I was sitting in a tiny, dark bar in Opelousas, Louisiana, drinking Bud and chatting to a couple of Vietnam veterans. Why? Because I was on holidays, that’s why.
Back home in Sydney I probably wouldn’t have been having a conversation with some random strangers sitting near me in a bar. I definitely wouldn’t have been drinking a watery American beer. But that’s holidays for you.
Something happens when you step off the plane into a foreign country. You’re choosing to leave your comfort zone behind, and it changes you. Instead of seeking familiarity, you seek difference. You want to try new things. You want to talk to everyone. You want to eat food you’ve never eaten before.
At home in Australia, I cook mostly the same few pastas and salads, and get takeaway from the same chicken shop every few weeks. On holidays I eat anything, the weirder the better. In Tokyo, I would order food in a restaurant by pointing to a plate on display, without being quite sure of what it was.
In Slovakia I tasted wild boar (yes, I felt like Asterix). In Vanuatu I ate a delicious dish made with Spam. On a road trip around America, I bought a meal from each of the different fast-food franchises (White Castle was the best). I also ate fried alligator, which tasted like...well, crocodile.
At home, I have certain things I like to do in my spare time, mostly involving dinners with friends and good conversation. When I’m on holidays, I’m up for anything, no matter how cheesy. In Japan, I went for a cruise on a replica pirate ship. In Scotland, I went in search of the Loch Ness monster. In Kentucky, I visited a Biblical-themed mini-golf course. I also stayed in a motel where all the rooms were giant concrete teepees.