As a tourist traveling through Asia, its not an uncommon sight to witness the absolute poverty suffered by some of the people throughout the region. It can be quite confronting and disturbing to those who have not witnessed such scenes before.
Worse still is the latest phenomenon 'beg-packers'- Western backpackers traveling around South East Asia to countries including Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, who openly beg on the streets by playing music, selling small items, and holding signs aloft pleading with pedestrians to part with their hard earned money in order to fund a Western backpackers holiday.
Detractors have rightly labeled the activity as 'lazy' and 'disgusting', with a growing backlash seen on social media to what appears to be a growing trend.
Anger is growing at the very idea of these over indulgent, privileged westerners are actually begging locals for money in countries where many struggle to get by day to day. In Thailand, social media users have dubbed them as 'farang beggars' (farang translates as foreigner).
Images captured by locals show signs which read:
'Hello friends! I need money for travel, and I'm traveling around Asia without money, please support my trip'
Another sign, propped up with an expensive Digital SLR camera worth hundreds of dollars states:
'Support our trip around the world'.
Finally another which reads:
'People from first world country asking donations from third world country to help them travel the world'.
One witness, Singaporean woman Maisarah Abu Samah who first brought this phenomenon to light in 2016 posted to Twitter two images commenting it was a rare sight to see in the country due to the strict rules imposed against begging. Maisarah further stated: 'It was the first time I've seen something like that and it stopped me in my tracks'. 'I've also never seen white people doing that'.
Mirroring the real world, the trend has now spread to the internet with a dedicated website, 'Fund My Travel' where people request donations to 'fund meaningful travel experiences'. One appeal begs for funds to allow David and his partner Sebastian to 'enjoy outrageous adventure, eating bugs, cliff diving, scuba and jungle trekking' on an extreme budget.
The couple requested an amount of USD$5,000 to cover airfares, accommodation and spending money. To date, they've received USD$20 in donations.