I’ve been sorting out my laptop this week and found this post I wrote on 24 January 2014 but never actually published (presumably because I didn’t want to offend anyone at TA Thailand?). I read it, I liked it, and so I thought better late than never and I still stand by the argument, so here goes, almost two years and a lifetime later…
I was recently invited to join a blogging trip with TA Thailand. The premise was simple; they wanted to promote their best venues and hotels for worldwide meetings, incentives, conferences and events (aka MICE tourism).
I was chosen out of hundreds of applications to go to Phuket and get to know the island as much as possible in four days. I visited eight beautiful, luxurious and super fancy different hotels on the island – all with something to show off.
The hotels had swimming pools, five restaurants as standard, huge meeting rooms, incredible spas, luxurious beds, en suite rooms and enough floor space in each room to house tens of people.
Anyone who knows me will know this isn’t my usual travel style. I’m a backpacker, a cheapo traveller and I like boutiquey hotels, or I book an apartment if I want something special. The hotels I was given to review were many times my budget, and personally, I’d rather spend my money on another holiday than luxury accommodation that I won’t ever get to use because I’m out and about exploring.
Don’t get me wrong, The hotels were incredible, the Hilton in Phuket in particular was so beautiful I felt choked, but they just weren’t me.
The issue was; I could’ve been anywhere.
Where’s the character? The soul?
Exploring these beautiful hotels made me realise how much I love my hostels and my boutique accommodation. I enjoy something with a bit of personality and some affiliation with the surrounding – something to reflect where I am, with a bit of character.
On this trip to Thailand I was lucky enough to be invited to travel by private jet down to Pattaya from Bangkok. The jet was incredible and the experience amazing, but the cost of that would be horrendous. The bill would make my eyes bleed I’m sure.
When I got to Phuket I had some £12.99 trousers on from H&M but was told I should change out of them to meet the governor. Wtf?
All this pretense, its just not me. I like to wear what I want and don’t feel the need to dress up for anyone. Life is what it is, and I hate the stupid pretense – clothes, accent, style, looks – that make anyone feel they’re better than anyone else.
While this was troubling me in Bangkok Airport I walked past the Chanel window in the departure lounge, and saw the usual ugly gaudy handbags.
I went to see how much they were, just out of interest – so expensive there wasn’t a price. People who shop in Chanel don’t look at price tags.
While I was in the private jet I thought of the #richkidsofinstagram hashtag that’s reported to be making the most frequent users into stars for a TV series. All on the presumption that the rest of us minions want to watch people who can afford to use San Pellegrino in the toilet bowl and light their cigars with £50 notes. Which sadly a lot of people probably do.
I’d also seen on the news in the departure lounge that Justin Bieber had been arrested for drink driving; his goofy smiling face plastered across the screen, smiling for the police camera like he was posing with a fan. It said that he was driving under the influence of dope, drink and anti depressants. Of course, in the end he got away with it, that’s what happens to the rich and famous.
While I was in Phuket my liaison’s phone kept going off as she’d organised the whole thing. The ringtone was One Direction – One Thing. I thought of Justin and the 1D lads as I was in the jet – this is how they must travel, all the time.
Travel lifestyles of the rich and famous
I feel like I’ve sampled the lifestyle of the rich and famous over my last few trips to South Africa, Gambia, and this one, to Thailand, and to be honest, although an incredible insight, it’s not my favourite way to travel.
Honestly, if I had the choice to come back to Bangkok by myself and stay in one of the accommodations we looked around, or to book myself a private room in a hostel in the centre, I’d go for the hostel.
What I’m trying to say is that the travel lifestyles of the rich and famous are not actually all that. I’ve enjoyed a small sample and can safely say my life is no better for it. Sure, I’ve got a cool story, but hasn’t everyone?
‘Rich’ is a mindset
I know that most of my readers are from the UK. If you’re anything like me and my friends – roof over your head, clothed, get to go on holiday, know where your next meal is coming from – you’re currently living a lifestyle of the rich and famous compared to 92% of the world population.
We need to stop reading bullshit magazines, wanting stupid designer clothes, and thinking eating at fancy restaurants will enrich your life. Family, friends, laughter and kindness are what make you rich in this life. And as for famous, just go travelling for a long period of time and then go home to your family and friends. That’s all the adoration you need, and you can still walk to the shop without getting mobbed.