Recently I visited one monastery, which is very famous for it’s dayly monks feeding ceremony.
Mandalay is the place with the most monks in Myanmar and this monastery is the house for several thousands of them. In some way it became very popular among tourists and each day hundreds of them gathered to witness monks, who stand in line to take their food and eat it in common hall.
In some way this experience happened to be more like a cirques. Mostly because many of this tourists acts really bad taking monks more like a toy. When they came for food, they are just living their dayly lifes and just eating their food and it’s not the show. And each of their step is surrounded by tourist crowds takind photos.
The trick is that all monasteries are open to everyone and free to enter. Some people take it as another picture opportunity and literally take pics of monks without asking, putting their cameras inside food hall thought halls in windows, going inside homes and rooms without invitation and even taking pucs of monks showering.
I was just wondering, how does the monks feel about it. I looked at their faces and found that most of them are clever and intelligent guys. Mostly people became monks for a few years and after it continue their life as ordinary people. And here it is mirriads of people who come to their privacy, took another meaningless pictures and going away. And the same every day! Those monks are literally don’t look to the crowds around them, they put their eyes on to the ground and it’s obviously that it ruins their privacy.
After seeing this kind of behavior i’m thinking hard whether tourism is such a good thing. Definitely yes, but I already saw it for many times how it ruins the place and the experience and make it just another picture and ruining the place. For countries like Myanmar it could feel like kind of easy money, but with booming tourism they have a good chance to ruin some good part of their culture.
It’s kind of to be loved to death. The thing that we see in Venice, Thailand, Eiffel tower (name it) or any other popular destination. Crowds and their “come and get it” is definitely killing the place through time. And we saw it many times, that people who are hunting for “easy” tourist money are helping to kill it. I mean, there’s something so wrong when once a day big bus or cruise ship arrives to some village and half of the villages put away all their things and starting just to sell souvenirs. Or taxis. Or massage. Mayby ice cream. You name it. It definitely got nothing in common with the local culture, experiencing the country and it’s life. I think, you even got the worst of it. And i need to be honest, i see it more and more each day.
As tourism currently the largest industry in the world, it became really big problem. And as i got no answer, i think it’s really important question:
What should i do as a tourist not to ruin the site? How should i behave myself to help to preserve place not only physically, but also as an experience? How can I avoid the places, that are already ruined by tourism?
I got no exact answer, but definitely something to think about.