Some thoughts on travel styles and differing opinions
5/26/17 84 °F
I've been meaning to write some blogs about different thoughts I'm having about the world in general, but I keep spending my time recounting my days so I don't forget. Blogging takes some time! I known it'll be worth it in the end though, and I have to remind myself that I have plenty of time to take couple of hours here and there to just sit and write.
One thing I've been thinking about and wanting to share/sort of rant about is different travel styles. I've met a decent number of other travelers at this point, and have seen a range of opinions about how one "should" travel. Most of these people are very willing to give you their opinion of what you're doing wrong, even the people who coordinate this travel opportunity. Here are a couple of the different types of people I've met so far:
1) The extreme budget traveler.
They must stay in the cheapest hostel they can find, after which they will absolutely complain about the conditions. A hostel isn't worth it unless they pay THEM to stay there. I had someone tell me I was a "fancy traveler" because I stayed in a hostel that cost $9 a night. This also happened to be a man who didn't think the experience of traveling was any different for a woman, and didn't understand why you would want to stay somewhere a little nicer for the safety factor. The extreme budget traveler loves south east Asia because they can haggle for everything, and spend almost nothing for an amazing experience. They don't care where their money goes or who it supports, as long as it's cheap cheap cheap for them.
2) The street food obsessed.
This person refuses to eat from anything resembling a restaurant, regardless of who runs it or what cause it might support. They scoff at the idea of spending $3 on a meal rather than $1. To them street food resembles the most authentic food you can eat in any community. They also happen to have multiple stories of food poisoning, and insist that it was the water that caused it. Street food in south east Asia is pretty delicious as long as you're careful, but I fail to see the problem with eating from a locally owned restaurant with the same type of caution? I know cultures are different, but if they did this in Portland, they would think that a bacon-wrapped corn dog is 'authentic' food.
3) The live-like-a-local pusher.
This person takes engaging with the culture to the extreme. You must only do homestays! You should go live with a Hmong family in a hut for a week, then you'll finally be an expert on the culture! Oh, you stayed in a hostel??. How could you possibly understand the culture that way? Oh, you went to museums and dance shows? Such an unauthentic tourist trap. Like... WTF? Why do we think we have to circumvent the methods by which a community CHOOSES to share its culture with us? No one comes to the states and says "I just REALLY want to go live in a homeless camp while I'm there, y'know, to really understand the poor people." If someone said they wanted to come visit and stay on a reservation and live in a teepee so they would know everything about the indigenous culture, we would think they were a rude, colossal idiot. Communities say "here is a museum where we describe to you what we believe and what our customs are." And then we say "You must be a liar, we have to go investigate for ourself. And for SOME reason it must be about engaging with poverty so we can pat ourselves on the back later." I completely understand not staying in a fancy resort and never leaving the pool and then claiming that you know a place. But why everyone is so obsessed with judging how authentic or true your cultural experience was if you didn't get 16 parasites and lose a couple teeth is confusing and frustrating to me.
4) The new-thing-every-day crazy person.
This person spends no more than 2 nights in any one place, zipping around from experience to experience. First of all, I have no idea how anyone has the energy for this, and secondly, why is it so common for this person to spend both of those nights as drunk as possible? They tend to be 19-25 years old and have zero interest in knowing the history of the areas where they are traveling. I met several girls who had no idea anything had ever happened in Cambodia. Reading the wiki page for a country doesn't seem like TOO much trouble, right? I do understand that everyone has different time and budget constraints, so more than anything I'm just amazed at people who can keep up with this pace/lifestyle. I have had a couple of people push me on my own style, though -- "You don't' even like to party a LITTLE?!!" Not when it's 90 degrees, child, because getting drunk in that weather makes you feel like SHIT when you're over 25. You'll see....
I'm sure I'll meet others, but that's the main group so far. I'm writing about it for two....three reasons. One, because I'm curious what other people think. Two, because I want to record my own opinions early on so I can see how my own mind changes. And three, because I really needed to vent about it because some of these people are super irritating.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming of silly blogs about adventures.