|Technology Makes Remote Journeys More Accessible, But Less Unplugged|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Friday, 28th September 2012
Crees runs journeys that are as unplugged as they come; her company, Gyalthang Eco Travel, takes people to remote regions of the Tibetan Plateau and places that are off the beaten track.
She talks to WIT about how technology is changing traveller behaviour and how a boutique agency like hers is faring in today's world of commoditised travel.
Q: You were born in Uganda, educated in India, started Tiger Tops in Nepal and as if that weren’t remote enough, you chose to move to Zhongdian (Shangri-La, China) to set up Gyalthang Eco Travel. What’s this connection you have with remote locations? Is it harder for women to work in and travel to remote locations?
A: I have always wanted to explore remote regions ever since I was a little girl and perhaps since my first journey to Belgian Congo with my father and first encounter with a mountain gorilla. I have always been drawn to the chance to explore frontier regions and experience the challenges of remote region travel and learn from the experience.
It is definitely harder for women to work in remote regions but these challenges make you learn and grow and see things in new and different ways. One gets a new perspective on life.
Q: Does it thus bother you all this obsession travellers have with devices – how has it changed the behaviour of customers on your trips? Because I presume that people who travel with you are looking to really escape to remote places?
A: Yes sometimes this obsession with devices bothers me – the need to always be in contact means the present moment and experience can escape people.
Devices present a problem and are intrusive when the richness of the present moment is sacrificed. Devices should be used to really capture the moment and make life and work simple. They should not be used to while away time in inane chat.
Guests sometimes get more preoccupied with the devices than experiencing people and experiences during their journey.
On the other hand I have seen some wonderful blogs and stories that people have written on the spot as they happen. A journey though can be a personal pilgrimage, of getting away from one’s daily life and having a chunk of time to just think and experience without any devices to pull you back to your usual life.