Tourism Without Destruction

“Gandhi already did Gandhi, Mother Theresa did Mother Theresa so well, and Martin Luther King, he did Martin great! You be you! You be you! You be you! Who else could do you like you anyway.”

Throughout my stay in Asia I have seen the immense impact of tourism throughout India and Nepal. Though foreigners bring money, they also bring a cultural destruction that can never be undone. I have seen farming villages transformed into tourist dependent cities where the inhabitants (especially under the age of thirty) sit around on their phones all day refusing to work. They expect the money to pour in, as it does with an influx of tourism, without any effort on their part. Because of this there has been an immense loss of traditional dress, food, cultural, and even attitude towards life in many of these areas, something that is apparent to us as cyclists as we visit areas that have held their culture as they don’t rely on tourism. Here in Leh, at least in the beautiful guest house I am staying in, I have found (for the first time) a place which has kept its culture even throughout the onrush of tourism.

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Ladakh: Hospitality At Its Finest

“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”

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Just before reaching the pass that would officially bring us into the Zanskar valley we encountered two Indian motorcyclists who had just come from farther ahead. They flagged us down to explain that the pass had been impossible for them to complete as there was no road. Not a bad road, or a washed out road, simply, no road. And on top of that, there was new snowfall (unsurprising as farther below we had experienced over twelve hours straight of rain) and apparently a river (or part of the non road) which would have water up to our waists due to the extensive snow melt. So, after spending one last night surrounded by beautiful mountains over 7,000m, we decided to cycle out and towards Leh in order to return a few weeks later for a twenty day trans Himalayan trek through the Zanskar valley.

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