Thoughts from a traveller


I arranged to meet with Sima and Steve tonight again as they were still in Kuta. I was not up for drinking tonight but had a lemon juice (very potent! vitamin C double dose) and we headed towards Poppies Lane I for some Mexican food. Sima is a gourmet, or shall I say she loves good food and Mexican was something she was craving. We didn’t find place straight away and so ended up eating at a place that had a local / Thai menu. It was very affordable and I ordered a red Thai curry. I could of done with a little bit more fire but it was healthy.

It was quite funny as the table next to us consisting of 3 ladies and 4 men were decked out in their new England shirts (women too). Felt like I was in Benidorm. Here in Bali they do rip off versions of many famous shirts with the names on the back. You can be Ronaldo for next to nothing if that’s your fancy.

Sima has been on the road traveling for months in Thailand, India, Laos and other places in the region. She told me stories of interactions with locals and the lousy road conditions, but lovely people in Laos (got to get up there sometime). Sima didn’t make it to Burma and we discussed the pros and cons of going. To go would directly help the people in the immediate area because of the extra cash in the economy, but would help support an oppressive government. Also going there will allow outsiders to report to others the situation there, not going will mean their situation will go unnoticed in the minds of many.

Sima said she hadn’t made her mind up on this. I said I thought we could expand this discussion to all of tourism and its effect on culture. I did a 10 day jungle trek on the island of Siberut off fo Sumatra in 1993. The Mentawai natives were living in a way that we might call primitive, wearing only loin clothes and living in a bamboo longhouse. How did my being there affect them? Did my visit help change / destroy their culture or does my interest in observing their way of life mean it won’t be an unnoticed thing that disappears?

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Here’s my view. It’s human nature to explore, to travel, to learn. Culture, the way we live is in a constant state of change, it’s never exactly the same from year to year, unless you create some perfect little bubble and exclude all outside contact with the world. I’m not trying to open a 7 / 11 on Siberut or peddle them Nokia phones, I’m simply a respectful visitor who observes and interacts according to their comfort level. Their culture will change, just like mine and I hope if people understand each other they can help each other change for the better.

Regarding the Burma (Myanmar) question, I don’t mind sacrificing my trip there sometime if there’s an organised effort to do this in order to get change. I do think having backpack travelers there is a good thing overall as they do tend to interact and can report accurately what’s going on day to day.

Phew!!! What a blabbermouth. It’s 11.20pm here at Interent Outpost and I’m
the only customer. The night owl routine just doesn’t want to leave I guess.