Landing in a foreign country can sometimes be unnerving. Imagine being uprooted completely from everything that is familiar and catapulted to a location that is not. Now imagine a group of people doing this constantly and the never-ending motion of those who subject themselves to globetrotting.
While there’s a broad spectrum of globetrotters out there, ranging from nomads to high end luxury splurgers, urging life to happen on their time and pace, we can all agree on one thing; having a local hold your hand as you navigate new territory makes all the difference between the one who came, saw and shelled out a chunk load of dough, and that one who came, experienced the nitty gritty, and did so without so much as a dent to their credit score.
Locals know their cities like the back of their hand; so unless you’re anchored in the country as a student, volunteer, a partner or an expatriate in the area with months or years to explore, you may need a local to really wing it.
That being said, I’ve realized there are two kinds of locals;
1) The enthusiastic local.
This local brings their A-game to the table. Their enthusiasm and zest for life is palpable. With a gleam in their eye, they’ll drag you up mountains and walk you down valleys. They’ll take time to introduce you to the country’s wildlife, they’ll have you know the plants peculiar to that region. They’ll show you hole in the wall favorite eateries and pubs, but as well throw in a few luxury places so you have the sum-total of experiences. This local will have you visit farmer’s markets and show you the easiest yet most cost-effective way to get about town. You will visit parks, and go to historical parts of the city. You will even visit hidden treasures that no tourist knows about. The enthusiastic local is like a mobile talking guidebook. With this local, you will feel all Antony Bourdain-ish.. without the swearing.
2) The jaded local.
If you haven’t done your research beforehand, you’ll likely miss out on everything the city has to offer. This local has been there for the longest time possible and somehow has ended up jaded. They pass off a vibe that screams disinterest..not only of the destination, but as well to your efforts to explore their country. Ideally, it’s not about you, it’s about them; their likes and what they do to occupy their free time. You’ll have a hard time with this local; you’ll have to beg, push and prod them to get on their feet. They think it’s better to sweat it out at the popular spa instead of hiking up mountains in Salzburg, the same mountains brought to life in the Sound of Music. They feel that having a cultural tour at Masai Mara is soo overrated. “Jeez, there’s internet..can’t you just google?” they ask.
The jaded local will have you eating first class sushi at a Michelin style restaurant in Singapore, yet the first thing you wanted to do was to sink your teeth into the chili Crab sambal..a well-known Singaporean specialty. The jaded local doesn’t want to go anywhere or do anything..they are too tired and too bored. Period.
Have you met any of these locals? What was your observation? If a foreigner came to tour your country, which local would you be?