I’m participating in a lot of online social media groups about traveling through southeast Asia and the thing I’ve found most interesting is how many people post that they are looking for somewhere with no / fewer tourists. I find it funny because we are tourists – and we’re chatting in groups explicitly designed for touring / traveling.
That question though – ‘where can I go where there are less tourists?’ – got me thinking. What’s the real question they are asking here? Does it mean they are looking to live more like the locals, or for cities that aren’t busy, or to have room to breathe, or just to ensure that they aren’t the target of tourist scams – of which there are MANY any where that tourists tend to congregate!
The people in these groups are lucky – we have the freedom, resources and sense of adventure to pick up and leave our homes for a period of time to see another part of the world. But we’re all different, even in this group.
As I thought about this question, this popped into my head.
The bell curve is the typical representation of a distribution of perspectives. Some people want to be the first to try something, to see things that others haven’t. Some people don’t care if they ever see it. And most people fall somewhere in the middle.
I’m in Thailand right now and it’s why Phuket is super busy while Chiang Rai is less so.
When I visited Peru a few years ago, we were following what the locals called the ‘Gringo trail‘ – the journey that most tourists make through the mountains of Peru. I’m glad I followed it too – it was beautiful and we met some lovely people. It made sense for us because we had a short period of time and a few major things that we wanted to see.
I’m not sure exactly sure where I fall on this bell curve – I’m certainly not on the far right, though I’m also not on the very far left either. I picked up and headed out for a while but also have my life to come back to in a couple of months. I’ve stayed in cities and done the tourist things like seeing the Royal Palace in Bangkok, though we’ve also rented scooters and planned our own itineraries. I like this mix.
On this journey, I’ve met lots of different people, all looking for very different things. Everyone I’ve spoken to has had a very different story – unique to them, and what they’ve shared with me was only the tip of their iceberg. I’ve met the people looking to share experiences with other tourists, to take tours, to see the beaten path – and I’ve met people who are looking for the exact opposite. I’ve liked them all for different reasons.
It’s an interesting question to ask in many areas of our lives – are you looking for the places where the tourists are already congregating, or to build your own path?