, looking for the post office and getting a few letters. Taking them back to the hostel and – laying in a bunk bed in a dorm – reading the letters and cards from back home. They where a nice extra to the emails.

2008 I went again. This time the trip went to New Zealand, Tonga. I was a luxurious traveler, having my laptop with me, having an mobile phone with me as well. We used both. The laptop mainly to blog on our travel blog and to work on the photo’s we took and the stories we wrote for the magazines and papers Mickey and I where working for. But being in hostels, we spent our time mainly with chatting with other travelers. Getting to know them, learning about their background, culture, countries. It made our world richer, our traveling more interesting.

So what changed? Social media, facetime, skype, cheap credits to call home. It’s quiet in hostels. Well, quiet with conversations between backpackers. They do happen, but not as much as I was use to. People still chat, but with their friends and family back home. They are on their phone the whole time. Where I’m use to people sitting together, enjoying a beer of wine together, now people are sitting on their own, having their phone, ipad of tablet in their hand, being busy on Facebook, chatting with people they already know instead of meeting new people. It’s their choice, but not mine. I’ve been to so many beautiful places and the thing I always discovered: it’s not the places you go to, it’s the people with whom you are which makes a place an extraordinary place.

So I’m going to stop writing this blog, going to put my computer away and sit with somebody, starting a real conversation. Not screen to screen, but face to face.

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3 Responses to I’m getting old

  1. Avatar
    Stef 10 December 2014 at 22:54 #

    it’s not the places you go to, it’s the people with whom you are which makes a place an extraordinary place….. I Think of being with you in the Trailer in the Middle of the woods, where we heard so strange noises. And the walk through all the quakes to get to the trailer 😉 O my goodness…. Lots of greetings John and a wonderful Christmas Time…. 1999 we spend it together…Big Hug from Germany

  2. Avatar
    John Kraijenbrink 11 December 2014 at 16:45 #

    Wahhhh Stef,
    Good memories! I can remember that trailer! Good times, good days. How are you mate! As you see: I’m on the road again!
    That was a real special Christmas. I still tell the story of my Christmas gift to people I mat. You know which one…
    Big hug back!
    Let’s meet up when I’m back in Europe!

  3. Avatar
    Karin 16 December 2014 at 14:26 #

    Hi John, I’ll let you in on a little inside information 🙂 back in the 70ties when I was a child (that is how young I am ;-)) when we called Holland from Bandung Indonesia, calls used go through the operator. Switchboard operators would connect the calls manually, and it would sometimes take a long time to establish a connection. We would also send spoken tapes (remember those :-)) to our grandparents. As the long distance calls technology improved, and was no longer in need of a “human operator”, it would be so easy to pick up the phone to call long distance, only to receive the surprise of the huge telephone bills afterwards. Even if you calculated your cost beforehand, it always seemed to work out to be a longer call than you had initially perceived it to be. I remember bills for thousands of Dutch guilders, Norwegian Krone and other currencies! I was one for hours on the phone, or spending half an hour or twenty minutes or so on the phone, but doing so a couple of times a week. At some point everyone was travelling or in another country, and letters did not always reach their destination. Sending a letter, a card or a parcel from or to a foreign destination did not always result in the actual delivery of the letter, card or parcel, so telephone costs could really add up. Some of us still do remember. So, what a luxury that communication has improved so much over time; a great gift to mankind as communication is key on so many levels, and it being so accessible on such a broad spectrum for everyone is great!
    Imagine what your communication would have cost back in the old days to a point where it would not even have been feasible!
    I’m hearing you …… regarding the “down side” but that is as in all huge discoveries, changes a human adaption thing, we can go on for hours on this subject (we will leave that for another time, shall we?) 🙂
    Have a great day John, with lots of personal interactions! x