There is something comforting about being with fellow foreigners in distant places and discovering new things.
For most travellers, there comes a point where you make the transition from tourist to traveller.
I grew tired of the constant onslaught of curios and tour package harassment. I wanted more than the typical Instagram photos and snaps of places overrun with tour groups. There is nothing wrong with a packaged tour, guide book or tourist guide. In fact, many people prefer to travel this way, as it takes the hassle out of planning the cumbersome details of where to stay and how to get around.
With low-cost airlines and easy access to travel information (thanks Lonely Planet), there are few places in the world that remain undiscovered.
These are some that I’ve had the pleasure of discovering:
Upon landing in Myanmar and seeing guys wearing skirts called longyis, I chuckled. This was not Scotland, after all, so it was the last thing I expected. Many women I saw also apply thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark, to their faces as protection from the sun. When the first local gave a toothy grin at me, I was shocked to see red-stained teeth and gums.
Later, I discovered that chewing beetle nut or Paan was popular in the country – along with the red marks everywhere from spitting the stuff out.
In the capital Yangon, I visited the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, a towering Buddhist shrine that looks like a giant golden Hershey’s kiss with a giant diamond on top. At least that’s what they said.
The country being so poor, I thought bus rides would be a nightmare. To my surprise, when I ventured to Inle Lake, I was greeted by a luxury bus with air-con so strong it felt like the arctic tundra.
In Inle, I saw the balancing act of fishermen as they hang precariously with their nets on the edge of their boats and row using one leg, while balancing on the other.
When boarding a train I was taken aback when a local old man made a kissing gesture with his lips while looking at me. That’s how people get each other’s attention in Myanmar.
I fell in love with the melting pot of ethnicities and Creole culture.
On a drive, I discovered the whole country could be covered in a matter of hours.
Reunion has some of the most beautiful hikes and natural beauty I’ve ever seen. It also houses a volcano with vast spreads of volcanic territory that feels like you’re walking on a different planet.
I did a three-day hike in Mafate, a beautiful volcanic-like crater with no roads, and swam in waterfalls with the bluest water.
I shopped for curios at various markets and enjoyed rum made from sugar cane.
I munched on freshly made French baguettes, stuffed with french fries, and packed on the pounds from their good cuisine and fresh fruits.
What these places have in common is they are untouched by the idea of tourist prices.