Friday, January 14, 2011

People are unreliable

Contrary to the sort of lies I write for a living, most local people don't make good travel guides. Okay, maybe they can introduce you to some lesser-known experiences and good places to eat that you might otherwise have missed, but you'd probably get there on your own eventually - as long as you're paying attention. And isn't that more satisfying?

Being 'local' is only a temporary virtue and you can't expect to coast on it for very long - especially in modern cities, most of which really aren't difficult for non-locals to understand (even if you can't speak the language). Look at all the idiots who get by just fine.

It might not take long before you understand the city better than your self-appointed guide does, because you're paying more attention to the nuances of the place and how it all fits together than someone who's lived there for longer and hasn't ever bothered to think about these things. Besides, who wants to depend on someone else's rubbish tastes and erratic schedule when you each have your own lives to be getting on with?

If you've ever spent any time in London (or any other city with a subway system), there are no excuses for being perplexed by the Taipei MRT

This isn't a criticism of peoples' incompetence, which is fair enough, but rather the arrogance of appointing yourself a local travel guide. I wouldn't elect myself tour guide for visitors to my home town (even if I had a home town), because - like many people - I didn't bother to travel much when I lived somewhere full-time. I don't know what other people want to see and do - the lazy 王八羔子 should sort themselves out.

When I lived in Scotland, I never went to the Highlands or camped out at Loch Ness - partly because I made the mistake of relying on people who said they were going to organise these very things, and never did. I was a lazy 王八旦 who should have sorted himself out. I'm looking forward to visiting the UK in a few years' time as a tourist and treating it the same as I did Egypt, leaving no ancient stone unturned.

UK: Where the daemons dwell

But even on these rare occasions that I do have plans, they don't depend on other characters playing their poorly choreographed parts. They have their own lives, and should have the freedom to have mood swings or last-minute changes of heart and abandon trip whenever they feel like it.

We are unreliable. Learn this before you find yourself at an airport, clutching an expensive ticket and keeping a quivering, sweat-stung eye on the ticking clock, waiting for someone who woke up late to make an unrealistic appearance. It's not their fault they're useless - be satisfied that you got yourself organised at least, and make the trip yourself. They'd only hold you back.

Travelling alone is the only way to go. It must be really annoying travelling with someone long-term, so unless you're the sort of chronic extrovert who requires social validation to top up your dopamine levels, I wouldn't advise it. I like people a lot, but we need to give each other the freedom to be unpredictable and completely useless without anyone getting disappointed.

But don't listen to me, what do I know? Make your own blimmin' mistakes and SODDING PAY ATTENTION.

1 comment:

  1. I probably need to clarify that this wasn't written in anger or actually directed at anyone in particular - mostly just disappointment in myself for not putting in the effort sometimes! (And remembering how rewarding it is to do things yourself).