Travelfish #451: Turning suffering into a spectacle
Does it merit rethinking too?
This week’s lead story is a little out of left field, a look at “prison tourism,” mostly though a North American lens. I thought it was worth including, as while this sort of tourism isn’t a huge part of the pool of attractions in Southeast Asia, in some notable cases, it is. Think of Tuol Sleng or the Killing Fields in Cambodia, or dropping down a notch, the Corrections Museum in Bangkok or Hanoi’s Hoa Lo. All these, on one hand, have important lessons to be taught, but on the other they are all built around (to varying degrees) “turning human suffering into a spectacle.”
Then there’s the often decidedly voyeuristic visiting prisoners as a part of ones’ travels—still a sought after activity for some as they cruise through Bangkok or Bali—a dose of reality between Thai massages or Balinese smoothie bowls. What do you think? Do you think these sort of “attractions” merit an inclusion, or would they be better carted off to a dedicated room within an all-encompassing museum? I’m curious to hear your thoughts. The photos this week are on theme.
In lighter news, in case you missed it in the previous edition, you might like to read a recently published interview with me on Tales of the Orient. It was fun to answer Simon’s questions, and he clearly had some fun with the photo captions. We didn’t talk about doing time either—now that might have been interesting! Simon’s newsletter has both free-and paid flavours, so do take a look—you can subscribe with a click via the button below.
The “Rethinking travel” series on Couchfish is rolling on, though the pace has slowed somewhat as it is taking an inordinate amount of time for some people/companies to find the time to answer my questions—you’ll find out why soon enough I guess.
Couchfish: National Chocolate Milk Day (World Tourism Day)
Couchfish: Nice Tourism (Sustainable Tourism)
Couchfish: The Benevolent Lie (Responsible Tourism)
Couchfish: The Year Is 2006. The Town Is Luang Prabang (Pro-Poor Tourism)
Couchfish: Zoom in to the Red Plastic Chairs (Slow travel)
Couchfish: The Petro-bourgeoisie (On flying)
Too much information?
A guide explains how the barbed branches of sugar palms were used to cut the throat of prisoners at the Killing Fields. Photo: Stuart McDonald
⭐️ Story of the week
Rethinking Prison Tourism from The Marshall Project
Military Airstrikes Kill Around 50: KIA Spokesperson from Frontier Myanmar ($)
Myanmar’s Emerging ‘National Identity’ Could Change Everything from SEA Globe ($)
When South-East Asia’s Forests Fall Silent from The Straits Times ($)
Financing Indonesia's Coal Phase-out: Coal Asset Transition Tool from Transition Zero
Five Scariest Ghosts From Laos Folklore from Laotion Times
Bukit Lagong: More Quarries With Royal, Political Links Unearthed from Malaysiakini ($)
Dams on the Mekong Decimating Tributary Fisheries from Mekong Eye
A Slice of Andaman Paradise from Bangkok Post
Quy Nhon Food Guide from Vietnam Coracle
Random other stuff
Would a photograph have sufficed?
A diorama of a Hoa Lo cell. Photo: Samantha Brown
See you next week!
So that’s the wrap. I hope you are all in good health, and thanks for reading.
See you next week,