I’m always interested in conversing about traveling to anyone. One time, I was talking with a friend about it. She was just got back from her trip to Vietnam, where she spent a good ten days going around the country.
I was ready to talk about Pham Ngu Lao area in Ho Chi Minh city, about side trip to Hoi An or Nha Trang, about the expensive train tickets to foreigner, the infamous Cu Chi tunnels, and so on. Rather, she talked was about her Park Hyatt hotel in Ho Chi Minh city, how she got a great deal in Tràng Tiền Plaza in Hanoi, and about the fine dining in Hanoi that served Vietnamese foods on so many little plates.
I could hear and I did listen to her telling her stories, while in the same time I thought about how different our experience was about the place. I’m sure the memories that stays are both a good ones… I realize then that if we merely a tourist/traveler that only spends a few days, it is possible to have a very different experience even when you’re visiting a same place.
She won’t understand the craziness of Old Quarter area in Hanoi and how I felt about the crowded foreigners and locals alike in a drunk and loud night. I won’t understand the hospitality of Vietnamese people like she did, because all I remember was a Xe Om (motor taxi) driver that I’m sure was robbing me by charging that much money for just a short ride. Although I met with great people along the road, both Vietnamese and foreigners, while in a train on the way to Nha Trang. She experienced the best foods of Hanoi while I tried various street food stalls, relying (and hoping) on my strong stomach.
Neither is right or wrong; it’s merely a choice of experience. If you ask me about Bali island in Indonesia, all I can tell you is a nice villa and great white beaches and great Balinese food… Because that’s what I choose to experience in Bali. To travel usually is to spend a lot of money, but in reality it’s depend on how you’d like to experience the place in your trip. Sure it’s always nice to stay in a luxury resort and to eat the best food in the best restaurant, but it’s also nice to got lost while trying to go to some place by public bus, with a backpack on your back and counting on your instinct and guts to decide things. Because sometimes, a miracle would be found when you’re lost.