Because we were immersed in hill tribe culture, rather than just passing through, we had the opportunity to truly get to know the people we were staying with, and for them to know us. Most tourists, most people in general, don’t want to actively contribute to the exploitation and further impoverishment of an indigenous culture. But, there is a certain disconnect between tourists’ benevolent curiosity and the hill tribe villagers’ need for privacy, respect, and income. What is the happy medium?
SLG Mag : A Fresh Perspective
The Road To 25 became an interactive 7 month travel project to be led by us. Not wasting anytime we chose our departure date, January 22 2014, and purchased plane tickets from JFK NYC to Heathrow London. Beginning January 22nd we embarked on an endless journeys traveling to different countries, participating in new experiences and activities that push us outside comfort zones. Along the journey we will obtain and document stories, encounter amazing people, see life changing places, and experience heart lifting cultures, all to be shared with our followers. The main hope of the project is to spark ideas and motivation in others to conquer their own goals.
Luxury malls in Jakarta are like artificially controlled bubbles. They are escapes from Jakarta’s realities: the traffic, the poorly planned city streets, the poverty, the chaos and so forth. Ultimately, Jakarta’s luxury malls embody the gap between the have and have-nots. But this symbolism is ironic. Malls are easy to navigate, purposefully designed, spotlessly clean, cater to the elite and are highly secure: the opposite of Jakarta’s roadways and neighborhoods.
Tanned smooth skin, dark hair and dark eyes. While trying to study a culture it is difficult to know if one is fetishizing that culture, or innocently developing a curiosity in that culture. Thinking back on my experiences dating Korean men in my earlier years in Seoul, it is hard to know if I was exploiting these individuals, as a way to get closer to Korean culture. Coming from a small rural town in central Australia, I had virtually 0 exposure to East Asian men in my childhood and youth, and this potentially sowed the seeds for fetishism/my fixation on East Asian stereotypes
Every year, upstate New York gets a few warm, perfect fall days. They’re exactly as they look in postcards or J. Crew catalogues, with green trees blazing red as far as you can see, and you’re supposed to spend them hiking, picking apples, and stirring pumpkin puree into everything from muffin batter to black bean soup. These are almost biological rituals: your body wants all the endorphins and vitamin D it can get before the slushy rain, and then the snow, settle in from October to April.
As a Muslim woman, I cannot serve as ‘one whole’ witness in the court of law—only as half a witness. So by law, I am inferior, weak, unreliable and half a person. Very much aware of my status as a woman in this country, I am still legally free to drive, vote, work and write. The hypocrisy of secular legislations versus theological laws is confusing in the urban culture of Pakistan, and both somehow contrast sharply with reality.
It is a real problem, but one so ill-defined and poorly quantified that governments behave as if it doesn’t exist – at least not to a degree that requires serious attention and action. No government keeps credible or reliable track of how many of its citizens disappear while traveling abroad annually or how many foreign nationals disappear while traveling in its country.
We finally got through one of the checkpoints that brought us into Cairo proper, but the arduous journey wasn’t over yet. In Cairo proper on the way to our town we got stopped at another 4 or 5 checkpoints. At these checkpoints we had to get out of the car and let the soldiers search everything.
We aren’t usually risk takers, but perhaps the unique New York style has gotten to us. We like it here because we can do what we want without judgement, and celebrate our individuality. Being extraordinary might be one of the many things we’ll bring back home. I used to believe the American Dream doesn’t always apply to Norwegians – due to our active government that provides free healthcare and education.
The problem with those words, though, is that they all take place in the future tense. They leave people like Amelia, who live in Newark right now, in an inescapably unpleasant position. And while I also believed, at least in theory, that there was more to Newark than poverty or crime, I didn’t always act as if I believed that.
In this town, I have felt detached, dejected, unwanted. And though these feelings can be frustrating and disheartening, I think it is important that I have felt them. I think it is crucial to my inner evolution that I have known what it’s like to have no comfort zone, no social circle, no security. To be plucked from the familiar and plopped into the unknown, armed with no aegis but my tenacity, my intuition. An experience I could not have had back home.
Now I will admit; when I was in the early, ‘I’m only here short term’ phase of my affair with Thailand, I had dinner with someone who had been here for a number of years and they simply did not stop talking. The entire time. It was incredibly interesting and engaging but I remember thinking – wow this person is just starved for someone to talk to. I felt genuine sympathy but I’m ashamed to say; there was a touch of pity there too…