How much can travel really inspire you?

12 Oct 2015

We live in a world where you can find everything online, in one way or another. Even the most remote beach can be found with a quick look up in an online search engine. Alternatively, it can be found on someone’s social media feed; Pinterest is great for looking up exciting holiday destinations, as is Instagram or many more of the popular social platforms out there.

Due to this, it can be easy to feel desensitised to the beauty and tranquillity of being “remote” when you actually find yourself out in one of these foreign landscapes.

I have recently been on a wonderful trip to Koh Phangan, Thailand. My experience out there has left me asking the question; is it harder these days to feel inspired by travel?

My first experiences

Before my Thailand trip, for one reason or another, I’d never managed to venture out of Europe. So you can imagine, when I arrived in the small village of Thong Nai Pan Yai, I was slightly overwhelmed by the immense contrast in my surroundings to that of Richmond, North Yorkshire.

 Thailand - Thong Nai Pan Noi - Beach

However different the landscape was to back home, my surroundings somehow did not seem alien!?

I remember when I was 10 years old visiting rural Italy and being blown away by how different and new everything was.

I did not have the same feeling this time around.

Although the beaches were to die for, the ocean was that teal of dreams, the tropical sounds of the jungle were exhilarating, and the heat immense, on first impressions I did not find myself surprised.

Everything I was experiencing was just like what I had seen on the internet, the TV, or in a book.

So what did take me by surprise?

It was a few days in and my friends and I had hired some mopeds to go on a trip around the island; this in itself was a new experience for me. I’ve always been very wary of motorbikes, but these mopeds were the easiest and cheapest mode of transport and it turned out they were excellent fun once you got used to them!

We were cruising along and my friend who is currently living on the island signalled to pull in. He explained that there was a Buddhist Temple just around the corner which we could go and visit.

Thai Temple Thai Temple Art

Now this is where I found my inspiration!

I have spent most of my life studying Art and Design. I have studied different Art movements and styles from all around the world, but actually physically seen/visited very little.

To actually see in front of me a real-life example Asian creativity at its finest blew me away. The interior and exterior of this temple was ornately decorated. The colours used in the paint where bold and exquisite, quite like the countries fauna and flora I was surrounded by. The murals within the temple told stories of Thai history and showed off the cultural styles I had seen in many a book and Google search over the years.

I giggled like a school girl. I was in heaven.

Inspiration is often surprising

I have written about sources of inspiration quite a bit in my blog posts. I think the one thing that stands out to me is that inspiration can be drawn from the most surprising of places. It is kind of like the idiom that ‘a watched pot never boils’; if you go out seeking inspiration it can be so hard to find, really it can come from the most mundane of places, or take you by surprise when you least expect it.

Who knew that tofu on toast could be so delicious for example? I will definitely be trying to reincarnate this back home…

Thai food - Tofu on Toast

So, was I inspired?

It’s fair to say that at first I definitely felt a little desensitised to the beauty of Thailand. It took me a few days of beach bumming to really let it sink in that I was actually there in this paradisiacal place. In such an idyllic, picturesque setting at first I did not feel inspired, just relaxed!

But, after absorbing some real culture – be it in the form of the ornate temples, the exotic scenery, the colourful markets, or the incredible food – I have definitely returned to the office with an experience that has refreshed and inspired me immensely.