Whenever I visit a new country, I often have a somewhat strange habit of trying to find a local town which can connect me back to a place I always call a second home and, thus, can make me feel at ease: Jogja. The temporary capital city of Indonesia during the Independence Struggle from the Dutch after WW2 offers a harmony of the royal heritage with the touch of modernity, plus a vibrant student community.
But I’ve never been out of Asia so I’m sure there are lots of other places to compare to. These are just some examples:
The first time I set foot in Kyoto was back in the 90s. I stepped out of the train station and soon was transported back to the Empire and Bushido eras where the shrines dotted every town and people celebrated the festivities in colorful kimonos. Kyoto has changed its cosmetics, but the ancient soul still lies within the ancient temples and people’s hearts.
Ah, Angkor Wat. The city of temples are within easy reach from downtown Siem Reap and you can roam around the streets in tuktuks, bicycles, or even on foot while admiring the grandeur. And don’t forget the Pub Street where you can have cheap Cambodian beer and comforting foot massage. Life is sweet in Indochina.
Just under 2 hours from the capital Kuala Lumpur, Melaka offers the chance to cruise the river and admire the colonial architectures and the Chinatown, all within walking distance. Tired after visiting the churches and Portuguese ruins, you can head to Jonker Street in the evening to party at the local bars. Yeah baby!
Many places can make me feel like home, but nothing really compares to home: the rickshaws, the street snacks, the ambience, the warmth, and the people. Most travelers can easily immerse in the local culture and often forget where they come from, but I’m a guy who will miss Nasi Goreng on the third day of the journey and have a lump in my throat when calling Mum.
Would that make me qualify as a traveler, at all?