Written by Jon Barlow
A friend of mine who is graduating this year entered the office the other day and asked the question, “What would be everyone’s dream job?” I mean obviously the situation happened a bit more organically than this, but the question remains the same. The reason I bring this up is that it’s a question I haven’t been asked in years, somewhere around the age of 11 the idea of a dream job stops being something adults actively inspire you to search for, and instead you get associated with the inevitability of a mundane life. Anyway, being faced with such a childishly simple yet very complicated question I replied “a 15th century explorer” mainly because I’m not very funny but also I think because a childish question requires a childish (yet true) answer.
The 15th century was pretty good for exploration; actually it was the beginning of the discovery age. People were traveling from the East and Europe all over the world, with just a store full of food, wind in their sails and a thirst for adventure. I mean we generally left a trail of disease and destruction in our wake, decimating entire cultures and ways of life, but apart from that it must have been great.
Now when you travel, you drive to the flying metal box place, watch 8 hours of terrible movies, jump out on the other side and then get drunk and act like a twat in theme B Ibiza, or theme C Thailand. Honestly there isn’t much real difference traveling around the world as a tourist, everywhere you turn other tourists will swarm around eating in the same restaurants, chatting in the same authentic bars, and staying in the same party hostels.
I want something a bit different. The idea of going to Peru just to end up talking to another happy American or a loud obnoxious Australian in a bar makes me feel a bit sick. We are like a plague on these countries and worse of all I am part of it.
Honestly no one really wants us hanging around. A large amount of money comes directly from western tourism especially in South East Asia, so of course we will be treated well, but most people just want to get on with their lives without us being obnoxious.
I love traveling and I love exploring, but it’s not really real it’s just an experience sold by other countries to extract as much money from us as possible. If the roles were reversed England would be the magical world of Arthur, and we’d all wear plate mail and joust horses on the weekend for cultural reasons. Which actually sounds awesome…
So to sum up traveling kind of sucks, unless of course you can devote a year finding lost tribes in the Amazon or walk with the remote tribes of Africa it’s kind of hard to escape the fact that everyone knows you’re a tourist and treats you as such. The real problem is, that to get away from it all you need to get completely away from culture of any kind and not just your country. Which kinda sucks I suppose.
I realise that the great age of exploration is gone, I personally will never be able to live out my dream of being a 15th century explorer, stumbling upon distant lands completely new and alien. So instead I have decided to create a time machine, just gotta keep on dreaming right.