Retirement Travel to Remote Regions of the World

Retirement travel is still one of the most important things to do when retired.  While many retired couples and individuals choose more traditional avenues, such as cruises, some elect for more adventure.

When my husband and I first traveled overseas, we couldn’t afford to go to Europe. It was cheaper to go on tours to developing countries. In fact, the first tour we went on was to Cambodia and Thailand. Cambodia was just opening up to travelers after years of suppression.

On that tour, we visited many of the hill tribes that occupy the region of northern Thailand close to Burma or Myanmar. It was very special to visit these people and interact with them. There was concern that we were exploiting them and changing their culture by intruding into their world.

The tribes in this region originally came from China and Tibet. They survived in the remote mountains of northern Thailand, Laos and Burma by farming, using slash and burn technique of clearing the jungle. The Thai government has worked towards tighter conservation that has minimized logging and traditional agricultural methods.

As a result, the hill tribes have become dependent on the tourists who come into the region. When westerners visit these remote regions the people are changed and start to move away from their traditional culture.

We saw similar situations in the desert of Morocco and in Bali. While I love meeting and engaging with these people, it occurs to me that we may be contributing to the destruction of their traditional way of life. I feel conflicted, selfish and exploitive. On the other hand, the world is changing and it doesn’t seem fair to force them to live a life they’ve live for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

For world travelers who like to trek to remote regions, it’s a question that should be pondered. Is traveling to remote lands of benefit to both the traveler and the ancient people that are visited?

 

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