Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tourist Eyes

I’ve been fortunate enough to have nearly a dozen people stay at my place over the past months – playing hostess in a land that is still rather unfamiliar to me.

However, I’ve been in Taipei just long enough to have it sort of feel like home and to start getting antsy to move on to the next place. Struggling to decide how much longer I want this place to be my home. As I’ve settled in, my eyes have grown a little duller and less curious, so I love the idea of seeing this place with fresh eyes again. In a new light.
There’s nothing like seeing the world as a tourist.
You look at everything a little closer. You taste everything a little more intensely.
In general, you just pay more attention. There’s something very zen about this that I like.
I hate the way we often say the word “tourist” with such disdain (but I guess I’m biased having named this site after it). I met a guy in Florence who made a huge fuss about only traveling like a local (I get that part; that makes sense) but refused to do any of the “touristy” things…like go to museums and cathedrals.

Seriously? How can you say you’ve experienced a place like Florence without stepping into one museum or cathedral?

I say embrace the tourist experience – whether you’re traveling or not. Order everything off the menu just to try it once. Take super long walks. Stare thoughtfully at things like tall buildings, mountains and interesting looking people. Absorb all you see with the same intention and awe you would devote to a work of art at the Louvre or the view from the top of the Empire State Building.

My latest travel companion made a comment on our plane ride to Hong Kong that has helped me smile every time I’ve looked up at the past week of overcast, drizzly Taipei sky.

We were flying in a sunny patch above a thick layer of those fluffy, rich clouds that always make me hungry for an English trifle when he noted how funny it is that it’s actually always this sunny out…everyday….everywhere. Sometimes we just forget because there are clouds in our way.
What a very simple, beautiful idea – and coming from the most cynical guy I know. I doubt this yuppie-banker-type would have made such a crunchy-yoga-instructor-kind-of-observation while sitting in a windowless office cube.

But getting out and traveling does weird things to people.

So, like every visitor I’ve had, he’s helped me see my life in Taipei in a new light…even despite the clouds.