January 11, 2014 @ 11:02 am - posted by Liz

Whenever you use local guides you’ll experience the kind of accidental magic that you wont find in any guide book.

Whether you want to find the best beach or a great place to eat, local knowledge wins every time so cultivating the art of asking locals will be invaluable on your Career Break or Sabbatical leave.

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This is India and this is Gujarat in Western India on my Career Break.  And this is, not an untypical scene.  It’s women at a Mosque worshiping.  And I, to be honest, I would never have had been confident enough to go in with them because of being afraid of causing offence and feeling unwelcome.  But we asked if we could do a city tour with local guides, local volunteers and they arranged it for us on our Sabbatical leave, and because they told me it was ok and I knew I would be welcome and that to me gave me permission to really relax and enjoy my Career Break and we just joined in the tong and joined in the crowd.

Also celebrations kicking off down the street, worshiping various gods, paint throwing festival when we stopped and looking through the window of our car on our Sabbatical leave, but then the people started to become interested in us and to welcome us, so we got out and we joined in.  It it’s just wonderful, we were the only tourists there and just felt welcomed and part of the sabbatical, and we walked for an hour or two through the streets so that  celebrating and throwing paint and it was one of those magic accidental experiences which I think travel is all about. Those unplanned, spontaneous moments that happen.    but of course you have to be prepared, open and ready to take them when the opportunity presents itself.

This is a random picture I just put it in because this guy, I mean how cool is that.  One of the poorest guys in the community, he looks after his cattle but look at that for an outfit, that is fantastic .  Smartest guy you could ever meet, this is in Rajasthan, which is the neighbouring state to Gujarat.

If you ever find yourself in Gujarat, the best hotel to stay at is the ‘House of MG’.  Its a heritage hotel, very traditional, all full of history, and dark wood, colonial feel to it.  But this I saw down stairs.  I was a student of Responsible Tourism, but this is fantastic.  They basically measured your energy consumption in your room, calculated it back, gave you a gift voucher, it had a fantastic shop downstairs which is all the local craftsmen traders from the area were invited to come in and sell goods.  So you could save a bit of energy, come back and get a free gift.  Fantastic, that was really inspiring, and wonderful.

Best beech in the world, this is the best beech in the world I think, I’m pretty sure it is.  It’s in Scotland and I’m not going to tell you exactly where it is.  It’s a 40 minute walk from the nearest road.  Crystal white sand, nobody there, and the reason that I discovered this was not through a guide book but through asking in the local pub, spending the evening in the local pub, having a few beers and asking if there was somewhere special to go and spend the next day, and what they recommended.  And I treasure it, it’s a very special place and it just shows what happens if you are prepared to engage listen and all with local people.  I think the traditional habit, the western habit in particular is when you travel, is to know all the answers.  That’s our approach, we always know all the answers.  But I think that if you can cultivate the art of asking questions you will get some really magical and different travel experiences.

I also asked if there was somewhere where I could go out fishing with one of the local guys, because I had seen these little boats, these crab fishing boats, and they said yes, there was a guys who was finding it difficult to make a living through fishing crab and had set up a little tourism business so you could go out with him and tis is him.  And we fished, full on fishing and he harvested whatever he could and I sat and took part and helped out a little bit and that for me was a really authentic experience.  It wasn’t a tourist trip.  He was fishing and we were just along for the ride.  Massive crabs, huge great crabs.  Long Scottish things, which we took back, 50p each, took ten of them back and cooked them in the afternoon.  And the most amazing sea life that was coming up from Western Scotland and again that was me travelling like a local but that was as trip that I knew created a benefit for him and help sustain his traditional way for life because I was paying a little bit to go and spend time with him and that made it even more special to me, to make it more of a sense of being worth while.

About Liz

At the age of 39, Liz quit the 'Corporate World', downsized her life and followed her heart. Upon her return she set up CareerBreak360 with Robert to help others achieve their Career Break dreams.

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