off the beaten path

one of the best parts of travelling is being able to get off the beaten path – unfortunately that’s often more difficult to do than you might think. first, there’s the reality that the beaten path is popular for a reason – it’s usually where all the best sights and activities are to be found, and then services necessarily spring up around it. getting off the beaten path can be really hard going as a foreigner – outside the main cities there’s usally very little in the way of spoken or written english, the prices are automatically inflated, and transportation is not readily available. that’s not to say these things are insurmountable, but they are definite obstacles – and doing “hard core” travelling all the time is draining. being off the beaten path can be isolating – being the only foreigner for miles around makes you both a target and a walking curiousity. finally, getting off the beaten path can lead to exploitation – there is now a whole market springing up around “treks” to visit remote hillside tribes, and it’s a bit like gawking at animals in the zoo. what you experience is not authentic because the very nature of observation changes the behaviour being observed – tribes now rely on tourist dollars for their survival, while at the same time their customs are watered down and corrupted for western consumption. (j and i have decided *not* to take part in trekking for these reasons.)

still, there are times when you get a glimpse of what people’s lives are really like, and we got to see some of that on the motorbike tour we took of hue, where we were able to cut through the countryside and see how villagers live; to witness the daily rituals of real monks at their midday meal offering prayers and meditating; to see farmers and fishermen at work. as brief as it was, it was truly unique to know that none of this was being put on for our benefit – which made it all the more beautiful.

more photos from our journey here.

2 Responses to “off the beaten path”

  1. Denny
    June 24th, 2006 22:35

    Hi Jen

    I was just reading your “Confessions of a Sugar Addict” and it just sounds toooo familiar! Making excuses to dash out from work, filling the wastepaper basket up with wrappers, needing more, and more, and more…and crashing.

    I’m in a group with a couple of others trying to conquer those sugar demons…


    Anyway like I said it was so good to read your story because I related to everything you said.


  2. Jen
    June 25th, 2006 04:51

    thanks for reading, and good luck with the battle!

    solidarity in the struggle,

  • Photos