In this extremely well-written travel feature on Tasmania, Australia’s island state, while the article highlights the stunning vistas the land has to offer, what makes it extremely thought-provoking is the focus on the cultural history of the place. Trekking through the pristine wilderness of Tasmania along with an Aboriginal guide, the author not just explores the deep connection the people of the soil have with their habitat but realises his own ignorance of the environment, having lived in a city all his life. All that – and everything in between – is laced with self-deprecating humour. Sure to put a smile on your face.

But what made me fall in love with the article all the more was the fact that it propagates the benefits of slow travel, without overselling it.

The idea of seeing a place as is, without the numerous filters of a phone camera and without the prejudices of a stereotypical tourist might be considered either exotic or ancient by those who click first and see later, but I believe that is the true essence of travel. However, some will argue that there is a high risk of being accused of cultural appropriation as the industry quite often objectifies heritage with exploitative motives. As local tourist guides curate itineraries that allow you to take pictures in local outfits, eat a meal with a local family or shop for souvenirs and postcards, all legitimate ways to fuel the local economy, what they also do is rob you – the tourist – off the precious first-hand chance to truly understand the culture of the place.

So as travel emerges from an extremely long hibernation and we begin to think of satiating our hunger for it, let us consider stepping back and savouring the mind-expanding, enriching experiences the place has to offer.

By the way, you don’t have to travel out of the UAE for it.

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Reach me at mshekar@gulfnews.com.

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