In today’s day and age it sometimes feels like travel has become a bit of a competition and a race against time. Most of us only have 2-3 weeks of vacation time per year … ok, maybe 3-4… if you skip Christmas with the family and spend New Years abroad. For many of us, travel has become a race against a list. Just think of all those temples, and monuments, and restaurants, and activities the Lonely Planet guide said you CANNOT MISS! So more often than not, we cram as much as we can into our itineraries, all the sights and the tourist attractions, leaving no room to stop, to think, to immerse, and to truly understand.
Most of us are guilty of the “Travel Rat Race” and I’m no exception. But when I think of my most memorable and meaningful travel experiences, I realize that none of them happened while I was rushing around the sights and attractions. They didn’t happen while I was rubbing shoulders with the other five hundred tourists at a monument, or trying to desperately get a reservation at the top rated restaurant in town. They happened when that top rated restaurant was overbooked, and I choose to eat at a hole in the wall diner, where I chatted with the owner, and where her friend, 2 kids, along with 3 stray cats and a dog started at me while I gracefully picked a chicken head out of my chicken fried rice. They happened when instead of staying at a top rated hotel, I choose to stay in a tiny spare room of a local family’s home, where the dinner menu was written in a notebook, the sheets smelled like inscents and the pot of freshly brewed tea was shared with the entire family. They happened when I chose to explore, when I chose to try authentic, when I chose to appreciate and embrace the local culture.
My most memorable experiences did not happen while I was rubbing shoulders wit the other 1,000 tourists at a monument
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bash your travel style or look down on you when you choose to stay at a hotel, because you like the luxury of a hot shower. Let’s be honest, I can only handle cold showers for so long myself. I’m not here to tell you it’s wrong to eat at a Western restaurant, when your stomach can no longer handle the “No Spicy Curry Rice” a.k.a. the hottest thing you have ever eaten in your life. Let’s be clear, even after a year of living in China, the word Sichuan on a menu still makes me want to just skip dinner altogether.
Instead, I hope to inspire you to go beyond the major sights and the tourist attractions. To inspire you to add a few cultural experiences to your next travel itinerary. To encourage you to dig deeper into the local ways of life, into the culture and traditions of each country, and every city.
I hope to inspire you to go beyond the major sights and the tourist attractions.
Every post on this site, every article, every page was written from personal experience and genuine attempts to uncover and embrace local culture. Maybe you’ll be inspired by something you read on this site and want to follow my foot-steps, or maybe you’ll want to go off the beaten path in search for your own adventures and cultural experiences. Or maybe, just maybe, one day you’ll simply say “yes” to an invitation to share a cup of tea with a local…
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