Diane's thoughts on travel
Manchester Travel Blog› entry 254 of 254 › view all entries
It isn't until you get to the end of a trip that you realise where you have been. So, now we are at the end of this trip, where have we been? We began the year in Canada, then New Zealand and Australia, all interesting places with fantastic and breathtaking scenery. Yet in many ways it was no different to being at home. To challenge your ideals on life you need to see and experience an alternative, and for me the other 'western' countries didn't really provide that alternative.
The real travels for me began when we landed in Bangkok. When we left the airport and smelt the city, felt the heat, waded through a crowd and found a taxi to take us to a hotel we hadn't booked. For 3 months we lived day to day, no future plans, no bookings. Meeting people who spoke no English yet who shared what they had, oranges in a hard sleeper in Vietnam, papaya outside a temple in Cambodia, Angkor beers at Kymer New Year.
Early on in the trip we saw some profound grafitti that read 'What you own, begins to own you'. This has grown in meaning as time has gone on. For almost 12 months, what I owned I carried in a rucksac and apart from the camera (which I am afraid does own me!) I wouldn't have bothered if I had lost everything. Phone, MP3, could have disappeared and it wouldn't have mattered. I wonder how long I shall remain like that once I get back to earning money, and to buying things I want, rather than need! This year I have lived on almost one third of the money I lived on before, £10,000 for one year of living. This is certainly the year that I would prefer to have again and again. It is amazing how you get caught up in a consumeristic society, even if you don't want to.
When we were in North America one of the most surprising things to me was the amount of homeless people we saw on the streets, these were in two of the 'rich' countries in the world. Before we left I expected extreme poverty to be witnessed in the 'poorer' countries we visited - Laos for example, being one of THE poorest countries in the world, yet it seemed to me that these people had a much richer life than we can ever claim to have.
The country that had the biggest contrast between rich and poor was South Africa. It came as a real shock on the drive from the airport to pass the townships of the Cape Flats. These were real shanty towns. What made it more shocking was that in South Africa poverty is still pretty much based on the colour of your skin. In the towns and cities along the Garden Route were massive houses, all I am sure occupied by the white sections of the community, all fenced in and heavily guarded, whilst the people who looked after their homes and gardens left the towns each night to be taken to the localities on the outskirts of the town. Out of sight, out of mind? It was funny that once we left the Garden Route and got into the Transkei, supposedy one of the poorest provinces in the country, this 'poverty' wasn't as apparent. It was more rural and people seemed to have a more simpler way of life - yes they were poor but that didn't seem to be an issue amongst those we met. In 2010 South Africa hosts the FIFA World Cup - lets hope as well as building state of the art stadiums, they also manage to build some decent housing for the majority of the population.
Well those are my thoughts, a bit here and there but I'm back home now, and far too busy to have any more profound thoughts or to put it in any particular order, TV programmes to watch, txt messages to send, things to buy, a job to find........
I'll finish with a quote (or three)...
"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." ��"- Miriam Beard
"One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." ��"- Henry Miller
'The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water, but to walk on the earth'