I found myself in the Canadian countryside for the first time, poised to have a deeper, more authentic Québécois experience in the French-speaking Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French; a love of nature seems to be a universal language there.
I’m not sure quite what I was expecting when I arrived at the National Mask Festival in Papua New Guinea. I think I envisioned a gathering of PNG’s many tribes in a big grassy field surrounded by jungle. But I soon discovered, as I was passing through the tickets-required entryway, that it’s a far more organized affair.
My friend Carol, a born and bred Singaporean, told me that my guide had brought me to a “touristy,” “overpriced” imitation of a “real” hawker food center, Food Republic. Not that the food wasn’t delicious, but if I was to have the true hawker experience, I would have to leave air-conditioning behind and hit the streets, where it all began.
“I need one of you to take a picture of me watching ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ amidst gorillas in the mist,” I announced to my trekking group. The Americans, who had all seen the 1988 docudrama starring Sigourney Weaver, immediately got the joke, which made finding a volunteer a cinch.