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What motivates us to travel? Pretty pictures? Good press? Or can the reasons we travel be darker?
It was a twisted tale of a cult-like killer in India that motivated me to take off on one of my first trips abroad. Yes, yes, I know that’s not normal and I’m not proud of my motivations but the story was so bizarre and riveting, about a mesmerizing man, Charles Sobhraj (with an oddly-compliant Quebec girlfriend, or maybe she was French. My memory sucks) who (him, not her) seemed to need to have a following, so much so that he poisoned a couple of European backpackers just enough to keep them dependent on him. He would take care of them, he said. And weirdly, he did. Others he killed, in Thailand, Nepal and India.
And if you read the book would you be inspired to travel to India?
Reasons we travel
It inspired me. After I read that biography about this strange Manson-like figure my first thought was, people go to India? Hey, I hadn’t travelled much then, and my travel dreams didn’t really progress beyond New York and Paris. But the book made India so alive, and the bit about the two young men, the poisoned ones, who fell under his spell was so hypnotizing. I could taste the curry (if not the poison), smell the incense and see them walking through the markets, and that’s when I knew I had to go to India.
And when my great uncle Harold died and left me enough money for a trip, a foreign trip to distant lands, guess where I went? India.
It’s all about Place … and sometimes intrigue
Maybe the twisted tale of a narcissist on a power trip isn’t what makes you want to buy a plane ticket, but it worked for me. And it makes me think of all the PR people out there who put their energy into getting GOOD PRESS. You know, those glowing reviews about the lovely pillars and sensational creme puffs and attentive waiters and well-appointed rooms (why do I hate the term well appointed so much?), but maybe that’s not what is going to get people to visit a destination.
Why we really visit a destination
And no, I’m not suggesting we all go out and find sick tales of crime and poison and compliant foreign girlfriends to write about, or focus solely on mystery and intrigue, but maybe what is really important, whether it’s a good tale or a bad tale, is to make a place come alive.
Mystery is motivating
That reminds me of another book I read, Husband Lover Spy. This tale is as weird as the story of the poisonous Sobraj. It was written by Janice Pennington, a former Price is Right model. Yup, that’s right. Models can write more than their names. After her husband, a famous mountain climber disappeared in 1975 in the lawless wild mountains where Pakistan, the Soviet Union and Afghanistan came together, she discovered he’d been working with the CIA and died under mysterious circumstances. Her search to find out what had happened to her missing husband made that turbulent region come so alive that … you guessed it, I’ve wanted to go there ever since.
And what are your travel motivations?
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