Traveling Mark

Welcome to Traveling Mark. As you may have guessed, my name is Mark and this is the real travel blog. I travel a lot and like to travel. This journal is my personal blog in which I explain my journey from living a corporate lifestyle of working until one retires to grabbing my life by the horns and turning it into an adventure that never ends. Instead of spending my days going to work, I spend my days traveling around the world – I explore, I dream, I discover. Frank Herbert once said: “Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” I have awakened my sleeper and turned my life into an exciting non-stop adventure. The stories and pictures from my trips are generously shared on this travel blog.

I was once a guy like you

I got up every morning to go to work where I would spend the best part of each day working for the man. Then I started questioning this whole idea behind working your whole life until you retire to enjoy yourself when you’re old. I could not find any prudence in the formula – what sense does it make to spend the best years of your life working and waiting to live an exciting life when you’re old?

First of all, you may not even live long enough to reach the retirement. If that happens, then all you will have known in your life is work. Secondly – if you do live long enough to reach retirement, then by the time you get there, you will be too old to fully enjoy the best things this life has to offer.

Health of most people is not what it used to be by the time they’ve reached their retirement. You may also suffer from injuries anytime during your working life so if you put off all the fun things until you’re retired, your taking a long time of waiting during which anything can happen to your body to limit your ability to function.

As soon as I had realized that, I started to turn my life around and set it free from that mundane, workaday routine. The new, office-free lifestyle has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. But there’s so much more to it.

Traveling has also helped me to re-establish the inner harmony that once existed between me and the universe but I had near lost it. My life once again makes sense and feels fulfilling and that is something no money in the world can buy. But then something happened that I was not ready for.

World is Not Always Rose-Colored

My pre-corporate lifestyle travels only consisted of touring round Europe and North America with a little bit of the Caribbean in the mix. I visited many countries over those years, countries that are clean and safe, full of people who are genuinely friendly and willing to help a stranger in need even if there is nothing in it for them.

Then when I quit work to escape the rat race and started traveling again – which is where this travel blog was established – it right off the bat took me to places full of people who are selfish, xenophobic and endlessly hostile. I had daily encounters with people of no honor or dignity, people who dedicate their lives to taking advantage of others, especially those in momentary need.

I have immediately noticed an undeniable correlation between perception of paradise and hostility of locals. It appeared as though the more a country was seen as a paradise by the west, the nastier the locals were towards tourists. As a result, some of the most vile experiences I’ve had, and some of the most selfish people I’ve encountered were in countries where I would anticipate it the least – the ones commonly portrayed as oasis of relaxation or pieces of heaven in Earth.

Perhaps it is because I always try to get a taste of the real country by staying away from popular tourist traps and going where the locals go instead. Or perhaps because I like to walk and go everywhere on foot which, unlike tourists who take organized tours and move around in taxi cabs, brings me in contact with everyday working class on the street. Whatever it is, the way I travel sets me apart from your regular foreigner in a third world paradise and that exposed me to the real people and their real nature.

The Most Real Travel Blogger in the World

Seeing how the reality of tropical paradises is vastly different when you’re not a tourist who limits his vacation to interacting with hotel staff, eating in west oriented restaurants and forging faux-friendships with sellers of overpriced tourist junk, I thought I’d find the accounts of true reality on blogs of all travellers who like me, explore the world with a backpack on their back and dust on their feet. It truly shocked me to find out the opposite was true.

It almost seems as if there was an unwritten rule than if you’re a traveller, you only write about positive experiences and disregard, or diminish the bad ones. As if by travelling the world you took upon yourself an obligation to get over the falsehood and mistreatment people of some countries would greet you with and only focused on describing the beauty of places these countries have to offer. As if by being a travel blogger, you owned every country and every person encountered a positive write up on your blog because travelers who escaped the rat race should be so enlightened that disclosing the harsh truth was unethical.

As a result, virtually every travel blogger who visited dangerous, xenophobic countries beats around the bush and skilfully avoids elaborating on bad experiences. Their blogs are all about an amazing time they’d had and beautiful places they’d visited and the fact that they were robbed and near killed gets at most a side mention in a single sentence. Of course, if they do end up stooping to such low level so as to admit that they were victims of crime, they’d feel so horrible about saying seemingly bad things about local people, they’d ultimately include a statement clarifying that those locals simply acted out of need, that they are impoverished and underprivileged and that we just don’t understand their culture.

It’s truly a fascinating phenomenon that virtually every travel blogger steers away from making a post that would contain any form of speculation that perhaps those people who threatened them at knifepoint may have been true criminals and perhaps there are many more of them out there and this tropical paradise is not as close to a paradise once one steps outside of a well secured all inclusive resort.

Still, based on what just about every blogger writes, it would seem that if you are a traveller, you don’t call attempted murder an attempted murder. You name it a desperate struggle of oppressed locals for survival and give them praise for being so nice about it.

I’m only torn between whether these travel bloggers are afraid of disclosing the ugly truth simply because they fear being labelled a racist and a bigot, or being called ignorant and full of themselves, or because they genuinely can’t see the forest for the trees.

Now, while I understand and appreciate the premise of only talking nicely about people, even if they are a bunch of child rapists and murderers so as not to bring upon bad karma, I see it as grave disservice to the rest of the travel community as such misrepresentation of facts or intentional non disclosure of entire truth puts the readers in potential danger by making them falsely believe that they’re entering an area with friendly people. And with that I cannot agree and be there an unwritten travel blogger code or not, I’ll rebel against it even if it means eternal condemnation for being the only travel blogger who tells it like it is.

And this is how the first real travel blogger who discloses the full truth without leaving the inconvenient details out was born. Yes I get called names for the audacity to say it like it is, but at the end of the day, I know I can look at myself in the mirror and see a man with a face. I don’t pretend to be somebody else and even though the truthful travel writing does lend me with colourful names, I’d never swap it for faux-appreciation of peers from a club of forcefully positive bloggers.

I did not start this blog to win the popularity contest. I started it to talk about the experiences I go through and the people I encounter while traveling around the world. And while I’m at it, I’ll say it like it is. If something is good, I say it is good, but if something is bad, I’ll say it is bad without beating around the bush. That’s the only philosophy I follow on my blog and will never do otherwise. Welcome to the most truthful and the most real travel blog on the internet. Welcome to the world of Traveling Mark.