Thursday, July 12, 2007

Giles Wemmbley-Hogg (spoof of a young, British backpacker)

You may have come across a Giles Wemmbley-Hogg yourself; He is a middle-class, white, English undergraduate taking a 'gap year' during his studies to travel the world.

I hope that some young backpackers genuinely do have their minds broadened when they travel to Asia, but for the types of people being spoofed here the journey is little more than a ritual.

This is Giles (the creation of UK comedian Marcus Brigstocke) presenting a slide show of his recent travels through Asia:

I've always been skeptical about the young backbacking movement. It may be intended to teach young people something through seeing and living amongst cultures different to their own (which is great) but in practice, is there really much respect for that culture from the travellers?

Do they, for example, go to Thailand to experience Thai culture and meet Thai people, or merely to party with other Giles Wemmbley-Hoggs in some foreigner-friendly, English speaking bar with a nice beach to sunbathe on the following morning?

With backbacking, I feel there is an element of treating the world as a theme park for westerners and rather than 'broadening the mind', I think some backbackers (at least the ones being parodied above) return home with no more than a sense of 'been there, done that.'

Footnote: How, I wonder, would the UK feel about an annual influx of, say, Vietnamese youths coming here to 'do' England, making their way en masse through Oxford, Cambridge and the country's best beauty spots to set up camps and party into the night at Vietnamese travellers' bars? Somehow I don't think that even backbackers would welcome this on their own doorstep.


Kwok said...

i've never taken a gap year, but i've been backpacking around europe and asia.

i suppose it is the done thing now and more often than not people who do like traveling will have done it. as for people's reaction, it does depend on the individual. some people do go and explore the culture and try new things. others just go to the nearest backpacker's bar/strip club and spend 3 weeks in there.

i personally feel it is a good thing to do as it makes you more independent and resourceful. the act of traveling is more important than what you see.

burntbreadboy said...

I certainly enjoy travelling and seeing new places and cultures. The last thing I would want to do is gather with other travellers in a foreign country the way some backpackers do. I don't think you get as much out of the experience that way.