Seven countries in four and a half months, all offering new experiences, new opportunities and new life lessons. The beauty of South East Asia is undeniable and by beauty I don’t just mean the postcard beaches and screen saver sunsets, but the beauty within the people of these countries and the strength they show. The Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot regime, S21 were all things I am slightly ashamed to say I had never heard of before I decided to travel to Cambodia. The Cambodian genocide was a travesty and only happened a few decades ago yet my generation seems completely unaware of what happened. Half the population were wiped out and therefore in some way everyone still in Cambodia has a connection to the tragedy that took place, although you wouldn’t think this upon visiting the country and meeting the people.
Poverty is an inescapable realism you face throughout all these countries and yet some of the major topics of conversation between myself and friends were ‘I need a job when I get back’, ‘I need to pay off my overdraft’ and so on. The pressure of working and earning was still with us when we were thousands of miles away. I was having a conversation with my parents just the other day and they described what their work ethic was like when they were my age and it was more I’ll get money when I get it, rather than I need to get money now. With debts hanging over most of our heads and the ideal of being a successful 20-something always in our thoughts, I don’t think we can help the way our generation now thinks.
I have been lucky enough to land myself a fantastic job and will be starting next week, and thanks to reading up on New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks my need to go shopping and spend the money I have earned doing a temporary job is growing simply too great and will be heading to Westfields to get my own pieces of the latest trends (military and biker are looking like the favourites at the moment). Earning money is a great feeling but when I’m thinking about what I am going to spend my pay cheque I want to try to remember walking round the killing fields of Cambodia in the blistering heat, listening to the stories of what happened there. It is only a little something but for the first time in my life I have set up a regular donation to both the WWF and RSPCA and that at least gives me a small amount of satisfaction that some of my pay cheque is going towards better things. I don’t mean to preach, however I can’t feeling like we need to let go of some of this pressure and sometimes just sit back and take it all in, before we get to 50 and wonder where the fun, excitement and spontaneity stopped and all consuming work began.