The cultural landscapes of the globe are very diverse, from cuisines to costumes to musical instruments to languages to legends to…the list can go on. I wonder if there is a way by which we can capture them all. You are served a local dish at a local restaurant, and you ask ‘which cultural group does this dish belong to?’. You see a woman dressed in a unique costume and wonder ‘which cultural group does she belong to?’. You go to a local music store looking for a compilation of pan flute songs. Which Peruvian tribe plays them? You learn that Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo is endowed with beautiful legends. Whose stories are they? The questions of Who and Whose are frequently raised. In my humble opinion, the peoples are the best representation of the various cultural elements. They are the owners of those elements, after all. I have had the fortune to encounter some beautiful peoples in my travels. I hope to see more as I inch my way to different parts of the world. This particular blog post will be a platform for me to showcase the beautiful peoples with whom I was lucky enough to cross paths. They are not necessarily the peoples who purposefully act as a living attraction in the tourism industry. Many times they are the ordinary peoples with whom I make eye contact or smile, or who catch my eyes during a people-watching session, and most importantly, who have made a lasting imprint on my life.
Two days ago I read the news regarding the arrest of two visitors for taking nude selfies at Machu Picchu. My first reaction to the news was ‘what’s wrong with those people?’ I was also reminded of a similar incident that occurred on Mount Kinabalu about a year ago when a group of climbers stripped naked and urinated on the mountain. There is an extensive number of sites deemed sacred by indigenous peoples across the globe. I wonder if we will hear more news of tourists’ nudity. Is it becoming a negative travel trend? What is wrong with those visitors? There are rules governing tourist behaviors. However, they seem to be unable to curb disrespectful behaviors. Are the rules not effective? Or perhaps some of today’s tourists are just mentally deranged to perform such uncivilized act? I remember there is a huge banner just next to the Machu Picchu ticket counters reminding visitors of the site sacredness and the imperative need for deep respect for the site. Apparently, ignorant visitors are ‘blind’ to it. I trust there is no expectation placed on the visitors to accept as true what the indigenous peoples believe. What is expected (should be demanded!) is that visitors show respect by behaving well during the site visit. If they can’t honor that, perhaps they should not step foot on the site.