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#1 Best Travel Tip to Experience Culture: Turn Left

Intrigued? I can hear everyone scratching their head and asking “What do you mean “Turn Left”?”. Well, before I explain, let me tell you how this post came about. My friend Jen of Mom, Dad and Cuppa Kids recently published a great travel post called “Don’t Be A Dick”. It made some really great points about ways to enjoy your travel. Her travel tip of “Don’t Be a Dick” was a great one but it also spurred my brain to think about a few other things I’ve learned while traveling.

Over the years, we’ve gone to many exotic and not so exotic vacations. I pour over sites like Trip Advisor and travel forums to determine the must visit attractions, best tours and most delicious restaurants for our itenerary. I make a spreadsheet and enter everything in (more than everything if I am honest because there is no way that we could do it all). Sometimes we do a lot of the things and sometimes we get so overwhelmed that we do none of them.

And other times….we turn left.

One day when we were in Ubud, Bali, we decided to go for a walk through the rice paddies outside of town. I had looked up instructions on how to get there and where to go. We followed a tiny path between two buildings, pretty sure that we were going the wrong way. The path dumped us out behind the buildings and right on the edge of the rice paddies. We saw a few people walking away to the right. Dewey said “I wonder which way we should go.” I said “Well, I think we are supposed to go to the right.” He looked both ways and said “I think it looks cooler that way” pointing to the left. So we turned left.

Ubud Rice Paddies

We skipped along for a bit wondering if we were on private property and hoping we weren’t going to get in any trouble. Then we noticed a lady RUNNING towards us across the field (that’s her in the photo above). We were unsure what was going on. We looked at each other and said “Um…do you think she is mad?”

Trying out fresh coconut

As we approached she started calling to us. We were the only people anywhere around so we decided to stop and say hi. She invited us to rest in her bale (which is a raised platform to sit on with a roof). She loved Evan and hugged him about 50 times. She told us about her 6 children and 12 grandchildren. She showed us the mint, ginseng, lemongrass and more growing on the edge of her rice field. She opened a young coconut for Evan and Dewey to drink the water. Then she carved out the coconut meat for us to try. She was such a sweetheart. She also gave Evan bananas and oranges to take for a snack. We gave her a bit of money before we left but I honestly don’t think she would have cared. She thought Evan was the best. It makes me sad I didn’t get a better picture of her.

Basically, it was the coolest interaction. We can’t speak Bahasa and she can barely speak English but we had a fun conversation for probably half an hour or longer. You could tell that visitors rarely made the trek past her field. She got a fun break during her day and we got to meet someone that we never would have otherwise. It was an interaction that stayed with us much longer than any tour or attraction. We got to meet a wonderful lady, make her smile and give some smiles in return.

Go, travel, visit those “must see” attractions but occasionally, buck the system and turn left (or away from the crowds, whichever way that happens to be). I promise you’ll never be disappointed.

#1 Best Travel Tip to Experience Culture- Turn Left


Monday 20th of March 2017

This is wonderful advice. I hope you turn left in Vietnam. Have a great trip.