Sunday, 10 May 2009


“You have expensive watches, we have time”, the African guide said. I put the article away. Wisdom is scattered around the globe and from very young onwards I came to realize already that crossing borders actually removes them. It must be no coincidence that the term global view exists. Traveling opens your eyes and makes you a different person.

Of course, being able to travel is a privilege in itself. The money you need to buy a plane ticket can feed many mouths in the city it brings you to. A camera captures faces of people who earn less a year than the camera costs. After a day of dust and dirt, we wash our guilt and compassion away in four-star hotels, while seventy year old women sweat on the rice fields outside. There is a flipside on every coin, and god knows a coin can make a difference.

I think you should just not be hypocritical about it. Be for real, be humble. Consider yourself privileged, and act accordingly.

I remember a couple backpackers in Nepal, boasting about how they had been trekking for a few months already, trying very hard to impress and appear as “real” backpackers (whatever that may mean). So of course, they “slept in 5 USD per night rooms”, they “always ate local food” (more local than the locals probably), and they were proud that they “had sit on the roof of the bus when traveling to this remote village”. The guy had caught so much wind up there that he is probably still unable to comb through his long hair until today. He wore the typical backpacker’s clothes that seem to be a necessary yet ridiculous uniform to be accepted among peers. In Nepal in particular, where apart from the Himalaya mountains in the north most of the country is just as flat like a billiard table, it seemed to be a fashion trend to promenade in a mountaineering outfit, as if you were about to conquer the Mount Everest the next morning. Imagine them sitting there, sipping beer in the late afternoon sun, in… thermal underwear.

Anyway, the next morning the couple is on the same public bus. Properly seated inside, this time, not on the roof… Battle attire on, the unavoidable Lonely Planet on the lap. Next thing you know, she digs up a silver-shiny hi-tech device from the wore-down rucksack, unfolds a screen, presses a button and…they start watching a Hollywood movie. A movie in a movie. Be for real.

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