Take This Waltz

I think I may begin a new blog that’s dedicated to the strange odd jobs I accept to make money. It will be called something clever, although I can’t come up with a name yet, it will come to me I am sure of it. Anyhow this blog isn’t about my odd jobs, but more about nothing. Really lets all be honest, that’s mostly what comes out of my mouth anyhow. Nonsense. So here I go.

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I was thinking about Asia. A lot. Thinking about the past two months. Thinking about travel. Thinking about tourism. Thinking about change. I found an entry I wrote about in my last night it Cat Ba, Vietnam.

Oct 29, 2012

It’s my last night in Cat ba. Halong bay has a beauty to it that’s still unique. It’s new and forgiving of tourism, but you can see that it won’t be for long. I can tell you now, if to want to see the world. See it now, because in less than 10 years and probably much less it won’t be the same.

Human traits of greed and indulgence have spread like wildfire in the past decade. I see it so strongly in Asia. Other backpackers see it, locals see it, the common traveller doesn’t. Many travelers come to a place for a week, indulge, and go home completely untouched by the places they see. They pay for expensive, but comfortable tours and all-inclusive hotels. They are afraid to eat the local food, or actually speaking to the locals only occurs when their dinner orders are taken.

Travel is changing. It’s become this fad. It’s become this race to see how many stamps you can fit into your passport in a two week or less time span. It’s become a comfortable easy way to leave home without leaving the comforts of it. And foreign markets and cultures are feeding the bad habits of these tourists. They are letting tourists come in and consume as easily as they’d like, they offer English menus although they can’t speak it themselves, they create western dishes to make tourists feel at home, they create easy forms of transport for them so that no tourist has to experience the difficulty that locals do to get around. Sleeper busses, expensive over night trains and boats, all done to fuel tourism and local profit. But at what cost? What does this mean for exotic and once native cultures?

Overexposure, manipulation of land prices, and foreign investors fatigue the travel world. Westerners come in and buy land at low-cost, and the locals will never see the profit because it ends up back overseas. It’s this negative symbiotic relationship between tourism and destination. I can’t explain the beauty and pain of travel to people who haven’t experienced it, but once you begin to see the world, you also see the exposure, you see the manipulation and you see the greed. It’s devastating to watch it unfold before you can even step outside a foreign airport. At this rate in not sure where tourism is headed.

Well it’s headed up, it’s always headed up. But at what cost? By the time we realize the cost, it will be too late.

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