Many years ago when I travelled round South America I visited many countries and a variety of interesting places, including Cartagena and San Agustin in Colombia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Foz do Iguacu on the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina and the national park, Torres del Paine, in the South of Chile. I clearly remember enjoying all of them immensely, and for a variety of different reasons. Another iconic tourist site I visited during that sabbatical was the Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, and I recall commenting to a North American lady standing next to me, admiring the view, that it was a shame the day was cloudy, to which she replied that at least it was another one that could be crossed off the list.
Looking back on that trip, wandering round central park and a visit to Brooklyn Botanical gardens, were far more satisfying than, for example, the uninspiring, vertical excursion to the upper floors of the Empire State Building. Sometimes places that are not necessarily on the tourist route of top highlights are worth taking the time to visit, even if it is just to get a different, perspective of local life. On a recent trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand, the hotel we stayed at was a ten minute walk from the old city—the principal area for tourists. Each day we passed the covered market on our way into the old city, and on the last day of our stay we decided to pay a visit to this colourful and vibrant place. In the end we stayed there for almost an hour, wandering around, inspecting the assorted goods for sale—the platters of exotic food, the bright, perfumed sticks and cones of incense, the sweets, chocolates and cakes—while listening to the animated and unintelligible conversations of the local people. I took many photographs in an attempt to capture and preserve a two dimensional record of this very Thai atmosphere. I enjoyed that brief, voyeuristic exploration of the local population going about their daily tasks.
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