This weekend I’m heading off to Thailand for a two-week trip with my other half. I mentioned this to some friends a few days ago. Their responses were along the lines of; ‘Thailand is too commercial these days’… ‘Sri Lanka is better for beaches…’ One friend recommended Malta for my next trip; which, did you know, has a great mix of beaches and culture?! I was left feeling I’d been judged as a (wannabe) gap year student heading out for a full moon party.
I have visited Thailand before when backpacking with my friends at university. I’ve also visited Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Tanzania. I’ve been to the Philippines 4 times – with my best friend who has family there. I’ve spent a summer in the states. I’ve been inter-railing in Europe twice. I’m a newly qualified doctor, and most of these trips were during my holidays while I was studying.
There is a pattern where first an undiscovered beautiful location is found by a few intrepid travellers. Soon the secret is out; and slowly the place begins to attract more tourism. Before you know it, this once untouched place of natural beauty is now home to large hotel resorts, bars and restaurants, airports… This is not news. However, development and change are surely inevitable in today’s world. I find it slightly distressing that some westerners turn their noses up at places which have become commercialised; always looking for a new, untouched place. The ‘hottest’ place to visit of 2018. When did a place, with its people, history and culture, become a transient fashion item to us? As long as the place retains it’s identity, and tourism is allowed to evolve to the benefit of those living there, I don’t see a problem with this.
There can sometimes be a sort of inverted snobbery associated with travelling. You’ll know the one I mean; you sometimes hear people who are “travelling” look down on people on “holidays”. Don’t get me wrong. I believe travel does open your mind, brings down barriers of racial and cultural prejudice, and brings people together. That said I don’t think you have to be a hipster staying in a wooden shack in a previously undiscovered location to achieve this. I think anyone who wants to see the world, if they have the means, should. If you want to do that in 5* luxury, that’s fine! The key is to have an open mind, be interested to find out about the place you are in, and be respectful at all times.
So this blog, I hope, will be a more down-to-earth take on travel. I’d like to give honest insight and advice, and hopefully inspire people to get on that plane and see what’s out there. As a busy working professional, I’d also like to highlight it is still possible to step outside your box from time to time – not all of us are able to travel the world all year round. The world changes; I expect Thailand will be different to how it was even four years ago when I last visited. But as I said before, this is inevitable and not necessarily negative. A country should surely be allowed to evolve; it doesn’t mean Thailand has lost its essence, culture or natural beauty.
And by the way – I’ll definitely get to Sri Lanka and Malta one day!