With the lack of sufficient internet access and overall lack of time, I’ve found it hard to stop and record my thoughts into this blog. I will try to recall what I do remember thus far.
Instead of writing a simple happy-go-lucky blog, I want to be able to stimulate the readers to think about this experience by having dialogue and an open forum of thoughts and ideas. Given that I am the only Political Science major amongst my peers, I find it difficult to openly challenge their notions of Thailand. How so? I am a very assertive yet considerate person, if I just happen to correct someone’s ignorance, I do not want to do it in a way which will hinder our relationship (how short or long it will be). Although it is only a blog, I hope that my ideas and thoughts are taken seriously, lets face it I suck at grammer, I suck at writing papers. Since this isn’t a paper, I will write the way I talk.
Lets talk, shall we?
Alas, Thailand is Thailand. Historically never colonized by western powers; however, one would argue that it is a prime example of modern colonization. Just as the Dutch, French, and English colonized and exploited the people and resources of other Southeast Asian nations, the Tourist is doing the same detrimental damage to the people and cultures of Thailand. I find it uncanny that what seems to be gung-ho liberal educated college students would shriek and fight over trinkets and then unrespectfully start snapping photos of sacred acts of the Thais. It is these similar peers of mine that I see on campus rallying against sweatshops, for equal rights, and so on; however, the virus of Tourism has gotten the best of them. I hope that the grandmother who spent three months weaving their trinkets or the mother leaving her children for 15 hours workdays get their moneys worth.
Do I have gripe? Lets have a chat, a drunken chat would be best. A sip of the Mekong Whisky would make my tongue a bit more nimble, my concerns and respectful image numbed. Lets have a chat about the co-depencies of the new colonist in Thailand, the tourist and their affects.
Lets face it, some people are just ignorant, they just don’t know. No one is to blame that they have no prior knowledge of real life situations of the Thais or their presence is propagating a social and economic jail. But, I can assume that these people who have the wealth and power to come into Thailand have some smidget of learning capacity. After gawking at how hard a grandmother weaves for 30 years, one would assume that this would be a learning experience, not another tourist photo-op.
I will not go into great detail about the treks we went on, the hotels we stayed in, or the people we’ve met. I leave the reader to ask their loved one these questions when they return. I challenge my peers to wholeheartedly consider themselves in the position of these people. Look at the trinkets you bought, look at the places where you’ve been and think of the hands who made these and the people who live there.
It is disgusting and appalling to know that our hotel/hostel/bungalow is greater and grander then our hosts. How does a bamboo shack compare to our abodes? If any of my peers were observant they would see the realities of these people. How do you put $3 dollars on three months of work? You should be ashamed of yourself. Do not let the sparkle of the trinket catch you eyes, instead shake the broken hands of these workers. Then, perhaps this will give you a clue as to what work really is.
Let me correct myself, I am not against tourism, I am against the stupid disrespectful ignorant ones. (Check amongst yourselves). Tourism help in many areas, it builds the economy of Thailand, it puts money into the pockets of the poor, but…. I must say BUT, it also is detrimental to a people and their culture. Sacred temples become photo ops, proud traditions become remedial, and the ideals and mores of a people are changed. I’ve seen many handicrafs half-assed in order to produce more in bulk, I’ve tasted dishes watered down for us, and I see the faces of the workers being gawked at by foreigners. They are NOT ashamed to work. So shut up about your job.
Yes, these things may be new to many of us, BUT respect isn’t. Isn't it?
I admire the grandmother, the silkweaver, mahut, and the boatman. I am ashamed of my peers.
More to come, or just talk to me.
(Margaritas on me err’one)
Posted by Chou Moua