I’ve been cruising in the Ha Long Bay for two days with ten other westerners. As it’s frequent in most tourist attractions many activities are organized to keep us busy. Guides tell us where to go and what to do. I kinda hate it. We bought a package to visit the bay and it happens the activities were included. I started wondering why people would actually like those. My brother and I had rather spend time silently observing the mountains, the sea, and the fishing boats.
My conclusion is people either don’t want to think for themselves, or are too afraid to go on an adventure.
I think it’s quite obvious you can always distinguish two kinds of travelers: tourists following the herd of other tourists, and more independent people seeking to interact with locals first and foremost. The fear of getting lost, mazeophobia, is probably the single thing defining who is or isn’t a “tourist”.
I believe travel is not about finding new monuments, new cultures, or new people. It’s about losing yourself: losing your identity, losing your mental barriers, losing your sense of what’s normal and what isn’t. Travel destroys more than it creates.
We have to learn to be comfortable with not having a pre-defined plan. We have to be comfortable strolling through the streets aimlessly, without any map or smartphone to guide us.
Only then can we relate to people again. Only then can we be ready to face any situation the world throws at us. Being lost is temporary, all roads lead back home.