It’s been seven years since I first set out to make my dream of travelling to every continent (except Antarctica) a reality. Growing up a comfortable middle-class Aussie suburbanite, I knew there was a whole other side to the human experience I was completely missing out on – and I wanted in on it.
I’ve learnt many things, from many people. But mostly, I marvel at how people’s aspirations are so similar, no matter where they are in the world. People just want an education, a decent job, a roof over their heads and the freedom to be happy.
I’ve also learnt that travel is a real privilege. Many people have told me they don’t even think about travelling to neighbouring countries because of financial and practical constraints. When you’re a Peruvian scratching out a few dollars of profit each day, or a Beijinger earning absolute minimum wage in a city with sky-high rent, world travel quickly becomes a pipe dream reserved for the privileged few.
But with privilege comes responsibility, and travel is no different. Travel should change you. It should make you rethink about what really matters in life, and what doesn’t. It should help refine your understanding of the difference between needs and wants. It should burn images into your mind that push you to be a better person.
I’m more grateful than what I would’ve been had I never left my backyard and experienced certain things. Things like staying next door to a family who collected rubbish for a living and called a leaky corrugated tin shack their home. Seeing skinny young girls lined up on the side of a muddy road for paid sex. Conversing with an artisan crippled by polio. Watching an angry mob drag a man off his scooter and beat him with sticks for breaking a city-wide oil price strike. Experiences like these force us to tap into the very qualities that make us human – compassion, the capacity to imagine a better future and the drive to work towards it.
It’s 2014 and my wandering days are currently on hiatus, but the spirit of travel continues to shape my life choices today. In celebration of the other side of human, here’s some of my favourite shots that capture what is so beautiful, amusing and thought-provoking about this world we live in.
Happy New Year to all!
Photos shot with an iPhone 4, Sony GW-77 and a super old digicam
Quotes taken from Goodreads.com