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Why you should be a thick traveller Intellectual voyeurism will stop you flourishing

Don't book a flight home until you've seen ordinary people eating breakfast. (Chris Arnade)

Don't book a flight home until you've seen ordinary people eating breakfast. (Chris Arnade)


August 8, 2023   6 mins

Anthropology is in some ways an odd and creepy thing to do. Anthropologists spend a lot of time watching people, often people who are very different from themselves, in the hope of understanding them. If done wrong, as it has been many times in the past, it can be rather awful, a kind of intellectual voyeurism. Done right, with nuance and respect, it can give us a fuller understanding of what it means to be human.

What distinguishes us from other animals is the diversity in how we live. There is a greater difference between a resident of Hanoi and a resident of Istanbul than there is between a rat in Hanoi and one in Istanbul. While so much modern discourse is about the universality of humanity, it is in fact the variation within our species that defines us as a big-brained species. Rats live rather similar lives, regardless of where they are born, because they are driven by their inborn instincts. But rather than being led by genetically programmed impulses, we use constructed tools, whether literal or figurative, to survive and thrive. And those tools are what comprise a place’s culture.

Your definition of culture might be different from an anthropologist’s. In his book of essays, The Interpretations of Culture, the anthropologist Clifford Geertz writes that a human being is imbued at birth with “the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life” but generally ends up “having lived only one”. That one life we end up living is largely determined by what culture, and place in it, we are born into. “As culture shaped us as a single species so too it shapes us as separate individuals. This,” writes Geertz, “is what we have in common.” Oddly enough, many of our subjects express this more clearly than we anthropologists. In Java, Geertz points out, the people quite flatly say: “To be human is to be Javanese.”

What anthropologists seek is not that different from what most people say they want to get out of travel: an understanding of a place. But most travellers’ grasp of culture is what Geertz calls a “thin description”. A listing of the foods, faiths, clothes, and customs that make it unique. For tourists, understanding a place is about figuring out what you need to do to “pass for a native”. That is, to know enough of the language, styles of dress and etiquette to be able to spend time in Lima without causing offence out of ignorance.

While culture, to Geertz, does encompass the surface-level rules that “guide behaviour”, to him they aren’t nearly as interesting or meaningful as what lies beneath. Culture, he writes, is “a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life”. In other words, culture is about why we think we are here, and why we think it’s worth being here. Where the “thin description” asks “how do you live?”, the “thick description” asks: “Why do you live?”

That different cultures, and different places, have different answers to that question shows the depth of human adaptability. It is those differences that fascinate me as a traveller. For me, to travel is to learn how to be human, by observing the variety of ways you can be human.

Thick travel is about seeking the everyday. (Chris Arnade)

Most of what passes as travel these days, though, is “thin travel”. It’s about selling an experience of a place, staging a version of its culture. The travel industry proffers package dinners, where you can drink traditional liquors, eat traditional food, watch traditional dances. If there is any meaning there, it’s buried so far beneath the glitz that it’s dead. Meaning isn’t staged. It is so interwoven into one’s sense of self that it’s often unacknowledged, like the water a fish swims in, or the air you breathe.

Every city has a tourist district, which bundles up a culture and puts it in one, easy-to-find, safe area full of quaint shops. These places are the hallmarks of “thin travel”. Sure, you are in Hanoi. Sure, the people here are Vietnamese. But they are not living their true life. They are performing, mostly as a job. Their intention might well be to educate people about their culture. But thick travel is about getting away from performances, and into neighbourhoods where people are going about their lives. People who aren’t trying to teach or sell you something.

So, how do you travel in a way that allows you to understand a place’s meaning, as best you can, rather than travelling just to see its surface? Thick travel isn’t about intensity, or danger, or going to extremes; it is about seeking the normal, and often the banal. In ordinary places, people are in their default mode, and it is their default mode that people are most “genuine” to their culture. That is why, when I’m in a new place, I try to become a regular in a few average places. Not to blend in, but to let others blend out, by being themselves.

Taking risks, entering sacred or profane spaces against the wishes of residents, or going to the place with the most X or the least Y, isn’t necessarily thick travel. It’s not about trying to play-act as a native, or putting another check on a list of crazy things you’ve done for clout. It’s not about eating the weirdest dish served in that one restaurant highlighted by that guy on the travel channel, but about eating what’s most commonly eaten. It’s about going to 7-11s in the middle-class neighbourhoods of Taipei for breakfast.

Thick travel might not require hours of YouTube research, but it does require time. On my travel blog, I have a bad habit of posting my first thoughts on a place, after three or four days of walking it. I did that in Taipei, writing: “Taipei in many ways is like Seoul. Both have grown quickly, become relatively wealthy, and in the process jumped headlong into materialism while shedding a lot of their traditional culture.”

While that’s partly true, it’s also a “thin description”, because as I learned, after spending two more weeks in the city, religious traditions are central to Taiwanese culture, to people young and old. My epiphany came in a midtown temple. I was only there grudgingly, because I couldn’t book an earlier flight back home (something I had tried to do based on my first impressions).

I entered the temple at the same time as a young man, a guy who on the surface seemed pretty secular. He was dressed like a kid from a western MTV video, with baggy clothes and a bucket hat. He had three tattoos on his forearms — a pile of US dollars, brass knuckles, and the Mercedes Benz logo. I watched him, figuring cynically that he was there for something other than the rituals. But no, he quickly took off his hat, then slowly worked his way around the circuit of altars and statues, performing all the ritual steps with the upmost reverence. The only scepticism was mine, and it quickly faded.

Faith plays a different role in Taiwan than in Western cultures. That’s not a value judgement, or even an “othering”. “Understanding a people’s culture exposes their normalness without reducing their particularity,” writes Geertz. The clearer your picture of another culture, the more rational it seems, while also remaining unique. That is, the teenager in a bucket hat going to the temple to do his daily rituals is, at both at a thick and thin level, very different from a young man in Lima going to the cathedral, but both are being very human. They are both seeking meaning, not through their animal impulses, but through their traditions.

You need to get away from the performances. (Chris Arnade)

Once you see how a thick description of culture provides people with meaning, you also see how lost we would be without it. “The extreme generality, diffuseness, and variability of man’s innate response capacity means that without the assistance of cultural patterns he would be functionally incomplete,” wrote Geertz. It is “a kind of formless monster with neither sense of direction nor power of self control, a chaos of spasmodic impulses and vague emotions”. Or, to quote the philosopher Suzanne Langer: “[Man] can adapt himself somehow to anything his imagination can cope with; but he cannot deal with Chaos.”

Thick travel has made me realise how much chaos we have here in the US, at a spiritual level, compared with the rest of the world. We are becoming a thin culture, obsessed with the surface, more and more in denial about the importance of what is beneath. We have forgotten that we need webs of meaning, eroding so many of them. People are left trying to cope with what we humans are not equipped to cope with — the isolation and chaos that follows from meaninglessness.

I spent over 10 years documenting poverty, homelessness, and addiction in the US. Now, I am walking around the world, writing dispatches. But my current project is not that different from my last one. My three years of thick travel, of trying to understand other cultures, has given me a much clearer picture of the problems here in the US. It’s made me aware just how deep they are. Our culture is harsh and transactional; it doesn’t respect the very human need for a deeper sense of meaning. The result is our epidemic of suicides, overdoses, and other early deaths.

Worse still is that culture, while easy to erode, is very hard to rebuild once gone. You can’t legislate back meaning. If thick travel teaches you anything, it’s that people don’t work that way.

 

A version of this essay first appeared on Chris Arnade Walks The World.


Chris Arnade is an American photographer. He is currently walking round the world.

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Frank Carney
Frank Carney
10 months ago

As somebody who has lived outside my country and culture for 30 years I can see what the author is trying to say. But at the end of the day he is not a ‘thick’ traveler, he is still just a tourist. It is impossible to have a ‘thick’ appreciation for a culture AND be a ‘traveler’. If he lived in the ordinary burbs for 5 years, then he might start to get an inkling of the substrate of a local culture. As it is, he is just another Western expert, forming his opinions through an academic prism which, inevitably, ends up seeing the exotic as superior to the familiar.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank Carney

Thanks – he reminds me of when I was backpacking as a student in SE Asia (I know – what a clichĂ©). There always these people who insisted they were ‘travellers’ and people like me were ‘tourists’ because they could order a beer in Thai or some such. We were all tourists. You can live somewhere for 60 years but you will never be from there or truly understand the place.

philip kern
philip kern
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

You’ve touched on the harsh reality. I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years but will always be identifiable as an alien, even by the person who has lived here for all his or her life–all of say 15 years. My being here twice as long barely factors in. Even more, my identity, thoughts, feelings, longings, and memory have all been formed elsewhere and by a different set of experiences.

Frank Carney
Frank Carney
10 months ago
Reply to  philip kern

Exactly my experience.

Frank Carney
Frank Carney
10 months ago
Reply to  philip kern

Exactly my experience.

philip kern
philip kern
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

You’ve touched on the harsh reality. I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years but will always be identifiable as an alien, even by the person who has lived here for all his or her life–all of say 15 years. My being here twice as long barely factors in. Even more, my identity, thoughts, feelings, longings, and memory have all been formed elsewhere and by a different set of experiences.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank Carney

It was funny to see during their vacation, Rishi Sunak and his family on the Santa Monica Pier in LA California. Nobody seemed to notice them. He was chill but the kids and wife looked like deer in the headlights.
They were dressed summer beach but not west coast local.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank Carney

Thanks – he reminds me of when I was backpacking as a student in SE Asia (I know – what a clichĂ©). There always these people who insisted they were ‘travellers’ and people like me were ‘tourists’ because they could order a beer in Thai or some such. We were all tourists. You can live somewhere for 60 years but you will never be from there or truly understand the place.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank Carney

It was funny to see during their vacation, Rishi Sunak and his family on the Santa Monica Pier in LA California. Nobody seemed to notice them. He was chill but the kids and wife looked like deer in the headlights.
They were dressed summer beach but not west coast local.

Frank Carney
Frank Carney
10 months ago

As somebody who has lived outside my country and culture for 30 years I can see what the author is trying to say. But at the end of the day he is not a ‘thick’ traveler, he is still just a tourist. It is impossible to have a ‘thick’ appreciation for a culture AND be a ‘traveler’. If he lived in the ordinary burbs for 5 years, then he might start to get an inkling of the substrate of a local culture. As it is, he is just another Western expert, forming his opinions through an academic prism which, inevitably, ends up seeing the exotic as superior to the familiar.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

This essay would have been much stronger, and more immediately engaging, imo, if the author had dumped the first two rambling paragraphs. The essay also contains some odd assertions: “For tourists, understanding a place is about figuring out what you need to do to ‘pass for a native’.” Really? I don’t travel much anymore but I’ve been a tourist in many places and it never occurred to me to try to pass for native.
Nonetheless, for me, the essay did say something important about trying to connect with the real culture of the host country. I write from an American perspective and I think so many Americans now suffer from culture hunger. Their own, rather patchwork, culture is in the process of being destroyed from within, like an autoimmune disease. At some level, many Americans are now envious of those countries that retain a strong sense of, and pride in, their own culture, and they want to connect with an authentic sense of belonging.
I wish the author well on his round-the-world walk. He’s not the first person to go on an extended walk to reconnect with what might be called authenticity. I hope he discovers something useful in his travels and shares it with the rest of us.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“culture is in the process of being destroyed from within, like an autoimmune disease” – Perhaps worse is the culture being destroyed intentionally by those intent on their own ideas of how things should be. The concept of tolerance for others slowly being eroded. Perhaps those who can’t stand American culture really do need to travel and see how others live.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, in many places travellers aspire to be taken as natives, so glad you’re not one of them

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Didn’t Paul Thoreaux write a book after walking the coastline of England, Wales and Scotland?

anthony henderson
anthony henderson
10 months ago

And he savaged the country, Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Country’ was the opposite and a much better book.

anthony henderson
anthony henderson
10 months ago

And he savaged the country, Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Country’ was the opposite and a much better book.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“culture is in the process of being destroyed from within, like an autoimmune disease” – Perhaps worse is the culture being destroyed intentionally by those intent on their own ideas of how things should be. The concept of tolerance for others slowly being eroded. Perhaps those who can’t stand American culture really do need to travel and see how others live.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, in many places travellers aspire to be taken as natives, so glad you’re not one of them

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Didn’t Paul Thoreaux write a book after walking the coastline of England, Wales and Scotland?

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago

This essay would have been much stronger, and more immediately engaging, imo, if the author had dumped the first two rambling paragraphs. The essay also contains some odd assertions: “For tourists, understanding a place is about figuring out what you need to do to ‘pass for a native’.” Really? I don’t travel much anymore but I’ve been a tourist in many places and it never occurred to me to try to pass for native.
Nonetheless, for me, the essay did say something important about trying to connect with the real culture of the host country. I write from an American perspective and I think so many Americans now suffer from culture hunger. Their own, rather patchwork, culture is in the process of being destroyed from within, like an autoimmune disease. At some level, many Americans are now envious of those countries that retain a strong sense of, and pride in, their own culture, and they want to connect with an authentic sense of belonging.
I wish the author well on his round-the-world walk. He’s not the first person to go on an extended walk to reconnect with what might be called authenticity. I hope he discovers something useful in his travels and shares it with the rest of us.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

The best time to explore any European city is start just before dawn* and walk for a good two to three hours.
Free from traffic and filth you will see the almost silent city gradually awake in the ever changing light, and be ready for a full breakfast on your happy return.

(* Ideally in Spring or Summer.)

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

One imagines you walking the early morning streets of Damascus: the echo of English leather soles on the cobblestones of the souk, empty but for the mu’minĆ«n heading to fajr.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Actually I preferred ‘desert boots’, otherwise referred to as ‘brothel creepers’.

You seem to know the souk well, and will no doubt recall the bullet holes left in corrugated roof by the French shortly after their arrival in 1920?

Also the perhaps apocryphal story that on arrival in the city the first French governor marched straight to the Tomb of Saladin, kicked it, and then pompously shouted “Saladin, nous sommes ici!”.

Messrs Sykes & Picot have much to answer for.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

Was it the French? The story seems to change but the effect is lovely, particularly in the narrower side passages and especially on Friday when the souk is deserted.
My crusading ancestors might perhaps have felt some small satisfaction in knowing the franj finally took, and held, Damascus. Sadly I was not erudite enough to recognise Reynald de Chatillon, may his bones rest well, depicted in the statue near Saladin’s mausoleum.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Apparently there was a ‘disturbance’ shortly after the French arrived, and it was thought useful to machine gun the souk or least the roof! A sort of mini Amritsar so to speak.

Ah Reynald, if only he had managed to get his prefabricated fleet ontothe Red Sea and ‘take out’ Mecca, how different things might be today?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Apparently there was a ‘disturbance’ shortly after the French arrived, and it was thought useful to machine gun the souk or least the roof! A sort of mini Amritsar so to speak.

Ah Reynald, if only he had managed to get his prefabricated fleet ontothe Red Sea and ‘take out’ Mecca, how different things might be today?

Dominic A
Dominic A
10 months ago

A fine shoe – I assume you are referring to the arcane, original definition rather than the popular Teddy Boy style? Though we’ve never met, the image of you in the latter is as incongruous as it is amusing!

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

We have what we call chukkas – boots, usually light colored suede with softer sole – that go just above the ankle. I recall hearing that they originated among British troops in the desert.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

We have what we call chukkas – boots, usually light colored suede with softer sole – that go just above the ankle. I recall hearing that they originated among British troops in the desert.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

Was it the French? The story seems to change but the effect is lovely, particularly in the narrower side passages and especially on Friday when the souk is deserted.
My crusading ancestors might perhaps have felt some small satisfaction in knowing the franj finally took, and held, Damascus. Sadly I was not erudite enough to recognise Reynald de Chatillon, may his bones rest well, depicted in the statue near Saladin’s mausoleum.

Dominic A
Dominic A
10 months ago

A fine shoe – I assume you are referring to the arcane, original definition rather than the popular Teddy Boy style? Though we’ve never met, the image of you in the latter is as incongruous as it is amusing!

Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

I have happy memories of wandering the streets of Old Damascus early in the morning, and know the history of those bulletin holes in the tin roof of the suq. There are two catafalques in Saladin’s tomb. A simple one containing the remains of the man and a more gaudy number gifted buy the Kaiser when he visited Damascus at the end if the 19C as penance for attempting to steal the original tomb to spirit it back to Germany,

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hemphill

The Germans certainly have a long history in the region, no doubt why I spotted a couple of portraits of Der FĂŒhrer, including one twinned with Ernesto Guevara.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Off course for FĂŒhrer specialists Namibia is the pace to go, although even today some in Munich still speak fondly of him.

ps.Munich still possesses his favourite restaurant, almost in pristine condition.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

For anyone who doubts Mr Stanhope’s claims:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-55173605

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Thank you!
I hadn’t seen that

.epic!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Thank you!
I hadn’t seen that

.epic!

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

For anyone who doubts Mr Stanhope’s claims:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-55173605

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Off course for FĂŒhrer specialists Namibia is the pace to go, although even today some in Munich still speak fondly of him.

ps.Munich still possesses his favourite restaurant, almost in pristine condition.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hemphill

The Germans certainly have a long history in the region, no doubt why I spotted a couple of portraits of Der FĂŒhrer, including one twinned with Ernesto Guevara.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Actually I preferred ‘desert boots’, otherwise referred to as ‘brothel creepers’.

You seem to know the souk well, and will no doubt recall the bullet holes left in corrugated roof by the French shortly after their arrival in 1920?

Also the perhaps apocryphal story that on arrival in the city the first French governor marched straight to the Tomb of Saladin, kicked it, and then pompously shouted “Saladin, nous sommes ici!”.

Messrs Sykes & Picot have much to answer for.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill
10 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

I have happy memories of wandering the streets of Old Damascus early in the morning, and know the history of those bulletin holes in the tin roof of the suq. There are two catafalques in Saladin’s tomb. A simple one containing the remains of the man and a more gaudy number gifted buy the Kaiser when he visited Damascus at the end if the 19C as penance for attempting to steal the original tomb to spirit it back to Germany,

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
10 months ago

One imagines you walking the early morning streets of Damascus: the echo of English leather soles on the cobblestones of the souk, empty but for the mu’minĆ«n heading to fajr.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

The best time to explore any European city is start just before dawn* and walk for a good two to three hours.
Free from traffic and filth you will see the almost silent city gradually awake in the ever changing light, and be ready for a full breakfast on your happy return.

(* Ideally in Spring or Summer.)

Paul T
Paul T
10 months ago

“My type of “travel experience” is far superior to yours”.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Reminds me of one of the early monologues in “The Sheltering Sky”, a story which didnt end well for the travelers.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Reminds me of one of the early monologues in “The Sheltering Sky”, a story which didnt end well for the travelers.

Paul T
Paul T
10 months ago

“My type of “travel experience” is far superior to yours”.

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
10 months ago

Very excited for my trip to Greece next year (especially Meteora!) – I honestly reckon too many travellers worry about ‘authentic’ tourism and forget to pursue their own interests. It’s okay to be just a tourist. You don’t need an elaborate reason to pick a country or to engage in ‘local, non-touristy’ activities.
I’m in my late 20s and I have intense interests in literature, history, art, and religion. Each to their own. So, when I wrote my itinerary for Greece, I decided to skip Santorini and fly to Crete instead. Perhaps this is unthinkable for someone who loves beaches and food. But I’m happy. I just reckon the average tourist should spend more time trying to get enjoyment / meaning out of their travels than ‘doing it right.’

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You made the correct choice, Thera/Santorini is nothing compared to Crete.
Make sure you visit Gortyn in addition to Knossos.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You made the correct choice, Thera/Santorini is nothing compared to Crete.
Make sure you visit Gortyn in addition to Knossos.

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
10 months ago

Very excited for my trip to Greece next year (especially Meteora!) – I honestly reckon too many travellers worry about ‘authentic’ tourism and forget to pursue their own interests. It’s okay to be just a tourist. You don’t need an elaborate reason to pick a country or to engage in ‘local, non-touristy’ activities.
I’m in my late 20s and I have intense interests in literature, history, art, and religion. Each to their own. So, when I wrote my itinerary for Greece, I decided to skip Santorini and fly to Crete instead. Perhaps this is unthinkable for someone who loves beaches and food. But I’m happy. I just reckon the average tourist should spend more time trying to get enjoyment / meaning out of their travels than ‘doing it right.’

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago

When travelling in my youth, I always had a strong urge to leave the tourist areas and just walk the back streets. Maybe seeing the humdrum of other culture’s daily lives is innately more interesting than the main draw.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

That’s what i had a tendency to do too, mainly by just ‘going for a wander’. Had to be careful though, since not every district is as “humdrum” as others and may not particularly welcome strangers (i also, and still do, have a tendency to get lost). In fact, i often wondered how the early European explorers managed to survive to tell their tales.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Of course many “early European explorers” didn’t manage to survive. We only know about the lucky ones!

Even Magellan didn’t make the full circumnavigation in one piece!
And Cook ended up on the BBQ.*

(*No pun intended.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Of course many “early European explorers” didn’t manage to survive. We only know about the lucky ones!

Even Magellan didn’t make the full circumnavigation in one piece!
And Cook ended up on the BBQ.*

(*No pun intended.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

That’s what i had a tendency to do too, mainly by just ‘going for a wander’. Had to be careful though, since not every district is as “humdrum” as others and may not particularly welcome strangers (i also, and still do, have a tendency to get lost). In fact, i often wondered how the early European explorers managed to survive to tell their tales.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago

When travelling in my youth, I always had a strong urge to leave the tourist areas and just walk the back streets. Maybe seeing the humdrum of other culture’s daily lives is innately more interesting than the main draw.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

But most travellers’ grasp of culture is what Geertz calls a “thin description”. 

The author is being way too generous – most travellers experiences are way thinner than this. And they are arrogant – an arrogance summed up in expressions like “I’ve done Japan”

But above all he’s too generous to himself. And falls into the snobby one-up-man-ship of the holier than thou traveller. Travel just is superficial. I even wonder if reading isn’t a better way to understand cultures – good reading that is – because it attempts to genuinely understand and is based on serious study and experience.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

But most travellers’ grasp of culture is what Geertz calls a “thin description”. 

The author is being way too generous – most travellers experiences are way thinner than this. And they are arrogant – an arrogance summed up in expressions like “I’ve done Japan”

But above all he’s too generous to himself. And falls into the snobby one-up-man-ship of the holier than thou traveller. Travel just is superficial. I even wonder if reading isn’t a better way to understand cultures – good reading that is – because it attempts to genuinely understand and is based on serious study and experience.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

As a student of the anthroplogy of travel, I’m writing a book on the hierarchy that structures the human community of people who move around the world for fun. Most readers will be familiar with the distinction between “holidaymaker” and “tourist”; the former buy package deals to go to a resort and occupy sun-loungers and plastic bars, whereas the latter move around a bit more and visit local markets and attractions. Above these are the “travellers”, who have a higher status than the tourists because they can talk about countries they visit, and claim special knowledge of how the people live there. They often pride themselves on physical toughness and know-how regarding the actual plane and bus-rides.
The latest chapter is on a new elite emerging from the “traveller” caste: the so-called “thick traveller”, who looks down on all the others, and has intellectual aspirations.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Very interesting.

Travel needs to be understood in the context of the culture and history from which it emerges. It’s not hard to see its role in “distinction” (in Bourdieu’s sense). It cannot be taken simply at face value – that is, in terms of its own self-interpretation. Which is what I think this author does.

How about an Unherd article?

Mary Belgrave
Mary Belgrave
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I’m also interested in the anthropology of tourism.
You might want to include the category of volunteers. About ten years ago I went to volunteer for a month at a project in Sri Lanka where the volunteers were proud to rate themselves at the top of the heirarchy of travellers. When asked in cafes where we were from they were at pains to say they were volunteers not ‘tourists’. There was a distinct whiff of privilege because we were working at ground level with a range of poor people in orphanages, schools, old people’s homes etc. There is an ugly side to this one upmanship. To my surprise we were encouraged by the local organiser to think of ourselves as much more use than we actually were – just because we were European. ‘Voluntourism’ is a heady mix of exotic travel and humanitarianism which has become a highly lucrative part of the tourism industry.
In Kenya I met lots of scruffy ‘travellers’ who made a virtue out of buying absolutely everything as cheaply as possible and scorned any tourist who paid well for the tat sold on the beach. It’s a fine line between getting conned or being disrespectful. In Equador I travelled around with American tourists who always tried to get shots out of the bus window of the most ‘authentic’ i.e. poor people.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Very interesting.

Travel needs to be understood in the context of the culture and history from which it emerges. It’s not hard to see its role in “distinction” (in Bourdieu’s sense). It cannot be taken simply at face value – that is, in terms of its own self-interpretation. Which is what I think this author does.

How about an Unherd article?

Mary Belgrave
Mary Belgrave
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I’m also interested in the anthropology of tourism.
You might want to include the category of volunteers. About ten years ago I went to volunteer for a month at a project in Sri Lanka where the volunteers were proud to rate themselves at the top of the heirarchy of travellers. When asked in cafes where we were from they were at pains to say they were volunteers not ‘tourists’. There was a distinct whiff of privilege because we were working at ground level with a range of poor people in orphanages, schools, old people’s homes etc. There is an ugly side to this one upmanship. To my surprise we were encouraged by the local organiser to think of ourselves as much more use than we actually were – just because we were European. ‘Voluntourism’ is a heady mix of exotic travel and humanitarianism which has become a highly lucrative part of the tourism industry.
In Kenya I met lots of scruffy ‘travellers’ who made a virtue out of buying absolutely everything as cheaply as possible and scorned any tourist who paid well for the tat sold on the beach. It’s a fine line between getting conned or being disrespectful. In Equador I travelled around with American tourists who always tried to get shots out of the bus window of the most ‘authentic’ i.e. poor people.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

As a student of the anthroplogy of travel, I’m writing a book on the hierarchy that structures the human community of people who move around the world for fun. Most readers will be familiar with the distinction between “holidaymaker” and “tourist”; the former buy package deals to go to a resort and occupy sun-loungers and plastic bars, whereas the latter move around a bit more and visit local markets and attractions. Above these are the “travellers”, who have a higher status than the tourists because they can talk about countries they visit, and claim special knowledge of how the people live there. They often pride themselves on physical toughness and know-how regarding the actual plane and bus-rides.
The latest chapter is on a new elite emerging from the “traveller” caste: the so-called “thick traveller”, who looks down on all the others, and has intellectual aspirations.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago

Indigenous peoples, having built their local customs and cultures over centuries (millenia, even) have a strength which a US anthropologist would naturally find attractive. If the US is a country founded upon building itself by welcoming all-comers into the mix, is it really surprising that as civic life almost everywhere becomes increasingly atomised through technology that it should be the first where an unravelling starts to occur?

The superficiality of much of its cultural output has increased during my lifetime; from (to take one medium) brilliantly-scripted, complex films with depth, character, humanity and wisdom to instantly-forgettable special-effects driven (i.e. inhuman) characterless drivel that i find unwatchable.

So, the author cites Chaos, capitalized no less. Humans are driven to find meaning, and the vast majority, not unnaturally, grow up into their indigenous cultural meanings. But where no substantial meaning has taken root, or been undermined by inherent contradictons, the “centre cannot hold”.

I’d argue, however, that we must seek to attain a greater understanding of what Chaos entails, in order to start to rebuild new meaning, where it has been lost. What is it, for instance, within our innermost selves that we fear, to the extent that so many fly towards and cling onto some system of belief or other, to the extent historically of seeking to harm those who don’t adhere to that particular belief system? I’m not an anthropologist, but if i were, that’s what i’d be seeking to explore rather than shying away from it. Having said that, one doesn’t need to consider oneself an Anthropologist in order to do so.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago

Indigenous peoples, having built their local customs and cultures over centuries (millenia, even) have a strength which a US anthropologist would naturally find attractive. If the US is a country founded upon building itself by welcoming all-comers into the mix, is it really surprising that as civic life almost everywhere becomes increasingly atomised through technology that it should be the first where an unravelling starts to occur?

The superficiality of much of its cultural output has increased during my lifetime; from (to take one medium) brilliantly-scripted, complex films with depth, character, humanity and wisdom to instantly-forgettable special-effects driven (i.e. inhuman) characterless drivel that i find unwatchable.

So, the author cites Chaos, capitalized no less. Humans are driven to find meaning, and the vast majority, not unnaturally, grow up into their indigenous cultural meanings. But where no substantial meaning has taken root, or been undermined by inherent contradictons, the “centre cannot hold”.

I’d argue, however, that we must seek to attain a greater understanding of what Chaos entails, in order to start to rebuild new meaning, where it has been lost. What is it, for instance, within our innermost selves that we fear, to the extent that so many fly towards and cling onto some system of belief or other, to the extent historically of seeking to harm those who don’t adhere to that particular belief system? I’m not an anthropologist, but if i were, that’s what i’d be seeking to explore rather than shying away from it. Having said that, one doesn’t need to consider oneself an Anthropologist in order to do so.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Murray
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

Lovely article even if Mr Arnade does come across as a bit holier than thou.
As a dedicated “thick” traveller (according to this writer’s definition) for the last 7 years the experiences that stand out are the random conversations with both fellow thick and thin travellers and more revealingly, locals along with the the quirks of local transport systems (trains, buses, ferries, ox carts).
Personally, I have no idea how you can get to proper grips with a different culture without becoming fluent in the language.
As a personal observation, there does appear to be at least one cross cultural commonality – a wish that your children have a better life than you have had (however you define “better”).

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You could off course devote some time to exhaustive historical research of you intended target.
For example a study of say Brunelleschi’s famous octagonal vault* is very rewarding!

However even if fluent in the local language, you would be unlikely to meet anyone who knew much about it sadly these days*

(*Often incorrectly referred to as a Dome!)

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

I have a dog eared copy of “Brunelleschi’s Cupola: Past and Present of an Architectural Masterpiece ” (G and M Fanelli). It has very good diagrams.
Current interests however, revolve around the hydrology of Angkor and the planning and building of the barays and the associated canals.
and
what China (via Laos) is doing to the Mekong.
So much to see. So much to study. So little time

Last edited 10 months ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

I recall a theory that deforestation caused the barays to become choked with mud, thus destroying the hydro system and eventually the City.

Is there any truth in that?

ps Dr Ross King also wrote a very good little book on B’s. ‘Dome’ a few years ago.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

I recall a theory that deforestation caused the barays to become choked with mud, thus destroying the hydro system and eventually the City.

Is there any truth in that?

ps Dr Ross King also wrote a very good little book on B’s. ‘Dome’ a few years ago.

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

I have a dog eared copy of “Brunelleschi’s Cupola: Past and Present of an Architectural Masterpiece ” (G and M Fanelli). It has very good diagrams.
Current interests however, revolve around the hydrology of Angkor and the planning and building of the barays and the associated canals.
and
what China (via Laos) is doing to the Mekong.
So much to see. So much to study. So little time

Last edited 10 months ago by Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
10 months ago

A common language is essential for obvious reasons. One of my best experiences when travelling in Thailand was talking to an English language student. The students were sent out to a museum to practice English with tourists. She was a very thoughtful person and we chatted for about two hours. She was probably the only Thai person I spoke to who wasn’t directly involved in the tourism industry and getting her view on things was very interesting.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You could off course devote some time to exhaustive historical research of you intended target.
For example a study of say Brunelleschi’s famous octagonal vault* is very rewarding!

However even if fluent in the local language, you would be unlikely to meet anyone who knew much about it sadly these days*

(*Often incorrectly referred to as a Dome!)

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
10 months ago

A common language is essential for obvious reasons. One of my best experiences when travelling in Thailand was talking to an English language student. The students were sent out to a museum to practice English with tourists. She was a very thoughtful person and we chatted for about two hours. She was probably the only Thai person I spoke to who wasn’t directly involved in the tourism industry and getting her view on things was very interesting.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
10 months ago

Lovely article even if Mr Arnade does come across as a bit holier than thou.
As a dedicated “thick” traveller (according to this writer’s definition) for the last 7 years the experiences that stand out are the random conversations with both fellow thick and thin travellers and more revealingly, locals along with the the quirks of local transport systems (trains, buses, ferries, ox carts).
Personally, I have no idea how you can get to proper grips with a different culture without becoming fluent in the language.
As a personal observation, there does appear to be at least one cross cultural commonality – a wish that your children have a better life than you have had (however you define “better”).

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
10 months ago

Understanding a foreign culture takes years of study and experience. No tourist to Tokyo can start to understand the recesses of the Japanese mind, and this applies anywhere. To expect tourism to give you cultural insights is like reading a postcard to understand the Vatican.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
10 months ago

Understanding a foreign culture takes years of study and experience. No tourist to Tokyo can start to understand the recesses of the Japanese mind, and this applies anywhere. To expect tourism to give you cultural insights is like reading a postcard to understand the Vatican.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

The thing about culture is that by definition it is unconscious (or inexplicit if you like) and attached to emotion.

To take a simple example: some cultures have a much stronger sense of what belongs on top, and what belongs below than we do. To the extent that using top sheets and bottom sheets interchangeably on a bed would cause them distress. Few would know why, some would try and rationalise it, but they would still feel uncomfortable.

Obviously a curious traveller or anthropologist could become aware of this – but their experience of it would be superficial, not felt. It would be knowledge from the outside.

They might even adopt the practice, but would do so consciously, not because they really felt it. This is why there is something slightly suspect about people who consciously adopt religions from outside their own culture. The fact that they have consciously chosen renders the choice questionable. It just isn’t rooted.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

The thing about culture is that by definition it is unconscious (or inexplicit if you like) and attached to emotion.

To take a simple example: some cultures have a much stronger sense of what belongs on top, and what belongs below than we do. To the extent that using top sheets and bottom sheets interchangeably on a bed would cause them distress. Few would know why, some would try and rationalise it, but they would still feel uncomfortable.

Obviously a curious traveller or anthropologist could become aware of this – but their experience of it would be superficial, not felt. It would be knowledge from the outside.

They might even adopt the practice, but would do so consciously, not because they really felt it. This is why there is something slightly suspect about people who consciously adopt religions from outside their own culture. The fact that they have consciously chosen renders the choice questionable. It just isn’t rooted.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago

I loved this article. Experience the banal – great advice. That’s very profound, from my experience.

I’d suggest you can do the same in your own (nearby) city. Take the bus to suburbs where you’ve never been. You’ll be thinking about it weeks after.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  James Jenkin

Take the bus to suburbs where you’ve never been. You’ll be thinking about it weeks after.

Especially if you live in Paris.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Maybe! But it works in Melbourne, Beijing and Leeds too

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Maybe! But it works in Melbourne, Beijing and Leeds too

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  James Jenkin

Take the bus to suburbs where you’ve never been. You’ll be thinking about it weeks after.

Especially if you live in Paris.

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
10 months ago

I loved this article. Experience the banal – great advice. That’s very profound, from my experience.

I’d suggest you can do the same in your own (nearby) city. Take the bus to suburbs where you’ve never been. You’ll be thinking about it weeks after.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

In the words of a Cretan curse:

”May your children grow up to be tourists!”

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

In the words of a Cretan curse:

”May your children grow up to be tourists!”

Rohan Moore
Rohan Moore
10 months ago

Looks like you made the same error with Seoul that you made with Taipei. Although the epiphany in Taipei also sounds
 thin.

Rohan Moore
Rohan Moore
10 months ago

Looks like you made the same error with Seoul that you made with Taipei. Although the epiphany in Taipei also sounds
 thin.

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago

This story from 10/12 years ago.
I was travelling by slow bus in Southern India (3 changes of bus) and on the last section there was no seat so I sat on my luggage at the back. I was surrounded by chatty young guys (students) who were happy to converse with an aging English ‘uncle’.
I had a long conversation with one young man who was studying literature. We talked poetry (English romantics, the modernists of the 20s). Not a talk I would have had on public transport back home.
Only when he and his group got off the bus a few stops before my destination did I see, as his friends carried him, that his legs were paralysed. I had until then not noticed and realised that it did not matter.
Travel away from oneself?

michael harris
michael harris
10 months ago

This story from 10/12 years ago.
I was travelling by slow bus in Southern India (3 changes of bus) and on the last section there was no seat so I sat on my luggage at the back. I was surrounded by chatty young guys (students) who were happy to converse with an aging English ‘uncle’.
I had a long conversation with one young man who was studying literature. We talked poetry (English romantics, the modernists of the 20s). Not a talk I would have had on public transport back home.
Only when he and his group got off the bus a few stops before my destination did I see, as his friends carried him, that his legs were paralysed. I had until then not noticed and realised that it did not matter.
Travel away from oneself?

Saul D
Saul D
10 months ago

The problem for a traveller is understanding not just the local heuristics, but also the why of those heuristics and its relationship to history and to place. To give an example, if you walk – literally walk – across a border in Europe in most places an observant walker will see an abrupt cultural jump. House design changes. The church is different. Symbols and signs change. Food and farming practice are different. And this is without mentioning language. Transitions without a border are more subtle – from butter to olive oil. Or within a city where growth, wealth and immigration have left tidemarks if you look. Thin travel is like wearing cultural sunglasses that wash out the subtleties of local hues and shadows.

Saul D
Saul D
10 months ago

The problem for a traveller is understanding not just the local heuristics, but also the why of those heuristics and its relationship to history and to place. To give an example, if you walk – literally walk – across a border in Europe in most places an observant walker will see an abrupt cultural jump. House design changes. The church is different. Symbols and signs change. Food and farming practice are different. And this is without mentioning language. Transitions without a border are more subtle – from butter to olive oil. Or within a city where growth, wealth and immigration have left tidemarks if you look. Thin travel is like wearing cultural sunglasses that wash out the subtleties of local hues and shadows.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
10 months ago

I thought thick travel was two weeks in majorca.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Me too. And to be honest, an article preferring that to pretentious, worthy travel would perhaps have been more entertaining.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

“Thin” travel is 3 weeks 🙂

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Me too. And to be honest, an article preferring that to pretentious, worthy travel would perhaps have been more entertaining.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
10 months ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

“Thin” travel is 3 weeks 🙂

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
10 months ago

I thought thick travel was two weeks in majorca.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago

I’ve never tried to pass as a local; if you don’t speak the language fluently you’re always going to stand out. Anyway, I don’t mind being seen as a visitor, the locals are usually nice and want to engage and will sometime cheerfully tell you a lot about themselves and the town/area you are visiting. One of my habits when I visit a new country is look around the food shops or supermarkets, this gives me a good idea about, at least, the eating habits, although I’ve never yet worked out what one does with marshmallow sauce which seemed to be ubiquitous in US supermarkets.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago

I’ve never tried to pass as a local; if you don’t speak the language fluently you’re always going to stand out. Anyway, I don’t mind being seen as a visitor, the locals are usually nice and want to engage and will sometime cheerfully tell you a lot about themselves and the town/area you are visiting. One of my habits when I visit a new country is look around the food shops or supermarkets, this gives me a good idea about, at least, the eating habits, although I’ve never yet worked out what one does with marshmallow sauce which seemed to be ubiquitous in US supermarkets.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Strange, no mention of family.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
10 months ago

When Mr. Arnade was working his book, Dignity:
https://www.amazon.com/Dignity-Seeking-Respect-Back-America/dp/0525534733
… he had a family, but they seem to be gone from his life now.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago

One of his thin experiences?

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
10 months ago

When Mr. Arnade was working his book, Dignity:
https://www.amazon.com/Dignity-Seeking-Respect-Back-America/dp/0525534733
… he had a family, but they seem to be gone from his life now.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
10 months ago

One of his thin experiences?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Strange, no mention of family.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

“What anthropologists seek is not that different from what most people say they want to get out of travel: an understanding of a place.”
Not particularly. I generally want sunshine, a couple of nice bars, and maybe a museum or two in case I feel like getting away from the beach.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

“What anthropologists seek is not that different from what most people say they want to get out of travel: an understanding of a place.”
Not particularly. I generally want sunshine, a couple of nice bars, and maybe a museum or two in case I feel like getting away from the beach.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
10 months ago

We aren’t allowed to retain our cultures in the west. Our elites all but forbid them in the US.
Equal justice, under the rule of law. Civil rights and liberties. Common law. Private property. A belief in mainline Christianity, nuclear families, private property, and self sufficiency. Privacy. Self betterment.
These things were all at one time integral components of Anglo-American culture. Starting in about the mid to late 1960s, they declined in popularity, and are in danger of vanishing.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
10 months ago

We aren’t allowed to retain our cultures in the west. Our elites all but forbid them in the US.
Equal justice, under the rule of law. Civil rights and liberties. Common law. Private property. A belief in mainline Christianity, nuclear families, private property, and self sufficiency. Privacy. Self betterment.
These things were all at one time integral components of Anglo-American culture. Starting in about the mid to late 1960s, they declined in popularity, and are in danger of vanishing.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
10 months ago

I understand this distinction. I travel a lot, mostly just to see the world these days, but I have lived in the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. Everyday life in a country can be so different from the performances we show visitors.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
10 months ago

I understand this distinction. I travel a lot, mostly just to see the world these days, but I have lived in the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. Everyday life in a country can be so different from the performances we show visitors.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
10 months ago

‘. . . Clifford Geertz writes that a human being is imbued at birth with “the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life” but generally ends up “having lived only one”.’ Heidegger concurred (more concisely): “Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.” To an anthropologist, we could any of us have been socialized successfully into any tribe. To the historian, most people who have ever lived on earth were born, and died, as their own grandfather. Only with urbanization and modernization does Heidegger’s claim become true. Just think of all the many people you chose not to become!

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
10 months ago

‘. . . Clifford Geertz writes that a human being is imbued at birth with “the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life” but generally ends up “having lived only one”.’ Heidegger concurred (more concisely): “Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.” To an anthropologist, we could any of us have been socialized successfully into any tribe. To the historian, most people who have ever lived on earth were born, and died, as their own grandfather. Only with urbanization and modernization does Heidegger’s claim become true. Just think of all the many people you chose not to become!

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
10 months ago

Mr. Arnade is an engaging writer, but I’ll stay at home, thanks. I have obligations here that preclude going around the world by any transportation mechanism.
You can learn about different ways of life by getting to know your neighbors, too, especially if you live somewhere with a large and varied immigrant population. Has Mr. Arnade walked around Eritrea? Eritreans live on my street and go to my church.

Last edited 10 months ago by Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
10 months ago

Mr. Arnade is an engaging writer, but I’ll stay at home, thanks. I have obligations here that preclude going around the world by any transportation mechanism.
You can learn about different ways of life by getting to know your neighbors, too, especially if you live somewhere with a large and varied immigrant population. Has Mr. Arnade walked around Eritrea? Eritreans live on my street and go to my church.

Last edited 10 months ago by Cynthia W.
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

“Travellers” are wankers. I prefer being with tourists.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Akin to vegans abroad perhaps 🙂

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Barton
philip kern
philip kern
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I can’t tell which are which.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Akin to vegans abroad perhaps 🙂

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Barton
philip kern
philip kern
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I can’t tell which are which.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

“Travellers” are wankers. I prefer being with tourists.