How often people who walk past you look at you as if you are some very important people in this world or celebrities? May be if you have attire malfunction or people make fun of you by sticking paper saying you are a turtle or wadsoever, they would probably staring at you. Well i had that experience when i was in Berat, Albania.
We were like near extinct spesies walking on the streets of Berat. After spending some time in Berat, we figured out why they stared at us. We were the only 2 asians in Berat. may be for some of them we were the first young asian in Berat. Well tourist who comes to Berat are most probably those hardcore travellers with backpacks. Most of them are Europeans or Americans. Asian travellers are rare. if there are, there is a big posibility that they are Japanese or Korean who are in their middle age and can afford trips like this.
Here in Berat, they have an event every night where the local people would gather on a particular street at a particular period of time. the event is called Giro or Jiro (i am not sure). it somehow reminded me of pasar malam in Malaysia but without stalls. when the time came, the street was crowded with people in proper nice attire. i guess this is an event for the people to get to know each other and for the guys to tackle gals. Well when you are in a country where the people don't speak any language that you know, you just have to keep guessing about the things going on around us. But we confirmed with local people here nad they were very friendly and kind to explain everything to us eventhough their English was not good.
Language is indeed a barrier here in Berat, but that doesn't mean you should not try understand the people here. They are surprisingly kind and friendly. At the beginning,i had difficulties understand their facial expressions and hand gestures. Tim, on the other hand, was really good at understanding them. But i managed to keep up after a while.
Have you ever tried sitting somewhere on the street waiting for other people to come to you to talk to you? Well if you are living in Germany, most probably that won't be happening and you might just end up sitting there all day long alone. Tim and I decided to try our luck for the way people have been looking at us so far. We sat on a busy street in Berat to see how the locals would react. Some said hi, some looked at while walking past us, some looked at us again even though they have walked past us. Some asked me to take pictures for them. Not very often they could see tourist with big camera. So i took a couple of pictures of them. At first they were very shy in front of camera, their shyness was shown by them covering thier faces but after some persuasions they posed and smiled to my camera. It was a whole new experience for me to take pictures of people instead of buildings during the trip.
if you travel in small group(max 2 person), you would have different experience which on no account you would have if you travel in big group. People aren't so affraid of you if you are in small group. Therefore they would approach you and talk to you. Trip like this is the trip that gives you the chance to blend yourself into the local culture and learn more about the people. That made a big difference to my trip. Travelling is not just about being at a place and taking some photos to prove that sometime in the past i was there.
Another thing i like about Albania is the food here. Well the food here was not really special, but the food here was really cheap. With 5 euro you can fill your stomach to the fullest with 3 course meal with lamb or steak as main course and beer.