Being a true traveller

As we cycle through different countries, we are aware that we are foreigners in someone else’s homelands. It is so important that we we respect local customs, try to connect with local people and reach out where ever possible. Often, particularly the further east we travel, we find amazing, welcoming hospitality. In the East, the concept of “our guest is our God” is not uncommon, that hospitality and helping the traveller (guest) is a blessed duty. This is both wonderful and challenging, as we need to live up to the gracious respect that we are given.

We would like to share our experiences of how we attempt to be true travellers, learning from the cultures that we meet, receiving the greetings that are given and respecting local traditions.

Speaking the language

We already have some basic language skills. We both speak French. Alysun speaks German and a little bit of Spanish. Tim speaks Hindi/Urdu.

We have found that making an effort to learn some of the language of the country you are visiting makes a tremendous difference. It shows you have tried before you set out on your journey to reach out to the people of that country. It also provides them with much entertainment as you pronounce their words so badly! I found it helpful to have a notebook in which I wrote as much as I had managed to learn down. I kept the notebook close to hand at all times as my memory is terrible for new words. I could whip it out in a shop and look at it before speaking. You will find certain words essential for every country. Here are a few suggestions; Hello, goodbye, water, can we camp here? tea, coffee, vegetarian, bread, toilet, thank you

Certain sites are useful….

  • Google Translate – great but often tends to come up with the weirdest stuff !! You can download an offline version to your smart phone, that is very useful.
  • Babel; a language site for many different languages (you have to subscribe)
  • Various internet sites offer some words and phrases for free.

Some languages are much more difficult to access to learn than others (Georgian and Armenian). This is due to the Cyrillic scripts which you can’t read. Russian is a good substitute in Georgia and Armenia, as the older people have learnt this at school.

Google Translate

Cultural awareness in Iran

We have written a dedicated page on cultural awareness in Iran here….

Cultural awareness in Iran


  • Good respectful conduct
  • Dress codes
  • Receiving hospitality