Unfamiliar Cities

Cities with all their activity and people,  are the most disorientating and potentially threatening places especially when unfamiliar.

It’s vital to become aware of the geography and familiar with methods of transport as quickly as possible.  I prefer to use local transport, and get away from the tourist-visitor areas, but other people may feel more comfortable with taxis and the sight-seeing circuit. Each to his own, but be aware that the tourist areas are most likely to be patrolled by  undesirables on the look-out for easy money…

Cities in which street signs are unreadable and not duplicated in Latin script, like many Far East countries, force visitors to be far more self-reliant  – or conversely to be more dependent on local guides.  This isn’t easy,  and before arriving in these places, travelers must think ahead to learn a few vital specifics – the local alphabet for example, or obtain city street maps.

But the best actually useful advice, is to follow the ‘look confident’ code, behave respectfully and modestly, and seek advice from respectable-looking people with politeness and confident deference.  There’s always the risk of an undesirable latching onto you- as if often a common way for people to earn a living in some poorer tourist places.  Be aware that even an ‘OK’ unofficial guide will be talking to people in languages you don’t understand, and can be expected to be insisting on being paid a commission for anything you might buy; and will persuade you to spend money with people he or she knows  – to your disadvantage possibly.

But to repeat, in tourist areas, the locals do get weary of tourists who behave improperly, wear immodest clothing, and fail to respect local customs and values. If however, you are clearly not this sort of person, you are much less likely to be ripped off.

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