There really is nothing quite like backpacking in Southeast Asia. This place is amazing. As a child of two nomads, I was lucky enough to pretty much live on the road in SEA for a bit. During that time, although only 10 years old, I was able to make sense of my place in this wonderful region of the world and formulate my own opinions about it, although some of my assumptions were incorrect. I mean, I thought those restaurant lounges that sold “happy shakes” and played Friends reruns were just places that sold great milkshakes, when in reality they were places for people to get stoned out of their minds through the drug-laced drinks.
I’m not even a week into my own SEA explorations, but I’ve already found traveling alone, and not 10 years old and parent-guided, so so different. There are the obvious differences in the two ways of travel, like having to do absolutely everything yourself, but so many other ones, too.
SEA changes so so quickly, which is really bittersweet to me. 10 year old me remembers zipping down the road in beat up tuk tuks with wooden slat seats, feeling every single bump the tuk tuk ran over, feeling every swerve so intensely that it felt almost as if you were about to tip. That picture is unfortunately gone. Now, tuk tuks are these tourist novels with great sound systems and spotless paint jobs that smoothly carry passengers wherever they need to go, for a much more expensive price than necessary. You can find hot showers and outlets in any hostel now, and I haven’t seen a SINGLE squat toilet or hole in the ground-toilet since being here! It seems great, but it also makes me wonder what goes on behind the gilded modernization of these countries. I took a school trip to Fiji last year, and they were explaining that when their village got a generator, it changed their culture. Instead of families bringing leftover food to the elderly, who couldn’t cook, they’d just refrigerate the extras, leaving the elderly to fend for themselves, and thus cultivating a village that was much less bound as a community…. Just something I’ve been thinking about.
As a ten year old, I was completely naive about the drug/sex trade. I wish I could still go on ignorant, dumb, and happy, but I’m not 10 anymore. A while ago, when in Vietnam, my friend Gabby and I split up for the night, both going out with different groups. I was lucky and didn’t see what Gabby had to, a horrid disgusting grown man kissing this little girl, about 6 years old, as she danced around him. I hate knowing that this goes on in the world, and I hate knowing that Southeast Asia draws many of those clients here.
I feel like I’ve been whinging on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SOUTHEAST ASIA. It’s my favorite place in the entire world. I’ve just noticed that as I’ve grown older and revisited it, I’ve become more aware of the problems and corruption and scandals that occur here. I know there’s plenty more I’m naive about now; I’m only 18 and I haven’t even been to uni. Revisiting SEA has only heightened my awareness of that. I don’t even know what the point of this blog post was, just some thinking aloud, I reckon. It’s weird to see the changes in Southeast Asia and also myself throughout the years. I’m gonna sign off before I ramble on longer than I already have. Until next time xx
Ps I’m currently in Krabi, Thailand