Getting lost in a strange city. It has happened to me many times. I often try to walk around, instead of using public transportation. I do this with the purpose of getting to know the city. Getting lost has many benefits. The next time I have a bigger chance of knowing the way.
I strolled for hours and hours true large city’s like London, Tokyo and Bangkok. There is always this urge to put my feed to work, and just start walking and walking, in no particular direction. Getting sucked up by a strange city is a fun and adventures experience. The reward is often satisfying. When you step off the beaten tourist path, you suddenly enter the world of the locals.
Stepping into a side alley
Many main roads are crowded with tourists. Those places are often busy, loud and dirty. They give me the feeling that I could be anywhere in the world. Prostitutes, taxi drivers and street vendors, all try their best to annoy me as much as possible.
It all changes when I decide to walk into a side alley. Suddenly everything seems to calm down. Often I end up being the only foreigner in the street. I like strolling true local markets, living area’s, hidden temples and small parks. Sometimes these places are situated nearby main tourist roads. But not so many tourists notice or enter them. Sometimes it looks like the locals are hidden away from the main (tourist) crowd. And I am happy about that. The most precious gems are hidden away. Protected from a crowd who can steel it’s identity.
All cities have their own vibe and local surprises. Bangkok, for example, is an amazing place to go strolling true local food markets. A real food adventure, full of amazing smells, colors, sights and sounds. I like to wake up early and walk around, while the markets are just starting up. It is an amazing food experience, seeing all those exotic products being stacked up in huge piles. However, In the early morning, most of the food still needs to be killed. I often find myself surrounded by buckets and buckets of fish, little turtles, and frogs. Thousands of little eyes looking at me with the expression of help me please.
Then there are the mazes of local neighborhoods. Walking true small streets, where the locals live, I often feel like an exotic product myself. Especially when I am the only foreigner. Or farrang as the Thai like to say. Surprisingly, the locals mostly leave me alone. They are busy doing there own thing and are not pushy trying to sell me something. Something which happens so often at famous touristic areas. Most of the time the locals only tap each other on the shoulder and say ‘hey foreigner’, and that’s it.
I enjoy seeing the Thai local families, living their normal daily lives. It is nice to see the families joining together at big tables, full of food. The little children are running around. Music is being played. The dogs stroll around looking for food. Mamma is cooking, surrounded by pots and pans. The people are smiling, and enjoying each others company. Often you get a warm smile as well. They seem to appreciate it, when you take the interest to really dive into their culture.
It is a much better sight then having to scroll true groups of drunk and half naked tourists, which at their terms are strolling true groups of drugged and half naked prostitutes. An uncomfortable mix of bad and bad. But you can make it all disappear, by stepping into a side alley, with the intention of getting lost.
Then I walk further into that maze of small streets, and suddenly a beautiful hidden temple pops up. Hidden from the tourist crowds, these temples feel much more authentic. They are as beautiful as the big and famous temples, but I often have them for myself. Thank god for the main tourist areas. They suck up the big crowds and create some calm spaces, which I can explore alone. Going completely local and lost. I would not like it any other way.
Did you ever got lost in a big city and had an amazing time by just wandering around, enjoying the scenery? Which city do you like to explore the most? Leave your interesting responses in the comments section below.