It’s easy to feel the world is a shrinking place. Journeys that used to take months now happen in the time it takes us to watch Godzilla and eat a microwaved meal, and we have more information in our pocket at any time than the sum total of human knowledge for the last three thousand years. In such a world it’s easy to think there’s very little mystery left, very little tradition or magic or authenticity.
Shakespeare once said, ‘The sauce to meat is ceremony; meeting were bare without it.’ Basically this translates to, ‘Festivals, they’re pretty cool, eh?’ And those Elizabethans really knew how to party, so I’m inclined to agree with his opinion. Ceremonies and festivals are the cultural glue that binds us as people.
Ordinary is one of those things that creeps up on you unawares. Before you know it you’ve been brushing your teeth with the same brand toothpaste you were three years ago. You recognise every step of the commute to work, and at the café around the corner they simply ask you for ‘Same old same old’. Days start to blend into one another like porridge, and before you know it you’re bogged down in the ordinary. Even the word sounds heavy and repetitive, with cousins like bored-inary and snore-dinary slotting in just a little too easily.
What is it about Asia that throws up strange and unusual places to rest your head? It’s as if there’s some inaudible signal being broadcast causing architects and hoteliers to try and one-up each other in a race towards the weird and wonderful. Hey, I know, let’s make them sleep in a giant elephant! No, why not in tiny cubicles stacked like sardine tins! It’s like Lewis Carol and Gaudi decided to get together and start a small interior design business.
Quality of life varies widely from country to country. Some basic factors that help quantify one’s quality of life include access to shelter, one’s life expectancy, and accessibility of employment. If you had been born in another country, do you think your quality of life would be the same? Would you see a similar life expectancy, or even have access to clean water? It’s impossible to say how different your life would really but – but one travel site has helped us get one step closer to answering these questions.
It’s an iconic American image – the endless expanse of the open road. And just like Australians can’t drive more than a few hundred kilometres before coming across a giant mango or something, Americans have their own quirky fondness for bizarre roadside attractions.
What it is about America that makes people cross it in search of something? For some it’s a better life, others are looking for truth or beauty, or the best home-cooked chilli; but for thousands of travellers each year, it’s music that drives them. Many will road trip square across the country to visit the hometown of their idol, or uncover the origins of a particular music scene. From the jazz-filled hotels of New Orleans to the crooner bars of Vegas and the grunge clubs of Seattle, there’s a song and a story for almost everyone.
New York is one of those destinations you feel like you’ve visited before. The Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, Central Park, Carrie Bradshaw’s ridiculously beautiful rent-controlled brownstone – tick, tick, tick, tick. New York lives in our heads from the moment we’re old enough to switch on a television.