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The Guilt Factor

Now that Tim’s parents are here, we’ve pretty much have been living the the rich and famous.  Well, not really, but we are staying at a 4-star hotel by the river ($50/night) and just got back from a wonderful dinner at a very nice restaurants ($5 per person).  And even when we were “roughing” it, we always stayed at decent places and were able to do pretty much everything we wanted to.

Though I’m thoroughly enjoying the nice life, I can’t help but feel guilty, because everywhere we  turn there’s poverty.  Utter poverty, as some of us have never seen before.


Throughout our travels in SE Asia, it’s hard to not feel undeserving of everything we have when we see old people rummaging through the garbage while we eat at a nice restaurant; whole families doing backbreaking work in the rice fields  while we sit by our hotel pool, petite men and women, being castigated by the scorching sun, pushing carts filled with heavy loads while we pass them by in your first class bus; kids selling souvenirs at 9pm while we sip wine at a bar; people working day and night while we walk to our hotel, knowing that our nice room with electricity, hot shower and clean linens is always there when we’re tired of being adventurous and need a reprieve.

And as Diesel and approach our our eighth week of traveling, we feel a bit more callous when it comes to succumbing to the pity buy, excessive donations, etc. because as sad as it may be, it is a world of haves and have-nots, and the little that will do will not make a big difference.  I don’t think it’ll ever become easier to see the things we have seen, but amidst the misery, hard work and sometimes hopelessness, there are glimmers of hope, happiness and most of all, kindness:  images of dozens of little kids taking their raggedy clothes off and jumping into the river  for their communal bath, diving, swimming, splashing around and laughing; the animated chatter of extended families sharing a meal together; the gentleness of the people we’ve met in these beautiful lands.

That’s what I’d like to remember.  And as for guilt, I’d rather be hopeful.

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3 Responses

  1. Very well said.

  2. I wish everyone here in the United State can see what
    you both are expperience over there.

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