“You don’t like to do things the same way as everyone else.” A Columbian boy tells me this when I decline his invitation to take the bus with him to the next backpacker town, choosing instead to spend another week where I’m at in Chiang Mai, training Muay Thai at a local gym, with future plans to stay at an organic farm run by a former monk.
I guess he’s right.
But it’s hard sometimes to find meaning when you’re traveling for a long time, and slowly the hostels and bars tend to meld together the same way the churches and museums and temples do. Sometimes you’ve just got to break out of the mold.
And people are weird, often paying ridiculous prices in order to experience extreme discomfort in the name of authenticity. My touristy elephant trek brought us to a “local” village overnight that sold overpriced beer… it was nice, but being woken up by the rooster in my open bedroom at the orphanage and the meals cooked for me by teachers at the high school will be what I really remember.
I’m still a tourist, and I’m okay with that. I think there’s a reason why some things are popular. But I’m still not planning on changing my strategy any time soon.