Billy's Travel Album

Welcome. Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy.


  1. Debbie

    Beautiful photo – great shot. Reminds me of the gers in Mongolia. The Sami are the Reindeer People, right? Were they still living traditionally? Do they still herd Reindeers?

    • Travel Billy

      Thanks a lot! We weren’t served by real Sami as the tent was setup by the activity centre for us to “experience” Sami culture. 🙂 They did have reindeers for sledding though!

      • Debbie

        Sad, isn’t it? I read a book some years back called The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky. It’s very sobering. He visited Eveny people and other reindeer peoples in Siberia, and I think also the Sami. He paints a terrible picture of how the culture was destroyed by the Soviets and then people were ‘taught’ to dance mockeries of their traditional dance in a so-called ‘revival’. A complete tragedy. I met reindeer people in Mongolia with a herd of reindeers – but like everyone, everywhere, trying to cash in on the tourist dollar ( even though there were very few travellers way up there).

      • Travel Billy

        It is indeed. However, I think it’s a natural consequence as civilisations advance in technology and lifestyle. As an outsider we think a traditional culture is being sadly destroyed. However, if you were a Sami riding on an erratic dogsled seeing people cruising on a modern snow bike, you might have a complete different view. Ultimately it’s up to people choice on how they would want to live their life. What made me feel sad is technology has kind of fixed how people live and if you want to live in a different way, you will be seen as an oddity. (e.g. Imagine how people would react if you tell them you don’t have an email address!)
        Tourism has at least injected some value to those traditional culture though…

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    • Debbie

      I think obviously its fine if people themselves wanna buy modern technology stuff. Sure, like who wouldn’t want to get some place quicker on a snow bike. But that’s not the same as outside invader cultures coming in and brutally destroying indiginous cultures. I recently heard a talk from Tim Cope, writer and filmaker who travelled from Mongolia thru to Hungary on horseback ( took him three years) and he was talking about the mobile fone. His take is that while westerners might say “they are losing their culture” to him, he reckons that mobile fones could have been invented for nomads. I also saw people in Mongolia use jeeps the same way they used to ride horses. I don’t have any problem with that. But again, that is very differnt from invaders controlling people and destroying local traditions
      Regarding tourism, when the local people control that tourism, it works best, but when it is out of their hands, their culture is destroyed and they are given “work” in tourist villlages imitating their own culture…. so they end up losing it. Unfortunately, invading cultures also tend to bring in alchohol and drugs and control the economy. Its a complex issue.

      • Travel Billy

        What is culture? For me it defines how people live, eat, behave and in general how a society functions. As technology advances and also people of different culture interacts, people’s behaviour will change and in such case, some cultural element may be, as you said, “destroyed”. Is it necessarily a bad thing? I think it’s difficult to judge. After all, culture is not something you can take away from people. In most cases, people have freedom to choose how they live and so instead of “losing” a culture, it might just be a choice of them to live differently.
        I think what you are not comfortable is there are “invaders” who intentionally destroy a particular culture for their personal gain. They might use different ways to deceive those local people to make the wrong decision. I think nothing can stop this happening and it’s all up to the locals to have good judgement. Therefore I think education is important, not just in terms of hard knowledge but also things like virtues, social values, etc.

      • Debbie

        you’ve brought up some very interesting points, Billy. sure, education is very important. world history is full of invading cultures destroying indigineous cultures simply because of superior military power – it’s hard to have good judgement when you are staring down the barrel of a gun. amazingly, many cultures still survive. with respect to the reindeer peoples, i was referring to the book by Piers Vitebsky. I read it after I’d been to Mongolia and seen some of the Reindeer people there. He is an anthropologist, so I guess he knows what he’s talking about with respect to indiginous cultures and invading cultures. Anyhow, thanks for the interesting conversation. 🙂

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