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5 July, 2004

Not merely because it's there

I can really identify with the first part of Dea Birkett's article in today's Guardian, in which she discusses the differing approaches and motivations of travellers.  Some prefer to 'hang out', getting to know a certain area and people well.  Others "strike out, eager to reach the next night's camp... miles covered are the measure of a journey's worth."
By extension, the objective of the first type is to qualitatively understand, both the visited location and ones self, whereas the latter group are more interested in quantitative cataloguing and conquering of obstacles.

It's not difficult to see where this is heading: though I definitely rank myself in the former group, Birkett is writing about the differing sensibilities of female and male travellers.

In a way, the stereotype is simplistic, and there are exceptions (my sister has visited many more destinations than me, and I suspect there's an element of 'ticking off' places, visiting for the sake of visiting), just as masculine and feminine characteristics form a spectrum, not moieties.

For example, whilst I seem to feel the more 'feminine' motivation for visiting somewhere, the stereotype would imply I'm interested in meeting and understanding people, which is only partly accurate, as my character tends to be a little more abstract, even clinical; I seek to understand, but not necessarily empathise, or at least not on the superficial level of making casual acquaintances.

A further example of the disparity: in the first sentence of that last paragraph, I can't decide whether the word should be 'feel' or 'experience' - subtly different. If I'm honest, I think I mean both, or something between.

NP: Bass Communion 'InteractiveDJ Mix' (2000)


I'm definately the type of person that believes that the best way to soak up a place is to just hang out for a while.

Like Vietnam - my most favourite place to travel, you can go and visit the tunnels where the Viet Cong masterminded their attacks - but why bother - a tunnel is a tunnel and besides, they have all been widened for fat Americans and bear little resemblance to the original tunnels.

Or you can sit on a minute stool, on the edge of the road ane be served noodle soup by a local and watch the world go by.

Which one helps you understand the country more?

Posted by BykerSink at July 6, 2004 06:07 PM
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