Our test of resilience - When microbiology alters the game | bangkokvanguards
Bangkok Tour operator specialized in off the beaten path urban adventures, eco tours, Bangkok walking and biking Tours, cultural and educational tours and programs
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Michael Biedassek contemplating the future of his business while staring at burning candles in Chinatown

Our test of resilience – When microbiology alters the game

A new world

We would like to thank everyone for their comments, messages and support during these difficult times. By now most of us are well aware of the health, economic and social impacts this pandemic is having on human society, and according to public authorities this may only be the beginning. Much has already been said about Covid-19 and we’ve been thinking hard on what we can bring to the table that is of value to our community and society. This will not be a guide on how to self-quarantine or documentation of a gently unfolding apocalypse and how nations respond to it. We could certainly elaborate on the economic and psychological impact this virus has on us as a travel company and the travel industry as a whole. Thus my empathy and thoughts are with all the entrepreneurs and workers world wide, independent of industry whose work and commitment has suddenly been made completely irrelevant. It is microbiology that can alter the game and expose the fragility of our modern civilization and the systems we have created many of which are out of touch with nature. This has become a defining moment for our species and we have to find our roles in a new reality that is characterized by terms like flattening the curve, touchless greetings and social distancing. However, more importantly we need to weigh our decisions for the long term implications they may have on economics, culture and politics. 

Waiting for travelers. How long we will have to wait, we don’t know.

Another definition of crisis

The Chinese word for crisis consists of two opposite words: WEI JI. Wei meaning danger and Ji meaning opportunity. While for bangkokvanguards ‘Wei’ comes in the form of cancelled and uncertain bookings, ‘Ji’ on the other hand are our choices, our ability to think, adapt and cooperate in creating solutions for the greater good as well as for self-preservation. While the future is uncertain for now, the reality is that we still have our passion as explorers, documentarians and anthropologists, and we are blessed with an unusual abundance of that most elusive of resources, time. Our focus has shifted from the operations side to the heart and soul of our passion, to find and share the stories and wisdom of the communities, heritage and people of Bangkok. This won’t be an easy undertaking with the severe restrictions we are facing, not to mention the curfew that has just been announced.

Hall of the Reclining Buddha, one of Bangkok’s most visited temples.

The months ahead

During my experiences helping in the Tsunami aftermath in 2004/2005 and the Bangkok flood crisis of 2011, I witnessed how dire times bring out the best in humans, and I’m confident the Covid Crisis will be no different. This crisis reveals what is broken in our societies and it will give us the opportunity to rethink; to rethink the way we live, work, organize and empower ourselves across the globe. The content we will be sharing will center around two of the greatest human qualities, resilience and kindness. We will keep the track of the people and grassroots movements in our community in order to support the intuitive efforts of self-organization by sharing their stories and ideas ranging from mental health to self-reliance among other topics. Aside physical distancing (not necessarily social), we also need to counter the climate of anxiety and insecurity as this can become toxic in the weeks to come. We need to ensure that the world is not getting more fragmented and that dealing with the crisis is not dominated by militarism and fear but by vibrant and innovative social communities. Some people may claim that capitalism and individualism have destroyed the notion of community, if this is true then this is the time to rebuild it. At the fundamental level of the human condition we need to realize that we are dependent on each other.

Crisis brings the best out in us. Flood relief campaign volunteers during the Wipe the Tide Campaign in 2011/2012

Building the future

Humanity has always risen to the challenges and will do so again, but the 21st century will be the defining century not only for Thailand but for every country and every human being regardless of color or creed. Covid-19 may be now the most urgent challenge now but it is only a symptom of a much larger issue and that is humanity’s relationship with Planet Earth. Climate change, pandemics, technological disruption or inequality, these are challenges that cannot be solved by a single country alone or by governments alone and this pandemic will put us to the test and provide us with an opportunity to come together to adjust humanity. It’s crucial to seek, create and share knowledge, to build empathy and global solidarity. These are values that are aligned with the spirit of travel and we have experienced your spirit and support long before Covid-19 in our conversations, your comments and participation in events and projects like Santa Cause, the Charoen Chai Community, Wipe the Tide, or micro-interventions such as supporting Nong Bright. Regardless of the nature of a crisis, the level of urgency or the places affected; our common interest for the long term security and well-being of people, nature and heritage transcends our national borders, ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds. It is that knowledge and gratitude that powers us to do everything we can to be part of the healing process and plant the seeds for a swift recovery of Bangkok’s neighborhoods through knowledge sharing and community and human centric travel. Once you are ready to travel again, we will be ready to share and experience with you the stories, ideas, people and places that we all care for and hopefully enrich a planetary and ethical awakening. 

Michael Biedassek
[email protected]