However, one phenomenon caught our attention. We read about it before, but never really experienced it or seen it. Until our latest trip – it’s called BEGPACKING.
What is begpacking?
It’s basically situation when foreign tourist, mostly Western (to be fair none of the people ‘caught in act’ were ABCs, Black or Latino) traveling around the world, often to poorer areas and begging to fund their travels.
Some aren’t begging, per se – some are playing musical instruments and hoping to get paid, some are selling artwork or photos.
How do we feel about begpackers?
I know not every ‘White tourist’ is by definition a rich second generation spoiled brat who just decided to change their life and give up 9-5 job to ‘discover him-/herself’, however one of the conditions of their staying in any foreign country is to be able to support their own staying and living.
If something unfortunate happened – life a bitch, things happen all the time – there are embassies to help out.
I will sound very bitter, and some of you may say I’m jealous, but how can I work like a dog spending over 50 hours per week in the office, and then spend my hard earned money on someone who didn’t plan their trip, went through 15 countries and now doesn’t have enough money. Is that my problem you’re not a good planner?
I would rather spend that money to buy something for an old lady pushing a cart with cardboard than fund your spiritual journey.
Not to mention that one guy who loves to begpack in Wan Chai that beards trimming costs probably more than my whole haircut. Hongkongers, I bet you know which one I mean.
Even worse: there are some PROUD begpackers. Proud of how they traveled so far with nearly no money. I know they are people travelling from country to country, helping out locals in exchange for food and money but at least they do something to help out.
I see so many young, healthy people just waiting there for money to be given to them. That only adds more oil to the stereotype of ‘bohemian, privileged white tourist’. It makes other tourists looks bad, it makes other backpackers/budget-travelers look bad, even local expats seem to be upset by the behavior of begpackers.
How Hong Kong/Taiwanese/Singaporean/other Asian people feel about begpackers (taken from forums and articles)?
- Why would they want to risk their life when they don’t enough money to travel? Make them parents so worried. If their parents agree to do something like that, if anything happens they will be responsible for that.
- I have better places to spend my money at.
- Those people take away money from those who may really need it – you will give your change for someone who travels without money, and later you notice old poor lady and you have no money left to give her because you already spent it on some tourist.
- Aren’t they breaking the law? To perform and earn from your performance you need working visa.
- They only do it in Asia, why won’t they do it in their country? What gives them the right to do it here?
- They are meaninglessly blocking the streets. Don’t they see how crowded it is?
- If you don’t know what to do in your life you either go to Asia teach English, start a blog (ooo, that hurts but can’t deny this is how this blog started) or go begpack.
- Begging for money to fund your gap year is no different to having mummy and daddy pay for it. You’re getting money for nothing.
- Don’t see ‘shamelessness’ as a new fashion trend.
- I never thought about being a parasite when I did the ‘begpacking’ bit around Asia 50 years ago. It took me to Japan in 1964
- I find a greater sense of pride and achievement to know that I paid my own way
- Did you notice their speakers and music instruments they use to get funds are always the high-end models?
- Some backpackers taking advantage of the services offered for the homeless, like food, laundry and showers – that’s sad.
- The Thais do not respect westerners who behave in a degraded manner – even less than they do with Thais who do the same thing. Thais have no respect whatsoever for westerners who beg or busk.
I could find only one article that is actually ‘positive’ on topic of begpacking, so I personally hope this trend soon ends. I just can’t find any way to justify this behavior, in my mind or for the purpose of this post.
What is your opinion on begpacking? Would you give your spare change to them? Would love to read your opinions and maybe engage in some discussion!