Ready for the Reality Check?

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During our travel we like to discover rural areas. Areas which are not explored by mass tourism and which give us some insights about real life of locals, a flavor of the untouched nature and some direct connection with the people. With our motorbike we drive to the countryside, we take boats or small planes to reach the far-off and to meet the unexpected. Very often this way of traveling is not very comfortable, you might face major delays, infrastructure and logistics are still under development. Looking for the reality unfolds positive surprises and beauty, but can also mean to face situations and circumstances we are not used to and the unknown might be ugly and difficult to understand for us. Thats part of the discovery.

Having traveled through Indonesia we explored magnificent sights and met wonderful, kind and friendly people. Overall it is a beautiful country, rich in diversity of culture, religion and nature. But we have been also and unfortunately confronted with a major topic, especially in the country side and those areas where tourism has not yet been established: Garbage.

Often just a few footsteps away from attractive sights, we passed areas full of rubbish. At the beach, on fields where cows or goats graze, on the streets, in the river and so on. We are sincerely concerned how careless local people treat their direct environment. Garbage has always been an issue, even 20 years ago on my first travels to Asia but also in Europe. However, today with each single unit packed in plastic, the waste masses are getting bigger and subsequently more dangerous. Waste disposal in general doesn’t exist in the far-off-regions and with most often basic education, the local people just don’t know the mid- and long term impact to the eco-system, the food chain and their personal health, when plastic and other poisening materials dissolve over ages into the soil and the groundwater. Thus waste is just part of their direct surroundings and might be burned from time to time. Politics apparently don’t pay much  attention – in particular at places where tourism still plays a minor role.

We talked to people working at NGOs, which are actively engaged to find a solution and they already took action to increase awareness at different levels and to implement improvements. However this will be a long way and might need some time.

The Vision is Key

Meanwhile we arrived on the beautiful island of Boracay in the Philippines. Boracay is famous for its white beaches and the fine, flour-like sand. And we do confirm – the beaches and the light blue sea are the most beautiful we have seen during our travel.

Upon our arrival it stroke us immediately: compared to Indonesia there is no garbage laying around. Beaches are clean, street ditches tidy and streets seemed like just recently swept. Remarkably also that this “clean attitude” is practiced at the opposite island “Panay”, where tourism has not arrived yet.

And this is why: The mayor of the two islands has one aim: “Boracay shall be the cleanest island  in the Philippines” and subsequently has implemented an anti-littering and anti-smoking law (on the beach only), supported by different programms and initiatives in cooperation with business owners. Huge banners and signs are installed, marketing the new law and the related fines, if not respected.

Plenty rubbish bins and ashtrays are placed, 45 official officers are regularly controlling the beach and are empowered to fine offenders. Restaurants and bars are obliged to keep their place clean and are penalized otherwise.

This is a very good example how it can work.

 

Tomorrow we will talk about what each of us can do to make our life more environmentally friendly.

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2 Responses to Ready for the Reality Check?

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