Many people go away to feel the sizzle of the sun and swim in warm clear waters, avid travellers delve deep in to the culture and others go for the cheap drinks & to party with fellow people who have left their inhibitions at home.
I don’t fit in a specific category or a type of traveller. Depending on who I’m with, you probably won’t see me getting too drunk in a club and I visit museums very rarely. Beach holidays more than 2 days does not interest me and I’m no backpacker, I love my creature comforts like clean running water and a bed. You’re probably thinking what I do when I travel.
‘Fending for yourself in a different country was an experience on its own.’
I was born in the Philippines, grew up in England and I call both places home. It was natural for me to fly to Manila frequently, therefore travelling was normal. As I aged in to my early 20’s, I wanted to see more of the world. I fly out to the far eastern reaches of Asia, but have never visited Europe, a mere stones throw away. I started work at 16, I couldn’t get time off and I was on a low wage so travelling was a premium. I took advantage of a sudden boom of budget airlines such as RyanAir, EasyJet and Monarch then I was on my way. I started with the more popular destinations, Barcelona and Paris. I had never travelled without my parents before. Fending for yourself in a different country was an experience on its own.
I’m a casual traveller. I haven’t been to the most obscure places in the world. I haven’t traversed in the Amazon while hunting for food or visited every museum in Europe. But what I do is connect to the city. Of course, we go to places for what we think it’s worth going for. Different places connect to people in different ways and diversity is what keeps us travelling.
I have listed the 3 things that really cohere with me whenever I visit a place.
Nothing speaks more about a city than it’s cuisine and how people eat. To eat like a local is to be like a local. I avoid the tourist traps on the main street; overpriced and substandard. I tend to visit homey, family restaurants. The atmosphere tends to be a lot livelier with everyone speaking in the local language and having fun. I could see people enjoying eating out with family and friends, and it was a pleasure being a part of it. The food is the real deal with dishes that wouldn’t normally appeal to tourists, and also reasonably priced too! Plus you are helping a family send their children to school by visiting their restaurant. You are somewhat giving back to the community. There’s no better way to experience the culture than through the taste buds.
A place is nothing without it’s people. The people make the culture and the country. Some places may not be as welcoming as others, but you see what the people have built through their traditions and roots. Okay, so as a tourist, people may see you as someone to purchase their wares. Our experience in Marrakech was a little challenging, especially in Jema El-Fnaa. People bumping into you and forcing you to buy what they offer. We felt a little threatened and a little put off. But the next day, we went to a different part in town and got lost. There was a local who spoke to us asking where we were going and walked with us to get where we wanted to go. It felt a little dubious as to why he was so nice and followed along, to which we found out that he just wanted to show his town around to tourists, and that he could practice his English whilst doing so. All he asked was a simple ‘Shukran’ which is Arabic for thank you. Our perception of the place suddenly changed. Sharing experiences both great and not so great, with all being memorable nevertheless.
You visit a place to see what they have on offer. Different places showcase their beauty in different ways. Others show their natural wonder; the Grand Canyon, Plitvice National Park or the white sand beaches of the Philippines. Others through the architecture; the Statue of Liberty, the Coliseum or the Amsterdam canals. Walk through history, or take a car ride through it all. It’s the views and landscape that make us appreciate places we spend money to travel to. Things that we don’t see everyday on your commute to work. Most of them have a story to tell, but some are just created beautiful.
There you have it. It’s the simple things that don’t cost a lot of money. Other people may have different ways of exploring, but the 3 listed above is the most gravitating to me.
If that isn’t enough. You could just have an ice cold beer.