Insights From A Cultural Idiot

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I recently got tipped off on an interesting blog mini-series, if you will, over at the Freedonia Post, titled Confessions of a Cultural Idiot. The author, Alex, is embarking on a RTW trip on his Muffin Top — the name he chose for the overstuffed bicycle he’s using — starting this July.

I haven’t had much time to delve into the broader site yet, but caught his “Idiot” series and was struck at the honesty of his words. In the wake of Monday’s adventurous Asian delicacies article, his first post is a revealing reminder of some of the weaknesses we take with us in our travels.

“Seriously, have you SEEN a 100-year-old egg? Fear has prevented me from really diving into them.”

It wasn’t long ago that I had some of these very same thoughts wandering the streets of Korea and greater Asia. Having similar thoughts doesn’t mean that you have yet to graduate into the realm of the true traveler, it just means that some things may take some getting used to (whether you like them or not). As he puts it, “for god’s sake, I’ve had the food at Arby’s, which should be infinitely more frightening than sampling fried crickets.” I concur.

The second installment, “Learn,” delves inward to criticize his past styles of travel. Alex wants to move beyond the philosophy of “ticking off the next box” of must-see sights, in favor of finding the deeper value in traveling, or the stories and experiences behind those sights. That may just be the epiphany we are all searching for.

The most valuable tip offered is to simply slow down.  He uses the Louvre as an example. As much as you’d like to hustle through all the rooms to see each of the 4,000 works there, he recommends, “stop[ing] at 20 pieces you really like and then learn[ing] everything you can about them. Contrary to popular belief, there is no prize at the end of the Louvre scavenger hunt.”

I look forward to vicariously riding Muffin Top with you on your journey, Alex.

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