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“A New Way of Travelling” - Insights from Travels Years Ago

Programme Highlight
“A New Way of Travelling” - Insights from Travels Years Ago

There’s a saying, “The ball is round.” The passion for football has taken Ah Dai, a presenter of CIBS programme “A New Way of Travelling”, to about a hundred football stadiums around Europe and Latin America. Posing as a fan, Ah Dai has experienced the fiery, even fanatic atmosphere of the Galatasaray Stadium in Türkiye, also widely known as “Hell”. He took the bold move to interview members of the Turkish Beşiktaş Club as a travel writer, and was in turn interviewed by a local TV station and received a warm welcome. “When they learnt of my intentions, they allowed me to walk into and around the football pitch that was originally closed. They even threw me a football so that I could make a header. Eventually, I took my usual position of goalkeeper, and caught the football flying my way. Even now, the recollection of these moments excites me.”     

“People overseas are crazy about football,” Ah Dai said, laughing. Take South American for example, it is not unusual to find bleachers full of large banners. In Argentina, up to tens of thousands of people can be seated in a stadium, and they sing, dance and cheer with hands on each other’s shoulders. Some fans said that, the bleachers must be quakeproof even though Argentina is not in an earthquake zone, so as to withstand intense physical fights. Besides, 131.76 dbA had been recorded at one of the stadiums, taking it into the Guinness World Records as the “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium”.     

Ah Dai is also an avid fan of bike tours. He has cycled around Sicily, Taiwan and Tibet. “Sometimes it was well planned, like the cycling tour in Shikoku in Japan with my 60+-year-old Dad. We made our plans and boarded the flight with two bicycles. Sometimes it was a spur-of-the-moment decision upon arrival, and I’d buy a bike and get on with it.” Cycling allows him to appreciate the scenery along the way. When biking from Hiroshima to Shikoku along the 70km Shimanami-Kaido Cycling Route, one can take in the vast and boundless sea view. He visited a temple on the way and got himself a wooden tablet inscribed with a wish for peace and safety for the family. Just like the memory of the spectacular sceneries, the tablet has been carefully preserved.


During a biking tour with his father, Ah Dai bought a wooden tablet bearing the wish for peace and safety for the family as a souvenir.


“As it turns out, you can see a lot of interesting things, even surprises, if you follow your interest. Even if you look at the world from a key vision in Hong Kong, there are lots of discoveries to be made,” he said. 


Another presenter of the programme, Ball Ball, has been practising Argentine Tango for 14 years. It is an impromptu movement. “As long as I have my tango dance shoes with me, I can join local parties and get to know a lot of people. We share the same language - dancing.” Her favourite souvenir is a pair of maté tea gourds with an imprint of a tangoing couple. They are perfect for serving maté tea, the signature drink of Argentina. A straw is required for sipping hot tea. The especially made straw carries the portrait of the Argentine legend Che Guevara. The very narrow straw prevents tea leaves from being sucked in, making it easier for people to enjoy the drink while socialising.  



A couple is tangoing in Argentine style on the maté gourd.


Apart from going to Argentina to learn tango, Ball Ball also enjoys exploring ruins. She once hired a guide to take her through Chernobyl, probing into the waste left behind by a devastating radiation accident. Trees had grown in some places, with animals residing around. She also visited a small town in Georgia by herself. The town, formerly a luxurious spa for Russians, fell into disuse after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Other ruins she has toured include a former East German amusement park abandoned after the unification of Germany; Kinmen in Taiwan where, after years of gunfire, dilapidated military facilities still stand. “These ruins show that their creation is largely because of changes of regimes.”


“I love things from days gone by. It’s as if past glories have been frozen in these ruins. And I enjoy the exploration. In these places you can run into drug addicts, illegal occupants, animal carcasses, etc. At one time I only learnt at the entrance to a ruin that it was the last day before its closure. I saw with my own eyes how workers pulled up the cordon, built a brick wall, making it officially part of history,” Ball Ball said earnestly. 

A puppet bought in a small Cuban colonial town embodies the different races and ethnic groups of local residents.


“The difference between ruins and tourist attractions is, the latter displays the most dazzling and proud side of a place, whereas the former is a place locals least want the outside world to know.” Her advice to travellers is, in an age when social media check-ins are deemed a must and online rumours run amok, one should avoid revealing dangerous places or disturbing people when probing into a ruin. Study the local culture and customs, show the reality as it is, and help set the record straight.