BY NELSON NG
上周末，我們在南通一個叫 LIT ESPRESSO 的咖啡館舉辦了「營火會」。通常，我們會發布一篇回顧當天活動的文章，但是這一次，我決定將這篇回顧變成一個個人的旅行故事。
出發前，我得知道怎麼去到南通，南通屬於江蘇省，距離上海以北約70公裏，距離上並不算遠，但卻沒有直達的高鐵，所以我決定坐巴士車去。直到我的朋友，經營 LIT ESPRESSO 的 Y Y 告訴我，我們共同的朋友普林打算坐車過去，我可以搭她的順風車。當我告知普林在哪裏可以接上我的時候，我們才發現原來彼此是鄰居，她在2個月前搬來了我居住地方的附近。
這樣和一位很久沒見的老朋友碰面挺棒的。普林的朋友陶子開車送我們去到南通，路上大約花了2小時。值得懷念的是，第一場的「營火會」誕生於我和普林之間的聊天，我們在聊如何將咖啡和旅行結合在一起做一個活動，那個時候她在上海的 Seesaw 咖啡館工作。我們郵件往來了幾次，最後決定取名「營火會」，因為旅行者通常會在夜晚的篝火邊圍坐，就著棉花糖和咖啡分享故事。我們的第一場「營火會」的發生，普林的幫助很關鍵。從那以後，我們在不同的地方舉辦了其它的幾場「營火會」。一晃三年過去了，現在普林以觀眾的身份参与这次的「營火會」。
另外一件值得懷念的事是 Y Y 過去工作的咖啡館也是我們曾經舉辦「營火會」的地方。當時她是一名咖啡師，幫我們的第一場營火會拍了照片（我因此認識了她）。從那以後，她就回南通和朋友們一起開了 LIT ESPRESSO 咖啡館。為了讓更多的人可以了解到 LOST，她很熱心邀請我們去她那裏舉辦「營火會」。
LIT ESPRESSO 擁有明亮的空間，散發著一種特定的魅力。白凈的墻面配有鋒利銳角的家具，當你一踏進其中，就能感受到它新鮮提神的氛圍。店員差不多都是女生，而且非常靦腆，不過她們在咖啡技藝上卻極度專註和精益求精。我一到那裏感覺就像回到家一樣。
Last weekend, we had a CAMPFIRE event in Nantong, at a cafe called LIT ESPRESSO. Usually, we would write a post to recap the event, but this time, I’ve decided to turn it into a personal travel story.
Because it actually is one.
Right from the get go, I had to figure out how to get to the city of Nantong, which was about 70km up north from Shanghai, in the province of Jiangsu. It wasn’t far, but there were no high-speed trains going there yet, and so I had planned to go there by bus, until I heard from my friend Y Y, who runs LIT ESPRESSO in Nantong, that our other friend Pulin was going there by car and that I could take a lift. When we had to figure out how to pick me up, Pulin and I realized we were neighbours, as she had moved into my neighbourhood about 2 months ago.
It was a nice way to catch up with an old friend whom I haven’t seen in a while. Her friend, Taozi, drove us up to Nantong which was about 2 hours away. What was nostalgic was that the first CAMPFIRE event began from a conversation between Pulin and myself, when she was still working at another cafe in Shanghai called Seesaw, of how we could merge coffee and travel together to create an event. We had some back and forth over email, and at the end we decided on the name CAMPFIRE, since travellers gather around a campfire at night to share stories over marshmallows and coffee. Pulin was critical in helping us make the first CAMPFIRE event happen, and since then, we’ve been doing other CAMPFIRE events in different places. Fast forward three years later, and now she was attending our CAMPFIRE event as a guest.
The other nostalgic thing was that Y Y also worked at the previous cafe where we had organized our first CAMPFIRE event. She had been a barista there and had helped take photos of our first CAMPFIRE event (that’s how I got to know her). Since then, she had returned back to Nantong to open LIT ESPRESSO together with some friends, and was kind enough to invite us over to do a CAMPFIRE event so that more people might know about LOST.
LIT ESPRESSO exudes a certain sort of charm with its brightly-lit space. White, clean walls with sharp angular furniture, it gives off a refreshing vibe that wakes you up when you step in. The staff are mostly girls, and are really quite shy, but they are extremely focused on their craft and seem dedicated to perfection. I felt at home the moment I arrived.
At night, the place transformed.
The lights were turned off and candles were lit. There was beer, wine and snacks. The stage was set for our travellers to share their stories, and the audience settled in. As each speaker shared their story, the audience listened attentively, soaking in the experiences and the nuggets of wisdom from each speaker. Having worked on the magazine for over three years, I’m still always amazed at some of the stories and points that other travellers bring up, and I’m always constantly being inspired by them. There is still so much more to learn.
There were stories about traveling alone. About ways to overcome the fear of being by yourself on a journey. There were stories about the freedom of driving on the road. About lying on the ground to look at the vast starry night sky. There were stories about kindness. About people being good to each other during travel even though they were strangers.
It reminded me of why I started the magazine at all.
At the heart of it all, travelling was always a way of learning how to be a better person. And I was touched that other travellers understood this. Perhaps more so than me.
We are always dependent on other peoples’ kindness when we travel. From the people who give us directions, to the people who feed us and give us a place to sleep. Just like this trip to Nantong, I was surrounded by people who offered me kindness in various forms. Even though I was in a new and foreign place, my hosts made sure I was safe, comfortable and well-fed, driving us around and making sure we got what we needed. We are forever indebted to the people who take care of us along the way.
A heart for a heart. That’s what one speaker said. If you’re true and genuine to people in your travels, people will return the sentiment.
I definitely believe so.