From my last installment of advice to the traveler looking to go beyond the tourist attractions, I suggested to start by not going to tourist attractions. Obvious, but true. I remember that great lemon gelato at that little out of the way place much better than the Colosseum.
So let’s continue.
Sit in a cafe
Not just in any cafe, a cafe in a random neighborhood away from tourists. This might take a little work walking around and risk feeling a bit out of place. However, it is all worth it. My two favorite moments in Malaysia, as example, was accomplished by doing exactly this. In the one town on Radang Island, away from the beautiful resorts, I simply sat down at the village cafe and ordered some unusual baked good and waited. It only took a moment for a the local kids to try out their English, “Hello mister” and giggle amongst themselves and their parents to ask questions about my home.
A week later, I found myself in Terenganu talking politics, religion and US foreign policy with a group of local men after purposefully getting lost in a local neighborhood before finding a the sanctuary of a cafe and the warmth of a Malaysian tea. For the record the conversation never got heated, although with the topics I listed here, I am sure many would cringe at the prospect. It was a good opportunity to understand a little more about where I was staying in the comfortable surrounding of the local’s home. All this just from sitting down by myself.
To catch up on the first installment. More in a few days