Incidentally, I saw an invitation for a blog parade this week. Florian by flocblog wants to know how we are traveling and why we are traveling this way! I was writing my own article this week, when I noticed that his topic fits perfectly to mine. So I took part in my first blog parade!
Your trip is not my trip
I don’t wanna gossip about how others travel. That’s their own choice. I myself am not a big fan of huge hotel complexes and resorts, because I love to submerge into the country. I want to learn about the culture. I cannot imagine how I would do this, if I am in a closed up hotel complex, which is similar to a whole city. I rather choose a homestay or Couchsurfing or airbnb.com. WHERE I stay at and WHAT I do as activities, depends very much on where I travel to and with who. When I travel with my sister, I wouldn’t use Couchsurfing. When I am alone or with 1-2 friends, I’d probably try to find Couchsurfing hosts. When I am traveling with my boyfriend, I’d book something on airbnb.com, try to find homestays and sometimes we would just walk around til we find something. WHAT I love to do on travels is wandering through streets for hours. When I am in a city, it’s most likely that I would walk 15 km (10 miles) a day. I’d walk over the markets, visit some sights, disappear in alleys, drink a coffee in a little café (definitely not Starbucks), avoid the massive crowds, roam around in nature and enjoy. Even what I do depends on where I am and who is with me. On the one hand I cannot do exhausting but rewarding hikes with some of my friends. However, I could totally do a trekking tour with my boyfriend, but I cannot spend 3 hours in a market with my boyfriend. In turn I could do that with some of my friends though – or alone.
Cap of invisibility vs. selfie stick
As the WHERE and WHAT are very variable, I wanna talk about a more important point. Because in my opinion the attitude of traveling is the crux of the matter. When I travel, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. That nobody sees that I am a tourist! Tourist is said with a negative tone for me. Don’t you dare call me a tourist! – that’s what I think sometimes. Especially when I think about how some people behave on vacation. I don’t want to be compared with them. I avoid using one of the stereotypical unmaskings. Huge paper city map: never! Selfie stick: hell no! Respectless behaviour like standing in someone’s way, littering etc: I don’t even like that in my home town! There are only two things that reveal that I am a tourist: taking pictures and asking locals about their culture. But I can live with both revealments. Respect is very important to me while traveling, because you have the opportunity to get to know another country and culture, so you should give a certain respect to the people and be aware of your surrounding.
A twisted world for me
The first time I noticed my traveling behaviour was when I couldn’t “disappear” into the crowd anymore. In Yogyakarta (Indonesia) everything was different. I was attracting attention all the time just by my appearance: blond, blue-green eyes and white as chalk. I would need to wear a burka if I wanted to be not as sticking out. I have to add that this time was my first time in Asia. Before that I only traveled around in Europe and USA. And there I don’t stick out at all because unfortunately I’ve been considered as “typical German” my whole life. Never something special, never sticked out, always disappeared in crowds. I am used to that. Then I entered Indonesia and particularly Yogya where I stuck out like a sore thumb. I’ve never been stared at while on vacations before. I kinda felt like a goddess. Someday I got used to it, that people stare at me and wanted to hug me – yep, this happened in Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
Of course they meant no harm by the staring and hugging, but after 150 pics a day taken of you, you feel like a photo modell – just unpaid obviously. For example: the funniest thing happened at the Prambanan temple: a woman sat on my lap for a picture.
For a few days it influenced my way of traveling: I watched, what I was wearing and only walked around, when we had to do it – probably my little moment of culture shock. I quickly noticed that it’s overreacting. After all I was there to get to know the country and its people! So I tried to deal with it and take it with humor. Besides it was kinda funny to be hyped like a queen. Once traveled to Bali, the Australian vacation spot, I was able to blend in again. There is more tourism than on Java and the common religion is Hinduism. So I could submerge again.