Travel should ex­pe­ri­enced, then snapped

Sunday Star-Times - - ESCAPE | CHECK IN - Brook Sabin on­flight­

It’s the most beau­ti­ful place I’ve ever seen, but I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber it as where I was slapped in the face. Pl­itvice Lakes Na­tional Park in Croa­tia has 16 lakes – with al­most hyp­not­i­cally turquoise wa­ter – linked by a chain of dra­matic wa­ter­falls, all among a Juras­sic jun­gle.

But the trou­ble is that up to 15,000 peo­ple a day visit, and it’s crowded.

My ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the place was slapped out of me by a self­i­e­stick, as a woman in front of me swung her phone around with an im­pres­sive golf-like swing, and hit me in the face. In­tro­duc­ing the self­ish selfie. But what sur­prised me the most was what hap­pened at the next wa­ter­fall. The same woman backed into the crowd, launched her stick in the air, snapped a photo, then left – with­out even look­ing at the tow­er­ing wa­ter­fall – prob­a­bly the most beau­ti­ful in the park.

I’ve seen so many in­ci­dents like this. In Cam­bo­dia, more than 1000 of us lined up in front of Angkor Wat – push­ing and shov­ing – to cap­ture the sun­rise. It had all the am­bi­ence of a crowded shop­ping cen­tre, jostling for a place in the Christ­mas wrap­ping queue.

In the Mal­dives, more than 100 peo­ple from 12 boats chased a whale shark to get pic­tures. Kids were cry­ing as peo­ple thrashed around in the wa­ter to get their GoPros close enough for a shot.

The main mo­ti­va­tion of travel used to be about ex­pe­ri­ences – whether it’s cul­ture, smells or sights.

To­day, it seems the pri­or­ity for many is In­sta­gram – with cul­ture, smells and sights a mere back­drop. Out to prove you’re hav­ing a great time ac­tu­ally means you can miss out on hav­ing that great time.

Take a look at my In­sta­gram, and your phone may spon­ta­neously com­bust from irony. Yes, I know: hyp­ocrite. And I find the bal­ance of be­ing in the mo­ment and en­joy­ing it a re­ally dif­fi­cult one.

That’s why a re­cent glamp­ing trip in the South Is­land was such an eye-opener. No power, lim­ited re­cep­tion – just me, my sig­nif­i­cant other and na­ture. So this is what travel was like in an era I call B I (Be­fore In­sta­gram). I quite like it.

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