Travel, culture and communication


Journeys with my camera






“In Chinese, it is the same word 豕 (jia) for “home” and “family” and sometimes including “house”. To us, family is same thing as house, and this house is their only home too. 豕, a roof on top, then some legs and arms inside. When you write this character down, you can feel those legs and arms move around underneath the roof. Home, is a dwelling house for the family to live.

But English, it’s different. In Roget’s Thesaurus, “Family” related to: subdivision, greed, genealogy, parental, posterity, community, nobility.

It seems like that “family” doesn’t mean a place. Maybe  in West people just move round from one house to another house? Always looking for a house, maybe that’s the lifelong job for Westerners…”

Xiaolu Guo, (2007). A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers. Chatto and Windus.


“If our lives are dominated by the search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about outside the constraints of work and the struggle for our survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems – that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on where to travel to, we hear little of why and how we should go – though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial and whose study might in modest ways contribue to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia or human flourishing.”

de Botton, A. (2003) The Art of Travel. London: Penguin. p 9


Alain de Botton sets up an interesting dichotomy between “work” and what happens outside our “struggle for survival”. Our travels become a search for happiness, escapism perhaps, a way of learning about the world and ourselves. But is he right that most travel is in fact about airports, immigration queues, the next meal/sight/activity, avoiding mosquitoes… and as such is only a form of work displaced to somewhere else?

Post your thoughts on anything – travel, happiness, places, cultures and people that you will never forget, how we can appreciate the new….