How to get lost while traveling?
It’s easy to get lost in a city you don’t know. It’s easy to get on a wrong tram that goes into the wrong direction, to get wrong directions from the wrong people, wrong interpretation of your map that turns out to be wrong.
If you travel you definitely know what I am talking about. You walk with your way too big backpack through an unknown Asian city, it is 35 degrees and it feels like you haven’t showered for days, even though you felt fresh when you left the hostel you stayed the previous night. People are staring but no one seems to understand your pain, sweat and your desperate need for a moment to put your backpack down and relax your back. You start to think if traveling was really what you wanted to do in life.
The moment that you realize that you are living a life that many dream of, a life that exists in books and stories, a life that you always wanted, it isn’t until that moment that you truly appreciate all the things that before might have made you doubt the reason you flew all the way to the other side of the world to have this experience.
When I arrived in Melbourne two and a bit years ago I felt a freedom and a willingness to explore like I never had before. I have lived in Amsterdam, an amazing and beautiful city that is NR 1 on a lot of travelers to do lists. Looking back on my time in Amsterdam I wish I had the same adventures mind while living there as I do have being so many miles away from home and explore more than just the bike ride from home to work and the other way around. Being so far from home makes you want to explore, enjoy and fully absorb everything you see. Being home in a beautiful l city makes you take it for granted.
The one time getting lost was not a good thing
On one of my amazing trips through Australia I ended up in a Toyota corolla with my girlfriend in the outback. We thought it was a good idea to travel from the west coast to Karijini National Park in one day. The road to this national park is long, very long and has a lot of nothing. And by nothing I mean, imagine nothing and then a whole lot more of that.
Little did we know, we weren’t prepared at all for what was coming that day.
It was 40 degrees, it was outback it was just us and that whole big patch of nothing.
The journey to the national park was supposed to take 6 hours. We thought we would arrive just before dark, make ourselves comfortable at the campsite and maybe enjoy a nice sunset while we were at it. We were wrong. 7 hours later we were still driving, the sun was going down. As we imagined ourselves at the campsite at this point, having a beer and enjoying everything around us, instead we were still driving. The good thing was, there was a beautiful sunset. To enjoy this to the fullest I thought it would be a good idea to pull over and take some pictures. As we made our way to the side of the road, in a matter of seconds we knew we were stuck. We tried driving forwards and backwards, but nothing happened. The only thing that happened was getting deeper and deeper in soft beautifully red soil.
There we were. In the middle of this whole bunch of nothing, the sun was setting and we were stuck, stuck in a ditch.
It was as if the lord himself had come down from heaven when after a minute of being stuck in the ditch a big 4 WD came past. This, after we hadn’t seen any vehicles for the last few hours. It went straight past us…
Luckily they had probably spotted the desperation in our eyes and came back. We obviously didn’t tell them we ended up in this predicament because of a beautiful sunset, so these friendly people thought we were just bad drivers, although after a few comments about the sunset I doubt they believed our story.
With an improvised rope they tried pulling us out of the ditch. We were so relieved and happy that this story wouldn’t end up as a headline in the newspaper. As soon as our desperate faces turned in to smiles, the rope, that was more like a strap to keep things together than to pull a car out of a deep ditch, snapped.
The car rolled all the way back and we were back to square one. Luckily they had a second strap. Unfortunately the second one snapped the same way the first one did. The poor man that tried so hard to help us couldn’t think of a different way than to try and push us out. Of course this wasn’t easy with two and a half man.
As if there was a little angel on the top of our car, a bus passed, and stopped. A very Aussie outback professional came walking towards us, followed by a group of 20 other people that were enjoying that same beautiful sunset from the safety of the bus.
All of these people started pushing the car and eventually we ended up on the same road where only an hour ago we made the decision to stop. After the eventually longer than expected pit stop we could finally continue our journey, on which a lot more happened and of course we got lost in the national park of Karijini.
If I could make one recommendation; getting lost is OK, but maybe start practicing your getting lostness in a safe city.
The one thing I enjoyed doing the most here in Melbourne is a game I like to call follow the green lights. The rules are simple; you literally follow the green lights.. At every intersection you go the way the green man wants you to go.. For me it has been the best way to get to places you’ve never been before and seeing things you’ve never seen before. Melbourne has so many hidden gems that you would never spot if you didn’t take the time to look around you and discover.
Sometimes it feels good to get lost. Get lost on the wrong tram towards the right place led by the green man.