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Whether it’s going back in time or watching progress, we are time travellers when we travel, writes Kan Wai Choong

YOU may be wondering why a science-related title appears in a travel themed section of the newspaper. Well, this article has nothing to do with science per se. Nevertheless, before you debunk any theory of time travel, or rubbish this piece altogether,with an open mind I want you to consider this: we are time travellers when we travel.

The inspiration bulb lit when I chatted with my friend recently about my work schedule. I analogised my time off back home in Malaysia every alternating month to that of time travel. Each time I return, I see progress in the nearby development.

A striking example in Kuala Lumpur is The Exchange 106, rising incredibly floor by floor.

However, I noticed there was a flaw in this — it only brings me forward.

BACK TO MEDIEVAL AGE

So, I pondered. The more I delved into it, I realised that forward was not the only way I travel to. I travelled back to the medieval age when I visited Provins, France, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2001.

I ttook an hour and a half via train from Paris, cutting through the beautiful countryside to the captivating town. The well-preserved structures of the walls and Caesar Tower made me feel like a man-in-shining armour patrolling the fortified ground. In addition, Provins is popular with rose cultivation and one can find various rose products such as wine, ice stick and soap.


View from the top of Caesar Tower

The highlight of my time travel visit was the Legend of the Knights live action show. This splendour of equestrian art and culture included sword fighting and jousting, blended together with comical moments that garnered laughter from the audience.

It was thrilling and entertaining to watch, easy to understand even though it was performed in French. I truly felt like I was in those days, among the knights in a castle.


The writer at the Great Wall of China

History-rich Beijing, China is another destination for multiple time travel sessions. The Great Wall of China needs no further introduction. Do you know that there are several passes or sections?

I went to the Juyongguan pass, claimed to be built from 770 to 476 BC. Some stretches of the wall between stations were steep and strenuous. The reward was a breathtaking green scenery of the surrounding undulating hills.

While I stood transfixed in awe, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge of the humongous effort required to construct such wonder and reminded of its importance to protect the people from enemies.

I believe this wall does not serve that purpose anymore today and it is for us to now appreciate and marvel at its then technology. The Forbidden City and Summer Palace are other sites to immerse in imperial Chinese dynasty period. I recalled being in halls where emperors met or at the Long Corridor with the empress.

Another time I was moved during my travel was when I entered the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I read Anne Frank: Diary Of A Young Girl. Hence, walking in her strategic little home, knowing its past, was both satisfying and haunting at the same time. I imagined myself then, hiding quietly with her in the Secret Annex from Nazi authorities.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Apart from travelling to relive the past, one can also learn. The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise Visitor Center in Vientiane, Laos is a small but significant place to know about remnants of war.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in history with Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) said to still linger around. The centre displayed replicas of UXOs, prosthetic limbs and played heartwarming videos of survivors. As we have been blessed with the opportunity to travel, we should bring with us lessons from the past to our present time and never repeat mistakes.


The red building of the Kremlin

The destination itself may not be the only opportunity for time travel as the journey itself matters. Kudos to technological development of airplanes, I can fly from KLIA and arrive at Dubai International Airport the same morning, only a few hours later, local time. I know that this is because oftime zone difference, yetIfind it rather amusing. It feels as if I gain those extra few hours but in reality, I ‘borrow’ it only to be givenback on the return flight. This time travel side effect? Jet lag.

One of my quirky, wondrous travel wish list is to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice.

This is possible, albeit expensive, from a travel provider I saw. The first countdown event will be in Sydney followed by a flight to Hawaii for a second celebration there.

Why would I do that? Simply because it will be an extraordinary way to bid farewell and thank for the year we had — twice.

Do you still think you can’t time travel?

To more exciting time travel stories ahead and have a Happy New Year 2019!

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