Travel Porn

No, the title isn’t meant to attract dirty-minded people surfing in blogsphere. Yes, it is a reference to food porn. (Ooh! Did I just double my hits?)

We’ve got a trip abroad coming up, so I’ve been seriously time-sucked: consumed with research for our travels.

I’m rather anal about looking up sights to see, places to stay, grub to eat, how to get around, new things to try out at my destination . . . before I get there. (I was rather relieved when India Tim told me he does the same thing. I’m glad it’s not just me with this obessive compulsion!)

The way I look at it, I’m only going to be at the destination for a limited time; therefore I want to maximize the quality of my experiences there, and not waste any time while I’m there in getting lost, or eating mediocre food, etc. In short, I behave as if I were an Amazing Race contestant . . . who knows the itinerary in advance. This does diminish the sense of spontaneous discovery that is what travelling is supposed to be about. But it’s tempered by the reassurance of “so this is how it turns out” after all that planning.

All this prep is best done before I leave home, not while I’m there. It’s intensified with the proliferation of so many guidebooks like Lonely Planet (somewhere not already covered by a Lonely Planet book; now that would be somewhere really worth travelling!), and the Internet. There’s an inexhaustible range of sources to check out.

I don’t plan days like clockwork, like the way it’s done for the cattle-herd tour packages: “8 AM – Notre Dame; 8:15 AM – Eiffel Tour; Lunch – Brussels”. Rather I have a list of places to see, things to do, and if we leave Point A for Point B, and come across a Point C of interest, we go for it. Which means that we might not get to Point D afterwards, but what they hey.

We don’t ever make it through the entire list. And I’m learning not to regret; that it’s necessary and just as enjoyable to chill and hang out rather rushing through the list just to say you’ve been there, done that, but were too tired to appreciate it fully.

I do regret not having travelled more when I was younger. I don’t know why I didn’t; it wasn’t entirely because I couldn’t. I think it was because I didn’t really think about it as much of a priority, and I was less adventurous. In retrospect, summer school should not have been a higher priority. Oh well. I’ve made up for it quite a bit with all the places I’ve been since then. I’m one of the lucky ones.

[I’m still learning how to travel. Or rather it’s an evolving/aging process. The backpacker- student would only stay in youth hostels; now every 5th day we can splurge and stay somewhere that has cable TV and a mini-bar. Whereas before I would only eat local food when we travelled; now we allow ourselves to dine on ‘foreign’ cuisine, because that way you actually learn about how chow mein has been ‘desi-fied’ in India, or how McDonald’s offers taro pies in Beijing. That’s just as valid a travel experience. My early photos were just of monuments and landscapes, which could be found better on postcards; now we’ve learnt to take snapshots of food, everyday life and quirky things that really bring back memories of being ‘there.’]

When we hit the lottery jackpot, we will go . . . back and visit every place we’ve ever been to, to make up for the things we missed out on the first time around. For instance, in Nagoya, there’s a ryokan I want to go stay at; I’d also like to stay in a capsule hotel, and try fugu. Santa Barbara: go check out the public pool by wharf. Visit the Capuchin monks catacombs in Rome. Explore Chungking Mansions on Nathan Rd. Watch a futbol game in Mexico.

In theory, I could plan fantasy trips, i.e. tell myself “If I had 5 days in Iceland in June, what would I do?” It would be a fun exercise. I don’t usually engage in that kind of travel porn until I actually have plans to go somewhere. But at the back of my mind I already have inklings that it will involve eating pemican and sitting in a hot spring while surrounded by ice.

The ultimate hard-core NC-17 travel porn: Sneaking to a destination where you have relatives, but not visit them or let them know you’re in town. You can then be utterly selfish and just do the things you want to do, and none of the things you’re usually obligated to do. Mwah ha ha!

Just don’t get caught.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Porn

  1. suggested 5 days in Iceland:

    shop for Viking clothes for next burning man, hot springs and stalk Bjork. not necessarily in that order…

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