There’s a lot going on around the world. It’s easy to live inside your bubble, and I understand the importance of protecting your life as you know it. This blog lists the events and experiences that I’ve had that deeply triggered a change in my frame of mind.
1. S21 prison and killing fields, Phomn Pehn, Cambodia
I struggle to talk about this. I think it’s because the genocide in Cambodia was so recent in the world’s history and it happened so close to my home country of Australia. I learned about this in high school. But visiting the memorial was an experience I’ll never forget. I want to say it was traumatic but I was a traveller visiting 40 years later. My feelings are nothing in comparison to the real victims. But it reminded me to be grateful for living in Australia, and being part of an extremely fortunate generation.
2. Havana, Cuba
As I wandered around Havana, it felt like I went back in time. This was in 2014 so a lot could have change since then. I remember there were no signs of smartphones and smart TVs. I remember being constantly approached by locals, kids and adults, for money. This was a way of life that I had never been exposed to and it was quite the culture shock. Having said that, I was lucky to be surrounded by gorgeous scenery, delicious food, mojitos every night and the sound of Cuban music. I laughed with locals as they called me Skippy (the bush kangaroo). If you want a unique experience, go to Cuba. I’ve never been to another place like it. It was the first time I felt “culture shock.
3. Paris, France
I’ll start by saying I don’t want to discourage you from going to Paris. It is a beautiful city and I’ll never get tired of seeing the Eiffel Tower. The thing is, I almost got robbed in Paris. I was targeted by the same pair of people twice! I managed to dodge them the first time, and a local helped me out the second time. I was very lucky. But I was also terrified. I already knew that being robbed or pick-pocketed was a risk in Paris, and many other cities around the world. But I never thought it would happen to me. It opened my eyes to the other side of Paris. The part you don’t see on Instagram.
4. Cu Chi tunnels, Vietnam
It was here I learned a bit about the Vietnam War. It’s not something I studied thoroughly in school. I joined a tour led by a guide who was a survivor of the Vietnam War. At the time, he worked as an interpreter for Americans. He showed us the survival techniques created by the Vietnamese, particularly, the Cu Chi tunnels. They were so tiny, it’s hard to believe humans crawled through these tunnels to survive. Similar to Cambodia, it was another one of those eye-opening moments that forced me to be humble and grateful for the life and times I live in, and anything I complain about is a first world problem.
5. Sri Lanka
I originally drafted this post in December 2018. Since then, I had another experience, this time, in Sri Lanka during April 2019. This is still quite fresh in my mind, so I will elaborate in a separate post.