Archive for March, 2008

Reality Tours - tourism with difference

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Tourism is a huge business. Some countries are almost solely depending on it. For other countries, even though they have other revenue streams, tourism is still big. China for example, enjoyed an income of US$ 137 billion on 2007 from tourism alone.

Imagine when a portion of this money is spent on the poorest areas instead.

That’s what Reality Tours ( called it Poverty Tours) can do.

First time I heard about it is in that Wired article linked above. Actually I have thought about it, but for my own family. I asked my wife to think about & arrange visits to poor areas with the kids. This will help to expand their horizon.
Last time we went around, my kids were surprised that there are houses with no (ceramic) floor. There are houses with no electricity, no taps. There are people who had to walk very far, just to get a bucket of water. And so on.
We took too much for granted, this makes us less grateful at times, and I aim to fix that.

This Reality Tours idea expanded it for others. This is truly brilliant.
For the tourists themselves, this would not be only fun, but also an eye-opening experience.
Visiting the poorest areas is a totally different experience than your standard holiday, where the aim are just for fun - and nothing else. They will find out totally different things. They will see humanity in all sorts of conditions - and still thriving.

Some of my best mentor are the poorest ones. It’s amazing to see them always smiling, while facing hardships daily. Actually it may be only my opinion, because they doesn’t seem to think of their problems as hardships. They are able to enjoy life in any kind of situation.
Simply beautiful.

Us ? We are stressed when the roads are jammed. We are panicked when the computers are down. We don’t know what to do when the internet access is disconnected.
I am always humbled whenever I met with these great people.

Also I noted that spending is only an instant gratification. It tires you SO much later - so much stuff, what to spend next, where, how, etc. Especially spending on a holiday. At the end of it, sometimes you were left gobsmacked - did I bought all of that? what for? How much ??? And so on.
But, when you’re spending on something that you know are helping others, the effects are so much more lasting. It seems that this is the way the deepest core of humanity were coded.
This is what Reality Tours are offering - a truly refreshing experience. Unlike normal holidays, which may left us tired at the end, and made us unhappy to go to work at the next day (seems familiar?).
The new horizons gained from the Reality Tours will energize us, and brings out the best from us. You don’t aim for fun in these tours, but trust me, you will have a lot of it, and will be enjoying it for a lot longer.

In Indonesia, however, I don’t think you can bring foreigners into the deepest slums in Jakarta. Probably in some areas, but generally this can be very dangerous. Unless you know the people and the gangs in that slum very well.

A much better destinations would be the countryside. The landscape are beautiful, and the people are far more graceful.
A taste of this may be enjoyed in JAM (Jika Aku Menjadi), a unique TV programme created by the well-known Satrio Arismunandar. In its episodes, an urban dwellers will be selected and then taken to a family at the countryside to live there for some time.

A truly touching example is the episode where the actress lived in a duck herder’s family. It’s very hard to imagine a family of 5 living on a cup of rice - for 2 days.

Yet they’re still happy, and they’re grateful with what they have. Imagine how joyful they were when someone gave them Rp 1 million (about US$ 90), so they were able to increase the size of their herd.

It’s a truly humbling experience, and makes you realize about things that really matters.

So, if you’re going to arrange Reality Tours, let me know. If it’s any good, we’re signing up.