Friday, June 26, 2009

Travel Differently

Pico Iyer recently thought back on an experience traveling in Tibet. The more expectations you leave at home, Iyers commented, the more you can understand what the destination is trying to tell you. Does art get in the way of modernity? Is Tibet as magical as it seems, or does it just seem this way? Iyer might not know, but he's going to find out. While he attempts to solve his travel questions, he brought his audience along for the ride, imparting some wisdom along the way. Here are two of Iyers' top points that every traveler needs to know.

Check Out a Bookstore

Visiting a bookstore is a perfect way to discover the life of the locals. Iyers points out that you can grab books on spirituality, life, and palaces off the main streets of New Delhi, but Salt Lake City, unsurprisingly, will have something else in store entirely. One of Iyer's favorite places to browse the shelves is Seattle's Elliot Bay Book Company, considered an "institution in Seattle," which will open doors to parts of the city you never thought you could discover. If you're up for a trip to Seattle, you might want to give the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle a try, which places you in a prime location for Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, and Benaroya Hall's concerts. Being in such close proximity to the arts means that surely you can find a bookstore to browse—and plenty of diversions nearby—but then you'll be able to retire in luxury to your room with views of Puget Sound, or chill by the fire near the rooftop pool.

Embrace the Prospect of Being a Tourist

Sure, being a "traveler," not a tourist, is important, but don't be afraid of taking a guided tour of the city! If you spend your time worrying about looking like a tourist, you'll miss out on what a city has to offer. Aim for more eclectic, independent travel guides if you want to learn about the country and still stay a little more anonymous. Where's a nifty hotel to stay for a cool undercover tourist experience? Try the Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski, which has been described as "an architectural museum, a design exhibition, an exercise in cutting-edge modernism," and tourists regularly come to examine the great work of two dozen esteemed architects in Asia. Waking up to the sublime Chinese countryside, you'll feel invigorated to travel the land and explore—and why shouldn't you? It's right outside your window! If you want to stay in the city instead, The Langham Hotel, Hong Kong might be for you, which is just five minutes away from self-guided tour necessities: the Star Ferry, the MTR subway, and the KCR rail, as well as plenty of shopping and tourist attractions. It's a convenient way to kick-start your exploration of Kowloon, Hong Kong, and plenty of tours will wind straight through the area before jetting off to the city center. Be sure to visit the Kowloon Walled City Park and the Wong Tai Sin Temple in the north of Kowloon, one of the most famous shrines in Hong Kong.

Has Iyers inspired you to travel differently? Join the club! From bookstores to backpacking, we're already dreaming up our next excursion.

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