I have a penchant for society’s misfits and get fierce over human rights, mental health, equality and animal exploitation. I’m an ocean lover and I surf, sail, swim and dive. I love art, the macabre, exploring religions, spirituality, politics and subcultures.
‘They call me Satan’s Mistress’, she cackled. Her beautiful worldly green eyes shone and her jet black hair glistened. I was instantly in awe of this solo female traveller.
I met Jean in Osaka, Japan. Traveller introductions are nearly always an insight into the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet but this globetrotter stood out. She talks in a calm, thoughtful southern US drawl. Alert and interested, Jean isn’t over-powering in her presence but when it’s her turn to take centre stage you stop and enjoy the show.
Travellers say many things about Cambodia: the people are wonderful, the begging is extreme and that everything is super-cheap even by South East Asia standards. Spoiler: only one of these things is true!
I’m going to take you on a little journey, one that took us just over two weeks to cover from North to South Cambodia. From city living to island life, ‘bum guns’, insect munching, pimped up homes, a dark past and smiley prosperous future. Kicking off with the journey to Cambodia via Delhi and Bangkok and our Cambodian starting point, Siem Reap.
Only a few weeks ago (pre Brexit) I, like many, would have argued the UK is not racist or xenophobic. I’d have argued this with confidence. We are a welcoming multicultural society, aren’t we?! Yes, I was aware that there are pockets of society in the UK that are unhappy about immigration. But, did I think it was hate-fuelled and would result in personal attacks? No.
Of course I’ve spotted the front pages on the right-wing press and dismissed them in disgust. But dismiss them I did because I didn’t believe it was a reflection on our society. I was also naive to the damage they were doing. Not overtly racist but the premise was there, immigrants are to blame. Brexit appears to have provoked a crescendo of emotions within the UK, fuelled by the media. We’re Brits, we love to moan and we also pride ourselves on our freedom of speech. It’s great that we can voice our opinions but when does free speech become hate speech?
Travel is soul-nourishing, mind-bending, breath-taking and sometimes uncomfortable. We travel because we want to explore, push boundaries and understand this diverse planet. And in turn as we unlock earth’s mysteries we discover little parts of ourselves.
We don’t travel to seek a fake reality, or a home away from home. We travel to learn, to see the world from a 360 degree perspective, to break free from our bubble.
We travel because we are privileged. We come from a society that allows us to travel and an economy that allows us to earn. We therefore owe the world, we deserve to get a little bit uncomfortable.