Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Travellers and tourists belong to two different worlds

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Travellers and tourists are simply not the same.

Travellers go in search of knowledge and enlightenment. They will generally be well-read and knowledgeable about the place they travel through. Their garb is seldom fancy. They will mostly either be solo or with only one or two other people who will share their interest. Of course, on difficult expeditions there might be more people. You will hardly ever find a true traveller in a group organised by some tour company. Travellers like to go easy, to soak in everything, while these groupie things are push-push, shove-shove affairs: Day 1. Get into the X city, check into hotel, take tour of old city and watch traditional dance, eat dinner. Day 2. Get into Y city, tour of new city, ride roofless bus and watch street artists at work. Day 3. Reach Z city blah, blah, blah. They make me breathless. Such tours will leave any hard core travel buff breathless and feeling stupid for having wasted so much money on such an inane activity.

Travellers do not just look and click with the camera. They pause, they take everything in and then might take an image or two. They talk to the 'natives' and get invited to their homes. Tourists are noisy. And Pakistanis are all tourists! They wear frilly jeans and crazy hats - their best finery. Every time they tumble out of their coach, they all check their cell phones and even with Zero coverage continue to fiddle with them until they get back in and drive on. They click at everything in sight because when they get home they plonk their hefty albums in front of all visitors to bore them to death. In a group of twenty, there will be at least two families with teenage children who never wanted to come in the first place. And since they are their they mope; nothing interests them. The all carry two and half litre-bottles of cola and gripe about them not being cold. They scream a great deal and simply do not know the meaning of quiet appreciation of natural beauty. Tourist cannot stand the smell of the 'natives'. The traveller and the tourist belong to two different worlds. As Rudyard Kipling said, 'Never the twain shall meet.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 08:42,


At 17 May 2013 at 09:02, Anonymous Sydney Fruit Baskets said...

I agree, travellers are much more respectful and aware - tourists are too often caught up in the marketing hype.

At 17 May 2013 at 11:22, Anonymous Aghader Ami said...

I thought both the 'species' substantiate each other; travelers discover and write for tourists (and readers). What would be tourism industry without those noisy tourists who come to places and actually spend their money?

At 17 May 2013 at 12:07, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

The industry may not be anything without the noisy tourists, but the trouble is they don't see, they don't hear - because they are too noisy and too busy playing cricket with their plastic bats and balls. This class of tourist does not read so the work of the travel writer is nothing for them.
As far as the Pakistani tourist is concerned, especially the one that goes to the North, they are accustomed to the meaningless fictitious travel writing of Urdu which tells them nothing other than a few place names. It also does not inspire the urge to read anything more meaningful and to learn.

At 17 May 2013 at 16:08, Anonymous Starr said...

Yes, the two are completely different breeds. But we all need to stop being tourists, and start being travelers and enjoying journeys as much as destinations, the local food, places and its people. We need to change. And the travel writers can be engines for such a change.

At 18 May 2013 at 23:42, Anonymous Kausar Bilal said...

Actually, in Pakistan, we don't have a reading culture at all. Those who get opportunity to travel, they never study about the place they are about to visit. Rather, we never explore our own whereabouts if it is not needed. But now, it's time to develop new habits and spread awareness on issues like travel.
What I believe is, we cannot bridge much gap between a traveler and a tourist despite all the effort, because they both belong to the different poles.
Thanks for highlighting the issue!

At 19 May 2013 at 17:13, Anonymous Karim Dad said...

Was there any travel writing or travel if there were no tourists? I don't think so.

May be they both are lazim o malzom for each other.

At 20 May 2013 at 14:37, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Karim Dad, tourists can never be travel writers. They simply lack the intellectual content. They can write diaries of their travels (as it happens in Urdu) which any Grade 4 student can too. Sir, travel writing takes much more than a reading of Isobel Shaw's trekking guide.

At 22 May 2013 at 10:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With what is happening all over the country, do you think there still are any tourists left in Pakistan? I don't see any. People are afraid to get out.


At 22 May 2013 at 12:25, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

No tourists, JJ. Except of course in Gilgit-Baltistan. But there are still some mad travellers like me and a few more.

At 14 September 2013 at 21:48, Blogger Memoona Saqlain Rizvi said...

Absolutely...the tourists come to fairy meadows n r greatly disappointed b/c there wasn't. any chicken karahi... Very well observed n very aptly recorded. It's a blessing that G.B is still an option for travellers.

At 14 September 2013 at 22:01, Blogger Memoona Saqlain Rizvi said...

Absolutely...all that a tourist wants is chicken karahi n the majestic Nanga Parbat with its ethereal beauty goes unnoticed...just imagine.

At 15 September 2013 at 09:43, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Idea is to get away from the heat, Memoona. And if there is a chicken karahi to be had, why not?

At 29 September 2014 at 16:07, Blogger Nazia Shamim said...

Interesting, I think it's a human characteristic, a person can either be a traveller or a tourist. If that person already have an instinct for travelling it won't make much difference who he/she is travelling with either it is with a group of tourists or few travel partners, a traveller will always find out his/her way.


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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