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"If you travel, it must be to seek difference."

My wife and I have just returned from a trip to China and Tibet. After 18 Untours it was quite unique to be on a tour. The title of this blog is a quote from a book titled Travelers' Tales China True Stories. When we have returned from all of the untours and the recent trip it is common to have friends ask, "Why do you go to these far away places?". I now feel that I have a very good answer- "I seek difference". All of the staff at Idyll and our recent tour leader in China and Tibet have stressed this concept.

Does anyone share this "feeling"?

Thanks, Steve Savel

Views: 54

Comment by Bill Kover on October 9, 2007 at 5:01pm
In the U.S.A. with all our idividual freedom and rights, we are all in one big rut. Even going to Canada, I can see this. I'm beginning to feel that the American public is being led around by the nose. Look at the shows on TV : games shows or reality shows. Look at radio : talk shows or rap music (I call it talking to the beat of a drum). How about the grocery stores? I didn't realize how restricted we are in product selection until I go to Canada or overseas. The manufacturers are dictating to us what we must buy. Remember platform shoes or bell bottoms pants? I didn't like either! But that's all that was available at the stores. I get so tired of the news programs here that I will switch to BBC news just to get a refreshing different viewpoint of what news really is. I need to get out of this country every once in a while just to experience a different way a culture sees things. So to me, traveling is more than sightseeing. It's finding something different in this world and refreshing my soul with experiences that open up my eyes to things other than what the "powers to be" dictate that I experience. Whew! I feel better now that I vented my feelings.
Comment by Marilee Taussig on October 10, 2007 at 10:05am
Steve, thanks for posting this thoughtful question.

It makes me think. Do I travel to seek true difference, or for pleasure...since they are often not the same thing. I am sure I do a bit of both. But the fact that I return again and again to Paris and Switzerland, and tremble a bit at the idea of China and Tibet makes me doubt my ability to handle difference head on.

I am curious as to what others think. For me there is a wonderfully enjoyable spot somewhere between " stuck in a rut" and "overwhelmed" that Europen travel can usually trigger.
Comment by Vance Roy on October 10, 2007 at 1:01pm
Travel here in Europe or elsewhere such as Asia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, etc. lets us experience "differences", as well as pleasure for the most part. Travel does, as the saying goes, "broaden one's horizons". That first happened to me when I went from Tennessee to Massachusetts, so it can happen without crossing a national border. In other countries, one realizes that people are a lot alike in some aspects while being very different in others. That in itself is self-education. I find attitudes in the USA to be somewhat pseudo-puritanical at times. In Europe, there can be a lot of openess that one sees in many ways unlike that at "home". An example is evident now in CH where they have decided to allow stores to stay open on Sundays four times a year. A lot of people welcome that but some do not. Those opposed feel that workers should have a day of rest (no religion enters into this). With the 24/7 mentality of the USA, that may be hard to understand, but cultural differences are at play even with this.

A man once told me that the settlers of North America were not the cream of the crop who left Europe but were those who had to leave for one reason or another. It is self evident that somewhere along the way, a lot of cream did rise, and we all enjoy that now as American citizens. Nonetheless, travel makes us see different aspects of things that we consider universal. To me those are "the differences", and we learn from them (hopefully).
Comment by Mitch Baltuch on October 11, 2007 at 9:04am
When my wife and I first went to Europe it was different, but the same. We had a great time and have returned to Europe and will do so in the future.

However, my first trip to China was incredible. It is not that the people are different (they really aren't), but the language, the lack of chain box stores (McDonalds and KFC aside) and just the completely different mindset truly marked this as a different culture.

I have now gone to China 12 times and while it has largely become routine, the differences are still striking. For all that, however, the people have the same wants, needs and dreams that we all have. Bottom line is that no matter how different it all may appear, beneath the surface we are all alike.
Comment by Mitch Baltuch on October 11, 2007 at 9:04am
When my wife and I first went to Europe it was different, but the same. We had a great time and have returned to Europe and will do so in the future.

However, my first trip to China was incredible. It is not that the people are different (they really aren't), but the language, the lack of chain box stores (McDonalds and KFC aside) and just the completely different mindset truly marked this as a different culture.

I have now gone to China 12 times and while it has largely become routine, the differences are still striking. For all that, however, the people have the same wants, needs and dreams that we all have. Bottom line is that no matter how different it all may appear, beneath the surface we are all alike.
Comment by Laurel Brown on December 5, 2008 at 9:47am
I, too, seek differences, to ultimately experience the magnificence of this earthly orb and the common ground its inhabitants share. I want to see other ways people have devised for getting through this life -- all the alternate paths that work just as well (or maybe better) than the one I'm on. It gives me hope . . .
Comment by Marilee Taussig on December 5, 2008 at 9:51am
Beautiul though Laurel!

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