Thursday, 28 January 2010

On Reflection

I’ve been asked on several occasions what I’ve taken from my trip; how has it changed me? I didn’t expect to be changed, and I haven’t been, apart from in one small way. Pre-travel me spent too much money. Gadgets I didn’t need, but wanted anyway; clothes I’d hardly wear; nearly as many pairs of trainers as my mate Jimbob. Freelancing in London pays well, and I’d think nothing of going out at lunch for a sandwich and coming back with a pair of £150 jeans and a couple of t-shirts. Not to eat, of course: I still bought a sandwich.

The main thing to take from a trip like this is that money doesn’t make people happy. I’ve seen the poorest of families just enjoy being alive and spending time with each other and their communities. They smile more than us. Their enthusiasm for life rubs off on you; whether it’s the Thais going mad for our football; the cheeky Filipino kids shouting “Hey…GI Joe!” after you in the street, the beautiful Javan doctor spontaneously giving up her afternoon to show you volcanoes; or the cackling Peruvian taxi driver telling you Peruvian girls love it up the bum…you can’t help but enjoy it. The laughs, that is…not doing it up the bum.

Another thing I’ll take is how civilised, diverse and inspiring Europe is: you need to go away to appreciate it. Things work, things get done. It just costs more to live here. I may still settle here again after seeing to this itch, but it’s Barcelona my heart hankers for. We’ll see if I ever end up there.

Coming back, I was struck by the visible technology back in London: every third person on the phone, or scrutinising a screen of some sort. We never seem to switch off. I can easily resist the urge to buy an iPhone. Jocky proselytised about his, and delighted in showing me all the Apps he had. We’ll be an insular society one day, all walking round tapping these bloody Twit Machines and hardly noticing one another. My phone has no cover, and has been glued together countless times…I’ll keep using it though, because it’s not broken yet. Besides, no fucker will nick it?

So I’ll work to travel for a while. I feel a little churlish writing about my thoughts at the end of a trip on the eve of another one. The wrecks of Busuanga are calling me back. I leave tomorrow. In fact, by the time you read this I’ll be almost there. And by the time you’re eating your lunch Wednesday I’ll be braving the streets of Manila. As you have that Friday lunchtime pint, I’ll be sat on the back of a dive boat with a huge grin after another deep, dark venture inside Irako’s hallowed corridors.

Sorry about that. I might even write about it to rub it in?

No comments: