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Well Traveled or Open Minded…(Which is Better?)

For some reason I always connected traveling and open mindedness; a well traveled person was considered an open minded person, someone who would accept others with their cultures, traditions and religions. I was proven wrong. Not because there are open minded people that have never traveled, I have known this one from before and I have met many open minded people that have rarely or never even stepped outside their country (even if that country was Egypt.) I was proven wrong because I have met a self proclaimed “well traveled” person who does not accept any other culture. 

Well traveled but very closed minded

That person even used the fact that they are well traveled to prove their points! That they know the world, they know cultures and they know people, and people are bad!

Well to be honest we were talking mainly about Muslims in the UK. I agree, some have taken it to an extreme side, but that person was against building mosques at all! What made that person angry in the first place was seeing a Muslim person take a 5 minutes break from work to pray. Well, you take 5 minutes break for a smoke…He uses his break for his own reasons! 

Muslim prayers
Muslim Prayers | Photo from Flickr creative commons

Let’s be honest here, in Egypt, when streets are blocked during Friday prayers, and when some shops close down five times a day for prayers, and when at 4 in the morning the 50 mosques around your house (exaggerated number) start calling for prayer in a non synchronized manner, it does get a bit annoying…But how is it annoying for you in the UK? I haven’t even heard one call for prayer since I came here and I live close to the mosque! I actually miss that sound (and miss the noisy cities in general, but that is besides the point)

PS I think that person thinks I am Muslim. Well, for the record, dear reader, I am not. But if I will defend the rights of an atheist to not believe, I will defend the rights of a Muslim to believe as well as the rights of a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, you name it!

Pai Thailand Hostel Buddhist Blessing
Buddhist prayer for the blessing of the hostel on its first anniversary – Pai, Thailand 2012

That person argued, and I quote, “When I visited Egypt, Turkey, all these Muslim countries, I couldn’t find a Church to pray!”…Okay, let me tell you, I am from Egypt, I lived at least 22 years of my 24 years long life in Egypt, I know THERE ARE churches. Many of them. 

Yes, they do get the random bomb every few years, but that does not mean you cannot find a church to pray! 

“But they are all Coptic Orthodox churches, I wouldn’t find my Church!”
Me: “There are Catholic churches in Egypt…”
“I am a protestant”
Me: “In my city, which isn’t the biggest in Egypt, there were 9 protestant churches that I know of, and I’m sure many more I have never seen!”

St Mina Monastery

The argument went on, and then that person was arguing about how the world is unfair to the Brits…”We travel anywhere, I mean I just wanted to go for a holiday anywhere, and I have to pay for a visa! I paid around 20 quids to get into the country!”

I then had to explain how this is actually good for them! You get to show up at the airport, pay 20 quids and get into the country! No fuss! I had to explain how I got refused not once, but twice from a USA embassy when I applied for a visiting visa, and I never get the money for my visa application back, which is not 20 quids by the way, I don’t remember exactly but I would say 300-400 US Dollars! I also explained how I had to apply for a visa at least a few weeks before going anywhere. And how to come here to the UK, I had to pay all my tuition fees, prove my accommodation place, prove I have enough money to pay expenses for the whole year…etc before getting that stamp on my passport! And that person’s angry because they had to pay 20 quids to enter Egypt or Turkey?!

“Oh! So you can’t just go spend a weekend in Spain??”
For an Egyptian to spend a weekend in Spain, I have to book a hotel about two months earlier, book my flights BOTH WAYS, get an interview in the embassy, in that interview I have to prove my bank accounts have sufficient funds and that I have enough ties to my homeland to return to it after the weekend…Did I mention I have to have non-refundable travel insurance? Yes, that too for a Schengen visa…”

A well traveled person that thought it is hard for Brits to travel and the world is using them for their money? How sad…

PS I am not angry at that person, we are still coworkers and friends, the alcohol definitely had an effect on that conversation, I have no idea if they read my blog or not, but I don’t think I have mentioned it to them before, and if they do they might not even remember it was them! :) But I was just amused at the fact that a well traveled person had such thoughts, and that some Brits think it is hard for them for travel!

 So in the end, what do you prefer, a well travel person with such mentalities or an open minded person? Which person would you prefer to be or deal with?

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