It was lunchtime so I took a break from the Conference and walked into town. Our hotel here in Tetovo is on the edge of town, but it's a very short walk. But when you are in a new town and trying to get your bearings you take your time, looking around, looking up and pausing and even walking up roads off the main drag to explore.

It occurred to me that as a traveller attending a conference, I am effectively a tourist. As I walk down the street in my jeans, t-shirt, cap and clutching my camera I must stand out. Most people don't react or bat an eyelid, but some clock that I am 'not from these parts'. When I then wander into a mosque, a church, a shop - occasionally you get stopped and asked - in the local language - why you are there and if they can help. Inevitably I can just about understand the greeting or the challenge, and demonstrate that I only speak English. The reaction is variable but usually very warm.

At this point one of two things happen - one is that the door is firmly closed in front of you. It is not that they don't want to let you in, but that they are afraid that by letting you in they have exceeded their remit and permissions - so it is easier to stop you entering. The other reaction is that the door is flung open, and you are swept in and greeted like a long lost friend.

And so as I leave these places, I wonder what would be the reaction if I was a migrant or a refugee. If I had just arrived here, to make a new home, driven out of my own country and unable to progress further. I can't help that think that the reaction would be so very different but also my own actions and demeanour.

To visit and place and look around is one thing - but you know in your mind that you will be returning home, to your own bed, your small treasures and possessions and friends and loved ones. To come and look around knowing that you have no home, no small treasures, loved ones torn away. That uncertainty would be writ large in my face, in my attitude and upon the lines of my brow.

Add to that the judgements and suspicions of others in the town you are visiting. The very idea that you would be judged as someone who is homeless, rootless, stateless and fleeing scares. With that idea goes the suspicion that you are of another place, another land, tradition, even faith. Take that even further and you are then suspected of being a negative presence, a possible interloper, someone of a faith or a culture that undermines the status quo...

Before I go too deep on these fears, concerns, speculations, I pause, stop and smile and decide to buy myself an ice-cream. At that point I find myself at the bridge over the River Pena, I pause to enjoy the scene - the mosque, the ottoman hamam bath-house turned art gallery. And then my curiosity sated, I turn back and walk back to my hotel and prepare for my flight. But this is a flight home to my possessions and loved ones, this is not a flight from all I once enjoyed. For by luck of my lot in life, I have been spared that.

I'm attending the conference on Religion and Conflict Prevention on behalf of the UK Unitarians, the conference is organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom. www.iarf.net