Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Tourist in Your Own Town?

As some, if not many of our readers might know, I am living in Seoul, South Korea as an expat. I have been living here for almost 10 years now. In all that time, I have traveled to 15 countries, most of them in the Asia-Pacific region. Do you like to travel as well? There is nothing more exciting that planning and then traveling to an exotic destination you have been thinking about and saving all year round. One of the things I always make sure to do is to pack a Lonely Planet book for the country I will travel to.

Lonely Planet Guides are a series of books that are chock-full of information that you will need if you are traveling to a particular country. For almost every country that is open to tourism, there exists a Lonely Planet to help guide you. There are even Lonely Planet Books for provinces, regions, individual states and even large cities might have so much to do and see that they might merit their own Lonely Planet publication. There are also some foreign language phrasebooks they also publish, but that's another story. Some of the things covered are:

1.) What to eat
2.) What to see
3.) What to do
4.) What NOT to do
5.) Where to go
6.) How to get there
7.) Phones, e-mails, and websites for more information

If this blog post is about foreign travel, then what's up with the title? I'm getting there. It has been standard procedure for me every time I travel; in fact, my shelf has a lot of Lonely Planets I have accumulated over the years. In all my travels, I happened to meet this lady who is now my wife. Before that latter part happened though, my parents wanted to meet this lady. So, I prepared to travel back home to Southern California to have her meet my parents.

So, we end up traveling home temporarily for my parents to get to know my girlfriend whom I met overseas. Eventually, a very important question came up: what is there to do around here? It then hit me: I had no idea what to do. As far as I was concerned, my idea of fun was to visit friends, watch cable TV, talk, play video games and maybe go to the local burger place. When my wife (girlfriend at the time) asked me what there was to do for fun I instantly thought: okay, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, and so on. In other words, places that I had no reason to really visit much.

I bought a Lonely Planet Southwest USA book and I found plenty of things to do. For example, I have never actually explored Hollywood in my entire life, because I had no reason to go there, but with my special guest by my side, now I had a reason to. But as I finally went there, I was alongside throngs of foreign tourists from Italy, Germany, Japan, and many others. I felt a bit sheepish, because everything there was new and exciting to me as it was to them, the only difference was that this was MY hometown area, yet here I was—a rookie tourist in my own hometown. To make a long story short, I had a very memorable time—in my own neck of the woods as a “newbie” tourist.

In sum, when you think you know your area very well, ask yourself: do you? I highly recommend giving yourself a chance to really take a break from the everyday stresses of life as soon as you get the chance. If you don’t have a whole lot of time or money to escape to a faraway exotic destination, give your neck of the woods a chance; you never know what ‘brand-new’ things have been right under your nose all these years. Stop by the library and take a look at the Lonely Planet books on the shelves for ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Lonely Planet books are a great resource.
    They offer a very different slant to what you usually encounter in the traditional travel book selection.