It only counts as ‘lost‘ if you intended to be somewhere. Our notion of lost is outdated: originating in a time when losing your way in the forest was a deadly affair. Today, as i explore Bangkok for the first time, getting lost is an asset. Or at least it is until my phone battery dies.
New cities can be bewilderingly complex: with no concept of where the main routes lie, where the interesting views are to be found and where the best places are to eat, you’re out on a limb. Transport mechanisms can be confusing: how do you negotiate the price for a Tuk Tuk? How do you buy a ticket for the MRT, how do you figure out where the buses go?
I like to start gently: take a cab somewhere that looks promising, then just walk.
Yesterday, the cab failed to take me where i wanted to go (the Grand Palace), but instead, en route, provided many complex reasons why we couldn’t go there, and dropped me by a bridge down the river, still a couple of miles from my intended destination. On the plus side, i was no longer at my hotel, but on the downside, i wasn’t at my intended destination.
Negotiations with some market traders revealed a boat service upstream, the sharp prowed boats cutting through the choppy waters by dint of bolting what appeared to be a truck engine to the back to drive a propeller. Noisy, powerful, fast. Although it felt like even odds whether the structural integrity of the boat or my back gave out first.
After some time, i was deposited at a market, then walked to the palace. So far so good, and a thoroughly enjoyable trip. After temples and gardens, ice cream and culture, the time came to make my way back, but instead of hailing a taxi, i decided to walk. After half an hour of quiet streets, i found myself in the biggest flower market i’ve ever seen: the electric light picking out a whole street, probably a kilometre long, crowded both sides and down the side streets with flower stalls. This was no tourist spot, but rather a bustling and jumbled marketplace. The serendipity of purposelessness, the pleasure of being lost.
We often strive for structure: we design it into our learning and choreograph it into our lives. And yet sometimes the greatest excitement, the most delightful discoveries, come from being lost.