HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why travel?

I'm a strong believer in the philosophy that travel is good for people. It opens your eyes and shows you that the world is different from the one you see on the news or read about through Facebook statuses. Countries and people are often simplified and broken down into their lowest common denominator when portrayed in the media. Stereotypes become easy to believe, and national names are used to project the supposed sentiments of millions of people. Example: "Iran hates America." Iran has a population of 75 million. It's unlikely they all hate America.

Traveling, especially abroad, helps destroy personal stereotypes and shows that many people around the world are just like you. Imagine how much of the idiotic racism and bigotry you hear so often would be eliminated if people simply visited the places they rant about and talked to the people living there. They would learn that not all French people are snobby assholes, not all Brits talk like the queen, not all Muslims are fanatics, not all Canadians say 'eh' before and after every sentence, not all Chinese are Communist robots, etc. Cultural misunderstandings become less of an issue. If every person in the world visited at least one other country, this would be a much better place.

This past Monday the final episode of "No Reservations," one of the best shows on TV, aired. Hosted by Anthony Bourdain, whose writing I love and whose intrepid traveling I try to emulate, this show provided the most honest and insightful looks at countries I've ever seen. It was educational, informative, and hilarious. Bourdain's unique mix of snark and thoughtfulness is something I strive for in my travel writing, and his closing quote for the series perfectly illustrates what I think about seeing the world: "If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food, it's a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move."

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