The sun was on the horizon, a perfect orange ball. It was another beautiful sunset in Hoi An, Vietnam and we were out on a photo tour through a local village – taking advantage of the dreamy light. While the group spread out to take photos of people harvesting rice in the paddies, I noticed one of my students walking back toward me. She appeared hunched over in defeat. “What’s going on?” I asked. She replied, “I went to take a picture of a woman and she asked me for money – so I left and didn’t take the photo.” Unfortunately, this is something I’d heard many times before.
While traveling in Asia, it is likely that you will be approached by a local asking for money. As a reader of a travel photo blog, you already know that the more time spent visiting tourist-dense locations, the more often locals will approach you for money. This is because someone, many times before you has handed out money. Thus, establishing the common stereotype that all Westerners are rich and will give away their money. The more tourists continue to give money when asked, the more this stereotype has been reinforced. Unfortunately, it’s now to the point that in order to change this practice, it could take decades.