Sapa is a classic examples of those places
travellers will tell you about, that started as wonderful
secrets, but were too wonderful to keep secret. Some people
will then go on to tell you that these places are 'ruined'
or suchlike. Well maybe. It's a point of view. There are
many. Maybe the whole world was a wonderful secret till
mankind ruined it. A little extreme?
It is a great big world, getting smaller all the
time. I'm sure what little hope we have comes from knowledge
of others, humility and tolerance. I think it's great that
many people from the west can travel and grow and learn. I
think it's great that they can bring their money and their
hope. O.K., it's a shame Laos is no longer dickhead-free,
and Ko Phangan's a zoo, but Glastonbury's bigger and worse,
and Edinburgh costs more, everything's changing. Now you can
go to Thailand, and it's as safe and easy as Butlins, you
can drive air-con all the way, and the locals will make damn
sure you never run out of things to buy. So that's alright
My friend Mr. China's Son sees travel, all
travel, as a cultural exchange. He's a wonderful man, very
wise, and always full of hope, and he's right. Even at it's
worse, it's still a cultural exchange, for better or for
worse. The locals change, they would have changed anyway,
it's a changing world, but they might have changed slower
and better. Some travellers think no'one should change, and
hilltribes who get roads and electricity and trade are lost
forever. I very much disagree. These people are beautiful
and timeless, but they need hospitals and schools and an end
to grinding poverty.
The world is not a nature reserve to be
preserved for spoiled middle-class western kids and others
blessed with the privilege of travel. It is more often a
cascade of down-trodden people looking for an end to their
plight, and travelling is helping them in many ways. Much to
my amazement, soon after posting this page, I was contacted
by a charity worker who's work in Sapa has made him aware of
paedophile rings targeting the Hmong girls, so there you
are, it's a funny old world, too wonderful to keep secret.
By the way, there are still very few dick-heads
in Northern Lebanon, Kazhakstan, Ghana, etc, etc...
If you want to take your tourist dollar somewhere it'll get
spent wisely, mostly on schooling,
I implore you to visit Cambodia and eastern Indonesia,
you won't need to get too far off the tourist trail to be
blessed with genuine hospitality
and fascination, you never did, and you never will!