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Travel and the Lesson of Respecting Local Traditions, Cultures and History

This is the quick response to some arrogance and selfish tourists and foreigners who mocking and laughing at Sabahan locals for condemnations of nudist acts by several Canadian tourists on the mountaintop of Mt. Kinabalu before the deadly and devastating earthquake struck on 5 June.

I will start with a question: Why we travel, or going to the foreign places, at the first place?

This is the very question that you need to ask yourself before deciding to embark a journey to the foreign land, to travel to other countries which are absolutely 180 degrees have different historical narratives, civilisation experiences, customs traditions and cultures compare to your homeland.

We travel, is meant we keen and willing to learn something new, be it languages, customs, cultures, traditions, beliefs, or anything that seems alien to our own worldview.

It means we never need to change what we currently believe, or holds, it just means we are willing to learn to respect, to accept the plurality and diversity that makes our world colourful.

If we never slightly put a thinking on this very subtle subject, please bear in mind that we have a problem there to solve.

If we travel to the foreign land, and we put the arrogance at the mountaintop and unwillingness to learn to respect above everything else, the best advice to give is: please don’t travel at all.

First, if you are unwilling to learn to respect, you might end up hurting the locals, perhaps, hurting yourself, too.

Second, if you put the arrogance first, the else second, then you are nothing but a brainless animal.

If travel does not make you learn to embrace the variety of colourful differences that exists all around the world, again, please bear in mind, that you are really stagnant in the very wrongful jungle.

Travel should make us flexible, thoughtful, wiser and tolerance. If it doesn’t, then you should know that there are something wrong somewhere in yourself.

Just one word: learn. The foremost is, learn that everything and everywhere in this real world got a boundary. Like we too, have our own self-boundary that we never allowed others to cross it. We demand others to respect that boundary.

That’s mean, from that view, we arrive at the second stage, which is respecting each other. Therefore, we will not cross the boundaries as we please as if only us matter.

If we realise this, then we will never for once questioning why some places or ethics or cultures seem too weird, or aliens, or backwards, or uncivilised.

We will learn that the world is so colourful, so diverse. It is not just all about us or the world like to revolve just around us. We will learn to respect others boundary, local customs, traditions and beliefs.

If we embark the journey with that kind of mentality, then we have no problem at all, no matter where will we crash in, or who we will end up meeting with.

The foreign land and the locals would be terribly missing you once you bid the goodbye to them. This mentality and willingness will accommodate you, not just the physical experiences, but also the spirituals and emotional devotion of memories.

I hope I could learn one lesson if not many, from this terrible and saddening disaster. I pray for Sabah and all around the world too, for a safe and sound future. We will never for once know what God is planning for us.

The only we can do is, keep learning and keep our heads low, learn to respect each other and learn to embrace the diversities. Travel should make us tolerance and wiser, not the other way round.

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