If you have travelled to a new area, you might have experienced a serious case of newbie syndrome. Somehow you forget what it means when a traffic light turns red or try to greet a native in their mother tongue and end up insulting their mother – it’s not unheard of.
However, the ramifications can turn what was meant to be the best holiday getaway to an excruciating and chaotic holiday from the dark pits of hell.
So how do you avoid such an experience? Let’s have a look.
“In my country…”
When you talk to locals, try to avoid talking about how your country is more advanced than theirs – it doesn’t help being smug in a land filled with patriotic inhabitants who have no desire to do things the way your homeland does. If someone asks about your culture, however, then by all means do tell them how you live, but not in a patronising manor. Being genuine and sincere gives people the impression that you have travelled there to experience and appreciate something that is totally different from that which you are accustomed to – which was the purpose of your trip in the first place, right?
Get the Language Right or Leave it Alone
You get people who think that once they wield a book that translates their mother tongue into another language, they have become multilingual – makes you wonder why people spend years in school learning foreign languages.
As much as it may sound funny to locals when you virtually destroy every word that exists in their vocabulary, you might say something offensive and some cultures do take serious offence to such a transgression – people have lost their tongues for saying something very trivial in some regions of the world.
If you can’t connect words or pronounce them properly, try not to say anything in that language. Unless, of course, you’re being chased by a giant polar bear and trying to call out for help.
This is not to say that you should dress conservatively (well, in some countries it does). What it means is that staying in safari lodge accommodation, for instance, is no excuse for wearing safari apparel everywhere you go – it’s just not on. Sure, you can wear it when you’re on a game drive, but in the urban jungle it makes you a mark for both pickpockets and onlookers who will ridicule you until you turn pink with shame. So leave the “I Love Pakistan” t-shirts for when you get back to your country – and, by all means, leave the speedos at home.
“Can you please take a picture of us standing here…”
Not every local (except thieves of course) is in the mood to take five minutes that they’ll never get back to take a snapshot of you, your partner and extended family. Apart from the fact that it’s going to take fifteen minutes to get the right image, they don’t have “camera man” stamped on their foreheads. This is not to say (it actually is) that you shouldn’t ask for help, but do consider that when you bought that camera of yours, you might have come across something else called a tripod and digital cameras have timers, so be a sport and DIY.
This is a guest post by George Wyngaardt
George is a wildlife enthusiast who spends most of his time either in the outdoors or surfing the internet for wildlife documentaries.
He is part of the editorial team for Gondwana Game Reserve and really has love the charismatic Thandora.