I have been “on the road” for just over a month now. I received a Fulbright research grant to spend six months in Malaysia studying coastal tourism development. The first month was a whirlwind tour that included about a week each in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu (mostly house hunting), Singapore (for Chinese New Year), and a road trip from Johor Bahru to Kuala Terengganu (one of my research sites). We have had some amazing experiences and living a life that makes many of my friends quite envious (though not in a bad way).
A few friends have asked me if I was going to post photos or blog. As usual, I have been taking a lot of photos. I average about 200 photos a day that I keep (out of the many more that I take) when I am visiting new places. Normally, I do try to post some photos and blog some about my experiences. However, that does take time, and for me, that time usually comes at the expense of sleep. This time, my wife has a request from her friends to post photos of our trip on Facebook, so I have been letting her do that. Occasionally I will share those so that my friends can see them, as well.
Now that I am settled into my semi-permanent home in Kota Kinabalu, I guess I do not have any more excuses for not blogging about our trip – and trying to get a few photos posted. Which raises a question in my mind about why — why do I feel the compulsion to blog, or two write in general. During this past month I gave two presentations on researching, writing and publishing tourism research (at two universities). And, as usual, I mention my passion for writing, and how much I enjoy writing. Not everyone has that passion, though most people in academia these days are under pressure to write and publish.
I think the desire to write, whether it be an book, journal article or blog post, meets to important human needs. The first is the desire to connect with other people – the people who read our writings. Even if we do not know them, we still get satisfaction from reaching out, with a degree of trust and optimism that someone will listen and be appreciative. The second is the desire for introspection. Writing requires thinking through thoughts and exploring ideas that would otherwise lie dormant in one’s mind. Putting them on paper makes them more concrete, forges new thought connections, and gives a sense of self discovery and existential creativity.
Travel also gives the potential for discovery and existential creative experiences. Writing about our travels, therefore, brings us full circle in a journey of understanding that includes both the outside world and our inside world. Writing about our travels also brings us full circle in connecting our known home (and friends) to our new places (and new friends).
Not everyone has the need to do this, but a lot of people do, resulting in the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and specialty travel blogging and comment websites. It may also have to something to do with the proliferation of academic journals on tourism – over 160 of which currently exist!
You can follow my escapades in Malaysia by going to : http://aalew.blogspot.com