It seems a little fashionable these days to travel to resorts and stay in all day – enjoying the swimming pool, the in-house activities and the big buffets. Also, these resorts usually suggest places of interest and people tend to opt for the guided tours there. Breeze in, breeze out without encountering any of the locals.
But in the words of James Michener:
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
Jose and I have learned a few things since we started travelling together. Yes, we go and stay in the resorts, mainly because we have a membership that makes it cheaper. But apart from the room, we use almost none of the facilities. On our recent trip we walked into the resort and walked out without paying a single rupee (we pay an annual charge) much to the shock of the staff. Since today’s prompt for the Write Tribe Festival of Words -2 is Travel, I thought I’d share some of things we’ve learned that makes our trips a good learning experience. So here goes – my travel wisdom:
Sample the local cuisine: We love our food and a vacation means a great time to sample the local fare. I’ve written about the food on our trip to Kumily/Thekkady here. On our recent trip to another part of Kerala, we enjoyed the prawns, the fish curry, the pork, the avial (a vegetable stew)- all made in authentic Kerala style. I’m not expanding on this because Jose will write about this more extensively on From 7Eight soon.
Get where the real action is: I always wonder why people travel so far to stay in the pool in a resort. They might as well go some place just out of town and find the same facilities. We love to go where the action is – the busy local market, the crowded beach, the local cafe. It’s there where you can truly absorb the spirit of the place you’re visiting.
Use public transport as far as possible: Whenever possible, we use local public transport – buses, auto-rickshaws and ferries. And as far as possible, we walk. For one thing, it’s so much cheaper, but more importantly, you can watch the locals in action especially in the buses and ferries. And you learn a lot about how that place functions.
I can never forget a conversation I heard on a ferry in Hong Kong. This couple – a big tall American and little Chinese girl, sitting at the back of me had been all lovey-dovey and then he asked her, “Do you have boyfriend?” and she responded, “Yes. Do you have a girlfriend?” Suddenly, dense old me realized that something was different about the city that day. A US Naval ship had come in and the American sailors were living up to ‘a girl in every port’! And for the local girls it was a time to make some money. This couple was one of the many I saw over the weekend. It told me something about the poverty that existed in a place that was, on the face of it, so developed.
Meet the locals: It’s always fun when, despite language barriers, you get to converse with the locals and learn a little bit more about them and their lifestyle. Children are always a joy to talk to. I remember two little boys walking alongside us on the village roads in Ashtamudi, Kerala a few years ago. They started a chat in Hindi and English – and then one of them asked me, “Which class are you studying in?” He made my day and year!
Respect the culture: This is something that goes without saying but it’s not always understood by those of us who travel. Cultures and practices differ from place to place and it’s important to be aware of those that are peculiar to the place you are travelling to. Learning ahead of your travel what to wear and asking permission before you take photographs especially when visiting religious sites or homes, are just some of the little things you can do to show respect for your ‘hosts’.
I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve missed out on, but I’m keeping this short.
🙂 Ah, a post after my own heart! We prefer to walk around as much as possible when we visit a place and enjoy the new surroundings. And we always eat at a local place, never where we stay. Chatting up the people there and taking photos is my favorite activity. Accounts for my yet to be organized thousands of photos. But oh, the memories are amazing.
I’ve never stayed at a resort.
I am going to miss the Festival 😀
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Rum Punch Drunk
When I go abroad I always check out the facts before I leave especially the culture. I want to be safe whilst at the same time experiencing the reality of that country. I do like to have a good hotel base but that’s just to make sure I get the luxuries of hot baths, a decent bed, internet etc so I’m fresh every morning.
But I like to spend the whole day out traveling around exploring, eating their authentic foods, buying from the local people and enjoying the life they have. That’s my type of a holiday.
Rum Punch Drunk recently posted..Reflections
If Danny and I ever go overseas, I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind, Corinne. Loved the photos, too!
Martha Orlando recently posted..The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, Again!
I agree Corinne, what is the sense of traveling if you’re going to stay hold up by the pool. When we travel we always seek out the culture and the people. There are so many wonderful things to experience! Nice post Corinne. Thanks for your tips.
Lovely post Corinne, and I completely go with you on your tips. In fact I have even tried out some of these tips myself on many occasions, especially the cuisine ones.
Am echoing Vidya when she says that she will miss the Festival of Words. When are we scheduling the next one? 😀
Jairam Mohan recently posted..The Confession – Chapter 8 – The Cafe
So.. What class ARE you in Corinne?.. Lol loved the innocence. You’re right on all counts. Local travel is a bit of an issue when you’re with kids. This time we had our own vehicle in Goa so it was a dream.. We were hardly at the resort all day.
If you walked out without paying an extra bit of cash you are a master at this game then. And here you outplayed the resort people. Most of the things that you have mentioned I have tried to follow on each one of my travels. Especially the try to take in the local flavours part. Though as I mentioned before I at times (being a vegetarian) find some issues and then bank on my regular brands 😀
Richa Singh recently posted..My five dreams for life
Traveling.. Exploring a new place means to me to get the raw feel of the place…from local cuisine to soaking in the culture of the place….great tips there!!
Aditi recently posted..Part 8 – Clearing doubts
So true, why bother going on holiday if you’re going to lounge by the pool. About 2 years ago while I was in between jobs, I walked around Wellington camera in hand. Amazing what I saw and learned in my own city. Best way to see a city is walk around in it. Good post.
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Hi Corrine, have read so much about you across blogs, esp. with the Write Tribe themes 🙂
Completely agree with every word in this post esp. about getting to know the locals. In 2011 we were in Gangtok during the September earthquake. The hospitality the locals displayed despite the disaster they had been through was the highlight of our trip. We had to cut our vacation short, but those 3 days (esp. the day we were hit by the tremors) taught us a lesson in humanity.
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Tameka (BloggerPoet) (
Lovely post. I adore traveling and I always go off of the resort to enjoy the local neighborhoods, music and food. Unfortunately when some people do get to travel they are so darn run down and tired that they can’t be bothered to do anything but stay at the resort. We work ourselves to death at times. This post is a reminder to always find the true meaning in things. To travel is to see.
Jose and you seem to be exactly our kind of travelers. In fact we’ve stopped staying at resorts a long time ago. If we can help it we stay at a local BnB or we just rent an apt for ourselves. And we do each and every little time that you mentioned in your post. To travel all those miles and sit by a pool totally makes no sense to me.
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