08.11.2013 - 11.11.2013
When exploring new cities and countries you should always immerse yourself into the culture. You should be out there seeing the sights, learning the history, eating the food. I find it best to go off the beaten track, move away from all the tourists with their maps and their slow paced walking.
I like to lose myself in the city, go down the side streets and find the good little shops, the ones that don't cater for the foreigners but sell actual local goods. Eat at the restaurants where no waiter understands what you're saying and whatever you order will just be a surprise of traditional cuisine.
I always say you never truly get to experience a new place until you get lost in it, and I've pretty much lived up to that saying everywhere I've gone.
However, there are some places I would not recommend getting lost in as a blonde (fake blonde), ridiculously white girl in your 20's. Some of these places would have to be Morocco and Turkey, how I know this you may ask, because I may have done just that recently.
Apparently I stand out like a fog horn in these countries and no matter where I go, what I wear or who I'm with, I get all sorts of unwanted attention. Let's say if I'm on my own and wearing a dress (mind you I had stockings on and a winter coat) in Cappadocia, a group of 50 teenage Muslim school girls will encircle me and point at my clothing, and talk about my long legs (no idea what they were looking at), and touch my hair.
I am always respectful when going into religious buildings or very conservative areas. I just wasn't expecting to see these school girls but the attention received here was quite nice, as I got a chance to speak to these young women and hear their thoughts and views on the world.
However, when you are in a small beach side town wandering around and a Turkish man speaking next to no English comes up to you and won't stop talking to you, it's a little less fabulous. One thing you shouldn't do is show him any sort of interest, you should walk away and not in the way he is directing you. You should also definitely not agree to go have tea with him in a cafe, and when you arrive you see there is a woman there waiting for you.
Definitely don't let them get your full name, email address, travel plans and somehow befriend you on Facebook. If you do these things, the pair will try and get you to come back to their house for 'tea', they will send you numerous messages asking where you are, what you're doing, to go and meet them immediately.
At what point should you stop being polite and just leave the situation, right after finishing your tea which you did not pay for and run out of the cafe and hide in an Internet cafe for about two hours before venturing back out into the real world.
That is the advice I would give a young blonde white girl travelling on her own, but situations like this don't always happen. Understanding the difference between locals who just have a genuine interest and fascination towards the traveller and locals who have an ulterior motive lurking. On my travels I have met some incredible people, I travel to meet the people because I'm a people person and like to think people enjoy meeting me too. So giving myself the opportunity to get lost in new cities and meet different people is more than I could ever ask for. I will just always remember to listen to my gut because so far it's served quite right in every situation.
P.s mum don't worry, none of this stuff happened to me, I'm just thinking through the eyes of many other people :P