You may arrive to a country, but never enter it. You may take pictures, see all the touristic sights, explore every corner… and still never enter the country.
The magic feeling of entering a country only happens after some time, talking to its people, trying to learn their ways, their customs and beliefs. Walking around without any sight in mind, or any map, waiting for the unexpected to happen, feeling the experience of being in a remote place without any rush, while familiarizing yourself with the smells, sounds, colours, faces,…
We see too many tourists only talking to other tourists, eating just western food, buying stuff made just for tourists, rushing from one place to another… Their travel pictures, a collection of sights in the background and a tourist in front, will be just a proof that they have been there. And for most, that is the goal.
We consider ourselves lucky to have been able to enter some of the places we have visited so far.
Some of them are easy to enter if you stay long enough, and have some curiosity about the place. People are busy with their own lives and visitors can easily witness how they live.
For the countries in which tourism is the main economic activity, there is a whole ecosystem of local people targeting tourists to capture their dollars, with an arsenal of goods and services, commisions and scams.
For the visitor, that is a constant noise that delays the process of entering a country.
It is what happens to us here in Vietnam. We arrived two weeks ago and we are still looking forward to eventually entering the country.