I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I’m a westerner. I’m used to living in the sometimes confusing world of consumerism, capitalism and all the traits and norms that come from living in this type of culture.
Living in a western culture, it’s easy to forget about the completely different and mind boggling cultures that exist outside our bubble. There are so many awesome countries out there begging to be explored with varying traditions and norms.
I’ve been lucky to travel in western counties like the USA and Western Europe and also non-western counties such as Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Eastern Europe. I’ve had fun travelling around them all but I feel non-western countries are more beneficial, good for your heart and all that jazz. Here’s why you should pack your suitcase, and your medical insurance, head out of the familiar western world and dive head first into uncharted waters.
‘Let’s fit as many things onto a moped as possible’ is one of my favourite examples of this. I’ve literally seen a whole family – mum, dad, two kids and a ruddy dog – on a moped in Vietnam. Others carry paintings, construction materials – you name it. Laws are just a little bit relaxed, or completely ignored in some countries, and that provides muchos fun.
There’s also a culture of ‘If it works, why change it’. Airline and van seats in a rickety wooden barge that travels up the Mekong between Thailand and Laos for instance.
Let’s be honest Western counties are bloody expensive. Travel around non-western counties and most of the time it’s cheap and you feel like a king (or queen for you sisters). Being able to not worry about money so much enables you to have a bit more freedom. It may allow you to stay in a swanky hotel for a couple of nights, eat out most nights or take an extreme sports trip that you might not of afforded back home in Westonia. Treat yo self.
You learn about another culture, it’s traditions and norms. You learn about another way of life. You learn that your way of life is not the only way and people live out their days in a completely different way and it still works. Sure you’re not used to it and may question it, but you know it exists and you’ve experienced it. Travel is fatal to prejudices.
Outside You’re Comfort Zone
You’re in a country which you have absolutely no idea how it works. There are different customs, different languages, different rules, different money, different everything.
Being in a different culture you’re going to be thrown into situations you’re not used to. You have to think quick and act on your feet. You learn and grow a lot in these situations. Non-western countries are going to throw up a variety of these situations. Embrace them.
Still Good Transport Links
When I was travelling around SE Asia for two months there were so many places I wanted to go and visit. Before I left home I looked at these places on the map and some were miles away from literally anything. To say the least I was dubious whether I could complete it all. Despite my worries I did compete it all – and it was a doddle. Across these counties there is a haphazard assemblage of different modes of transport and operators, most of the time it works, and very well. You can get to where you want to go quickly and cheaply if you put in a bit of planning. I think you can turn up to most places and mention to your hostel/hotel another area nearby and they will know about a scheduled-ish service to there.
So there you go, 5 solid reasons to visit a non-western country. There’s way more than these 5 examples but i’ll let you figure them out on your now inevitable trip outside of Westonia.
As Shia Labeouf once said;
JUST DOO IT!
Contributor: Michael Gregory
Michael is a 24 year old swim teacher and coach from London. With a serious case of the travel bug and a fundamental dislike for the ordinary, he loves to explore cultures that challenge what he is used to and adventures that will “blow his mind”. Michael enjoys sharing his adventures, tips and of course some humor with the wandering community. Read more of Michael’s unique take on travel at miketreks.com