So we’ve been back in England for a few weeks now. The kids are now at school, and whilst the weather Gods have blessed us with a relatively sunny September so far, our holiday seems yet a distant memory. Distant but solid, I would hasten to add, and I now have time to ponder some of the key lessons that I have learnt from our visit to Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai. What can we learn from these countries, and how could this new knowledge possibly shape our travel choices in the future?
Malaysia: land of contrasts
What did I learn from Malaysia? A cliche that can possibly apply to 80% of the countries on earth, but its diversity. Had we have stayed in Johor and never visited Tioman island, we would have had such a single view of this multi-faceted country with its towering city silhouettes and dense jungle just 30 minutes down the road. Time permitting, new countries for us in the future will need to have at least two stops, and we will try to pick the most contrasting environments possible in which to stay.
The paradise that is Tioman island was somewhat marred by the lack of thought that has been given to recycling and sustainability. Whilst there is a long way to go in the UK in terms of plastic use and recycling, we are twenty years ahead of some of these places. Litter and plastic were an unfortunate reality in some of the ares that we visited in Malaysia, and I wondered what the root cause of this may have been. Apathy? Lack of understanding about environmental damage? Who knows, but seeing litter and plastic on the beach and on the jungle paths made me wonder what some of these islands and coral reefs will look like in twenty years time without intervention.
Singapore: efficiency personified
From Singapore, I learnt how antiquated our London Underground is. Their metro system is light years ahead of the tube. I did wonder how it must feel for some of these high-flying Singaporean executives to be getting on the Bakerloo line, and exiting a sweaty, squashed mess, with the smell of urine clinging on to their nostril hairs.
I also learnt that it really is a safe place to be: we stayed in the red light district and whilst a little precarious perhaps five years ago, I did not feel unsafe walking around with my family. Yes, we saw ‘business occurring’ all around us, but I think that the only downside from being in an area like this is having some choice questions from your kids. In the future though, I would do a greater level of research as to why we have procured an apartment at half the regular rate of all of the others!
Dubai: be open minded
I refer back to my previous post about Dubai, wherein I sung its praises and marvelled at how different it turned out to my expectations. The one main lesson that I learnt from here, is to let go of preconceived ideas about future visits, and to realise that every body’s view is subjective and strongly based on situational circumstances. For example, had we not stayed ‘all inclusive,’ would we have hated the high costs of wining and dining? If we had not stayed centrally, would the constantly travelling around impacted our enjoyment?
Only form opinions on the paths that we have trodden. Empty your mind of expectation and create your own memories, without the undercurrent of opinion affecting your own perceptions (I feel like this needs to end on Amen!).