Saturday, December 13, 2008

Travelling with your eyes open

Rant warning: I have to get something off my chest. I’m not very tolerant of people who can’t entertain themselves while they’re traveling; of travelers or tourists who just won't look around them and see how much they could learn about or experience. Let me give you two recent examples.

Scenario one.
I’m taking a group of adults on a cruise to Penguin Island off Perth. They’re all foreigners visiting Western Australia to learn English, but we get out of the classroom for a day to see this amazing island where pelicans and penguins breed, and another island nearby where sea lions come to rest after mating. It’s a beautiful day, we’re out on the water, wildlife coming out of our ears, and I make the mistake of asking one Korean girl what she thinks.
“Nothing special,” she shrugs.
Nothing special! I almost scream, but am smart enough to just turn away and think my nasty thoughts to myself. I know full well how different this scene is from her overcrowded hometown of Seoul and I think it’s a tragedy that she can’t be even a little bit interested.

Scenario two.
I’m planning a quick trip to the south-west of Western Australia with some relatives, and I tell a Taiwanese friend about it. I tell him we’ll be away for just four days.
“Will you find enough things to see for four whole days?” he asks.
Enough things to see! I almost scream, again. I try to tell him nicely that I think you could travel the region for months and still find new things to experience, but I know he doesn’t really get it.

I’ve tried long and hard to understand what’s behind these people’s thoughts. With some people I think I can blame it on the Generation Y gene, where the only thing that’s real to those younger people – not that much younger than me, but it seems a few short years can make a difference – is what they see on some kind of screen. I guess it also depends on your upbringing, and whether or not your parents instilled in you an interest in making new discoveries and being open-minded about new places. And perhaps there are truly people who just would rather stay home, but in that case, they should definitely just stay home, and not turn up in my circle of acquaintances. Sorry, that's just the way I feel, and now I'll take my rant home and leave you all in peace.

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