10 July 2017

Travel 2.0: Scratching Beneath the Surface

I have come to the realization lately that somehow, my travel priorities have changed. I was gazing at our rather massive collection of guidebooks at home, and at some point, I realized that there's a wealth of information in these books that haven't been touched at all. Primarily, because they contain a lot more information about a destination than what could be digested in the time we were there, but also we have been visiting new destinations more often than visiting destinations for a second time around. So I wondered, why not come back?

Perhaps this is a reaction to the checklist-style travelers I see lately. Or perhaps to the travelers who have the attitude that this would be the only time they are traveling so they want to cram the whole of Europe into 2 weeks. But anyway, I realized that there's more to a destination than the surface. Perhaps I already knew that, but I just wasn't putting that into my constraint satisfaction model. After all, I have a goal of visiting 100 countries before I die.

So maybe this goal will take a back seat for now. Maybe I will pick up an old guidebook and go to a place I have been before, to discover something new. I mean, it's a pity to have a guidebook for Norway when all I have seen is Bergen and Oslo. Or a guidebook for the Netherlands when the only place I have been to was Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam. I want to go back to Iran again, and maybe this time see the northeast and the west. I also want to go back to Myanmar, and this time see the north. The list goes on and on.

So yeah, maybe I would not increase my country count any time soon. Because as much as I want to visit many new places, I also want to scratch beneath the surface. And the only way to do that is to go back.


  1. I find it takes multiple trips (and often outside the national capital) to truly understand a culture and a country. Speaking the language (or at least, being able to communicate) helps a lot as well. It took me... at least three trips to understand "Brazilian logic"!

    1. Zhu,

      Exactly! This is what I am trying to implement this time. So perhaps I won't be going to a new country this year, but rather, I'd be increasing my understanding of a country I have already been to.