My parents told me often while growing up that while school might be education, to travel was to learn.
Travels in my youth were an incredible learning experience for me. There are too many to recount in totality here (perhaps one of the only advantages of the economically tricky small travel agency and maybe I will slowly recall a few on this blog) but seared into my memory is going to Borneo when 16, staying in an open cast gold mine and climbing Mount Kinabalu.
There were many in the poor village kampungs who would have loved to work in the gold mine. Living in places with no running water and where a dollar a day is considered wealth was eye opening for a middle class scholarship London boy.
Only 100 or so years ago did society think that children had a right to work and certainly I passed through cultures where what we might consider sweat labour was considered sought after jobs. On the other hand it is a downslope from cheap labour into modern day slavery.
Still for a London boy on an enormous budget of $10 or more and with security of an emergency credit card it was thought provoking.
And those days were pre-internet and travel while not like the 1950s was still much slower than today. So a mind, a note book and no smart phone were a recipe for learning.
Tribes in north Thailand where nearby poppy growing was the richest commodity.
The reality of the poor while walking the slums of Benares (armoured by the naivety of youth, where I’d never walk now; but how else to end up playing chess in the ghats and an exchange of world views pre-internet - you Japan, you China? London, English? Really? Tell me about Princess Diana?)
The mixed infusion of a buffalo sacrificing Christian worshipping area of the middle of unknown Sulawesi, Indonesia
And semi-nomadic hunter gatherer tribes settinglingly down to a stuck lifestyle.
This is preamble to my worry that my young family now does not travel. Autism does not lend itself to travel.
But of late, I’ve appreciated I can change my mind set and open my eyes again.
To travel is not only about distance.
How many of us have been to Plumstead, London SE18 ?
I’ve now travelled around much of London and tiny parts of England to discover while not as drastic as tribes in ancient jungles, there are learnings to think about.
Why did this newly planted cherry tree amongst the modern design stone wall crossing look so out of place in an area of poor looking buildings and infrastructure?
10 minutes down the road why was (Royal) Woolwich seemingly more vibrant ?
I don't have answers to those questions. As I was a passing through traveller. But with eyes open I had the same type of provacation as I had watching elephants working in northern Thailand.