Things we forget as tourists…

A Peruvian protest

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu in Peru. Our three-day Inca Jungle Trek was fully-packed with activities including biking through the Andes Mountains, mountain hiking and the infamous Inca city of Machu Picchu. However, our trip was full of unexpected surprises too due to the recent protests in Peru which brings me on to my next little rant about things that happen whilst travelling!

 

Our first occurrence with the protesters was on our first journey to the mountains. We had no idea what was going on when the minivan stopped in a road rammed with traffic and was held there for nearly two hours! Turns out the protesters were actually Peruvian teachers fighting for higher wages. They’d been protesting for over 20 days all over Peru, and their main destination were the tourist roads to Machu Picchu which disrupted travel for days and lasted for weeks. Fair enough!

  

Would you work for that?

The teachers were on strike, placing rocks, stones and wood in the roads and on the train tracks leading up to Machu Picchu. They were angry about the fact that the government who receives millions of US dollars thanks to the tourism industry, but Peruvians don’t see a single bit. We ventured out of the minivan to see the lines of hundreds of teachers and protesters and ended up speaking to one teacher who explained how they care, clean and teach doing jobs that they shouldn’t be doing and all for the monthly wage of 210 Peruvian Soles. That’s equivalent to £50.

 

By the last day of our trip the protests had got so bad that the teachers had apparently derailed the train tracks which meant that after a day of mountain hiking and walking around Machu Picchu, Becca and I trekked for another three hours along the train tracks in the dark to the next village to then catch a 7-hour minibus back to Cusco.

 

I won’t lie, the whole thing was pretty tiring, but I was disgusted by the cheek of the tourists around us who had every right to be annoyed by the slight inconvenience, but to display it so openly to the locals and people who tried so hard to help? Who do you think you are? Not forgetting the idiot guy who thought it would be funny to shout to the protesters and joke about whilst juggling in amongst the police and crowds.

 

Think about the teaching staff in our own westernised countries and how we think they get paid pennies (which they do in my opinion compared to some not as deserving occupations!), and then think about receiving 50 bloody pounds a month for all that love, care and demanding work. Nah, sit back down in your air-con minibus, on your £3,000 two-week trip and think hard before you speak.

 

Waiting for karma…

It’s funny, and there’s literally always one person who just never fails to shock you with how they even made it this far out in the world without karma knocking them out first, but the ignorance of some people when they’re in someone else’s lands and lives is unreal. Who do we think we are? Aren’t we forgetting something? That this is their country. And their fight is extremely worthwhile and incredibly important. And at the end of the day, who cares if we had to walk through the jungle and see fireflies with a couple of Peruvian people (turned out to be a highlight of the trip!), the thing that matters is that their voices were heard and that they get to exercise their rights with complete freedom.

Thanks for reading my little rant guys!

You can keep up with my adventure on instagram @vanishamay

Happy travels!

Vanisha

China

China has my heart in so many ways. It was the first momentous change of my life. It was my first ever trip alone. My first ever home and job abroad. And one of the scariest/bravest things I’ve ever done!

 

I remember being in Beijing and wondering near Wangfujing Snack Street (the place famous for its scorpion and tarantula on a stick!) and being completely lost. I felt safe and in no panic at all. Beijing was grey and full of smog, just as you’d expect, but it’s full of history and is a great starting point for an adventure in China! And it’s the home of peking duck, mmm. Also, thanks to my friend Eddy who took me on my first Chinese night out to a bar with the best deals (girls get in free and unlimited drinks for £1, COOL) and an evening meeting his grandparents in their home.

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Teaching English for six months changed me in so many ways. I was placed in a school, in a remote village. But even then, the village itself was a huge town compared to ours in England. Lots of things in China seem to be pretty over the top. I’ve never felt coldness like when I first moved there, and my first home had no heating and no window… just a space where one should have been. Lol. Then the summer was filled with sun and humidity like I’d never experienced too. The weather itself was a whole new experience. The teachers were lovely, and every weekend we drank brandy and sang karaoke at the local KTV bars, as well as cool stuff like exploring other cities, seaside weekends away and weird cinema trips. And the teaching itself was extremely rewarding. Hard work at times, but the children are so respectful and unlike lots in the UK, eager to learn and well disciplined. I loved watching them grow and learn english, while they taught me other things like, how to do the peace sign in every single photo for the rest of my life. I rarely cry, but leaving them on my last day nearly pushed the tears out!

I met my bestie and we travelled on sleeper trains and buses. Wuhan had a lovely art district but had a very odd vibe to it. Shanghai and Guangzhou are truly mega cities with mega skyscrapers and mega hordes of people. There’s so much to see and do in both, but highlights were Guangzhou Zoo which was one of the best I’ve ever been to, and all the super high towers. Lots of it is industrial, and busy city life, but China is a huge country and there’s so much beauty too!

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In complete contrast was Guilin, one of my favourite places in China with some of the most amazing landscapes. Riding around on the back of motorbikes and eating dumplings every morning is all I needed! We also had a day in the rice terraces of Yangshou. The sun was baking hot and we climbed for hours, high up in the terraces. It was so amazing that people still lived there and harvested the crops still. China is full of tradition and culture. Most of the places were relatively cheap, money lasts a long time especially if you stick with street food which minus the odd duck foot and chicken head, the food was delish.

The country itself is one of the most baffling to me. It’s a weird and wonderful place, and you find yourself whispering “wtf” to yourself at least ten times a day. Overall though, China is an amazing country to visit and there’s so much to explore. I recommend teaching to anyone and living there was easily done. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.