A Stranger in a strange land…

Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEW.

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A Stranger is someone in unfamiliar territory. I know a lot of people who have never travelled outside the borders of our country. They say there is so much to see and do in our country, why would you need to go elsewhere? And they say this as if it is the only opinion that matters. This might come from our country’s history- in the Apartheid years we were not that welcome everywhere. Some people developed a laager mentality- where you isolate yourself against “the enemy”. It is still with some people in our country- you would still find people thinking that only they are right, and the rest of the world are wrong. They frown upon travel outside the country- what a waste of money, they will whisper to each other…

But if you only travel in your own country, everything is so familiar.  You would find the same supermarkets in every bigger town, the same shops in all the malls, you would eat exactly the same food at all the franchises, some better like Nando’s (started in South Africa!) some acceptable like the Spur Steak ranches, and some… predictable in every way. Like KFC and Mickey D- (not started in South Africa… 🙂 )

Today I am in trouble. All my travels before 2004 where photographed on 35 mm film, with prints. My scanner got too old, it will not install on Windows 7…

My first time feeling totally a stranger was when I arrived in Cairo in 1999. Although most Egyptian people can speak better English than me, most of their shops and product labels are in Arabic writing. And the Middle East is quite foreign to our culture… So it was… interesting to shop around. The one huge bargain I immediately recognized was a King Cone Ice Cream for just 1 Egyptian pound, a 1/3 of what it cost in South Africa then… I ate a lot of them!

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A photo of a photo… at Giza

When dining in Cairo, I really enjoyed the Middle- Eastern food a lot. We South Africans can enjoy lamb in all it’s forms. Cous-cous was a new experience then. And to eat meat with yogurt a new but good idea!

I spent two days in Cairo, and then flew on to Turkey. Turkey was a feast! But there not so many people could understand me in English.  I spoke in Afrikaans once to a lady in Selcuk, and then she answered me in Dutch- I nearly fell on my back…  She worked in Holland for a few years, and of course learned to speak Dutch. If the Dutch want to, they can understand our language very easily. Dutch was it’s foundation.

So… when in a totally foreign culture, I love to try their food. I love to sit in their version of a street café and watch the world go by. I love to listen to their music, and maybe attend their festivals.

My travel experience are not that wide, as it would seem. I have been to Europe quite a few times, for which I am thankful. I have traveled in all Southern African countries except Mozambique and Swaziland- up to Zambia I did see.  I have been in Egypt and once, traumatically, for a few hours on Khartoum’s airport in Sudan. The only part of Asia I could visit so far was Turkey, down as far as Antakya.

I would love to experience the Far East. And the Americas. And the Australasias…  So much to see, so little money…

So yes:

  1.  Experience the food.
  2.  Taste their beer (if any…) or wine…
  3.  Attend a festival
  4.  Listen to their music
  5.  See their museums and historical sites
  6.  Hike in their beautiful nature reserves/ trails…
  7.  Take a lot of photos
  8.  Blog about it…

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14 thoughts on “A Stranger in a strange land…

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  7. Thanks for the ideas of what to do in a new place! I’m traveling to a new country for the first time in my life in just a few weeks. My husband and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary in Scotland along with our best friends who will celebrate their 35th! I can’t wait to get immersed in the culture, smell the air and just “be” in this new place! I can’t wait to blog about it too!! Thanks again!!

  8. I would have to agree with #1, #6, #7 and #8. I try to do #8 after I come home from a travel. I have only been to 2 countries outside of my home country – Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei because I grew up there and Malaysia, only a little island of it when my family took a day trip there. The rest of my travels is within my home country. Even then, because of the island nature of my country, there are differences among the people, enough to make you feel like a stranger in a strange land. So I try the food and take lots of photos also. 🙂

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