Travel writing: from here to nowhere

I discontinued my travel blog a while ago. Not that I ever thought I would be writing significantly on travel, but I still enjoy reading the classical genre. So, I became interested in joining the travel writing forum “From here to there” at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, to find out where modern travel writing is going. It was a very shallow experience. Stephen Vines, a columnist at the South China Morning Post (SCMP), moderated a panel of three. Starting off by mistaking being unprepared for “humor”, I was looking forward to Geoff Dyer who at least knew what he was talking about. Geoff distanced himself immediately from being a “travel writer” to being a writer who travels. I did not understand why from the beginning. But then the two other “travel writer” panelists came into play and it became clear to me: Vicki Williams and Vivian Tang. Vicki and Vivian were of a different kind. Obviously you need no opinion or ability to articulate one to be an “opinion leader”. They were clearly not burdened by any kind of knowledge or education on the subject. When comparing the adventures of Victorian travelers with today, there came: “… sometimes I don’t even know what I will have for dinner on my plate”. This was the moment I busted laughing and decided to take the event as a bad stand-up comedy. Vivian embraces local knowledge by traveling with local guides and enjoys luxury yachts. She also found a beach in Hong Kong which had no geotag for Instagram. Isn’t that funny? Luckily, I have also been in a very interesting session before with the author Dung Kai-Cheung. Otherwise, I would have suggested to rename the festival into “Hong Kong Literacy Festival”, to celebrate what‘s left of it. If this was really the future of travel writing on display, then I guess Tripadvisor is up for a Nobel Prize.