Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Permission to travel please

One thing that being part of the Flickr community has made me want to do is see more of the world. As I browse through the photos I mentally note down the beautiful places I wish to see with my own eyes, or the communities of people I want to try and understand. I have always loved travelling and I have been to some wonderful countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Malaysia, Egypt...), more than most perhaps, but they are just a few grains of sand in the Ecultural melting pot that is Planet earth. I do truely believe that it is a serious disadvantage not to be able to travel the world - experience worlds far removed and alien to our own. We make the cities and the streets that we traverse everyday our world; there is so much more to see, to understand, to shake up our micro perspectives. So many parts of the world are becoming inaccessible to us, places my Grandfather still tells me stories of - how I would love to float on the dead sea, see the wailing wall in Jerusulum, The Al Kadhimain Mosque in Bahgdad, Libya's deserts and Leptis Magna. It's likely that they will just remain stories. It's frustrating as I particularly like travelling in Muslim countries and communities, but now I have to think twice - even Egypt and Turkey come with a great big warning sign slapped across them. God I get so bored of the English. True there are some fantastic places to visit in the UK, places which give you an "experience" but it is just not the culture shock and mind altering thump that I crave. In the UK I go on holiday, the rest of the world I travel.

And of course there is the pollution issue. Sustainable travel is difficult. There are so many places I would give anything to see, anything other than my footprint (or carbon print) on that place.
I'm not quite convinced by Mr Blairs comments today defending long haul holidays. Of course I agree that foremost the big companies need to make travel more energy efficient, however this is not happening fast enough, Tony hasn't convinced me that there is enough being done for me not to feel guilty when I hop on a plane. I always carbon offset, but this isn't going to stop global warming and has had strong criticism from various environmental groups pointing out the difference between fossil carbon and biological carbon: "Telling people to plant trees is like telling them to drink more water to keep down rising sea levels.". However, I am sure that most of the hard core Greenies have travelled to far flung places and yet still preach of the evils of travel, would they if they hadn't fulfilled their ambitions to go somewhere different I wonder? It's a very complicated issue it seems, you can't push a Green agenda that tells people they can't have a good time and learn more, but you can't have a good time if there is no world left to have it in. I simply don't feel that I have seen enough of this planet, I itch to go to South America, India, Nepal, Japan . . . different cultures, different sounds, different tastes. I want to be in the photos that I see...So the idea flickering in and out of my head at the moment is to travel somewhere (boo) but to put back something into the place I travel to (yay!) - wildlife conservation trips for example (Go to Brazil and document the trees, or my favorite - go to South Africa and rehabilitate baby lions!), so become involved, not just another tourist. But is this just salving my conscience rather than solving a problem? I think my next journey will take a bit of planning.

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Links

The carbon shop: planting new problems

Treehugger.com

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