Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WELCOME WAE REBO, FLORES, INDONESIA -

The signs are there in plain sight at the en­trance to ev­ery room. The one I can read says, “Do not touch the art­work.” There are other mes­sages in French, Span­ish and Ital­ian. The Ja­panese and Chi­nese char­ac­ters are there too, as is Ara­bic script. Low level pow­ers of de­duc­tion sug­gest they agree with the English sen­ti­ment: “Do not touch the art­work.”

For those who might not speak the afore­men­tioned lan­guages there is also a sim­ple hand icon in a red cir­cle with a slash through it. It’s a uni­ver­sal sym­bol for – plot twist! – “Do not touch the art­work”. Yet it seems in gal­leries, mu­se­ums and mon­u­ments all over the world there are peo­ple who think this small in­struc­tion ap­plies to ev­ery­one but them.

Same goes for cau­tion­ary di­rec­tives in other pub­lic spa­ces around the globe: do not climb, fol­low the path, do not feed the an­i­mals, no swim­ming, no pho­tos, no flash, no food or drinks, please re­frain from talk­ing, and so on all seem to be met as rec­om­men­da­tions rather than rules.

While these tourist ab­ber­a­tions rarely cause too many prob­lems, they do some­times re­sult in dis­as­ter or tragedy (“Tourist plunges to death from cliff while tak­ing self­ies”) or price­less break­age (“Tourist de­stroys an­cient statue of king in quest for per­fect selfie”).

For this week’s cover story, Ce­leste Mitchell, one of Es­cape’s favourite and most well-trav­elled con­trib­u­tors, tack­les the topic of “How to be a bet­ter trav­eller”. Once you’ve had a chance to read it, we’d love to hear about your en­coun­ters on the road, sea or in the air. Un­der­stand­ing the good, bad and baf­fling be­hav­iour of other trav­ellers will help us im­prove our own.


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