Manglish_lysia muses upon the fine line between being a traveler and a tourist.
It has become a norm nowadays to travel around the world. Since the invention of better transportation, travelling is no longer a castle in the air. We do not need to spend months in a ship or pay through our nose to reach a foreign land. With just a click away, we get to reserve a flight ticket. Armed with a bare couple of ringgits, we are on our way to another land. Excited as we are, packing our luggage while bragging to our friends about our holidays, have you ever thought whether you are indeed a tourist or just a traveler?
Tourists arise from the movement of people to various destinations. This will generally rationally involve a period of stays staying in a new place or places for a certain period. The journey and the stay are by definition outside the normal places of residence and work and are of a short-term nature with a clear intention to return home within a relatively short period of time.
I still vividly remember an enlightening story once told by my teacher. She had proudly announced that “I have traveled the whole of New Zealand in 7 days”. Imagine how shocked and surprised we were! “How?” asked one of my classmates. Slowly, she narrated her travel experiences to us.
I had flown with a group of tourists and a tour guide from one city to another city in a day. I spent an hour visiting each famous tourist attractions and hours in shopping. I have most certainly pleased my daughter with all the souvenirs and gifts that I have purchased. That’s not all! I have taken many photos of the sites that I have visited. However, I did not really feel the country itself. Who would eat in a Chinese restaurant when you are in a western country?
A trademark, albeit notorious characteristic of tourists is that they tend to visit the main features of landscape and townscape which segregate them from everyday experiences. More often than not, tourists move in guided groups and find pleasure in inauthentic and contrived attractions. They guiltily enjoy sights designed especially for them. They linger over these projected images in a way that they would not normally do in their home environment. These little fragments of memories are often encapsulated in photographs or objectified in postcards. Repeatedly and endlessly, these are reproduced and shared with others.
What have you gained from being a tourist? Oh yes, you might defend by stating the fact that you know this and that building or place, how beautiful it is and how knowledgeable you are about it. Yet have you ever pondered what you have learnt of the land itself and about the people, the culture and the everyday habit of the foreign country? The individual character of travel had been inconspicuously insulated with the commercial term – tourism.
So, are you a tourist or a traveler?
Speaking manglish is what she does best. Manglish_lysia is currently doing a very VERY intensive German program in Bandar Utama International College. She is now cracking her head over German grammars while keeping her sanity in check.