To all my dear friends I am saying a big hello and before anything else I take this opportunity to wish you a Very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Just a short story but with much food for thought.
I had been in Thailand for one glorious month but as is the case. my visa was on the point of expiring so I needed to leave the country, rather than just do a boring visa run, I decided to revisit the amazing and very beautiful country that is Cambodia..
Today I am going to tell you an anecdote of some travelers I have recently encountered. That has both filled me with indignation... and dismay.
The other evening on arrival to the Cambodian airport of Siem Reap, naturally we all had to queue up to get our entry visas.. Standing directly behind me were a group of travelers making comments about Thailand and of course about the system of the visa in Cambodia. They were speaking in their native tongue and they obviously assumed that nobody could understand what they were talking about! I wonder what their faces would have looked like if they had known that I could understand every single word they were saying!
To start with they were moaning about having to cover up to visit the Gran Palace in Bangkok! Justifying this by saying that it wasn't a temple and it was only for the King of Thailand, they even went as far as to say that they couldn't understand all this nonsense of the Thais loving the king so much!!! They thought it was utterly ridiculous that they would have to stand still because a member of the Royal family was passing! One even went as far as to say she would never return to Thailand again! “Woopee! Thank God for that” said Backpacker Granny under her breath!
Well it didn't end there, they then began by criticizing the Cambodians and why they had to queue for such a long time, saying that the Cambodians had no idea what they were doing and that there were utterly stupid and useless. I felt so sad that these ignoramuses obviously were so totally unaware of the pain and the suffering that these beautiful people have had to endure and live through when the Khmer Rouge were in power. As if that wasn't sufficient one “Mr know it all bright spark” in the group proceeded to tell the rest of them about the extremely stupid security in North America. (Sorry guys, but high security at airports, is solely for our own safety, so don’t knock it!) I stood there listening to all this verbal cr.p en masse and wanted to turn round and ask them if they had left their brains at the airport before boarding the plane! I so desperately wanted to ask them, what they hell they were even doing coming to these countries? I would have loved to have reminded them that a good dose of respect and humility wouldn't go amiss!!! But in the end the combination of my strict English upbringing and the knowledge that it wouldn’t have made any difference, I kept silent.
One small lesson that I think we could all learn not only while travelling but for life in general. Everything is about attitude, when we visit another country, we should always remember that we are a guest that has been allowed to enter into another people's world. Their culture, customs, language and beliefs could well be very different from our own, (it's what makes travelling so magical) and we as foreigners should respect, love and learn as much as we can from every country we are fortunate enough to visit!