Empowerment Worries Me

Empowerment Worries Me
I am worried about the empowerment of the people, the information age has given birth to a world that knows they know, there are no Indians, and everyone is a chief. I am losing my confidence, I am not sure I am entitled to have an opinion, I am feeling surrounded.

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Southeast Asia
Thursday, June 25, 2009


A few men here in Chiang Mai were quizzing me on what I do for a living; I tried my best to avoid the conversation. However, I finally admitted I have an internet page and a Travel Blog. Unfortunately, they were too old and truly did not understand what a Blog was, it became a big hassle.

I said, I give a daily report on the internet of where I am and what I am doing. The one drunk says,
“You explain tourist locations.”
I said,
“No, I just make comments, I give opinions.”
“I gossip.”
“Anecdotic comments.”
“Like a columnist.”
Nobody was listening, they all knew already.

I wanted to give up, however in their drunken haze they continued, in one last effort for clarity I gave an example.

“I wrote yesterday that I believe corruption in Thailand is increasing.”

A man says,
“You are absolutely wrong, you know nothing about Thailand.”
I said,
“That is possible, it was just my opinion.”
He said,
“It is my hobby to study the politics of Thailand, ask me any question.”

He sat there waiting for me to ask a question. I sat for a few uncomfortable minutes, knowing in negotiations the first one to talk loses. He finally said,
“You are not going to ask a question?”
I continued to say nothing, knowing I wanted to pull away from the table and not negotiate.

There is a catch 22 of writing, it is impossible to be a listener when I am writing, I am doing the talking. However, I am 100 percent aware, I am here, and you are there. How in the world could you know about here, when you are there, it is baffling.

We all read too much, we all watch TV too much, we somehow have become empowered. People there will tell me they know about here, I am missing something, and maybe I do not understand them.

I can feel something, I am being surrounded, I think you call it.

10 years ago, I was sitting with other travelers who came to a country; they were excited, energetic and all full of curiosity. I am not sure, however somewhere along the path, these same people read too much, watch too much travel TV and everyone is giving me a lecture on what I am seeing, I am tired of talking with them.

It is an observation people, I did not see it on television, and I did not read about it, I am looking at it… why would I study something to learn about something I am looking at?

The truth is this; learning is highly over-valued, what is the point in becoming a know-it-all?

Empowerment Worries Me


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it sounds like youre getting lonely

Dear Andy, you say that people who are There and not here cannot comment on a given place. That is true. I would like to add a comment to this soup mix travelers are neither here nor There They travel and see and maybe become an expert on what a hotel room looks like, but they have no real clue as to how a culture in the collective minds of people operate.


I do not get the whole logic of your post, but Ill start from Richs comment to your post.

More than half of the travelers claim they travel to experience a culture, to see different mindsets, to go off the beaten path, to see local life etc. I dont think these people are hypocritical. The intention is honest and reflects most often curiosity or desire to learn/experience. It is true that most these people dont succeed (even if they imagine so) and they dont even have the inner means to adapt, shift or tolerate others enough to understand them.

But I believe the critical mass of people wanting to experience the others is a positive thing. Can you blame the woman who posted some days ago asking about how to get to some pygmys in Africa? Can you accuse her of ignorance, such as the other guy who posted. That would be superficial.

Blindness and superficiality are part of daily lives of people, both here and there. It is not a travel linked phenomenon. Traveling inevitably leads to information sharing, even if its spread by narrow minded people. It is essentially a good thing for both the visitor and the local, also when it apparently splits their worlds even more.


The pygmies live in parks... for free. I do not feel or believe we all have the empowered right to an opinion on all issues.


- Dr. WHO?

Yes, I am The Doctor.

- Doctor of WHAT?


Horia said: Can you blame the woman who posted some days ago asking about how to get to some pygmys in Africa? Can you accuse her of ignorance, such as the other guy who posted.

I guess I would be the other guy who posted. I did not intend to accuse her of ignorance. I truly am interested in what her viewpoint is on this subject. Why these pymies? Did she see them, does she know thier true plight? Is it random? I know nothing about these pygmies, never heard of them. I dont know if they are in need of help or not. I would love to hear her reasons for helping out this specific group.

There are some very good charities out there, and there are some that are just feal good money holes.

Bob L

Andy, The older I grow the less I know. Why? This is a big, big world I live in and I realize that perhaps 10 of what I read in newspaper, newsweek and see on TV is barely accurate. I go up town to coffee shop and what I hear is perhaps 2 correct. It is only how the people think in their mind it is and I expect a lot of information we receive the people it comes from really believe they are correct. Does it really matter? I have decided in the big scheme of life being happy, healthy and paying my bills is the only thing of true importance to me. Of course I will always be trying to find out interesting things about our world just like you are.

You have sounded very depressed for the past few weeks. Are you ok?

Here in the States, I have moments like the one you wrote about. The reality in the present moment cant be read about or heard about or seen on TV. You know, it is sort of like what is happening in Iran. No one talked about how the people of Iran felt or what was in their hearts. It wasnt in a book or talked about on TV or on Radio. Well, now we know.

I have only been out of the USA one time and that was to go to Rocky Point in Mexico. That little experience was not even a blip on the map compared to what you do. I just wonder if you are at a disadvantage because you are an American. People may be more suspicious and you are already a target because you are a foreigner. Does staying in a community for a long duration help establish a healthy trust?

I enjoy your blog and look forward to the book you might write in the future!

God bless you!

A person shouldnt take any of this too serious. So, we all want to be chiefs and not indians. That is just ambition, human nature. Most of us are stuck being indians, but we should all aspire to become chiefs, to become greater than we are today. That is a good thing. A person learns about the world in a great many ways. Some things Ive learned by traveling, others from school, others from books and conversation. Hell, Ive even learned a few things from this blog. I cant imagine one form of learning is inherently better than another. I would only be stroking my ego if I pretended that the way Ive learned is best. Finally, would anyone really like it if others just rolled over and conceded that they dont know anything? I enjoy a good argument or debate as long as its civil in tone.

Write for info on adopting a Pygmy and travel to meet them. Get 2 thier small.

The Pygmy Fund
PO Box 277
Malibu, CA 90265

Africa sucks ask Andy. Pygmys are routinely killed and raped by the locals so think twice about hanging out with them.

From correspondents in Kigali, Rwanda

May 09, 2009 09:30pm

GOVERNMENT troops sodomised pygmies in March in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, believing they would gain supernatural powers, a regional rights group said.

Some soldiers from the 85th Brigade sodomised three male pygmies to gain supernatural powers and protection in Kisa village in Walikale territory,\ the Human Rights League of the Great Lakes said.

The village chief was stripped and (sodomised) in the presence of his wife, his children and daughter in-law.

The children in turn were stripped and raped in front of their father.

It said armed groups in the region also abused the pygmies.

Elderly citizens and children were also being raped by the armed groups and wayward FARDC soldiers in eastern DRC, it added.

The pygmies live essentially as subsistence hunter-gatherers in the forests in the DRCs equatorial zones and have been targeted by militia groups in the past.

Among the armed groups roaming the eastern part of Congo are the Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels.

Some of its members are accused of being among the main perpetrators of Rwandas 1994 genocide by Hutus against the Tutsi minority.

The United Nations and global human rights organisations have accused the FDLR of engaging in mass murder, rape and pillage of locals property.


i have been reading your column for some weeks now and enjoy it.

i have never seen a photo of ou..would be nice to see the face behind the column.

that way it would better explain your thoughts.

a picture tells more than a thousand words.



If you say we dont know, then why do you allow comments?

0 and 1, off and on, the world is a nuance, I enjoy comments. I was writing about a real person, not this NOT-real Internet life, this Travel Journal is not my life.

I am pointing out that too many people think they are experts at many subjects, typically anything they happen to be talking about at the moment. This is not possible, and when a person writes a comment about the location where I am at, I want to have them qualify their knowledge, not active voice, try some passive voice with humility and open ends, use the word maybe.

Example: I have been to Uganda five times, and liked Fort Portal... etc.
I lived with the Pygmies between Kabale and Kisoro in Uganda.

What you read is not knowledge, it is hearsay and should NOT empower people to feel they know anything, they just read a lot, this is not knowing. Repeating what you read is the problem.

I told a man observations, and he told me what he read in the paper, who is right, neither is right or wrong, and I am only positive of one thing, neither of us is an expert. Neither of even speak Thai...


Has word of Michael Jacksons death spread there yet? The death of an icon who was truly global. Check out themichaeljacksonmemorialsite.com to share thoughts.

God Bless

I am sure Michaels death is important, I am not sure why, because the above comment was written with that sense of empowerment that worries me.

# Andy HoboTraveler.com said on Friday June 26th, 2009 06:09:23 AM

I am sure Michaels death is important, I am not sure why, because the above comment was written with that sense of empowerment that worries me.

Whats especially sad is that most people of a certain generation only know Michael Jackson as a crazy guy who had a lot of plastic surgery -- whereas the truth is, he was not only an unbelievably talented, groundbreaking performer, he also helped break down the racial prejudice in this country. He was an extremely powerful symbol -- a black performer who whites could relate to and then later in life, a white performer who blacks could relate to.


Observations do not contain knowledge, we all have perception and each is different. This perception distorts ones observations of the others.

I have to wonder how many people converse with many words, yet just dont get the meaning of the conversation.

Are they just speaking to hear themselves or to debate? Are they really listening to what is being said?

I look around me when this happens and want to be somewhere else perhaps in the canopy of the Rain Forest....with rare birds, I can just listen to and watch.

What happened to the art of conversation?

In the end, only this exact moment in time truly matters....that is my opinion, my observation.

I think Ill go talk to my feathered friends now... gt)

A person cannot empower himself. Only others can do that.

Not funny Chuck MAO

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