Sondang Sirait Rahardja, WEEKENDER | Wed, 11/30/2011 2:58 PM |
Take NCIS. Modern Family. Dancing with the Stars. Those three television shows are currently among the top entertainment picks in the United States, according to a TiVo survey released in September. Each represents the most popular of its genre – crime drama, sitcom and reality TV – and together they constitute Americans’ “guilty pleasures”.
That term, much as it sounds like an oxymoron, refers to “something you shouldn’t like, but like anyway”, according to UrbanDictionary.com. You know, like that cigarette break you sneak out for every afternoon. Or that frappuccino you just can’t live without. Enjoy now, regret later.
It’s the same with traveling.
I admit I have a weakness for Orchard Road. Yes, I’m one of those Indonesians ruling Singapore’s shopping hub. Embarrassingly, my attraction to it leads to the point of diminished expectations as well as diminished imagination. Always staying at hotels along the road, spending hours strolling from one end to the other and back again, eating at mall food courts and, of course, shopping. My furthest adventure would take me to the hawker center at Newton Circus, strictly for its popiah, grilled stingray and oyster omelet. Pathetic, I know, but I enjoy it so much I keep doing it! As always, the regret comes later, when I hear stories of friends discovering this and that in that city-state. But do I get bored? Not really. Orchard has everything I want. It’s my guilty pleasure.
It may sound a bit extreme, but don’t we all have that habit we never break out of?
Because traveling can be tiresome, it isn’t wrong to retire to the same old routine. Frequent travelers, especially those traveling on business, would attest to the notion that in the end it’s a matter of taste and convenience, mostly shaped by personal experience. That explains why you’re a frequent flyer with airline A, and not B. Why you stay at this hotel chain as opposed to that one. Which airport you prefer. Where you buy coffee. The list goes on.
My best friend Erna, who lives in Washington, DC, makes it a point to go on exotic vacations at least once a year, always by herself. “It’s my ‘me time’,” she likes to say. While my ‘me time’ was eating Peruvian chicken at El Pollo Loco, hers was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. She’s also spent a month backpacking through Europe, from Prague to Munich to Paris, and observing those volcanic rock sculptures on Easter Island, Chile. This year, she married a French guy in a mock ceremony in Fiji. Although her experiences may seem random, there is one secret for fun she maintains throughout her travels: Never build an itinerary and always play it by ear. Well, that, and forking out US$3000 from her savings every year.Whether you’re more like her or me, it doesn’t matter. The key is in adding a little twist here and there.
Like the character Ryan Bingham played by George Clooney in the movie Up in the Air, whose obsession is to collect 10 million Frequent Flyer miles with American Airlines. When he finally does, his reward is a bottle of champagne and a chance to talk to the chief pilot, both on board.
You know how we always complain about domestic airlines but end up flying them anyway because of the lack of choice? Take my mother as an example. As a busy traveler frequently let down by her airline of choice (mentioning no names), she never runs out of complaints. Delays are so common they have become part of the routine. Or that time her baggage was accidentally left in the departing airport. Then there were cases of ruined baggage, and not to mention bad service.
It got so bad that many times I pleaded with her to switch to another airline, any other airline. But no, she won’t. My mother’s patience seems to outrun any disappointment, thanks to the “added baggage allowance” granted by her Frequent Flyer status. “The more, the better,” she says.
So, I suppose a
little quirkiness here and there won’t hurt, as long as you enjoy
the experience and make it personal. What’s your guilty pleasure?