There are few “paths less travelled” left for gen Y. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Ratchaburi, Thailand. 2007

Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for the latest crop of bright shiny things that have just left the nest to go travelling.

The great unknown they are about to leap into is actually a well sign posted, worn path complete with a multitude of guide books. Truth be known, it’s been like this for several decades. For example, when I went to Bali back in 1974 I felt that I’d come too late and had missed out on how I thought it must’ve been before. You should see it nowadays! I could hardly recognise the place when I went there about five years ago.

When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I went to the floating markets. I avoided going there on my first trip to Thailand back in 1974 because I figured that it would be too touristy. That was over 30 years ago and of course it’s an even better known tourist attraction now. The klongs (canals) were clogged with locals in their boats selling things to the captive market tourists in the group tour boats.

I passed boat after boat full of young people who wanted to see some local colour. With bored and disappointed looks on their faces, they politely declined the wares on offer . As the old Vikings would say, “it wasn’t worthy of a saga”.

trial by shopping

Poor bastards!

I bet that’s not what they signed up for.

They had travelled so far, and all they wanted was an “authentic” experience, but instead, like slot-cars, they were racing around in a well worn rut.

I was talking to a young guy who is a co-worker of my wife the other day, and we were chatting about his recent trip to Europe. I was particularly interested in what he had to say about driving in Bosnia because it’s one of the places I’ll be going to with my wife later this year.

Him: “Oh it’s a real adventure!”

His comment set off alarm bells in my head because to me, “adventure, is discomfort remembered in comfort”. I’ve had what many people would call adventures and I can say with some authority that “adventures” are unpleasant even though, they do make for good tales over dinner with friends years later.

Me: “Adventure?” What do you mean by adventure?”

Him: “You know, going somewhere that not many people go to.”

Me: “Whew!”

Him: “Why the sense of relief?”

Me: “For a minute there I thought you got into some deep life threatening shit .” “You know, like being held at gun point for 8 hours on a small riverboat on the Mekong by boy soldiers of the Pathet Lao; or like being thrown in jail and having 3 cops trying to beat you up in Morocco.”

Him: Umm.. no… not quite… but we did get stopped a few times, up in the northern areas by the Serbian militia and they checked our papers.

Before anyone out there thinks I was indulging in some kind of pissing contest, my main concern was the word “adventure”. To me adventure is a bad thing, as I’ve had more than my fair share of them and I’m in no hurry for any more character building experiences. This goes double for when I’m with my wife. I’d never forgive myself if she ever came to any harm.

Adventure?

For me?

No thanks, I’ve had more than enough but I hope there are a few wild places and experiences left for generation Y so they can entertain their dinner guests when they get older.