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Home Travel Stories An Open Letter to The World

An Open Letter to The World

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Let’s all take a breather people.

January 2020 is finally over, and we can all agree that it hasn’t been the greatest of starts to the year (and that’s putting it mildly). Kicking off with the world almost crumbling into World War III courtesy of a certain Commander-In-Chief, to the devastating bush fires of Australia, and the deadly Wuhan Coronavirus, it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse.

And then, in the early hours of January 27 local time, the tragic news of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that resulted in multiple deaths including NBA legend and global icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter, created shockwaves across the world.

Truthfully as I’m writing these words, I still can’t believe that Kobe, who I have long admired, is no longer with us.

I remember somehow waking up at 4AM in the morning just when the notification of the news popped up on my phone. Disbelief overwhelmed me as I scoured through Twitter and media outlets to ascertain the validity of the report. Disbelief soon gave way to denial, and finally my mind was just an utter blank.

That morning I struggled to process the reality of that very piece of news. I am still trying to process it.

The world is grieving right now – for the animals that perished in the bush fires in Australia, for the people who have lost their lives to the Wuhan Coronavirus to the thousands still battling the disease, and for Kobe Bryant and his daughter who were simply gone too soon – our hearts ache for each and everyone who have suffered and are suffering.

Travel surely is the last thing on anyone’s minds now, and I can’t blame them. The world is in a terrifying state, and I shudder to think what the rest of 2020 will be when January has near enough decimated our spirits.

Barely anyone in Asia can leave their homes without at least a minute fear of succumbing to the Wuhan Coronavirus. I’m not here to be an alarmist but the situation appears to be rather bleak right now.

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A 39-year-old man has become the first to die in Hong Kong after being diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus.⁠ ⁠ The patient, who was being treated at Princess Margaret Hospital, died on Tuesday morning after his condition deteriorated. He had suffered sudden heart failure, according to medical sources.⁠ ⁠ His death is the second fatality linked with the outbreak that has been reported outside mainland China. The man lived with his mother, who had been infected through close contact with her son.⁠ ⁠ Go to link in bio @scmpnews to read more. ⁠ ⁠ Photo: A medical staff walks past the Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on February 4, 2020. 📷: AFP⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ #hongkong #coronavirus #wuhanvirus #china #mainlandchina #scmpnews #scmp

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So then, what does this series of unfortunate events mean for travel? I’d like to suggest that it’s actually now, more so than ever, that the value of seeing the world, of experiencing and learning about the various cultures and people before us, come to the fore.

Perhaps if we are more seasoned travellers, then there will be fewer Western media outlets weaving their discriminatory narrative when it comes to China and the Wuhan Coronavirus. The state of things is sad enough without demonising the Chinese for the outbreak, which makes it even more heart-breaking.

I’m not saying that they should be absolved for the spread of the Coronavirus but painting them as harbingers of death only fuels more racism and hate. Some of the acts some Chinese have committed are indeed morally questionable and wrong, but it’s a slippery slope to generalise and stereotype all Chinese under the same banner.

These differences – stark, even alien as they may be – can only be perceived through our travels, when we get the chance to encounter and interact with another people and culture. Only then can we begin to understand what makes each of us unique, and yet in some way, homogeneous as a human race.

When it rains, we all get wet. Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Our travels teach us how to love, how to embrace, and how to be human. So, I implore all of you, don’t bury yourselves in fear and hatred, and if anything, this is the time when we should stand strong and experience the beauty of the world and its people.

Granted, it all sounds idealistic. Perhaps it is, but sometimes what we need is the idea of an ideal world to inspire us to stand up to a cruel reality.

It takes supreme courage to face the circumstances that lay before us, and I’m in no way suggesting for you to take a trip to Wuhan or rush into throngs of the bush fires ravaging Australia.

Of course, be smart and travel safely, that is still of paramount importance. But that dream holiday you’ve always wanted to go, that culture you were so inquisitive about? To that, I say go. Dare to explore, and explore freely, life is preciously fragile and our time on this Earth is finite.

The next day isn’t guaranteed, so if you don’t take the chance to see the truly beautiful world we live in, when will you?

Top photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

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