A few notes on my fellow travellers

I am travelling with a group of 11 other people on my journey through Cambodia and Vietnam. Most are in their 20-30s, and are from Australia, though one woman is from Ireland and a young couple are from Sweden. I am the “token”American. There are two other nurses, two MDs, a paramedic, a nursing assistant, a journalist, a child care worker, a shopkeeper are among those in our group. They are nice people and quite a few of them are much more well traveled than I am or probably will be. Not surprisingly, most are very well-informed on the history/politics of the region, though I am holding my own, thank you. I’ve noticed on this trip and others I encounter far more Europeans and Australians than Americans. Some of that I think is that Americans generally have less vacation time, but we are also spoiled with a beautiful, diverse country. There are more than a few that feel it is unnecessary to venture beyond our borders. But travelling to other places is important–it opens your eyes into how others live in a way no book or TV show can explain. Although the ügly American” (don’t know how an umlaut was substituted for a parens) does exist (I’ve seen it in person), travellers from other countries are just as guilty of being ignorant or disrespectful of local customs and traditions. If you do travel, you are essentially an ambassador for your country, and should conduct yourself accordingly.
Enough of the speeches–I’m off for breakfast, then Angkor Wat.

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