Travelling is more than just visiting scenic and tourist spots. It's part of it but doesn't encompass all of it. You see, when you just visit these areas, you only know the landmarks of the city. I'm not denouncing supreme architecture like the pyramids in Egypt, but at the end of the whole travel experience, what do you really get?
Take this example, for instance. When I was 12, I traveled to Thailand with my aunts and my sister. We went to Pattaya and Bangkok. I really had an enjoyable time there. We sat in a boat and cruised along Chao Pharya River, went up in a parachute pulled along by a boat and went shopping. It was, on all counts, an enjoyable experience.
Yet I visited Thailand ten years later. This time I was 22. When my family said they wanted to visit Thailand, I was like... hmmm? I went anyway.
Big mistake. It was boring. I did the exact same things that I did the first time. It was like going through the motions. A holiday experience? More like a holiday routine, and ten years had passed - a long time. I did notice some slight differences on the streets of Thailand, but these are marginal things not worth mentioning.
It just made me realize how commercialized the whole tourism industry is. There are "experiences" while travelling such as taking photographs wearing the country's ethnic costumes. Yet, how many people in the country actually still wear these traditional costumes? Not many, as I perceived in the streets. Culture has increasingly become something that is capitalized on to boost the country's economy. Quite sad, I feel.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed visiting my sister while she was studying in Perth. Not withstanding the really big-sized clothes I found at Target- that gratified my soul, as I am fat- but other experiences as well.
This may sound a tad glamorized but I'm going to say it anyway: My sister and I went to a beach in Cottonsloe one sunny morning, with cold chicken, cheese and bread. There were seagulls a-plenty, an elderly lady painting the landscape, and other people relaxing at the beach. The food was delicious, the weather just right, and we also chatted with the elderly lady about her painting.
I left Perth not just with images, but with experiences. What I am trying to say is that it is the way of living in the country of destination that you should examine, not just the tourist gimmicks they throw out at you. Try to imagine you are a citizen living in that country. A simple experience shopping at the grocery store could be an experience in itself. For instance, I just discovered the brand name Jiff can refer to a brand of peanut butter in U.S. Back home, it's a cleaning product.
The little things in life that differentiates people living in different countries can be very telling. If this proves a bit too hard to follow through, just conduct a simple experiment:
Every time you go to a country, check out whether they have a MacDonald's.Whether they have or not is very telling. When they do have one, sit down and order the same items you normally eat back home. Do they taste any different? Whether they do or not is also very telling. Check out the specials as well.
This is just to find out about the culture of the country of visit. Of course, I am aware that only by living in the country for a period of time can you find out the intrinsic details. Yet, even when just traveling there over a short span of time, try to enhance your travelling experience. You'll get more out of it.