I run, I travel. I use my legs a lot.

I collect things both tangible and intangible when I travel:

Post cards.

That’s self-explanatory.


I don’t mean per se, but the experience. While there is a toilet in Utrecht where the seat is covered with plastic and you turn it around when you want a new plastic cover altogether to sit on, or a toilet in Amsterdam where the seat turns and as it does, it gets sanitised somewhere where you can’t see it but you smell isopropyl alcohol in the air after pressing a button, I think the Japanese toilets are still the best in the world, never mind the accidental facial wash the first time I tried the bidet.

Christmas tree sightings

Specifically, how Christmas trees are decorated — with gigantic red balls, tinsels, and even dried lemon slices.


Gigantic red Christmas balls adorn real Christmas trees on a sidewalk in Salzburg near the Sound of Music gazebo scene location.

Snow balls.

Sometimes it’s ridiculous how much money and time tourists spend buying souvenirs, as if the entire experience and magic of the place can be contained in one ref magnet, snow ball, post card or a picture. Even taking pictures of themselves in front of a tourist spot, an old church or a historical landmark is an act of collecting. Sometimes that’s all they do, failing to stop and breathe-in whatever is in front of them, failing to engage in a talk with locals around them.

That goes without saying I’m not one of them. I totally am. Especially that we were guided by an itinerary. All the last 10 days.

Some people collect things, and when they go back home, they’d place the souvenirs in a pedestal to remind them and others around them that they’ve been in another place other than home, or keep them in a safe only to throw away next time they encounter them when they find the time to clean the closet. It’s pathetic sometimes how we are controlled by capitalism buying these souvenirs, and attaching an illusory significance to them in our lives.

What I really want to say is, what’s the point of collecting?

But what I really really want to say is, I gave up, just after acquiring my first piece from Rome, my snowball collection.

First it was expensive (some as expensive as 45 euros each).

Second, it was heavy.

I felt bad, yes, but it’s a form of letting go — a way to teach oneself to detach oneself from things of this world.

Collect memories and experiences and relationships. After all, we bring here nothing. We bring with us nothing.

*This is part of a 68-Day Travel Diary called Reflections of a Nearly Thirty. Read the full Reflections Series here.

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About hellopenville

Writing is my one true north. (The other is eating spaghetti. I make the best pastas in the whole world I swear!) I have been writing since age 10. I remember being in another school a lot because of Campus Journalism contests. I was a grade-school copyreader, headline-writer, and feature writer, who emerged to be a college editorial writer and eventually a TV news writer. However, I have always been an insecure artist. These constant condescending thoughts always stopped me from creating: “No one would read this.” “This has been written before and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not interesting enough and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not relevant, or factual, or trendy enough and therefore no one would read this.” But I learned to risk to write even if no one reads it, than not to have written anything at all. To resist writing is to resist truth itself, to betray that which comes freely to you when you do not allow it to be manifested through you. I didn’t think writing was serious work. But every time I thought about writing, it would make me nervous. It would rattle me and frighten me. I would shake the ground under me. Aren’t dreams like that too? Read more at penville.net.


Europe, Travel, Travel Reflections Series (3 months in Europe), Writing


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