This is a simple and short post because it’s a revelation I’ve been slow to come by. When you travel, you’ll meet all kinds of people who will say things like ‘I’m a slow traveler, I like to take my time’, or ‘I like to stray from the touristic areas’, or even ‘I’ve come here to party every night and forget the whole trip’. All of which is fair enough. These people have spent lots of money for their flights, visas and etc, they can do whatever the hell they like with their travels.
But why do we all feel the need to streamline our trip this way? What if the slow traveller misses an awesome overnight trip into the misty mountains and enchanting rice paddies of Sapa, just because she refuses to spend less than three nights in any one place? What if the reluctant tourist traveller misses the most beautiful of tropical beaches with the most superb of sunsets, all to avoid his fellow backpackers? And what if the drunkard misses… Well, everything, all because the decision to drink relentlessly had already been made?
I always saw myself as the tourist who spoke to locals over backpackers, who enjoyed the real, cultural experiences over the hostel parties or the popular must-dos. And there is some truth to this. SOME truth. But in actuality, I love every moment of each new day because every hour of this trip is completely different to the last. One minute I’ll be immersed in Cambodian reality, hitting my head on the roof of a tuktuk as it battles the back roads, dodging chickens that cross the road (why do they cross the road? In Cambodia, I have no idea why, because even I avoid it at all costs). And then an hour later, I’ll be in a quirky western cafe soaking up that luxury aircon, eating a gorgeous club sandwich at Blue Pumpkin. And suddenly bam, I’ve stumbled into a game of badminton with the locals in the park on the way back to the hostel.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, be yourself. The exciting moments and the insightful realities will find you no matter what you do, so don’t close off any of those alleyways in front of you. All of them lead to wonderful places and none of them are ‘wrong’. You’re already travelling, so you’ve already made the only decision that I will tell you is 100% ‘right’.
Feature photo credit: Ed Gregory