I read a blurb about a travel memoir in the Bangkok Post, I believe the book is titled Disappear, but I can't recall.
What I do remember is that it reviewer said that the difference between a tourist and a traveller was the luxury of time. And that's why the book stood apart for the details grasped only by a writer that stayed a while.
That's the reason why I'd decided (after talking to a few folks from India) to cut out India from the tsunami anniversary itinerary and delve deeper and longer into the places that I am at.
When I was at the press center on Phi Phi island on December 26th, I was paying attention to the "press circus" (as one islander called it). Many of the journalists spent more time filing their reports than they actually had at the morning ceremony itself. The reporter next to me asks me as a native English speaker for my opinion on his lead.
"Would you say 'Tears overflowed the island...' or is it 'Tears have overflowed the island'?"
Well, to be honest, I'd say neither because it was sensationalistic rather than an accurate portrayal. (Thank god his editor reeled it in - I saw the final published story.)
But he was merely asking me a grammatical question. He was certainly not inviting me to collaborate on his lead. In contrast, the few journalists I met that stayed a few days before and after got a better sense of the mood. And it was likely to be their fourth or fifth visit to the island in the past year. One Japanese freelancer told me it was his tenth visit in total.
Blogging over a few years also gives one the luxury of time. Time to unravel what you care about, what others care about and fuse and evolve. I like what Johnnie says...
There's a great principle in improv, that of letting yourself be changed. This encourages the actors to invest less energy in formulating a witity riposte, and more on joining their fellow actors and allowing their "feed line" to impact on them.
There's a parallel at work for bloggers - the value may not be the immediate impact of their words on the market, but how the conversation changes the blogger. As Hugh says, it may be a mistake to focus on using blogs to sell things; it's more about creating real engagement - where you are changed too.
I've met dozens, maybe a hundred, people in the last month - many of them worldly, bright, witty - and only a handful have heard of blogs and blogging. Of those, quite a few remark: "I don't get blogging" or "Blogs are a waste of time." Rather than be defensive, I'm keenly curious.
Yet they are all being changed regardless with or without blogging. One living in Hong Kong confides that everytime he travels (he tends to do expeditions in remote areas to build schools and the like) and comes back home he grows further apart from his longtime pub buddies. We're not like a stretched rubberband that reverts back to its former shape. Expanding your horizons in a village in Kenya or Bolivia or Thailand is mysteriously irreversible. It's not always easy, but personal change may mean that new friends appear in our lives and old friends drift away.
I love blogging....but I'm beginning to think that absolutely nothing beats travel if your aim truly is letting yourself be changed.