Authentic travel experiences - what does that even mean? I was reading about it and now I've been thinking about it and, to be honest, it just makes my head spin in circles.
For example, if you decided to go to that ninja theme restaurant in Tokyo (which I have never been to, why have I never been?), that would definitely be considered not authentic. It's about as contrived as it comes. They aren't real ninja and the whole place has been set up as an experience.
Slight digression: I read a thing the other day that said what if all countries have ninja but we only know about the Japanese ones because they are really crap. That cracked me up.
So, instead you go off to do something real and traditional, like tea ceremony. Is that authentic?
Since I can't imagine anyone actually being interested in tea ceremony, how authentic can it be? Do you really give a shit about kneeling down for hours watching a cup of tea being made or are you just in love with the idea of yourself being the type of person who likes tea ceremony?
And really, the tea ceremony for tourists is just as contrived as going to a theme restaurant.
Sitting around chatting to locals, being part of their lives, that could be considered authentic but, especially in places like SE Asia, how do you know it's not just a set up to get you to spend money? If you weren't seen as a rich tourist, I wonder how long the local hospitality would last. Maybe that's overly cynical but you don't know. You will never be in a situation of not being seen as a rich tourist to find out.
I guess if you are into hiking or white water rafting or other extreme sports, you could say you are having an authentic experience. When the wrong decision can mean death or discomfort, you are pretty focussed on the moment. But, for most middle class Westerners, it's still a set up situation in many cases.
To have a truly authentic experience in most countries in the world, what would you do? Get up at stupid o'clock, get dressed and commute to an office. That's the reality. And, if you want that, why the hell are you travelling? You could stay at home and be as authentic as heck.
To me, being authentic (which is a totally wanky word), means keeping it real, doing the things I want to do. What's fun for me? If that means going to the tackiest tourist destination in town then it's authentic.