The question ‘What is your favourite country’ may seem a tad kiddish, especially since it originates from the autograph books used in primary school. Questions such as ‘ who is your favourite friend, what is your favourite book, who is your favourite teacher’ were common.
Fast forward to today, where most of us make it a point to go for at least one big trip every year, ‘What is your favourite country in the world’ does seem like an interesting topic for discussion.
But I realised when speaking with friends, many did not have a favourite country. Some said they had to travel more before deciding, while others mentioned that one’s opinion of a country would differ from city to city. I agreed and shared that I wasn’t looking so much into the specifics, but a general opinion.
So I decided to come up with some rough indicators, of the 8 signs that you have found your favourite country in the world. If there is such a country or place that makes you feel that way, appreciate if you could comment and let me know why.
If there isn’t such a country, that does not mean that you have to go on a kick-ass travelling journey throughout the year in a search for it. Simply take a slow step in your travels and smell the roses. You will find it one day : )
Here are 8 signs you have found your favourite country in the world:
1. It’s not a country you would declare as ‘favourite’ instantly
You may not be able to identify your favourite country just from the 3-5 days you have been there. It takes a couple of days, months and even years to realise that the time you had in your favourite country was pretty awesome.
2. You can’t find the right words to describe your favourite country
It’s easy to highlight the positive aspects of a country you visited, but sharing about the underlying reasons why you like it is much harder than that.
Until today, I can’t really explain why I like India so much. I can tell you about my experiences, such as watching the sunset over the Ganges, struggling with subzero temperatures in Kashmir, but I cannot pinpoint exactly why I like India. Apart from the word ‘incredible’, there’s no other words which can describe how I feel.
3. You find ways and reasons to keep going back
You tend to find reasons to return to your favourite country, subconsciously or not. Be it to take a walk down memory lane, or to discover new places, cities and natural wonders, your favourite country is always in your mind, when planning for trips. If you’re feeling down, your favourite country is usually the first place you’ll think of heading to.
4. Thinking of your time there makes you smile
I’m not sure about you, but when I looked back at old photos of myself in India, (looking terrible in a super short fringe), and in a SGD5 cotton top which I bought at the market, it always made me smile.
It is also nice recounting the epic episodes, such as moving to a house which did not have a constant supply of tap water and a TV. Back then, it was really not cool to be washing one’s hair with a disruption in water supply, or spending a TV-less month reading Shantaram as the only form of after work entertainment.
5. It is your favourite country not really because of the food, sights or culture
Most of my friends cited food and culture as reasons for liking their favourite country. But when probed further, they said that it was the people who matters. It could be the people they met there who were of great company. For me, it was the ‘I may be poor but I’ll never say die’ attitude in India that really gained my respect.
6. Your favourite country may have given you a hell lot of problems, as it has given you joy
I’m not sure about you, but India became my favourite country not because of the white marbled Taj Mahal, or the awe-inspiring River Ganges. I found it particularly memorable because of the many problems we had to overcome.
Be it having to bargain with rickshaw wallas who love to overcharge on a daily basis, to taking a pretty scary late night bus, to figuring my way around Delhi’s crowded streets, India was pretty ‘intense’ for me. But through these experiences, I think I have become a better person – a more street smart and assertive traveller with a higher tolerance for dust, dirt and a hell lot of uncertainty.
But it’s also in the midst of disbelief and exasperation when a simple kind deed is being done, that moves you – the lone car that slows down for you to cross the road in the midst of the chaos, or an offer of a glass of water while getting lost around Delhi’s poorer neighbourhoods.
7. No matter how much more travelling you do, your favourite country will always remain the same
Some of the friends I spoke with said that they had not travelled far and wide in the world, to come to a clear conclusion on what their favourite country is. And my answer was this. When you have a favourite country, it will continue to be your favourite country no matter how many other more beautiful countries you have been to. It will always remain as your favourite, irreplaceable by none.
A Friend T who had visited the River Nile in Egypt once said that the River Ganges in Varanasi is less grand and magnificent. I’ve seen pictures of the River Nile and I agree that it’s much wider and ‘happening’. But when I think about Varanasi, I will always remember how we had to fight off a cheating bus ticket salesman at the Nepal-India border who tried to make us overpay thrice the price for our bus tickets to Varanasi. I always remember how after more than 24 hours on the road, I was nursing a slight fever but (die die) had to walk around and take photos of the ghats of the ancient city. And I know that whatever River Nile cruise I may take in the future can never measure up to that.
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Your favourite country in the world cannot be found, it has to be experienced. It’s a place that may not have the best food, clean air and diverse cultures, but in the words of my friend S, “it’s a place which makes you feel a wide spectrum of emotions.” Anger, joy and sorrow, it’s a place that touches your heart.
8. It could also be the place you call home
I leave this as the last indicator because one’s favourite place in the world may not necessarily be a distant Iceland, where seeing the Northern Lights is an experience of a lifetime, or Santorini where the colourful little houses would brighten up your mornings.
For Singaporeans, it could be that sassy little superbly efficient island, with some serious online vigilantes ready to take down evil, errant retailers. As for touching moments, it could be found in the consecutive series of weddings you find yourself attending, while being obliged to give some really hefty red packets.
In my question posed to friends on their favourite country, I also asked them to take the location of friends and family out of the question. But I realised that it can be difficult. A delicious Korean BBQ is not the same without friends, and so is the enjoyment of watching the sunset with a bunch of friends in a four-wheeled bicycle at Bedok jetty.
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Is your favourite country in the world also the place you call home? If that is so, you are a very lucky person indeed : )