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Perceptions of friendliness

November 3, 2009

New travel writers are constantly warned about the pitfalls of using clichés and adjectives to describe an experience.  The writer is expected to convey a sense of realism and feeling by choosing words that show, not tell, the reader about travel.

Things are different in travel conversations. Clichés go in free fall, adjectives describe everything and anything in flowery format and are often categorised in degrees of satisfaction alongside a noun — great time, good food, nice weather and awesome man! Nothing or no-one is left unscathed by such language because eager travellers want to share their new discoveries with any available ear.

One such conversation — which amuses and also bugs me —  is “the friendly people” conversation. In an attempt to convey a great discovery, the traveller pulls out every possible superlative, to compare and contrast their recent experiences with past experiences — louder than others, the rudest ever, the funniest, the most easy-going I’ve met.

These opinions are largely formed from small interactions or observations and nothing more. Politeness is viewed as kindness, a surly face is regarded as cold, pushy is considered rude and smiles are all too often revered.

Travellers speak of these local encounters as though it were a new phenomenon, forgetting the possibility that friendly people exist everywhere: neighbours, street vendors, teachers, drivers, business empire builders.

My observations: emotions don’t discriminate, people choose how they feel, the only difference in the level of friendliness is — perception.

by Cate

by Cate

Caffeinated Traveller


  1. November 3, 2009 7:25 pm

    I agree totally with you. All those adjectives are just our perception, and maybe misleading.

    Just tell what we have seen without them may well explain our experience, though it is sometime very difficult.

  2. Cate permalink
    November 4, 2009 9:55 am

    Hi Rainfield!
    yes it is sometimes difficult maybe we jut don’t need to be so judgemental as well, that may help.


  3. Bear permalink
    November 5, 2009 8:37 am

    I can’t agree with you more. It took me a while but I have come to see that there is usually more than one way to do something right and more than one interpretation of a situation depending upon culture.

    • November 5, 2009 9:40 pm

      Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat so to speak.

  4. November 7, 2009 3:29 pm

    Adjectives will be the death of written travel experiences 🙂

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