Voor Wandertale, een nieuwe dienst waar je blogs inspreekt en je familie/vrienden thuis kunnen luisteren, schreef ik een Engelstalige blog waarom ik van reizen hou. Uiteindelijk werd besloten toch geen blogs op hun site te plaatsen, dus hierbij alleen voor jullie:
Travelling is an addiction for us people. Why do we love it so much? Sometimes the best things are hard to explain. You can’t always catch them in a photo or through a blog. The best things are the smaller things you can’t show someone. I will try to tell you why I love traveling by telling you why I love Sri Lanka.
You arrive on the airport and the first thing you notice when you step outside is the heat and the humidity. It sticks on your body like waterproof sunscreen: no way to get rid of it. The second thing I always notice are the colors. As a photographer I might look at things in another way, but have you ever noticed that every country has its own white balance? So amazing! Sri Lanka is more yellow, like the sand on the beach in Negombo where I always spent my first night. It makes the photos later so much more meaningful. Even if you just click away with your phone, at home you would need a filter to create the same amazing effect.
Sri Lanka has had a lot of horrible things happen to them, among which a civil war that lasted 26 years and a brutal tsunami. They also don’t have social security and not everybody has enough money for all the basic needs. But the people are amazingly happy. All the kids wave at you when you pass by and the grown-ups are sincerely friendly and interested.
They also have a great attitude we Western people could really learn from: “Everybody can work!” You don’t have a job? Sell some drinks on the street! You are having a hard time? Your friends or neighbors will help your family out! Villages still rally together to help each other, kids still take in their elderly parents and everybody knows each other.
It is amazing that people can still be so different in this digital age. They all have an antenna for TV, they all carry smart phones, so they get to see a lot of the same programs and music, and experience a lot of things the same way. The differences in their life, culture and attitude however are huge.
As in other countries that have a very laidback atmosphere, you will have to change your hurrying attitude. Otherwise you will be cranky all trip long! Their idea of starting a business can be very different to ours. Of course, you will have big chains and fancy restaurants with lots of capital behind them, but there are also a lot of small cafes and restaurants that just started with nothing.
You might find yourself ordering an egg with ham and cheese and wait for 50 minutes while having no clue why. Yes, you will probably get annoyed and angry. But the reason is beautiful: it costs a lot of money to be ready for every order. They don’t have this money, so they will get ready as soon as you order: oh, we don’t have eggs, the assistant will run to the store/farm to get some eggs. Meanwhile the ham and cheese is still in the fridge on the other side of the building and still needs to be cut. This approach sounds crazy to us, but it is a great way to start a company without having to throw away a lot of money.
Tip: when traveling with a group, order ahead. Otherwise you will wait for hours…
I have been to two Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, one of them called the Perahera, the biggest Buddhist festival in SE Asia. Both times I was just in awe. The people will drive for days to the other end of the country. They cook on the side of the road and wash themselves in a waterfall. It looked like great fun.
Once arrived at the festival, they will find a spot on the road where the parade will be and they will wait for hours. They just sit quietly and wait peacefully. When the parade starts, there is no pushing or pulling to have a better view. The parade takes hours, every day it adds a half hour to it. At the end of the festival period it lasts up to 5 to hours. The people will still be sitting patiently, even though they must be feeling sore by now. The attitude of the people is just as amazing as the festival itself!
And before or after the parade you can easily walk around and meet the stars of the parade: the dancers and the elephants! No security, no expensive tickets needed. Just walk around, take photos, soak in the exciting atmosphere and talk to the people in the parade. Can you imagine the biggest festival in your country having no security for their biggest stars? Would you drive for days and then willingly sit on a dirty street corner for eight hours just to be there?
This is what makes traveling so great. The changes, the differences, the things that will make you think and wonder. That is what makes traveling so addicting. Every country looks and smells different, every person is different. This is why I love it. It makes you question the life we are leading in the western world, it makes you appreciate the normal things we take for granted. We can start our life over every time when we return home. We will have new resolutions: to take it easy, enjoy more and not stress out. Time and time again we won’t be able to keep those resolutions, so that means it is time to go again!