The next time you have that itchy feeling where all you want to do is jump on a plane and head somewhere exotic and maybe your bank balance says otherwise?
Then let me introduce you to the micro-trip. If like me, you find part of the buzz of travel is simply exploring new places, getting lost in local neighbourhoods of your own city, where no-one speaks english is the perfect solution.
You don’t have to catch a plane to experience a micro-trip. Drive, catch a train, a ferry, or even walk, there’s bound to be suburbs you haven’t explored in-depth in whatever city you currently live.
In Sydney, walking around places like Liverpool, Cabramatta, Fairfield and Campsie always make me feel I’m in a different country. Signs in different languages, multi-cultural food and different customs.
Perhaps you have some black magic, evil spirits, or simply a case of bad luck? Then in Fairfield, ‘world famous Astrologer, Raghavendra, who is 5 times more powerful than other Astrologers’ might have the antidote to all your problems.
Being surrounded by people speaking languages other than English can give you that same feeling as having visited a different country overseas. Seeing your city with different eyes, gives you a new perspective when you do travel, to perhaps find beauty in urban areas you might have previously overlooked, away from the tourist zones.
On a recent trip to Liverpool, Fairfield and Cabramtta, (in Sydney, Australia) I ate a Lebanese style mixed plate with a lamb, chicken, beef, and sweet potato char-grilled kebabs with home-made hommous, baba-ganoush (eggplant dip), and garlic sauce, with freshly made tabouli. Taste wise, I was in Lebanon. It’s easy enough when you close your eyes to be transported by food.
To complete my experience, I bought some backlava from a specialist bakery who makes them on-site in batches by the hundreds. Instead of the usual pistachio filling, Aladdin Bakery also makes cashew, walnut, date, ricotta, and almond baklava.
Liverpool also features lines of Indian boutiques selling colourful sari’s, flashy gold and silver jewellery, and homewares to match.
Take your ears to another country, whilst you surround yourself with foreign tastes and smells. Here’s a world music playlist. Listen now or download for free, with a three month trial of Apple Music.
The idea of a micro-trip came to me (albeit ironically) on my last day in India, I was in New Delhi and I wasn’t completely happy with the amount of photos I’d taken on my trip so far, I was missing the money shot – that one photo that perfectly sums up an entire country, so I took the subway (partly because it had air conditioning) and hopped on and off random stops, taking some of my favourite photos that day out of my whole India trip.
I found mosaic street-art down alleyways, portraits of people in doorways, decorated yogis and gurus in temples, smartly dressed schoolkids packed into rickshaws, street hawkers frying samosas and pakora’s, and jingly-jangly jewellery reflecting the late afternoon sun in market stalls.
I took more photos that last day, than I did the previous twelve days combined. None of the places I went, had anything that was significant to tourists, so I saw no other foreigners the whole day, which also meant, I wasn’t harassed to give money, or buy junk the whole time. As a general rule, if you stick to touristy areas, you will get harassed for money.
Once i was back home in Australia, I looked at a map of Sydney and read aloud all the places I’d heard about, but never visited. Places like Auburn, Granville, Blacktown, Liverpool and Cabramatta. Partly it was distance, and partly I didn’t know anyone who lived in these places, so never had the need to visit them.
My first introduction to these places was when I was working in travel, and had to ride my red scooter out, to visit other travel agents. I visited one in Liverpool, parking my bike in a nearby lane way, upon returning, I couldn’t find my keys anywhere, I spent ten minutes searching every pocket of my pants and leather jacket, before I realised I had left them, in my bike! I called it the boot, but it was under seat storage with it’s own locking mechanism, and for hours my scooter had been sitting in a dingy lane way, with the keys in it, and no one had stolen it. That completely changed all perceptions I had of these far away suburbs. Perhaps I’d been extremely lucky but had that been the Sydney CBD, my bike would have been gone for sure.
On a recent trip to Liverpool, I was asked in a shop if I needed any help, I responded with “nah, I’m just having a squiz,” and the girl didn’t have any idea what I meant. It’s nice to know there’s pockets in Australia where slang is foreign so you can easily feel like you’re in another country, without the cost of a plane ticket.
Every July at the end of Ramadan there’s a Multicultural and Eid Festival and Fair in Fairfield which features over a hundred different cultural stalls, food, music, art, and even rides for the kids. This year, the Multicultural and Eid Festival and Fair for 2018 is on the 8th July. You can find more information on what to expect from this article.
So now whenever I feel the need to escape, and don’t have the time or budget to duck off overseas, I take myself on a micro-trip. Exploring suburbs, seeking authentic foreign food, adventure, and locals.
Every city I’ve been to around the world, has various options for micro-tripping, whether it’s the foreign supermarket in Kyoto, or the Muslim Quarter of Xi’an in China, or Chinatown in San Francisco!
Where’s the best suburbs in your city to take a micro-trip and what should explorers look out for? Comment below with your suggestions and head to my shop for a print of my incredible travel photos.