This week, Vice.com featured a story called, "Tourists in Thailand Are Traveling To See Suffering Burmese Migrants".

If you're too lazy to read it (which is okay because it's full of inaccuracies and poorly written) it details a "growing fad" with tourists in Thailand-- visiting the refugee camps that millions of Burmese call home in search of "life changing experiences".

Despite the article's shortcomings (in our opinion), it does make for an interesting think piece about the line between tourism, exploitation and voyeurism. The UN High Commission For Refugees sums up the matter pretty succinctly,  

It’s disrespectful. This kind of tourism—it’s not good to see. These are human beings, not animals in a zoo.

We've got mixed feelings about the whole issue, so we're not going to take a stand... but we will let one of our favorite authors, P.J. O'Rourke, take it from here:

Modern tourists have to see the squalor so they can tell everyone back home how it changed their perspective one life. Describing squalor, if done with sufficient indignation, makes friends and relatives morally obligated to listen to your boring vacation stories. (Squalor is conveniently available, at reasonable prices, in Latin America.)
— P.J. O'Rourke

Need more laughs for today? This hilarious video perfectly sums up a big problem with western humanitarian aid:

Or check out this guy, which kind of puts this "bucket list" item from some website that's actually called "Just Girly Wishes" into perspective:

volunteer voluntourism bucket list justgirlywishes travel guide

 

What do you think about all this?

Tell us in the comments below.

For more thoughts on the topic, check out the following cynical take on the voluntourism phenomenon, or as Al Jazeera calls it, "The White Tourist's Burden"

The P.J. O'Rourke quote and more amazingly cynical (but hilarious) riffs on the modern state of world travel can be found in the highly recommended book, Holidays In Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels To The World's Worst Places And Asks, "What's funny about this"

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