Travel and Moving

The other day I had this IM conversation with a friend:

> 没有空: you got plans for [the October holiday] week?

> John: I was thinking of going to Beijing

> 没有空: 哦。 [Oh.]

> John: You ever do any traveling around China? No interest?

> 没有空: 我反对旅游。太费力,太费钱,太麻烦。 [I’m against travel. It’s a waste of energy and money, and it’s too much hassle.]

> John: you sure you belong outside the USA?

> 没有空: there’s a difference between moving someplace and staying for a while, which I’ve done many times, and short term travelling.

> John: Yeah. Travelling is fun. Moving is difficult and stressful.

> 没有空: 切 [as if!]

> 没有空: moving is purposeful and noble. travelling is useless and ignoble.

> John: How is moving noble??? It’s just necessary. That doesn’t impart any nobility. Travelling is much more noble because it represents a voluntary effort to become more familiar with an unfamiliar place — to better understand the world you live in.

> 没有空: and waste time and money and disrupt the work you should be doing.

> 没有空: 只有超级英雄喜欢搬家!只有流浪痞棍喜欢旅游哼! [Only superheroes like moving! Only vagrant scoundrels like traveling!]

> John: work is not life. Any life of your own outside the workplace is a disruption of work.

> 没有空: not workplace work. One’s own work. Travelling, like drinking, is a way to hide from one’s responsibilities.

> 没有空: how can you 为人民服务 [serve the people] if you are traipsing around tourist sites?

> 没有空: nice 吹ing牛 [bullshitting] with you but I got to get to work…

While it’s true that my friend doesn’t really like travelling, I know he was partly just being facetious. I can’t really fathom how people can dislike travel, though.

I want to travel more.

P.S. I should be arriving back in Shanghai this afternoon, completing a 27-hour train from Changchun. Mission accomplished! (sort of)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. greg pasden Says: August 22, 2005 at 8:04 am

    Since I enjoy traveling nearly 13 days each month, am I 13/30th of a vagrant scoundrel?3

  2. sounds like your friend is just cheap.

  3. Beijing in October, eh? I’ll just have gotten back. Should see if we can get some of the Beijing faction together to represent.

  4. Funny, I had a conversation like this 2 nights ago. I said, for me to visit another country would mean a big commitment because I would have to study the language for a couple of years first and then spend a few years living in the country. What I’m interested in is getting a feel for the local culture and way of life, not just seeing ANOTHER temple on top of ANOTHER mountain (I love a bit of scenery, but I’d rather make a 50km day trip to a “quite pretty” mountain than a 500km trip to a famous one).

    But having said that, I think that travel has it’s advantages too. In fact (unlike your bilingual friend) I really admire seasoned travellers, especially the backpacking kind (eg. leylop) who always seem to meet amazing people and have amazing experiences everywhere they go. But I’m just not the type who can do it. A few days on the road, and I have no energy left.

    I feel I should make an effort to see more places in China while I’m living here, but I can’t really be bothered.

  5. Greg — does it count if ‘traveling’ IS your work?

  6. I’m back in Shanghai! I didn’t take a train, though… the tickets were sold out. I had to fly.

  7. Da Xiangchang Says: August 23, 2005 at 4:44 am

    I wish I’d traveled more when I lived in China. I’ve never been to Yunnan or Xian or even Hong Kong. I stayed mostly in Shanghai or Jiangsu Province, though I did once go to Jindezhen and another time to Chongqing. Another time I went into the countryside in Anhui, which was also spectacular. I LOVED LOVED LOVED my travels in China. They were magical since the experiences were so crazy-different from typical American life. If I had all the money in the world, I would 1) learn more languages, 2) learn more about foreign countries, and 3) spend at least 4 months out of the year traveling. If you’re a foreigner living in China and you DON’T travel, you’re nuts! You might as well do it now before you return to the slavelike work schedules of typical American life!

  8. i like travel, but sometimes i have money but no time, or have money but have no time.

    how is your 5-year life in china? i am doing a research about foreigners life in china,if you are interested,you can mail me, thanks!

  9. another question: where the hell can one buy traintickets?? and how long is the journey?? i wanna travel from shanghai to beijing, too。。。

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