Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Chase Chiga. Shanghai, China

All three of these forms of travelers are present wherever you go in the world. I honestly am unsure of personal connections to these three types of travelers I do try to maintain myself as a mindful traveler, in that I want to try and leave as little impact on where I visit as I can while still gaining as much as I can from the experience. As for the other two, I try and avoid it just out of respect for the country. We live in a very globally connected world so sometimes it is hard to tell what is adapted culture, especially with Shanghai, and what is modern Chinese culture. What I mean is that shanghai has been so connected with the west as one of china’s main ports for international trade it could easily have been like how Slimback described the youth reacting to tourists, “Within two decades, the traditional culture was being held up to scorn and ridiculed by youth who began to see themselves as ugly, poor, and backward compared to the beautiful, rich, and culturally sophisticated foreigners.” (Slimback, P.86) This makes hard to avoid acting like I am at home because most people seem to act more or less the same as at home.

Mindful traveling, in my opinion, is a key characteristic of international participants of the global community. If a person isn’t a mindful traveler it severely hinders their participation in the global community by making them stick out and be looked at differently by the members of their current nation. I use mindful traveling by avoiding using English when I can. That might seem rather simple but it can be a tough thing to avoid when for example the restaurants, for the most part, have English translations and most, especially younger, people in Shanghai know at least basic English. However preferring to use Chinese not only helps me practice but also shows that I am not just experiencing life but trying to learn while I am here. The main challenge I see with being a mindful traveler is that pushing yourself out of your home culture is very hard, it takes a lot more effort than people tend to think to just let your home opinions go and try and take the mindset of your home culture. I will admit I haven’t completely moved passed it although I try. For example, the smoking culture here compared to the US, here in China smoking cigarettes is a very common practice and there are few limits to where you can smoke so all restaurants tend to have ashtrays at the table and even hotels allow you to smoke in the rooms. From a US perspective where smoking is discouraged seeing this many people smoking more or less everywhere is very strange and hard for me to take as the social norm here. Another big challenge to mindful traveling is the existence of a language barrier, the fact that exist makes it even harder for the average traveler to avoid leaving a cultural footprint, if you know the language and use it people will look at you differently and not just look at you as a traveler.

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Temple in zhouzhuang

My photo this week is a picture of an old temple within Zhouzhuang china, a town outside of shanghai and called the Venice of the east. This town is famous for being a popular tourist destination for both national and international tourists. As such much of this town’s buildings, all of which are probably as old or older than the United States, has been converted to shops selling to the tourists. That is really a good example of people not being mindful travelers, people from around the world have traveled to see the architecture and the beautiful town and the people themselves have adapted to it. The temple was one of the least touched places in the town. It is still an active Buddhist temple and contains little evidence of tourists, and although some of my group, myself included, visited the temple we made sure to be mindful of those in it and respected them. It is interesting seeing how much tourists can shape places they visit and really makes me want to try and not encourage areas to adapt to attract them.

 

 

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing, 2010. Print.

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