Around us

October 26, 2015 9:04AM JST

While we travel, we notice many changes on how we think about ourselves. The longer we travel, the more we taste the difference. When we go to a country with a very different culture from us, we tend to think how people live there, what is the living environment, etc. Living tradition is very different and we need to adapt to the new environment. Staying in hotel is probably not the best way to see the country itself as most high end or comfortable/convenient hotels and where tourists stay are in locations for tourists, where they only see the positive side of the country and do not see much negative side. They mostly stay in city too, whereas most city dwellers are handling quite well and there are not many less fortunate in city. Yes, they wander and often beg for food and money, but compared to poorer population, it is just normal sight in the city.

Indigenous people are considered minorities and they are the ones who are mostly affected by both government and nature. Some of the indigenous tribes are uncontacted and have not touch the outside world. For example, in Peru, there are estimated 15 isolated tribes in Peru. They live in regions that are not travelled by outsiders as these regions are very remote and isolated. If the government or citizens do not know about this fact and if nothing is done to help them improve their livehood, then they can also become extinct just like wild animals. Since they have not come into touch with outsiders, they may be contaminated with Western diseases, just like how American Indians have almost been wiped out during European colonial times in the 17th century. As travellers, we should think about how to decrease impacts on them. We could raise our voice to government to stop natural resource extraction from their land and let them be owners of their land, for example.

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Battle over Amazon
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Uncontacted indigenous people in Peru

Therefore, for travellers, especially those venture into poorer countries or locations, we should consider the environment around us. If we are from a country that pays us well compared to the country we are travel to, especially a country we can afford to buy things much cheaper than our own country, and we see the life of the country, we should consider how these people. How are these people managing to live in their own country? Do they have opportunity to travel outside their own country, especially to developed country where GDP is much higher? What is their status in their country? How is environment in the country – how is the country managing their water supply, i.e.?

If we are travelling to a more natural place not a city, then we should consider: if the nature is in a developing country, I bet there is natural management in that country is inadequate. As a developing country, there is probably a lack of finance or financial support. There is probably a lot of wildlife trafficking going on. Protected species management is probably not sufficient enough. Lots of pollution everywhere – i.e. lots of rivers in SE Asia in urban area or rivers flowing along cities are highly polluted and many species are going extinct because of this (Baiji a.k.a. Yantze river dolphin has gone extinct in 2006 or some time in early 2000’s). Deforestation – if one does not go to Amazon rainforest soon, there could be no more Amazon rainforest.

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Chinese (Yantze) River Dolphin. Extinct.
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Amazon Rainforest

Surely, there are too many things to consider for the well-being of another country. When we travel to a country, we would most likely spend money. For some countries (most in SE Asia), we, as foreigners, get charged much higher than locals. These ‘business people’ or people who need money make money from us. Yes, they get rich from us, but what about others who don’t rely on tourists? I am sure there are ways we can help them, but first, we need to consider our surroundings.

We should not only consider human and environment separately, but we should also consider the relationship between human and environment. As humans, we have the authority. We have the power to save the world. Although it is a very slow process and there are losses along the way, we can make it happen – we can slow the process down.

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