Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For every tourist trap, there is a hidden treasure that lies ahead.

For every tourist trap, there is a hidden treasure that lies ahead- PRIS

When exploring, I find that the less touristy places are almost always the best.  The villages and small towns that are off track or not even on the map, the temples that are not in the guide book, and exploring natural beauty on your own.  Instead of letting the guide book guide you-create your own.  It is beautiful what you can stumble upon when getting "lost" or just biking away from the center of things and into reality. 
It  has been proven through my experience time and time again that tourist traps are not for me.   Many American tourists come from America-“the best country in the world” and they are like fish out of water.  They all stick together in their tours and stay at hotels/hostels and pay for overpriced packages because they do not know any better.  They are afraid to really explore by interacting with locals and “getting out of the safety zone.” This was previously discussed “the comfort, safety zone that America creates.” I often hear very ignorant comments and while they are traveling to a new place, they may leave with the same exact mentality/lense. 
We can not really blame Americans for their lack of cultural experience.  American culture is non -existent  compared to other real cultures around the world .  People grow up with trips to the Bahamas, Mexico, and cruises thinking that is traveling. Then they sit in resorts with more Americans and sip on overpriced drinks and over eat because they bought a package $2000 inclusive package with all you can eat and drink.  News flash-American food is overprocessed and leads you to health problems-stop eating Americans.  Take that $2000 and go backpack through India and see what it is really like to be hungry. 

If a person is not fully exploring the culture are they learning? Just eating the food and sightseeing is not what traveling is about.  It is about fully immersing yourself into the culture, taking risks, learning the language, being kind and understanding, listening for meaning, observing signs/symbols/cultural rites, and being aware. Take in the beauty of nature, the sunsets, the clouds, the mountains, daily activity people engage in, their behavior toward one another, ways to learn about their life, etc. The hidden treasures enhance my traveling and being and I am thankful for them.  
But everyone has different ways of traveling right? Being fascinated with human behavior, my experience may be a lot stronger and intimate than an average tourist and that is okay.  Perhaps American tourists could just think outside the box a bit more.  It may aid in more cultural learning and less ignorance. 
Walking around with your eyes wide open and your senses alive enhances your experience. PRIS

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