100th Post: Special Edition!

The Obligation of Travellers
(and Johor Bahru)

So here we are in a quiet, little, duty-free Malaysian town on the edge of Singapore and yes, you guessed it, we’re tired and need a rest. Johor Bahru has cheaper accommodation than Singapore so good for doing daytrips from, and has an airport, which we will be using to fly to Borneo in a couple of days. Apart from that, there isn’t much in JB besides a fairly decent market and a serene Hindu temple.
Interesting temple door

We are seven weeks into travelling, (at the time of writing) having an unbelievable time and seeing things that one normally only sees in films and documentaries. However we are tired and need a break from exploring, eating local cuisine, and making sure we set a good example of westerners. The drain of constantly moving cities with huge backpacks, visiting umpteen tourist destinations each day, and interacting with locals has taken its toll. Right now we are staying in a nice room (en-suite, air con, wifi, everything!) and we are hauled up eating sweets and watching TV, after having dined on some delicious western cuisine. There’s just one thing bothering us; travellers’ guilt.

We may be in this town only once in our lives, and we are spending 50% of our time sitting around doing what we would normally be doing in the UK. But what should we be doing!? Should we force ourselves out to explore similar-looking temples and eat another slightly different style of noodles!? Katie’s mum always says that ‘should’ is a dirty word, and I am inclined to agree. Just because every time we take a bite of a Big Mac, it feels like a slap in the face to everyone who wants to be travelling, it doesn’t mean we shouldn't do it.

This is what I call the “obligation of travellers.” We feel obliged to do such cultural things, and we wish we could, but it’s unrealistic. No-one can be busy for 20 hours a day, 7 days a week for months on end... Not when there is a comfy bed to lie in and TV to catch up with.

I imagine some of you will be thinking that we deserve the time off, that we should relax and unwind, so we can get on with exploring tomorrow. And then there’s the other lot of you shouting at my ever-increasing arse to get up and see Johor, have drinks with locals and take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime holiday!

And then there is future Dave who is sitting in London bored, thinking about travelling and remembering the wasted days and hours that present Dave is currently creating. I can imagine the bitter words he will have for me... However the hardship of travelling takes its toll, and sometimes it’s worth experiencing a little bit of traveller’s guilt today, so that we fully appreciate tomorrow.

Costs (per person)
Hotel Double Room = 70 MYR (£14, $20)
Flight JB to Miri = £38 ($55)