Joy of tourism

4. Lake baths.jpg

The joy of tourism (ctd)

it can be pleasing and disappointing in equal measure to have a thought you considered original, only to learn others are thinking just the same.

So I felt on reading this last week. (Skift, by the way, is a most excellent read for anyone in the hotels/travel space.)

I'd been pondering for some time the denigration of the term 'tourism' and, indeed, the 'tourist' themselves. Recent guests had been bemoaning 'travel wankers' - those that had proudly 'done' seemingly every square inch of the planet and it occurred that while people happily proclaim their passion for 'travel', none (that I'd met) would describe a love of tourism.

Having had family in Sri Lanka in February this year, I re-discovered a love of it. My parents  don't quite match the 'Americans in fanny-packs' described in the Skift article, but over here, they stick out. I do too of course but mum desperately looking for change to pay the airport porter 65 rupees, given the number in big letters on his t-shirt, is a reasonable example of their 'other-ness' on this island.

Rather than trying to hide our tourist credentials, though, we rather reveled in them. Cameras thrust at passers by for the sake of group photographs; useless Sinhala spoken at any opportunity; non-meter Tuk Tuks warmly embraced.

Acting as a genuine tourist, one happy to watch and meet the locals - rather than live like one - can, as the article suggests, be a much more authentic (great travel buzzword) experience (another).

I have a sort of vaguely related cousin, a chap called Harry Hook who is, it seems, a wonderful photographer. I've, sadly, never met the guy, but really enjoyed a television documentary he made some years ago in which he re-traced steps to find, I think, Kenyan tribespeople he'd photographed 30 years or so earlier. The documentary was beautifully done but what I liked most was the way Harry very joyously observed the people he was filming, at no time (or so it seemed to me) trying to blend in or be one of the tribe, in the style taken by many other travel documentary makers.

We'd hope there's some opportunity for that at Rukgala. We're not in the Masai here by any stretch but village life around Rukgala is inevitably very different to that of our guests when at home. Families having a bath in the lake while the Dad is out catching dinner is standard. Happily watching that different kind of life go on can, we think, make for a greatly refreshing and rejuvenating time.