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readers' submissions

 

Meet the real Asia

By Hernan Corizzo

I became sick of meeting fellow travellers and hearing the same comments all over again,

- You know Hernan, most people can not do what we do; they are too afraid, too insecure.

Which I replied,

– Are you not afraid and insecure?

Travellers tend to have something in common; they are in an internal struggle. They think that they have realised what most of the other people has not, as they assumed that “normal people” lead a boring life style by working 8 hours a day in the same office, living in same house and meeting with the same friends for years and years. Travellers regard themselves as enlightened human beings who have been able to detached from a consumer’s society; they believe to have broken the chains, and have been set free for eternity.

The first question should be – Why do we travel? What are we looking for? I think that we are looking for ourselves, we have a sense of not belonging to our place, and as we lead unhappy lives at home, we have the illusion that abroad we become another person. But we do not realise that place has little to do with our personality and that we are always the same person under the same skin.

After I graduated I opted to make my dreams come true, and travel to the Himalayas. I know I went there looking for something, call it peace, adventure or independence. Six months passed, and I am convinced that I have found nothing in my trip. Moreover, I am more confused, depressed and frustrated.

First of all, I expected Asian people to be different, I had an ideal in my mind, and I thought that these people got over the belief of materialism and will not actually care about money, or comfort, or objects. I was wrong, because Asian people are just like everyone else; they want comfort, and objects and money. They like to buy mobiles even if they live in wooden huts, or jewellery that probable takes a whole month’s wages. They have forgotten about dignity and honesty, and even though I was a bloody backpacker with ragged clothes and dirty knees everyone thought that they could actually take something out of me. I guess that I was never able to take the sign out of my forehead “I am tourist, I have a few dollars”.

I am proud to say that I lived like an Asian for six-months, staying in the cheapest places, taking the longest buses and eating the cheapest street food. Common Asian people thought I was crazy,

-Why do you eat in the market, it is dirty, I do not eat there!

Maybe I should have listened to them as I was diagnosed with parasites when I got back, but I thought of my journey as a pilgrimage, a trip for redemption.

The fact that locals wanted money and I wanted humbleness reminds me of a saying that only rich people are communists. Indeed, poor people do not want to be poor, they want to be rich. On the other hand rich people have found that money has nothing to do with happiness, but they have realised this with a full stomach.

It was too much for me to take, when you see Tibetan monks with mobiles, Laotian housekeepers with jewellery, Chinese girls putting white cream on their faces to look like westerners, white tourists taking sun to look dark, Indian touts scamming you, Nepalese youths tricking you, Thai girls with 60years-old Germans, You think to yourself “did I do 20 000 kilometres to realise that no one is happy with who they really are”.


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