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Thailand: The distruction of the environment, loss of traditions, declining morals....

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Originally part of WHERE TO TRAVEL IN THAILAND?
What or who is the cause of it?
10 years ago, January 21st 2009 No: 1 Msg: #60865  

..... its decline is ever present.



Yeah, they do seem to be making serious efforts to tear up the entire country and replace it with California esque air conditioned resorts. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 22nd 2009 No: 2 Msg: #60942  
Once again we have no one to blame but the travelers for this prediciment. If everyone would just stay home, no one could enjoy the Land of Smiles. Life would be so much better.......

Oh wait, we're travelers and we're part of the problem. Let's not get the holier than thou attitude that backpackers aren't ruining things. Sure we may buy street food, sure we use family run guesthouses but we started the sea of people to come here.

If only we had stayed home....

I on the other hand am glad that there are the fancy pants people staying in their 10 storey hotels, sitting by the pool, drinking mai tais. They never want to go off the beaten path and that leaves something for me to do.

Ohhhhhh I can't wait for my flight next month...... Reply to this

10 years ago, January 22nd 2009 No: 3 Msg: #60963  
Agree with you Chocolatemonkee about the fancy pants sitting by the pool...but unfortunately Westernisation is,slowly, but surely spreading to other unspoilt areas.It's only a matter of time. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 25th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #61245  
cholocmonkey,

im not sure i get yr point?i cant see how backpacking dudes are respoceable for chavs in some of the niceist remote island in the world?i dont want to be a dick but i really dont get it dude. backpackers didnt bring people here who shld really stick to spain or greece.i no its a free world but to be fair its totally ruining thailand. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 25th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #61260  

Once again we have no one to blame but the travelers for this prediciment. If everyone would just stay home, no one could enjoy the Land of Smiles. Life would be so much better.......



If life was really better in the old days, then people would not change at all in any country.

If Westernisation is influencing Thailand and whichever other places, then there is either something very good about the way we do things in the West or else if there is not and still people take on many of our ways, then what does it say about them.

Anyway, blaming the West is just a way to evade responsibility. Is the West really responsible for the breaking and fixing of everything. Are the governments in certain countries really such puppets of the West. Come on guys, give the Thais a bit more credit than that.
Reply to this

10 years ago, January 25th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #61267  
Bobby,
In the most generalist of ways:

Today's backpackers can, in a lot of ways, be likened to the explorers we all love to read about in history books.

Explorers set out to discover things and be the first at going places for scientific purposes, for money, for notoriety, for the thrill and also because they were bored with their normal lives.
Backpackers, or at least the ones I know, fall into at least one of these.

Now modern day backpackers may not have to suffer and toil like explorers did but we are willing to go without to sustain our "adventure". We will sleep in less than ideal conditions, eat foods that we're not accustomed to, we're even willing to barter our services to receive the things we need to survive. These are the same things many explorer did.

And like every great explorer, backpackers have the same problem when they finally return home......they tell everyone they can about their latest adventure. The likes of Polo, Cook, Balboa and Columbus could only write about what they saw. We get to show pictures of the beautiful beaches we sit on, the mountains we climb, the reefs we dive on, the people we meet. And of course we brush off the appalling conditions that we see, the injustices around us, focusing on the great and grand.

Our pictures, blogs, slide shows (I have been to few when I was way younger), chatter over the water cooler has sparked others to look into traveling. I know of 4 people heading to Thailand this year that heard me bragging last year about what a great time I had. Each one of them may already wanted to go or where in the process, but each one of them asked about areas I had been too and now are going there to "discover" it.

Exponentially, this has caused the ever increasing numbers into South East Asia. Of course, not everyone wants a room that five dollars buys. Therefore, better places are erected. And to fill those rooms, more focus is put on marketing the area. Next we have 5 star hotels, jet skis, all you can eat buffets, tour buses, paved roads, hospitals and super markets crowding out the bamboo hut that we were happy to stay in.

Imagine North America before Columbus "discovered" it. Life was probably pretty simple and things were still pretty. Now look at what it looks like.

And that is why I blame, myself and fellow backpackers (explorers if you will), for the degradation of places like Thailand.


Reply to this

10 years ago, January 25th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #61275  
We don't think it's just backpackers or tourists to blame for the degradation of the environment etc etc...surely it has to do with the government of these countries too? Governments of countries see tourists as cash cows to be milked at every opportunity and therefore do not put policies for preserving the environment, beaches etc or do not enforce the laws adequately to stop their country from being destroyed.

An example of this springs to mind - Koh Samui, Thailand had a law which said there could be no buildings built above the highest palm tree on the beach. So the local Thais (wanting to build posher resorts and therefore make more money) imported taller palm trees from Chiang Mai, therefore changing the height they were allowed to build to. The local government did not stop this, turned a blind eye and let them continue this practice. So the beach at Chaweng over the course of 2 years changed beyond recognition and the island has turned into a 'spa and resort' place.

We think the Thai government has to take a lot of responsibility for the state of the beaches on some of the 'tourist islands' if they enforced environmental policies more strictly then there wouldn't be a problem.

Bobby 1294 - who are we to say that some people are 'better off in Spain or Greece'? You say it's ruining Thailand but the world is changing and getting smaller and the way Thailand is hyped in the 'West' in general is what is the problem...the Tourist Authority of Thailand and the Thai government does not want backpackers in Thailand - it has said this on numerous occasions, backpackers don't spend enough money for their liking. Thailand is trying to move it's tourist base away from backpackers to the 2-3 week holiday makers who usually go to Spain and Greece because they spend a lot more money.

So who is ruining the world - tourists or greedy governments wanting to cash in? Reply to this

10 years ago, January 25th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #61279  

If life was really better in the old days, then people would not change at all in any country.



I can not help but bite on this one....

Mel, you have to quantify "better" when you make this statement. Usually when people say this, they are referring to the fact that things were simpler in the olden days. Less limitations and rules than now.

When I think back to the olden/better days in traveling, I think back to when you were the only foreigner for miles and miles around and were treated much like a dignitary and things were so simple and laid back. You pretty much could do what you wanted. Ahhhhh the good times.

I doubt that everyone wants to return back to having to wait for 4 days for a train that may or may not show up in a remote border town, or be thrown in jail because no one was sure why you were there or what you were saying, or not being allowed into a country because you could be a spy or having someone follow you while you are in that country, or being near death with a disease that could have been cured almost instantly had there been a hospital near by. Of course all were part of the adventure but man, I kinda like some of the perks of modernization while I travel.

Countries change not on the will of the people. If that were the case, we would not see 3rd world or developing countries as they would have willed themselves into being prosperous countries.
Countries change when corporations take an interest in them as they have something to offer. Whether it be natural resources, strategic positioning or manpower. And that change may be negligible when the country's leaders are corrupt or can not stand up against the corporations.

If Westernization is influencing Thailand and whichever other places, then there is either something very good about the way we do things in the West or else if there is not and still people take on many of our ways, then what does it say about them.
Anyway, blaming the West is just a way to evade responsibility. Is the West really responsible for the breaking and fixing of everything. Are the governments in certain countries really such puppets of the West. Come on guys, give the Thais a bit more credit than that.



North America has been led to believe that we have to consume. I found The Story of Stuff to simplistically represent this point.

Other countries change as they either adopt what North American ideals of being consumers (who can blame them for wanting to prosper, to have fresh water, readily available food, oh and the latest designer jeans) or the become the suppliers and provide us with more consumables.

China and India, two countries with very different outlooks than North America are just now experiencing a middle class boom that has more people wanting to prosper and have things. They are not becoming any more westernized, they are just being taught to consume more. Whether its to own a car, have more meat in their diets or be able to buy Plasma TVs.

I think our concern should be that North America has been through all this and look where it has gotten us. Other countries need to enter these waters with more caution and learn from our mistakes.

Are the Thai people and different? No! They want to prosper and if it means they have build big resorts to capture those western dollars than so be it. They may not have anything else to offer than warm temps and sandy beaches. Who are we to say they can't get ahead?
Reply to this

10 years ago, January 26th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #61347  

Exponentially, this has caused the ever increasing numbers into South East Asia. Of course, not everyone wants a room that five dollars buys. Therefore, better places are erected. And to fill those rooms, more focus is put on marketing the area. Next we have 5 star hotels, jet skis, all you can eat buffets, tour buses, paved roads, hospitals and super markets crowding out the bamboo hut that we were happy to stay in.


So, it is the package tourists who cause the damage rather than the backpackers? I would tend to agree with that. At least that they go a long way to causing the environmental damage. I also agree with Donna and Neil that the Thai government seems to be uninterested in putting enough/any protection in place to prevent tourism from destroying the environment.
Reply to this

10 years ago, January 26th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #61348  

We get to show pictures of the beautiful beaches we sit on, the mountains we climb, the reefs we dive on, the people we meet. And of course we brush off the appalling conditions that we see, the injustices around us, focusing on the great and grand.



What if we do blog and take photos of the not nice things we observe in the countries we visit, such as the injustices and appalling conditions etc. Will we be increasing world awareness, merely misery mongering or other?

Should we doccument and photograph the bad things we see in Thailand? If so, which things in particular should we doccument and take photos of?

Does anyone blog about the not so nice things about Thailand? If so, why do you blog about these things? Also, would you post a quote from the relevant blogs or a link to them.
Reply to this

10 years ago, January 26th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #61360  

Does anyone blog about the not so nice things about Thailand? If so, why do you blog about these things? Also, would you post a quote from the relevant blogs or a link to them.



Mel, we have blogged bad things about Thailand in the following blogs:

Phuket

Phi Phi

Krabi


We did these blogs to warn other people about how bad Thailand can be. We were quite restrained with these blogs because we didn't want to upset Donna's mum and dad too much as it had been their only holiday.

We are of the point of view that not every country or place we visit is going to be nice and if we have a bad experience of somewhere then we will blog it truthfully and say it was bad. Some people's blogs we have read have been along the lines of everywhere is wonderful and there are no faults with anywhere they have visited which really can't be the cas.

Reply to this

10 years ago, January 26th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #61370  
i shall sit and read all that is read but not the time now,good responce tho Reply to this

10 years ago, January 26th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #61406  
I think no matter what type of traveler you are, you invariably add to the problem. I found the following excerpt on Jamie's Phuket blog sums up my first point:

Gone (long ago) are the days spoken of by Tony Wheeler in his intro to my well-thumbed Lonely Planet South East Asia On a Shoestring - he says Patong (in 1974) had no resorts but had "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". Well, every dog has it's day, and you can't stop progress. It's the same story all over the world. Backpackers discover a place, then guesthouses, beach huts, restaurants, bars and all the essential services quickly mushroom, then the place is found by "flashpackers", then independent (but not poor) travelers, then all hell breaks loose and Lo! You have a tourist resort, much hated by the common backpacker.



Mel, why do you think backpackers are not as much at fault? We're tourists as well. It's just that we can't (won't) pay for upscale packages for various reasons. If you want to speak of environmental damages, most of us fly to these destinations so we're all pretty much equal in that way. Do backpackers not get aircon because they're saving the environment or because it may be out of our price range? Remember, we start the flood of people coming. They wouldn't know about the great places w/o you and me.

I too agree with Donna(Neil) that Governments are too blame as well. With better regulation perhaps they could stem the tide and have tourism be a sustainable market that does not rape the environment and people. We are, however, speaking of a country that has a government that may not be as willing due to the large numbers of dollars that roll into their pockets if they look the other way.

Your blog is what you want it to be. I'm a horrible blogger (imho) but love to read people's blogs about everything they experience..good and bad. Of course, this does not mean that I want to read how everything is wrong because its not the way the blogger does it back home. I want to hear about the bad things going on in an area to get the true feel of the place. Or as true as a traveler will see of it. Whether it be bad living conditions, high poverty, bad service, too many hookers, not enough hookers, bad food, expensive drinks, packs of savage dogs... it does not matter. Just be truthful about your trip and then sum up what you loved and didn't and why. Its the only way I can understand you, the blogger, and the area.

Most blogs have negatives about places. Some more detailed than others. Why would you want to hear only the good? When you got there, it would be a big let down if that were the case. It would be like reading a LP guide. Everything is great and rosy!
As for taking photos.... I guess it depends on how much you want to immerse yourself in a situation. If you see some wrong doing and whip out your camera and start snapping pics, be prepared to be confronted and/or jailed. Even with a press card, you may be dealt with in an unlikeable way.


Reply to this

10 years ago, January 27th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #61436  
choc monkey,thanks for yr reply and the others.yeah yr rite and i now get what yr saying. rave safe. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 27th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #61446  

We are, however, speaking of a country that has a government that may not be as willing due to the large numbers of dollars that roll into their pockets if they look the other way.


True. But then should we stop their access to our dollars by not going to Thailand? I personally save my boycotting to add my own shove to what I see as the worlds most serious abuse issues. Should Thailand be added to my hit list? Well, I dont think so yet, because I choose my battles.

Just be truthful about your trip and then sum up what you loved and didn't and why. Its the only way I can understand you, the blogger, and the area.


I think which blogging style we are attracted to is certainly a matter of taste. Lucky for us that there are so many individuals blogging on this site that we will always find plenty to interest us, whether we are interested in hiking stories, party stories, death and disaster or other.
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10 years ago, January 27th 2009 No: 16 Msg: #61480  
B Posts: 5,186
Great discussion!

Those discussions by the water-cooler - inspiring friends to travel to far flung places - sadly I think they misfire- often we're trying to inspire them to travel in the way we travel - take some time to live! - get to know the culture and some of the people where we can... but they only have 2 weeks - and naturally don't want to turn up not knowing where they're going to stay for that period - and if they're only going to stay for a week then why not spend the extra on the nice hotel.

And the governments - the rich and powerful build the hotel chains that funnel money direct from the mini-bars and air-conditioning units to their already bulging pockets with which they can purchase yet more power and influence over the governments and planning agencies (slightly off topic but look how corrupt the British parliamentary system is Cash for Laws in the House of Lords or can we expect better from Thailand?) - this then bypasses the people running the bamboo shacks on the beaches - or basically they get rich from sales of family land (relatively) and are shifted out of that niche.


If Thailand becomes the new Benidorm - then what happens to the old Benidorm?

The popularity of destinations will ebb and flow, that explorers discover, backpackers rediscover and inadvertently popularise, package holiday makers will flock and gradually that popularity wanes and a sad monument to excess is left in out-dated hotels, concrete side-walks, garish empty bars, raped and savaged environments; once popular destinations faded and pitied like worn out whores - oh poor Thailand. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 27th 2009 No: 17 Msg: #61487  

If everyone would just stay home, no one could enjoy the Land of Smiles. Life would be so much better.......



If Thailand becomes the new Benidorm....



I have never been to Benidorm, so what about comparing Thailand with Ireland(where I come from) instead.

The millions of tourists who swarm over the island contribute to a large extent to the growing economy and high standard of living that those living in Ireland are experiencing.

Would it really be better for Ireland and Irish people if we prevent the backpackers who have led to the numberous 5 star hotels Ireland has. We surely cant be better off going back to dire poverty and unwilling emmigration. Apparently, Irish cities had the filthiest and poorest slums in Europe in the first half of the last century. It is not a disimprovement if a rat infested slum where snotty nosed children playing in it and picking up all kinds of diseases from open sewage is replaced by a 5 star hotel.

People of my age are amongst the first Irish people who can afford to fly to and spend a few months in someplace like Thailand, just for pleasure. I dont have to send most of my money to my parents to feed and educate the others because now we are better off in Ireland than the previous generations were. Doesnt the same apply to Thailand?
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10 years ago, January 27th 2009 No: 18 Msg: #61513  
Ali,
Regarding Benidorm, what travel destinations can you think of that no longer still have a large draw and have petered out? I can't think of any. What I see happening is the richer tourists are moving to new locations and the middle class numbers are increasing on winter get-a-ways to the "old" places.
Will there really ever be an "old" Benidorm or Puerto Vallarta or Phuket?

Mel,
Let's not believe that tourism saved Ireland. It's more than just tourism in my opinion. Ireland's success seemed to come from the their workforce being educated and moving into more high tech jobs, membership in the European Union and having financial investors. This helped bring them into the 21st century with a bang.

It does make me wonder though, would Thailand become as successful as Ireland has become if the government focused on educating their people and making themselves attractive to foreign investors like India has? Look at their middle class explosion.

When I think of countries like Cuba that are embracing tourism to bolster their economy I see a country that has not invested in it's people and therefore will not succeed. Will Thailand's government ever see this as the true problem and fix it?

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10 years ago, January 28th 2009 No: 19 Msg: #61528  
B Posts: 5,186
> that no longer still have a large draw and have petered out?

Maybe not completely petered out - but they are far from the attractive beaches, and fishing villages that they were originally - I'm sure if I dug further there would be many examples where natural habitats have been permanently destroyed and empty beach-fronts are all that are left.

I don't think backpackers or tourists are to blame - or people who want to improve their lives and prospects - it's the commercialisation of our lives that puts the pressure on us and the environment from all directions. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 28th 2009 No: 20 Msg: #61539  
Ali raises a great point about western vacations. A multi-week vacation for the middle class, used to having a set schedule, and willing to spend $4000 per person in the family is the driving force of the Tourism industry.

Too hot? Choose the air conditioned option. Like gambling? The hottest casino in Thailand just opened! Like golf? A new golf course is being built on the beach. Want to stay? Own a piece of Thailand yourself at the hottest new condominiums!

Tourism and ensuing development revolves around profit, and profit needs growth to sustain and improve on itself. Growth in a closed system like Earth is finite. So is Thailand: imagine if the Patong area was designated a National Park: you could still be one of the lucky few to camp at the open shelter. What exactly is the End Game of development- creating a civilization so large and dependent on resources that it's asking for disaster in the form of natural catastrophe, crop failures or dissappearance of oil?

Does development equal success, or equality? Does tourism improve the lives of people in Thailand? Its important to look at the disease, and not just the symptoms of Obesity, 7-11 markets, ATMs, Casinos, Resorts. It's all stuff people need when they travel. And I don't mean you or I- its a numbers game. Everyone needs a place to sleep. 25%!w(MISSING)ant to gamble, and 75%!a(MISSING)re going to consume alcohol. 20 million meals need to be served each year, and if even just 1%!o(MISSING)f 2.5 million men come seeking prostitution an industry will develop.

Do we consider places that get over 40 million tourists a year like France or Italy spoiled? So why do we say Thailand is spoiled when it has roughly the same land area and population as France yet it gets only 5 million tourists per year? Watching the development of Thailand over the last 30 years is like watching the development of the Mediterranean coast. Aren't we essentially complaining about the over development of the French Riviera because we have known it before it was The French Riviera?

Experiences of a different culture, an exotic landscape and being far from home are some of the most rewarding life can offer. Our evolution out of Africa to all corners of the globe is strong evidence that travel, not love, could be the essence of being a human. There will always be tourists!

In 1979 there were only less than 40 million people in Thailand, now there are over 60 million. Are they to blame? The last century of cheap and abundant petroleum has enabled oceans of people to travel, perhaps jet fuel is to blame for the spoiling of Thailand?

An extensive look at the issue of tourism killing Thailand can be found here:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/14109460_1.html
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