I had a chat with a friend at Church yesterday morning about traveling, and that when visiting a country hanging out with the locals is a good way to experience the culture.
For those who are well traveled, and maybe for those who have not, this may be obvious… And it was to me as well… But like most revelations knowing logically and actually experiencing or really getting it can be very eye opening.
As I look back at my travels I can now see this clearly. Probably my favorite country I’ve visited so far was South Korea, why? Because I actually felt like I got to know/experience the real people of Korea.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed all the countries I have visited, but for a lot of them I was doing the whole touristy thing. Backpacking, sure, but mainly visiting sites. I met a lot of people, but feel as I was only meeting people briefly, they were treating me as a tourist, and as they should.
My experiences in Korea were different.. firstly the major reason was to visit a mate, not exclusively as a tourist, although he did take me to see some of the touristy places.. but we also met and hung out with a lot of his Korean friends. The pinnacle of which was visiting his Church in Seoul, which at first felt like people were greeting me simply because I was visiting and a tourist, but it felt like it changed during the day, it was like I started to see the real people, and they were involving me in there normal behavior. Even though I was on the other side of the world, even though the culture was foreign I felt comfortable, at ease, accepted and included.
From that point on I have tried to do my best at doing the same for all the non-Australian people I meet here in Oz.. and have probably scared some of them off as well!
So for those of you who are or are planning to travel, remember this, the best part of traveling is meeting the people and experiencing the culture. If you’ve gone all that way, then don’t miss the opportunity to meet the “real” people.
And for those of you who think this is common sense or have already figured this out.. why did you read this far?