“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” — James Michener
As many people who have been reading my blogs all these times must have noticed, I took some times off blogging. The main reason is, I have so many things to do in the real life. The other reason is the fact that I asked some professionals who have been reading blogs for some years to review this blog of mine. More about this second reason will be shared in the next blog. For now, I want to share why I started this blog with the quote above. Because after traveling to three islands in the beginning of October 2011, Penang – Singapore – Bali, I am reminded of what I learned back in March 2011 when I went to Medan – Penang – Lake Toba for the first time.
That a tourist and a traveler are not the same!
I first went to Penang island, Malaysia on September 29th, 2011 to join the Worldwide Photo Walk on October 1st, 2011 at the city of George Town. Before I went there, I must register on the official Photo Walk website. At that time, I had this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, I could join another walk as well, as long as it is not in the same country. So I contacted the leader of the walk on the following day – October 2nd, 2011 – in Singapore who then told me it was okay to join his walk. It was a new experience for me but I gave it a go anyway.
I’m glad I did because I got what I was looking for.
I want to have friends in those places. People with the same interest as mine (photography) who I can learn from. It was a great blessing to be a part of those walks and I did learn a lot from them. All the hustle and bustle of going from one island to another was definitely worth it! After all is said and done, I can honestly say that not only Penang island and Singapore are great places, but nice people also live there. Furthermore, we are now connected on social network sites which allows us to plan for the future projects and photo walks.
Yes, some plans are in the making so we shall see.
Then I went to Bali to attend 2011 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival from October 5th – 9th, 2011. It was a huge challenge because I ended up being sick the whole time I was there so I couldn’t attend some of the programs as planned. I am still grateful that I was there though. During the festival, I met and was inspired by people who have been writing great books. I also met nice people who were fellow participant and we shared some stories of our owns during the programs which still make me smile until now. I hope to meet them again in the future.
Bali, however, was still as challenging as before but I did not let it bother me.
One thing for sure, it is never a place for the faint of heart! Life is tough over there so some locals do take ‘tourism’ a wee bit ‘extreme’. It’s a common thing to find strangers offering things you don’t even know you need there! However, most of those people do know how to take a ‘No!’ for an answer. There are also other ways to travel if you don’t want to bump into strangers who offer you this and that on the streets. After being there all by myself for so many times, I get used to all the overwhelming challenges Bali has to offer to its visitors.
Most especially when I’m there as a traveler instead of just a tourist!
By that I mean, I don’t just go there and visit the famous tourism sights then come back to where I am from with tons of pictures like most tourists do. Instead, I try my best to meet the locals and interact with them. Experience the life there as much as I possibly can without getting myself into troubles. Learn their cultures, speak their languages, eat their local delicacies, and so on and so forth. In the end, by doing those things, I touch their lives as much as they do mine. I found myself coming home a better person when I travel like that. Life is too short so I would go with people first.
How about you? Are you a tourist or a traveler?