I smiled the first time I saw that The Bus Stops Here sign at one of the bus stops I pass everyday on my way to the office. I like the sense of finality those words offer and at the same time, the underlying hint of possibilities. I imagine myself getting off a bus in that exact spot.
Bus stops are fascinating. They’re never dead-ends. When you get off on one, it’s because you’re meant to be somewhere else. Unless you intend to wait out the rest of your life in that bus stop, you wouldn’t want to be there long enough to have roots growing out on you.
I remember this one trip I had before. I was traveling with my teammates. We were on our way to Macau for a competition. Like in our previous trip there, we took a flight to Hong Kong and from there would board a ferry to Macau. But unlike before, the airport was now farther from the city so we had to take the bus going to the ferry terminal.
I could still recall the excitement as we opted to ride on a double-decker bus because it would be the first time for most of us to ride in it. Of course, almost all of us wanted to be on topside so we climbed up, suitcases and all, and made ourselves thoroughly comfortable throughout the long drive to the city. We became so comfortable that we realized we’re nearing our destination barely a minute before the bus rolled to a stop.
Buses in Hong Kong, and in my experience, in most other highly developed countries follow a strict schedule. They don’t wait around longer than what is scheduled and they won’t certainly stop longer than necessary just so people can get on and off in their own good time. And so it was that despite our best efforts scrambling down, the door was already closing by the time we reached it. Suffice to say, we had to get off the next bus stop and walk a few blocks to where we will board the ferry.
I think that was one of the trips where I learned the value of traveling light. It was after that trip that I began to form this habit of packing light. I do this especially if I’m anticipating a lot of bus or train rides. Although this mind-set didn’t work for some trips where there’s just no workaround with the amount of stuff I need, I still try to stick to the basic idea of it. Somehow, that bus trip in Hong Kong taught me that it’s more comfortable and interesting to travel with less.
I’ve seen a lot of different bus stops in my life. I’ve been to simple, and sometimes, dusty ones in beautiful quiet towns with a view of dirt roads stretching as far as the eyes can see, pink and blue painted ones in busy city streets and simple and efficient ones in quiet Japanese and European streets. I’ve met and converse with people in those many bus stops. And regardless if I got off alone, with someone or with a group of people; I’ve never stayed far longer than necessary.
People get off buses to move on. This is why a bus stop is a beautiful thing. It’s there waiting as some sort of transition point. It offers temporary shelter from heat and rain. I’d hate to travel on long stretches of roads without at least seeing one of those. Knowing that there’s one somewhere gives that comforting feeling that when I do decide to get off, I’d have a place to pause and think before I move on.
(Originally posted here)