Off the beaten track
WORDS BY LOUISA BOCHNER
Your “off the beaten track” story is, unfortunately, false. Your little stories of winding paths, cute little cafes!!! and omg the best street food EVER are intolerable, dull, and shamefully ordinary.
A simple “how was your summer?”, and they’re off.
“Fantastic” they begin, with that familiar eeek of the proverbial Boring Holiday Story Kettle boiling to the surface. “Europe was just great. Of course, Paris wasn’t on the list, though, as we wanted to go…
I take a deep breath in
off the beaten track”.
There it is! The words I have been waiting all my life to hear. Thank you God, Jesus, etc etc, I do accept this award as the patron saint of predictions.
The Beaten Track Phenomenon, coined by moi, (I learned that in Paris :) ) is both painfully annoying, and an embarrassing reflection of tourist privilege. The Australian kind, in particular, represents itself by choosing a few exotic places (yet still palatable in language, facilities, parties, hostels), and proudly announcing to all who will hear: I travelled there. And yes, it most certainly was Off The Beaten Track.
A secondary implication of The Beaten Track Phenomenon is that they (unlike YOU, you lowlife scum), are a deep thinker. They are ~in tune~ with the intellectual and cultural underpinnings of a country. They get the country at the surface: the gimmicks; the financial traps; the souvenirs. But they went deeper. They went right off that 8 lane highway, that’s so goddamn beaten down you’d have to drill for years to see some Mutha Nature, and truly experienced a country. They dove into the heart of darkness; they stared into the abyss. They truly know the people and, more importantly, the people truly know them (because, after all, they are the protagonist in this story).
I now draw your attention to ‘The Holiday Myth’. This myth is one held in our collective consciousness that our recent holiday was one the world has never seen before. An original motion picture. An experience worth pitching to Shark Tank. No wait. To Elon Musk himself. Your most recent holiday, my good friend, should be mummified! Patented and sent to the Queen.
Unfortunately the only travelling that fits the bill would be the complicated yet entertaining story of an exotic dancer, who dreams of touching her foot to the sun, only to fulfill this perplexing desire on her death bed to the tune of “I Will Survive” (her most iconic stripping number). Even then, I couldn’t care less about which cool cafe she found, simply by throwing away her galactic guide book.
By its very nature, if any people ever have been where you have been, you have stayed firmly and surely on the beaten track. If you think otherwise, consider: your ‘exotic’ experience is someone else’s reality.
Stay on the beaten track I say! Call yourself a tourist not a traveller, tell people you took pingers in Bali, and LOVED IT! Google “best cafés in my area”, and go to the first one on the list, because there’s a pretty good reason why it’s there (the food doesn’t taste like leather).