Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wanderlust

Last night I watched The Amazing Race Asia in my room. I’ve always had this fantasy of competing in The Amazing Race, and until recently, only US citizens could compete on the show. It was nice to see people from other countries competing in the program because I know how popular it is worldwide.

If you who haven’t watched the show it or ever heard of it, it’s a reality show that features a race around the world. It’s like a really long scavenger hunt that takes place in several countries, and the last one to arrive in each leg is eliminated.

I’m not usually a fan of reality programming but this show has always appealed to me because I love traveling, and this program shows off so many exotic locations and cultures around the world. It makes you want to get out there and visit all these countries! Unlike other shows like Survivor where people build alliances and plot/connive to secure their place in the next round, winning The Amazing Race depends on teamwork and a little bit of luck. It’s not to say that some TAR contestants have not built alliances with other teams in the past, but the true winners are the ones who make it through the race on their own terms.

I’d thought about becoming a race participant a few years ago, and for various reasons I never made it past the point of actually auditioning for the race. I think Rene and I would make a great team – he’d be really great with the navigation and physical aspect of the race while I’d be the one trying to figure out the clues and figuring out the best way to get to the next place. Plus, I can drive a car with manual transmission, which is a plus in countries where automatic is not an option.

So last night I caught an episode midway through the season and there are only five teams remaining in the competition (originally 10). For this leg of the race, they started in Prague and made their way to Budapest where they visited a farm, went canopy flying, and looked for a historical fountain featured on the 1,000 Forint bill. While I was excited to see TAR again after two or three years, and while watching the show last night it dawned on me that TAR might not be very fun at all. Sure, contestants get to visit lots countries during the race and meet people, but it saddened me to see that it was on a superficial level and not the in-depth and leisurely visit I prefer. The contestants spent a day in Budapest chasing clues and running from one place to another, and by the end of the day I don’t think they realized what Budapest is about. Having visited the place back in the spring of 2007, I had memories of visiting Castle Hill, taking leisurely walks, and dining out with friends. I felt bad that instead of admiring the scenery and exploring the city they were stressed out and concerned about not being eliminated during that round. To me, the best traveling experiences come when you least expect them. Sometimes it sneaks up on you when you are sitting in a piazza in Italy enjoying a gelato or when you are riding a bike in the rain in Amsterdam. It reinforces my belief that the world is full of wonderful places to experience, and you should fit in as many of these experiences as you can during your lifetime. Do I sound like a travel commercial yet?

I’m not saying that everyone should quit their jobs and purchase a ticket around the world but if the opportunity presents itself it should be taken. To me, this means visiting far-off locales you’ve always wanted to visit like Prague (where the above picture was taken) as well as local places in Southern California like the San Gabriel Mission. Traveling is a state of mind, I guess, and it doesn’t matter where you go but how you get there that truly counts.

1 comment:

LA Blogger Gal said...

I'm really enjoying reading your trip updates. I can totally relate to your wanderlust as well. I'm dying to go all over the World and see amazing things. Now I just need to find the money and get the hubs on board.

My former roommate and best friend has been begging me to do TAR with her. But like you said, while I'm sure it would be fun, it's not really traveling and seeing the world.