What is its True Value?
Being well travelled means you’ve probably collected far more ‘memorabilia’ that you need. Probably more than you’d dare admit is sensible. It starts with a flurry, as you see the need to collect a postcard from every town you visit and at least one ‘I HEART’ T-shirt for every major city you’ve graced. You have fridge magnets, a flag, a candle holder, some strangely shaped mug that is used by the locals for some forbidden malt drink and an empty coke can emblazoned with the trademarked name in the local language; and that’s before you even get out of the airport! By the time your passport is filled til almost the back page with the stamps from hot, underpaid, immigration officials, you’ve learnt your lesson, and the novelty of buying an extra bag for all the amazing gifts you hope to purchase is over.
Now, it’s just a few little special items that hold the best memories and those things were probably not sold to you by a vendor: A coaster from the bar where you met the most beautiful woman on the island or that selfie with the taxi driver that took you back to the airport even though you didn’t have nearly enough fare; actually, not even close to enough! Remind me to tell you that story another time! When you first start shopping for trinkets in another country, you have your friends and family in mind and you buy for them and you know they will treasure the elephant hair bracelet until the day they die. Hey we’ve all been there, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s a different kind of travelling that, isn’t it.
I wonder if there’s a name for that? I never want to sound patronising of people and that’s not what this entry is all about, it’s just that I think travelling begins to get into your bones and the value of what is sold on the tourist strip is less about Baht, Dollars, Pesos and Dong and more about the smell that hits you when you step off the plane, the art of negotiating for that fried chicken lunchbox when you don’t speak a word of the language and seeing the locals applaud a sunset. You can steer clear of the lure of a hotel room too, by finding a house you can call ‘home’ from housetrip.com. Buy the pink wig or the coconut shell wind chime if you must, but don’t miss out on what is just a block away from the blaring megaphones and the flashing lights because that’s often where the best memories are waiting to be made. You know what I’m talking about, because you’re thinking about them, right now!