Visiting a new country is not just about being physically there. It’s about experiencing what life is like in that world. No, you cannot claim that you have been to a country when all you’ve really experienced is its airport. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are ‘rights of passage’ you have to go through in order to really say you’ve properly visited. For instance, if you were to visit Saudi for work or whatever other reason, it is hard to miss out on a restaurant known as Al Baik. It’s part of the experience.
As a visitor to Saudi, if you ask some locals about a popular place to go to for food, Al Baik is surely going to be mentioned. I know people who bought an Al Baik meal from Saudi Arabia and carried it across the Atlantic to gift it to fans in North America. It’s good stuff, and there’s a lot more that Saudi offers.
If you plan to visit a country for a short while, you have a time limit on what you can do. It’s true that you cannot do it all. Living in a city is surely different than visiting, but you must at least complete a budget-friendly checklist. It includes experiencing the cuisine, the people and the streets. It is only then that you can say that you truly visited.
You have to eat at some point when you visit, and McDonald’s just doesn’t cut it when you’re abroad. Do not go for anything that you can have at home until you try something new and specific to the country you’re visiting. But also, don’t go all out and buy the spiciest meal in New Delhi when you know that you don’t like spice. Go for Naan (South Asian flat bread) instead.
If you visit a new country and do not have a conversation with one of its citizens, shame on you. How can you say you’ve visited and you didn’t even make small talk with the people of the land? Conversations with other expats that have been there for a long time, even a lifetime, do not count. People in the Gulf World know what I am talking about. Find a citizen, and break the ice. Ask them about the best local restaurant in town, and you’ve got two birds with one stone!
The experience of transportation by foot is different than by vehicle. Walking the streets allows you to immerse yourself into the new world. Your skin feels the temperature of the atmosphere, your feet press against the new earth as you glide, you breathe in the smells and you lose yourself for a moment discovering new territories and truly observing. A car keeps you in your own bubble. You’re visiting a new country, get out of that bubble!
How many countries have you really visited?