What is real? Your GTG on authenticity and travel
Howdy globetrotters and welcome back after another study break to your GTG. In sticking with our ongoing theme this week we continue our journey through all things unique about travel. This week we talk about authenticity in travel and how different it can be.
Ever visited a ‘local village’ or bought yourself a print of your favourite Picasso painting from the museum shop? Or even a pair of mickey mouse ears on a trip to Disneyland? How many times have you heard yourself say “it was great but it wasn’t what I expected”. Basically we all have different ideas of what something will be or should be like, and these can often change depending on the situation.
When visiting a hill-tribe Village in Thailand I had to ask myself, “what’s going on? There are real people here, in real houses, singing real music, but am I really to believe that they would just be here hanging out waiting for me had something or someone not intervened?” Even stranger is the thought that fake grass at Disneyland didn’t seem fake or out of place.
As it turns out, whether something is real or not may not matter at all. Did fake grass stop me from having a good time at Disney land? Heavens to Betsy no, on space mountain you can’t see a thing so anything could be real. Did it matter that the tour guide at Bob Marley’s mausoleum probably used the same jokes on each group of pilgrims? No way mon, I was chillin wit da legend.
It all depends on what you were hoping to get out of a trip in the first place. If you wanted an adrenaline rush from a roller coaster then fake grass is neither here nor there, if you’re getting up close and personal with music culture history then naff jokes can even add to the charm. In some cases where you may have paid to see the ‘real’ thing then I guess it may be fair enough to start asking questions about ethical marketing.
The next piece of the puzzle is asking why things are presented to visitors the way they are? Why were the Hill tribe people waiting for me to turn up? Why would that guy at the hostel desk be happy to see me and check me in at 4 in the morning on a Monday when most people are sleeping? There’s an old saying ‘money makes the world go round’ and in that saying we may find our answer. Of course the optimists among us will hope and testify to a less cynical undertone.
In the end there are two main considerations, first of all are we getting the experience we hoped/paid for? Secondly what impact negative or positive could come from this experience? With all this to think about I leave you to ponder the greater meaning of reality and authenticity. Till next week.