“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” 
― Jean-Paul Sartre

It’s hard being an introvert. You spend half your life convincing others: there’s nothing wrong with being one, and the next half — convincing yourself. Sometimes, it’s easier to put on the mask of an extrovert and get on with the torture of having to explain why ‘being alone’ is so essential to ‘being you’. Strangely, I’ve never felt alone when I am on my own and yet, on many social interactions, in the company of others, I often feel lost and empty. If I can’t have a stimulating conversation, I wonder what was the purpose of a forced social interaction. And yet, we’re always told, as long as I can remember, you must go outside and meet people. Even if, true happiness may be found in a playlist of favourite songs and a blank sheet of paper.


“Sometimes I get so immersed in my own company, if I unexpectedly run into someone I know, it’s a bit of a shock and takes me a while to adjust.” 
― Kazuo IshiguroNever Let Me Go

As a traveller, it’s even harder being an introvert. Social interaction is necessary and on many occasions — a matter of survival. When we first started travelling, I didn’t mind the regular tourist places of interest. As we grew in our travel journey, I wanted to get away from crowds, dull buzz, flashlights, and pearly whites. There’s a part of me that has developed a strong aversion to tourism. A lot might have to do with the systematic stereotyping that results in developing tourism without thought. Sadly, I also realise how tourism drives many local economies and the livelihood of people involved.


“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
― Albert Einstein

Fortunately, as travellers we can make our choices. We can choose to visit popular tourist sights with longs lines of waiting people. Or, we can choose to go where few people go. Or, as we have discovered; just walk and follow your feet. Some of the best sights lie in the middle of nowhere. Some of the best sights are never found online. Some of the best sights don’t cost much. And, some of the best sights can never be found again.


“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” 
― Jodi PicoultMy Sister’s Keeper

Finding a good travel partner isn’t easy. Keeping one is tougher. Travel can make or break your relationship with your partner — no matter what kind of relationship you’re in. On our trips, there are many moments when we prefer to walk alone and get lost in what we see. The beauty of a silent walk is incomparable. And walking alone, knowing there’s someone right behind, giving you the space you need — without letting go — is priceless.


“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”
― Aristotle

There are many joys to be found in travel and there are many kinds of travellers out there. The ones who help and the ones who ignore. The ones who make it about themselves and the ones who make it about being in the moment. I’ve always hoped that travel will make us better people. Iron out those kinks, kill our foolish judgements, and bring us closer to a realisation of who we are or could be. Maybe, even repurpose the reason for wanting to travel. There’s a strong yearning to leave it all, to escape the noise, or the need to fit in, and the constant pressure to document. In those priceless moments of solitude is where we can be free from it all and hopefully, be who we really want to be…

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Writer-Photographer Duo. Now in Seoul.

59 replies on “Drowning Out the Noise

  1. Love your pictures (especially the sculpture, where did you find that?) and the very relevant quotes. Much as I’d like to think I’m a god(dess), I suspect ‘wild beast’ is nearer the truth! 🙂 x

    1. Thanks, Kaye! 🙂 The kids by the old railway track (in Seoul) is one of my favourites. The statue of Buddha, outside a temple on Taebaeksan (a Korean mountain) was quite calming after a long hike. 🙂 I’d go with wild beast too! 🙂

  2. What a wonderfully written post Cheryl and sentiments that I completely echo. In fact, I’m just finishing my post on a very similar subject. Seems we really are kindred souls! xo 😊

    1. We’re so similar! It’s kinda scary. Haha! Thanks so much, Miriam. I always look forward to what you have to say. 🙂 Have a SUPER week ahead! We’ve got a lot of sunny days this week. xo

      1. Thanks for asking Miriam. I’m fine. Maybe, I need a breather of sorts. Too many things happening at the same time. Weekend trips can be great, but settling down takes time. xo

      2. True…post travel blues can be hard. At the risk of sounding like a weather update girl I’m going comment on how gloomy it’s been with grey skies… 🙂

      3. I’ll send you some of our sun rays Cheryl. 😎 We’re in the middle of a heat wave and tomorrow is forecast to be another scorcher. Talk about extremes!

      4. Haha! We’re like weather girls from two different parts of the world. I wish I could send of these winter chills across and balance the heat wave there. In know, it’s February and no sign of temperatures rising 🙂 xo

      5. Haha, love it! Weather girls! From now on that’s it, we’ll just have to keep checking in with up to date forecasts. Keep warm over there. xo 🙂 I’ve still got the air conditioner on here it’s so hot!

  3. Yes, it’s difficult very often to share with people something that might be not so clear to others. but it’s important to live in harmony with yourself! A very beautiful and touching post, my Friend, such beautiful pictures!

  4. Such an interesting and well written post. I hear you. We too are averse to touristic places amd will avoid them like the plague, even if it means we missed seeing the Taj Mahal and opted for a quiet bird park instead.

    I Really like that Ishiguru quote. I know that feeling all too well…after hours in solitude it can be quite a shock.


    1. Thanks, Peta. I know what you mean. We haven’t visited the Taj Mahal either. 🙂 I’d choose a bird park too!
      Glad you can relate to the quote. It’s amazing how many of us think alike. 🙂

  5. I think in the end, most “explorers” would like to be different from the “tourists”. Doing touristy stuff and visiting touristy places loses it’s charm. Once in a while, it’s okay to do so though.

    I generally visit touristy places in odd hours to discover it’s real magic. I’m more than happy with the end result. Have you tried it too, Cheryl?

    BTW, excellent take on re-purpose and solitude! A single shot to kill two birds? Ha Ha! great attempt!

    1. Touristy stuff is required in small doses. We often visit places when isn’t peak tourist season. It does work. 🙂 Actually, I’ve been meaning to write a different post on repurpose. Didn’t really get much time to work on it. So, I clubbed both together. Haha! Thanks! It feels good to be appreciated. 🙂 Hope you had a good weekend, Arvind.

      1. I’ll agree with the touristy part. I also wrote a post on re-purpose but then got busy for the entire week. I’ll do the post , not for the WPC, though! Had a terribly busy week Cheryl. And my phone just died so completely out of sync with the blog-sphere as well as social media! 🙂

  6. Allow me to quote you: “The beauty of a silent walk is incomparable. And walking alone, knowing there’s someone right behind, giving you the space you need — without letting go — is priceless.” I can see myself in this post. Thank you.

  7. I’m a fan of your linkage of solitude to travel as well. I travel to get outside my world and into others’, but some of my best travel memories and experiences have been in solitary contemplation of what I came to see. I very often wander off on my own as I hike, too, but I must say like a little social stimulation as well. Crowds – no, but I do enjoy a chat with old or new friends after a day of exploration. I do like to have my cake and eat it, too!

    1. Thanks a bunch, Lex! Ever since we moved here, I’ve been having a lot of social stimulation. Haha! It got to a point where I couldn’t keep track of the friends I made or where I met them. 🙂 I agree, we need our moments of solitude, good conversations over tea or drink, and long walk by the sea. I love exploring new worlds too and these days, I’m happy to learn so much without doing much travelling. Though, I hope we can break the jinx.

  8. Really interesting post. I love spending time by myself and when I travel alone I go to mostly busy places during the day but either stay in my hotel room or have dinner by myself in the hotel. I enjoy that.

    1. Glad you liked it, Sue. I’m not much of a solo traveller, on rare occasions when I’m on my own, I do like to go to a busy place as well. It’s nice to have the energy around you and have the option of going back to a quiet room. 🙂 Have a great week!

  9. What an insightful post, Cheryl! There is so much to do and enjoy in solitude compared with having to put on an act whenever I’m with people. Extroverts cannot comprehend how some of us can enjoy our own company. I’ve had people telling me that they feel sorry and pity me because I’m usually alone for most of the day. They don’t realise that this is my favourite time when I can just be me! :-). You have yourself a wonderful week, Cheryl!

    1. Thanks, Helen! You get me. Haha! “I’ve had people telling me that they feel sorry and pity me because I’m usually alone for most of the day. ” I’ve lost count of the people who’ve said something similar and even asked me what do I do. And yet, will never read what I write. 🙂 And I find that quite strange. Have a wonderful week yourself, Helen. I haven’t seen new posts on your blog for a while. Hope all’s well!

  10. Exactly. Isn’t it amazing how well an introvert can seek out places of solitude, in the company of the perfect traveling companion (or alone), to just BE.

    I’m still learning how to blend in with crowds, especially around big cities, but I’m loving the process for the most part. Thanks for sharing!

    1. True! We’ve got to keep evolving as people and travellers. Big cities are always nightmares. Though, I’ve often found it liberating to blend in with crowds, to take away any attention from me. Thanks for being a part of the conversation, Gabe! Have a great week…or what’s left of it! 🙂

  11. I’ve learned to isolate myself from crowds at iconic tourist places by ignoring them, insofar as possible – kind of like blocking out other traffic on a busy highway. But it’s still not the same as hanging out in a place of quiet beauty.

    1. At tourist places, I find it hard to ignore crowds. The constant buzz of people distracts me. I keep observing people and forget what I came to see. It takes me a lot of effort to focus. I guess, I must try harder to concentrate! 🙂

      1. I learned my concentration skills as a software developer in often noisy offices, and I think my introvert tendencies help there too. But a lot is just from focusing on photography, and unless it’s the people I’m trying to photograph they kind of become part of the background.

      2. That’s a good tip, Dave. 🙂 I wanted to ask you what’s your mantra for ignoring crowds. Basil doesn’t mind crowds much, I guess, it’s got a lot to do with him being immersed with the setting and his camera. Maybe, I’m always trying to take in the setting and people (if I’m not interacting with them) tend to break my line of thought. 🙂

  12. This is why whenever I read articles about the merits of traveling alone, I just can’t see it happening for me. It’s a strange paradox, because as an introvert, I want to be alone, but at the same time, it makes it difficult to be in the world and get out to explore. Thank god for our extraverted partners, eh Cheryl? 🙂

    1. I’ve been doing a little solo travel these days, if you consider walking around Seoul any good! And no matter for how long I live here, I can always look like a tourist. Haha! “It’s a strange paradox, because as an introvert, I want to be alone, but at the same time, it makes it difficult to be in the world and get out to explore.” Couldn’t agree more! 🙂 Though, I’m not sure who to thank for our partners…sometimes they can be a bit much to handle! Ahem, ahem….

  13. Creative post and it reminds me how lucky I am that my husband and I travel so well together. And, I love your images. Had to smile at our mutual use of quotes this week, Cheryl. Great minds think alike. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful week!

  14. You’ve captured the essence of travelling alone with and without company! I enjoyed reading your article, it made think the importance of being in the moment, and appreciating those moments too!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the read. You couldn’t have said it better. We need to live the moment. It’s easy to get jaded after a point. Thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂

    1. The sculptures here have a unique ability of being so ‘real’ especially with their emotions. I think the ‘War Memorial’ has some of the saddest sculptures. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed. 😦

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