Two kinds of locals

Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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.

Our enthusiastic tour guide in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Our enthusiastic tour guide in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Locals at Xamar wayne market, Mogadishu.

Locals at Xamar weyne market, Mogadishu.

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.

Island hopping with friendly thai ladies.

Island hopping with friendly thai ladies on the way to Ko Phi Phi island, Thailand.

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?

11 replies »

  1. Interesting perspective. I think there must be a third kind of local though. I can’t see myself as neither the enthusiastic nor the jaded local. I show our visitors all the places I especially like, I tell them about our favorite restaurants and bars, our favorite places to hike and explore, our favorite beaches and so on. But often I will just recommend areas for certain things like eating, hiking, surfing, shopping and I tell them to just wander around and find something they like. Because even though they are my friends and family, if I can’t accompany them, I want them to explore and find their own special adventure. I think it’s important not only to rely on what locals and the internet tell you but also on your own wishes and your gut feeling. Travel is adventure after all.


    • Wow..I think you’re leaning towards the enthusiastic local, (in the absence of local 3) as at least you’ve offered crucial information instead of putting down every suggestion a foreigner will make about seeing your city. I’ve met locals who brushed every suggestion aside with comments like, “that place is overrated, I don’t understand why people come all the way to see this relic” and so forth..which beats the purpose of visiting the new place for the foreigner. If you offer up information, a road map so to speak, and allow the person to explore, it will be worthwhile for them..depending on their personality of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post africanagirl!

    Like Bellamonte, I would say that I too am neither! I consider myself an expat local and let me tell you, I know an awfully lot more about my adopted home town of Berlin, than the locally born Berliners! And I have no qualms about sharing it’s secrets…! Hence my blog name and inevitably, my blog.

    I’m not called the British Berliner for nothing you know lol!


    • Love it that you know more about your adoptive home than the locally born Berliners. I would think that you were enthusiastic to find as much as possible about your new home when you first arrived, and now can give excellent tips to visitors. That is a good thing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I fall somewhere in the middle as well. When l lived in L.A, it was amazing how many of my friends and relatives always found the time to visit and even though l was jaded, l would still dutifully go to Disneyland, or checkout the stars on Hollywood. If l couldn’t go, l would send them on their merry way. That went on for 20 years! Amazingly, none of them found time to visit when we moved to Houston 🙂 ! Like 4 people in 6 years!!! ;-). We were lucky enough to meet an enthusiastic local in Istanbul. We walked for over 7 hours discovering his favorite places and eateries. I was tired, but l couldn’t give up. Loved it.


    • met an A-game local in Istanbul. It makes all the difference when you meet someone willing to show you their city..:-) I met an enthusiastic local in London and that made a big difference! There have been times I’ve visited a location and spent/wasted a huge part of the time I was there, getting lost! 🙂
      I think more people have L.A on their bucket list than they do seems Hollywood and Disney draws them?


  4. Striving to be the enthusiastic local in all things, but often fell somewhat closer to the jaded one. Having traveled myself, I’m reminded of how an enthusiastic local can transform a trip into an unforgettable experience. Thanks for this!

    Nikita (


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.