Kissing the Road

Hi, this is Ben Ji. Welcome to my travlog. Read ten thousand books, walk ten thousand miles. This ancient Chinese proverb has piqued my fascination since I was little. It calls for a mind continually active in expanding not only its knowledge, but also understanding of the world, and our place in it

My story

Myself. Taken by Melissa Luella.

Myself. Taken by Melissa Luella.


The blog...

My intention with this blog is to first share my life with friends and family, so mama won't worry as much about the traveling son. I also strongly wish to inspire readers to live life on their own terms and pursue continued growth in areas that speak to them personally. Here is to my ideals of a life well-lived, what about you? Please I'd be so happy to hear about your life goals and what you're doing in pursuit of them. Write me. 

My life so far...

Seven years ago, I stepped foot on a foreign land for the first time- to go to college in the states.  

As a small town boy from China, foreign lands intrigued me. Growing up, my favorite shows on TV were all travel shows. Nonetheless, I stopped at being a fascinated observer, that is, until I made the leap to go to the states. Those 7 years were the best yet in this short life- first 5 in school and last 2 working for a big four accounting firm. While in corporate America, I realized how unfit an office job with little real impact was to my vision of a good life. 

When the company laid me off in August 2016, I was faced with a few options: look for another job; go back to school  for a degree in anthropology; move back to China; and travel. I decided it was time I stopped letting fear hold me back. If I didn't fully enjoy the state of my life, I am responsible for taking actions to change it! 

And what better things to start doing, than my favorite thing in the world? Travel.

It all started with a road trip...

Drastic changes always seem to present valuable opportunities to improve one's life. August 2013, I'd just broken up with then girlfriend, and it dawned on me that I had hardly been able to travel during the previous 3 years. Off I go to Colorado. This month-long road trip left a real impact- travel continued haunting me, making me homesick for far-away corners of the world. I had officially been bitten by the travel bug. And the only cure- more travel!

Three years and many trips later, I find myself wanting more. Having met a number of travelers who turned travel into a longterm lifestyle (and lots of Europeans who take a gap year to travel), I knew what I was capable of.

why i travel...

As said on the home page, I like to read and travel. This idea of 'read ten thousand books, walk ten thousand miles' calls for a mind continually active in expanding not only its knowledge, but also its understanding of the world, and our place in it. We gain knowledge from reading, and we gain wisdom from experience. I intend to have a life rich in both knowledge and wisdom. 

I read, I travel, I become.
— Derek Walcott

Travel is one of the most radical and effective ways to experience different elements of the world and in the process, grow in one's changing environment. When traveling, one often is faced with solving problems on the spot- what bus to take, where to get a nail clipper, a good place to eat? The routines previously developed are broken and every need is fresh and demands a new solution.

Over time, one stops taking things for granted- a warm shower would be incredibly nice, any public toilet would do the trick, and NOT everyone will understand what you mean when you speak English. Therefore, many travelers carry an easy-going vibe around them. The simple things in life will make them happy, and nothing seems to annoy them. They have seen real sh*t and understand just because they missed the train, or a kid peed on the bus, the world is not going to end. Instead, they embrace the situation and have fun with its changing elements.  Bill Bryson puts this on point. 

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted
— Bill Bryson

I started traveling because I was motivated by a sense of fascination with other cultures and peoples. The more I traveled, the greater the fascination grew. In addition, I developed a sense of how small of a place we occupy in the world, with all its peoples, traditions and languages. We're really not as big of a deal as we are inclined to believe. 

The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark
— John Muir

How i travel...

I travel because I enjoy everything that comes with it- meeting people, learning things about the place, new language, and the thrill of the unknown. This does not necessarily mean I have heard nice things about the place traveled to. No matter the place, there is also something new to learn and new experiences to be gained.

The goal is always to get a feel for the place in the most authentic way possible. This means planning just a few things to see and do, and leaving the majority of the trip to the playfulness of the universe. For example, I did nothing other than to book a flight to Belize when traveling to Belize earlier this year. It led to the experience of figuring out transportation after landing, asking around for a cheap hostel, and a few interesting detours. 

The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
— G.K. Chesterton

This also means going with no preconceived ideas of what the place will be, or should be like, and while there, staying open to whatever happens. No hot water in the room? I'll shower at the gym. Don't recognize anything in the breakfast aisle of the store? Time to change my diet. Exciting, isn't it?!

This also means being spontaneous about the itinerary. The museum is closed? Go take a walk in the park nearby. Friends are going to the beach for the weekend when you've made plans to stay in the city? Freaking change the plan! The best memories happen when we're least expecting it. 

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
— Lao Tzu


Some thoughts on travel...

  • To travel = to realize that everything you hear about the world is wrong- see it for yourself.
  • On the border between the comfort zone and unknown territory, is where growth takes place. 
  • No it's not dangerous. Human beings live there. 
  • You're in control of your life. And with that, you're fully responsible for what happens in it!