“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Sunday, October 29, 2006


Regular readers and those who know me know that travel is a very important part of my life and that I feel the experiences gained and self-knowledge learned while traveling is unlike anything else.

Earlier this year I came across a show on the Travel Channel called 5Takes. In it, 5 young adults (TJs or "travel journalists") come together to explore new places all on a budget of $50/person/day. They each have an interest area that they will be focusing on at different points along the way - be it food or night life or culture or religion, etc. When I first saw the show the group was traveling all over the Pacific Rim and actually visited a few places I have been to, like the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island outside of Hong Kong. It was exciting to see again a place that now seems so far away. After all, it's been over 4 years now since I was there.

It's an interactive show in that they tape, edit, and air each episode all within about a week and a half so you can go to their website to post comments, tips, ideas, and vote on where to go for their final destination.

This time around, the 5 TJs are all from Pacific Rim countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippians, and Australia) and they are touring around the USA. Their first stop along the way was to spend 5 days in Las Vegas - an interesting first look at the US - and they are off to Alaska for next week's show.

Having traveled a lot myself, I always find it interesting to see how Americans are perceived by the everyday people in other countries. Their view is so filtered by television and other stereotypes that many are only tangentially aware of what the reality is. And the same is true for the general opinions most Americans hold for people of other countries around the world, even moreso in fact.

In my travels with work these past few weeks, my dad and I were listening to the audiobook of Nicholas Sparks' memoir Three Weeks with My Brother. In the book Nicholas and his brother Micah recall their lives growing up while they travel around the world over the course of three weeks in late January and early February 2003. There is a scene from their trip where they are talking with a guide about traveling to the US. The guide had been to major cities and felt that Las Vegas was the epitome of what America is: the lights, the energy, the money, extravagance, the food. For me, and I would presume for most Americans, Vegas is certainly not definitive "America."

But that's what I like about this show, it gives us a number of different perspectives on what the world has to offer. And, this season anyway, we are given a glimpse of how we are viewed by those from other countries. Definitely worth a watch. Here, it's on Saturday nights at 10pm (EST) on the Travel Channel. Take a look!