Because that was the exact time I took my first photograph for this list.
Why do this list at all?
In the 8 or so years I’ve spent traipsing the planet, I’ve only come to realise on this trip that I don’t derive much pleasure from travel photos—taking them or looking at them, be they my own or other people’s. I feel that whipping out my camera every 5 minutes as most travellers do actually takes away from the experience of being in a place. I don’t mean to sound like one of those preachy self-help books that tell you to “live in the moment”, but I do like being PRESENT when I travel. As much as I like thought of people seething with jealousy when they eventually see my photos (Hi Carol!), I try not to let the un-presence of others take over the joys of being a foreigner: seeing street signs in a different language, hearing new accents, getting lost, tasting different flavoured tap water.
I also feel that a photo is a particularly ineffective way of capturing “the moment”. I find that listening to people share their experiences is a far more interesting endeavor: the pitch in their voices, the way they move their hands as they recollect events, the events they choose to share— all that is infinitely more entertaining to me than looking at photo after photo of boring landscape. I think that there are very few talented photographers in this world who have the ability to actually transport you to a different place. Sadly, I am not one of them.
What I do however, to make a travel experience—or any experience, for that matter—truly my own and worthy of sharing is to make lists about them. Collect and order. That’s more my style. Hence this list. Hence this blog.
*Note: I’ve had to switch the time for the Belgian bit of my trip to 3.07pm. At 10.36am on those days, I was most likely lying on my sweaty yoga mat on the wooden floors of Antwerp Yoga, half in savasana, half thinking on a growling stomach that 10.36am is way too late to be having breakfast.