Increasingly rare views - CycleBlaze

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Increasingly rare views

Jeff Arnim

Today I read an article titled The Life of a Backpacker in Asia in the 1970s. It's brief but inspiring and features some tremendous photography. I recommend it highly.

There are a number of fascinating parts in the article, but this one in particular struck me:

Most of the world doesn't look much like the images I captured then at all. My recorded views are increasingly rare views ... In every culture the native costume is the first thing to go, native architecture is next. Food is one of the last to go, even in modern places where people are wearing blue jeans. So these days I like to go to places where there is still native costume and native architecture. Unfortunately these areas are shrinking. I'm not nostalgic about it; I understand the reasons behind the changes, and it's a net improvement, but someday they will be gone and I want to capture them.

Can you think of any areas like the ones he describes, that still have native dress and architecture, even if in a slightly diminished form? And would you travel there by bicycle?

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6 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Jeff Arnim

What a great article by Rolf Potts! Bruce can corroborate many of these details of travel in Asia in the 1970s, including the difficulty of traveling in hot countries with many rolls of camera film. 

Our first bicycle trip was in Myanmar/Burma, and once you get off the beaten path traditional dress and architecture and food are what you get. They may have a cell phone and a motorbike, but the longyi (sarong) is still worn by most men and women in rural areas, and quite a few in the cities as well. There are things to consider these days if you travel there, human rights issues that bear scrutiny, but there is no question that Myanmar definitely has a very unique culture unlike no other.

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6 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Jeff Arnim

This topic reminds me of something I saw about the Sentinelese Tribe in the news a few weeks ago.  Located on an island about 700 miles off the coast of India, the Sentinelese are considered to be the most isolated group of people in the world.  Their native clothing and architecture are utterly and completely uninfluenced by western culture--or any other culture for that matter.

Would I travel on North Sentinel Island by bicycle?  I don't think so--even if I could.  Did I mention they've been known to kill outsiders?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/k...

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6 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Gregory Garceau

The man(j*****s) that got killed was from Vancouver, WA, just across the river from us. Not only did he not respect a sovereign tribe with their own set of beliefs, he broke international law that protected this tribe from outsiders and their drugs, diseases, and exploitation. He knew the risk and took it anyway, doing a terrible disservice to his family and to the people he thought he should try to convert. He went far, far over the line of merely being an observer of a traditional culture. 

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6 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Andrea Brown

You are absolutely right, Andrea.  My intention for my post was definitely NOT to defend that misguided "missionary," or any of the other people who have attempted to intrude on the lives of the Sentinelese. 

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6 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Gregory Garceau

I knew that, Greg, I'm just still steaming furious at that guy and his selfish motives. 

That being said, it is the wise traveler that acknowledges the complexities of visiting different cultures and tries to make conscious decisions about their impact on those cultures. 

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6 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Andrea Brown

Hi again Andrea,

Thank you for replying to my reply.  Again, I totally agree with you.  The only point I originally tried to make--and perhaps I made it too off-handedly by providing such an extreme example--was to show that there are still a few truly traditional cultures out there that aren't likely to change anytime soon.  

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6 months ago
Jeff ArnimTo Andrea Brown

In the article, the author says:

There was definitely an isolationist aspect of Asia then that is no longer around. These were often societies that were willingly closing themselves off from the rest of the world, economically and culturally.

From your view, what accounts for Myanmar/Burma having retained those things where other countries in that part of the world have not? Is it simply that they were closed off from the world for longer and are catching up? Or is there something more subtle at work?

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6 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Jeff Arnim

Myanmar was closed off from the world in 1962, when Ne Win took over and turned it into a military dictatorship. Between international embargoes and their own isolationist internal politics, it remained in a sort of stasis for fifty years. Changes have come quickly in recent years but because much of the country is still closed to foreigners, there remain many rural areas with ethnic minorities that do not have access to modernities, some of them choosing that but most because of poverty and isolation. Myanmar is like India, there are many distinct groups and languages, but even the majority group, the Bamar, retain a strong sense of self and are proud of their ancient culture. They have no problem tucking an iPhone into the knot of their longyi, they know what they like. There is something kind of wonderful about a culture that incorporates both modern and traditional in new and interesting ways, it is fascinating to see.

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6 months ago
Mike AylingTo Gregory Garceau

Gregory/Andrea,

That bloke who invaded the  territory of the Sentinelese Tribe definitely gets a Darwin Award!

Sometimes I have wished that I could have made a similar response to some of the God Botherers that I have encountered!

The rest of the posts are pretty insightful!

Mike

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6 months ago