Posts Tagged ‘cambodia’

I have so many traveler friends who can deny the nose on their faces because they’ve watched it grow. Culture is what it is…it is where you find it. Geography or a certain number of miles and dollars spent do not necessarily mean that mind shifting discoveries are immanent….that’s just Tropo…Jung’s explanation of the effects of foreign cultures on the minds of western born individuals. For example, I am living in Texas these days, deep immersion in an entirely new culture. The freeways, malls and masses of apolitical independence are demonized by the many media outlets who promote homogeneity, but the unique nature of the Texan mindset and underlying culture is undeniable to the avid observer. I did not have to travel to Bolivia or Cambodia to experience a new culture.

And what is it about travelers who are stalkers of the third world and it’s poverty? I have sometimes considered the thought that it is not just the travel but the narcissistic ego boost in the act of lording a western passport over the impoverished villagers that makes some travelers think they have achieved a new state of nirvana. Does being among the destitute make some people feel better about themselves?

The good old days of the simple rural existence our forefathers once lived are passing us by as demographics shifts with the new economic reality of the 21st century. Whereas 90% of the population once lived in the countryside and 10% urban in the 19th century, this has reversed to an extreme, leaving only 2% of the population producing 90% of all the food we city types need to survive.

These facts are as plain as the nose on your face….you don’t need to travel to Nepal and climb a well worn mountain trail to witness the fantastic changes taking place in our own back yard. I went to a mall yesterday that was two million square feet, built on land where Comanche Indians once occupied 200 years ago. So don’t forget to look at what you have and take pride in your own culture while you’re at it.

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I read the Bangkok Post this morning, as I do every day. It’s never completely amazing to read the words of yet another government official giving the nod to the sex industry in Thailand. Today’s announcement is to boost the numbers of LGBT tourists to Thailand to gain from “the increased spending ability of this group”. The official says ” the rest of the world has made sex tourism less accessible while we are making it more accessible”. Read the article here:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/health/316371/malaysians-warned-hiv-risk-in-south

I found it somewhat contradictory to also read  that the number of HIV infections among foreign tourists has increased. Apparently, ‘they and their prostitutes get drunk and forget to wear condoms’. Now personally, if I was at the epicenter of a global health crisis I would not be promoting increased risk of  pandemic…but maybe that’s just me. The Thai government has their sights set on earning two trillion baht from overall tourism this year…sad that it has to be on the backs of poor women…many who have little choice other than to prostitute themselves to drunken farang.

I question the logic and morality of the governments business decision to encourage prostitution as a viable ‘profession’. The Thai government would insist that as a farang I can never understand Thainess and am therefore instinctively biased, unable to understand the Asian mind or heart. I answer by stating that many  ASEAN and aligned countries have decided that their uneducated women and girls are not irretrievably disposable.

There are alternatives to prostitution work…I refer to one program that has been very successful throughout South East Asia, Africa and India….The Barefoot Teachers College..an NGO that trains women in skill based knowledge that they can transfer back to their rural villages and improve their own and the lives of their families and communities as an example.

http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/03/article_0002.html

Barefoot Teachers started as a shoestring organization to teach rural Indian women how to address the poverty they faced in remote villages. The organization has developed into an international effort that gives women an opportunity to train in a variety of ‘professions’ towards a sustainable lifestyle. NGO teaching centers like ‘Friends’ in Cambodia have taken street children and the disadvantaged in that country and given them hope for a better future by teaching them food service and entrepreneurial skill sets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends-International

I will continue to pray for the future of Thailand’s poor to have something other than prostitution to rely on for a means to put food on the table.