Sanctuary from the Ordinary

    What are our motives to travel? Escapism is on the top of the list — we travel to withdraw from our books, to resign from our jobs, to exit our overextended relationships, to quit our freeways, our computers, our polite conversations and the habits that serve as accomplices to our daily routines. In short, we travel to break loose from our lives.

    Kaia Lai

    Very seldom do we travel to “participate.” In our mind, travel is a point of departure, not arrival. We envision the airport and the hotel, but we forget the middle intrigues that can fill an experience. Our familiarity with a place is often limited to cultural landmarks: food, architecture, sign language, particular routes we took, broken language lessons from the natives. Sometimes we climb into a rickshaw, ride a camel or devour escargot. But in the end, at night, we retire back to our hotel rooms, climb into bed, turn off the fluorescent lamps and drift to sleep in the comfort of homogenous sterility.

    Somewhere along the lines, we miss the very experiences that capture the spirit of a locale. We let the worst of our routines get the best of our curiosity; we fall back to boring, to the everyday, even as we surrender a thousand dollars in our escape to the exotic.

    Regardless of town or country, our motives to travel are driven by our insatiable appetite for the exotic. For us San Diegans, the word “exotic” rarely inspires images of a surfboard collection, thatched roofs, salmon pink walls or a deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean — these images have long slipped into our vocabulary of commons sights. But the Banana Bungalow Hostel settled in a cul-de-sac along the boardwalk of Pacific Beach offers visitors to San Diego just these sights, interesting in their excess.

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