One of the funnest aspects of travel for me is the journey. Waiting at bus terminals with pastries in hand (and devouring said pastries before the bus even pulls out), staring out the window as we sweep down dirt roads dotted with the occasional village, sharing cookies with children who speak Quechua in the back of a pick up truck, the unexpected encounters with strangers at the airport and the odd conversations that ensue. What’s there not to love? Here are just a few of my most memorable journeys:
On top of a Bus
What do you do when it’s a beautiful sunny day and you are faced with the prospect of travelling in a stuffy bus that has been crammed with way too many passengers? You whip out your brightest smile and talk the bus driver into letting you and your friend ride on top of the bus. A seat among the parcels and spare tires has never been more coveted. The sunburn and matted hair were so worth it!
The tram, or eléctrico in Portuguese, was a great way to explore Lisbon. After walking from the shores of the Tagus to my hostel, it became clear that exploring the city was going to be an uphill battle, quite literally. I spent my first afternoon wandering through the maze of cobble streets on foot, and stopping to catch my breath halfway up each hill. If I was going to see Alfama, Graça, and Belem, I would need some help! The historic trams did just that effortlessly pulling me past castles, monasteries, parks, and basilicas, and it was also nice to travel with locals on their way to work, school, or to do the groceries.
India offered a myriad of transportation options – from black and yellow taxi cabs that drove me everywhere excepts where I wanted to go, to the small compact mini van that bounced down the highway as we travelled south through the country. However, it was the rickshaw that became my favorite means of transportation. I loved zipping down chaotic streets, swerving around motorbikes, cows, and pedestrians. The city felt so alive and tangible from the back seat and I relished the journey. That is until ‘the incident’ took place… Remember the time my rickshaw’s front wheel went flying off while we were driving? Yes, that was a very close call.
A pickup truck
Another journey I really enjoyed was travelling in the back of an old beat up pick up truck through rural Bolivia. I was surrounded by a group of Canadian and American volunteers, and it wasn’t long before we stopped to pick up hitchhikers along the way. A man and his two children stood by the side of the road and there was no hesitation as to whether or not we’d be pulling over. Within minutes they had joined us in the back of the truck and I was pulling out my cookies (never travel without snacks!) to share with the children. Their first language was Quechua and that made the journey even more beautiful.
The Mugunghwa Train
The KTX is the star of Korea’s rail system. Sleek and speedy, it is a bullet train of sorts capable of reaching 350 kilometers per hour. You hop on and before you have a chance to nestle into your seat or pull out a book, you’re there – that’s why I didn’t like it! During my time in Korea I have discovered something even better: the Mugunghwa! The Mugunghwa (무궁화) is the slowest train you can possibly use for travel within the country. This train stops at major hubs and lonely platforms, it slowly weaves its way through mountains and rice fields, and the slow pace makes the journey so much sweeter. Isn’t that what train travel is all about?
Nothing feels so quintessentially English like hopping on that red double-decker; and I don’t mean your average sightseeing bus, I’m talking about the real deal. Whether you’re planning to travel on the tube or riding a red double-decker through the streets of London is something everyone should do at least once. The first time I rode the double-decker it was out of pure necessity. Since the underground stops running around midnight, on this particular night my friends and I found ourselves kind of stranded somewhere in the city. After wandering up, down and around streets, we finally found a bus that seemed to be travelling in the right direction. On board we were met with a group of passengers that were both merry and extremely inebriated. The journey was loaded with British humour, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was in some kind of British comedy.
What is your favourite way to travel?
Really enjoyed this post! Reminded me so much of my travels…
Glad you enjoyed it. Tuk-tuks are great! 😀
I particularly love the photo from Portugal… I recognize the area and feel warm fuzzies because of it…
Also, I lived in England for 7 months, and with enough time there, the double decker becomes all too common. I never thought twice about getting on one after a while.
I too love the journey!!! I always love settling into a long train ride… particularly from my experience in England or Denmark… and I also felt particularly cozy on a bus in Brasil going from Paraty to Sao Paulo…
Agreed! I didn’t always love long overland journeys but now I think they are some of the best. So much opportunity for adventures and unexpected encounters. 😉
I took my first sleeper train recently, and I was a little bit too excited about it considering that the whole point was for me to sleep through the experience. I’ve traveled on more than a few crowded buses and trains, so it was really cool having my own little compartment to myself.
I would have been excited too! I’ve never had my own personal compartment. 😉
My favorite is by car or by train. Boring, I know. I HATE flying. Sadly, I never appreciate the journey as much as I should. I’m learning to relax more and embrace the moment, but still … it’s the most unpleasant part of travel for me.
I do enjoy a good road trip so long as I’m not the one sitting behind the wheel the whole time. It’s a nice way to enjoy the scenery. 🙂
Have you ever taken a good old fashioned road trip? Aside from the cramps in your legs after driving for eight straight hours, it’s a pretty good time. I felt so American the whole time 🙂 I think in general I might agree with you on the long, slow train rides, though — those are pretty hard to beat, especially with a good book in hand.
I’m glad to hear you still enjoy the train rides after reading about that cowboy preacher you encountered. 😉
Traveling in sleeper class train in India is my favorite means of transport. The view, the people, the smell and the countless of people selling everything from bottle water to watches, clothes and shoes, its just amazing.
I would love to travel in the sleeper class train in India! I only took one train while I was there and it was a relatively short trip, so I feel like I haven’t truly experienced train travel in India.
I think the top of the bus one is the most impressive!
Definitely tops the list! I’m hoping to ride on more bus roofs soon… 😉
Love this. 😀 What great ways you’ve travelled, you’re so lucky!
My favourite way to travel is by train. As much as I love exploring other options, there’s nothing quite like a train ride. 🙂
Whoa, so cool! I’m impressed. I’ve ridden via tuk-tuk (sometimes called motorela), which is pretty cool and seems similar to the “rickshaw” in your article. I’ve also traveled in a tiny, 6-person plane too. It’s fascinating to see the different ways people travel all over the world!
I’ve been in smaller planes but nothing that tiny! I think I’d be nervous in such a small aircraft.
Hey! you should visit Philippines and try riding topload in the Jeepney going to the Rice Terraces 🙂 great rides you got there 😉
I had to look up what a Jeepney is, haha, that’s one pimped up bus! Looks like a fun ride! Would love to try it sometime. 😀
This is a great concept for a post! I couldn’t do quite as lengthy a post, since I have never ridden on the top of a bus. That sounds magical.
The top of the bus has been one of my favorite journeys to date. 🙂
By foot. I get to see so much more when walking.
I like that answer! I’ve never really thought of walking that way but it’s so true!
I also traveled by bus, in pickup truck, in tuk-tuk, by train, by boat, by plane, by tramway, subway… I think I like small boats best, in Central America I would always climb on the roof for a better view!
I haven’t had much experience on small boats but I’d love to see the Amazon that way one day. Just cruisin’ down the river!
I would have to say that the double-decker has attached to my heart the most, and until I ride a rickshaw or atop a bus, it will remain as such. Your stories, as I was just flipping through your site, are magnificent and inspiring. I can’t wait to read more.
Though my travel blog is stuck in Tennessee trying to graduate, I will aspire and dream through your writings. Xoxo, hm
Such a great post! One of my most memorable journeys was on an Angkot (think mini van-meets-tuk-tuk) in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Late at night when we were heading back to our hostel we hailed down a pimped out angkot (complete with neons, a killer sound system, huge rims and TV!), driven by two teenage indonesian rude boys (who wouldn’t have looked out of place back home in London). Now everytime I hear ‘like a G6’ I remember hurtling down the streets of Balikpapan and it reminds me no matter where you go in the world some things are the same xx
I think my preference is by foot as you can take your time and go wherever you want and experience the sights and sounds first hand. That said, rickshaw sounds like a lot of fun!
I think the way you traveled on the roof is the most funnies in the list. Traveling by rick show is also a great experience . These two are the unusual way of traveling in your post.
I really enjoyed this post, Audrey! Ahh the KTX…now, I always try and take the mugunghwa whenever possible, but if I’m booking late sometimes the KTX is the only option (due to their much higher frequency). Although I have to say, bus is my favourite way to go in Korea – much more comfortable, and usually a little cheaper, than the mugunghwa.
Nice tip about the snacks, by the way. I’ll make use of that when I’m off round the world next year!
My favourite way to travel was by horse and cart when I got lost in rural Turkey. I’d been exploring the gorges in Cappadocia, ended up in this random village that consisted of a single street, then found a motorway back to the main town…6km in the July sun in Turkey. An old man then came along with a horse and cart. I sat in the back with the hay and got pulled back to town for a couple of Lira, and had the horse poo about a foot away from my face during the journey, too. Certainly memorable.
I would like to visit Different Places around the world. Your collection of Picture is very unique and awesome. Thanks for sharing your experience with your thought. Love It.
There’s a train in Ecuador where it’s traditional to sit on top of the last few carriages – you jump on in Riobamba and bump along at about 20mph. And the views are awesome. Hitchhiking in Bolivia once netted a ride on top of a tractor, that was on top of a flat bed truck. That was interesting to stay on!
I love that you added the double-decker bus – I grew up in the UK, so that was the type of bus that took me to school – one of the (not particularly bright) traditions was to all pile onto the seats on one side and then all run at the other side and jump against the wall to see if we could make it go onto two wheels. (Again, we weren’t very bright)
Gotta say though, my favourite has got to be horseback, to get anywhere. Really slow but you get to see a lot more, and if it’s your kind of thing, you see a lot more wildlife due to no engine noises.
That sounds like a train I would enjoy travelling on! Another one for the list. 😉 It sounds like you have had some exciting travels around South America, particularly that ride on top of a tractor!
Your double-decker bus experience was similar to mine. When I studied abroad in London, I was a bit surprised to find that the tube stops running so early. And after a late night out on the town, buses were the only option though they were a bit tricky to figure out at first. But I found riding them really fun (especially on the top level in the front) and yes, the other riders can be quite entertaining, too!