Floating Flowers Magazine

just some words about cultural tourism

Watch the rocks – and the cows!

“Stop the car!” The few words that I shouted when I saw this traffic sign in Indonesia. It was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen, so that had to be caught on camera. Later on, I realized that it also has a significant cultural and environmental value: such a sign tells you a lot about how a society has to deal with its surroundings. In this case, there won’t only be rocks falling down, but there is a possibility of an animal landing on your head as well.

Keep an Eye on the Traffic Sign!

You will notice that you will be more attentive to traffic signs when you are the one behind the steering wheel. Of course, any one wants to avoid ending up with a police officer.

I’ve found myself on various modes of transportation, traveling through wilderness, small villages, and big cities. All these places need different considerations when talking about the way in which you will be going from A to B. As a cultural tourist, you have two options: either choose something that is used by the local community or something that is good for the environment. The best thing would be combining these two into one big, cultural-eco-travel experience. Tricky… it might be an animal, a bicycle or your feet – anything as long as the local community is using it as well.

Just taking the cultural traveler path, you could be guided by the local community and hope that their modes of transportation won’t damage the environment. Besides, you might share transportation. Though, avoid ending up in expensive touring car busses or any vehicle that transports loads of tourists at once. Certainly this will harm the environment and infrastructure, and it will definitely not show you what you’re looking for: an authentic off-road experience. Furthermore you should never forget human’s basic transporters: FEET!

Without a doubt my favorite mode of transportation as a cultural tourist is a motorcycle. Many famous cultural tourism destinations are located in marginal regions or regions that are considered by official indices as (semi-)

Perfect example of eco and cultural traveling!

Perfect example of eco and cultural traveling!

‘third-world countries’, where motorcycles have (partly) replaced animals and bicycles. Often, the tourism industry provides economical growth, which results in more money that is available to spend on modes of transportation for the country’s population. As an eco-conscious traveler I definitely prefer to travel by bicycle or by foot, or any kind of animal that the local communities use for transportation. I am a huge fan of horses!

Either way, when choosing your mode of transportation, you should definitely consider the following Three Destination Transportation D’s:

 

  • Daily Travel Time – for how long will you be traveling every day? You don’t want to find yourself walking for three hours everyday, when you could easily travel from A to B in half an hour or less on an engine-based-vehicle.
  •  Difficulty of Roads – are there paved roads, what does the infrastructure look like? Take into account it might be very difficult traveling by car if you’re in the middle of the jungle. On the other hand, you don’t want to be found at a national highway riding your camel.
  • Distance – what is the length that you will be traveling? Will you need your transportation to travel short or long distances?

Besides, there is one thing that you should always keep in mind: Safety. Just ask yourself this simple question (and don’t let the adventurous traveler take over!) and be honest to your body and soul: Can I Do This? Am I able to ride this whatever-mode-of-transportation? Basically, if the answer to this question is “No” and you have no time to learn this skill at your destination, then don’t do it. Choose any other way that will help you travel from A to B.

Safety first!

I never got on the back of a motorcycle without using a helmet, even though everyone told me getting on without one was ‘completely safe and legal’. Another time, a young gentleman offered me a ride home while it was pouring rain. Since there was no other way for me to arrive back at the place where I was staying, I accepted. Luckily, I had driven the way for many times already and knew that this guy wasn’t taking me into the right direction. Overwhelmed with fear I insisted that he should stop, and I remember that I planned how to jump off and run into the bushes. Luckily, I figured a way to let him stop and to convince him that I really didn’t need his help anymore. Although my heart was beating at the speed of a hummingbird’s heart, I felt relieved not being at the back of his motorcycle anymore. Now, I had to figure out how to get home. Destiny made me coincide with some friends of a friend I had made during my stay, and I knew that I could trust them. They drove me home and I’d never been so thankful to be able to greet my humble home in the tropics. From that moment onwards, I promised myself to be in charge of my modes of transportation, either way by learning a new skill or by getting

Sharing a local mode of transportation in Indonesia

Sharing a local mode of transportation in Indonesia

more involved in local community life. In order to keep doing this in a way that is as authentic as possible, the only thing you have to do is follow the local community’s footsteps. What do they use, how do they travel? When following their ways, I am sure you’ll find yourself in encouraging situations where people are more than willing to help you.

Don’t be scared now! Taking into account those Three Destination Transportation D’s, your own safety and the open mindedness to read traffic signs and follow the host country’s general Road Rules, then you’ll be fine. I am sure all of you will be able to choose the correct mode of transportation, while feeling happy about contributing to the local community.

 

 

 

© 2014 by Debbie Vorachen – Floating Flowers. All rights reserved.

 

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2 comments on “Watch the rocks – and the cows!

  1. Sue Slaght
    June 27, 2014

    Well of course you will know which one I voted for. 🙂 Cycling it is. That may be the funniest road sign I have ever seen!

    Like

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