Years of Living Dangerously
Every time I turn on my TV of late, I half expect to see that ominous red 'breaking news' box in the corner of the screen on BBC or CNN. As of late it's become almost a permanent fixture and is so firmly etched in my memory that when I stare into the sky on a sunny day I start to imagine the box hovering over me like some sort of intergalactic UFO. As I write this column both of Bangkok's airports remain closed and terror has struck Mumbai with two five start hotels set ablaze and over 100 people dead. Finding a local perspective that relates to property and tourism is challenging, as I sit looking at the peace and relative calm outside my office window here in Cherngtalay.
It's been over 23 years since I left my native homeland and started a journey which has circumnavigated the globe more times then I can recall and came to find my home in Southeast Asia. When I first set out I was full of wanderlust, dreams and was looking to live abroad in exotic places, without even knowing a single soul in faraway lands I was headed. Growing up in the nameless suburbs of a large West Coast city in the US, names like Bali, Tahiti, Nepal and Thailand filled fueled my imagination and urged those first few footsteps that became a way of life. Like many the quest of travel, living a life less ordinary and discovering different cultures and experiences is what landed me ultimately here in Phuket.
In no time since the political upheavals of the 1950's and 60's has the world been gripped by so much uncertainty. Terrorism, financial and political crises now fill the headlines on a daily basis. Coming from a country that has well over 200 years of on the job training in the democratic process I have to say we still are learning and finding our way when for every step forward its often two steps back. Thailand has had yet a fraction of this time to find its legs in the quest for self determination and a democracy. While reading various blogs and comments from the world about the PAD, Thaksin and the current Prime Minister so much of what is written and reflected fails to take into account that the country's road to self determination ahead will be bumpy, unclear and full of potholes.
While there is naturally concern about safety and security, again it's a matter of perspective. For tourist's is it better to stay at home in front of their and the internet versus or choosing what's perceived to be more developed destinations such as say New York, London or Spain? All of which have seen their share of terrorism over the past few years. Looking towards the next few months I have a trip scheduled in January to Mumbai to attend a hotel investment conference and week after next I'll be in Bangkok for meetings. It's easy to say there is too much risk and simply opt to stay at home. I'm not going to do that, I've reconfirmed my India hotel reservation and taking a determined decision not to succumb to exactly what the naysayers or even a growing number of terrorists want which is to hold travelers be it holidays or business virtually hostage in their own homes.
What a shame is the impact on hotels which so many travelers call home when they are on the road. Over the years whether its be overnight's spent in a budget hotel, guest house, upscale hotel or villa my travel book of memories has been made all the more full from a fantastic array of experiences I've had in these wide-ranging properties. As these institutions are now being targeted by those looking to do immeasurable harm it would be easy to try to avoid them and look at alternatives. But again how much would we miss if opting for a 'staycation' and not get out of the known comforts of our very own beds and not cross out into the unknown.
It's true we live in dangerous times but how to ensure your own personal safety seems to be a mixed bag. The health risks associated with those glued to their TV's and comfortable chairs at their place of residence or even a chance automobile accident on the way to the local mall are statistically a more dangerous act or likely way to die then traveling in Asia. While generations have tried and failed to solve the world's problems at bars around the world over a few or more drinks, the reality is that life in itself is risky and unsure. All we can do is live life to the fullest, take whatever chances we opt viewing the excitement and wonder in the evolving world around us. It's a ride and as in any trip there's bound to be a few bumps in the road' it's as simple as that.