I’ve been binge watching Departures because it’s that time of year when they put new episodes on Netflix and I had to fill my time with something until The Get Down pt 2 came out. Also because I have to find a way to satisfy my craving to travel whilst having no cash to pay my bills. But that’s not why I’m writing this.

In this scene these two guys travel to Papua New Guinea and visit the village with the famous Asaro Mud Men were they were offered to dress up in traditional masks & mud. I’m writing this also because I lived in a remote community where tourists would come in to visit. It was an amazing place, I had so many fun times there. It also had a rich art scene, great musicians, and the beaches we’re pristine and full to the brim with Salmon.


But I tell you what used to piss everyone the fuck off? White tourists who felt entitled enough in thinking that they could drive there 4×4 caravans, park it where there heart commanded and walk through community taking photo’s of people and there children on the street to post on the Internet. These people would camp on sacred land were most people in the community weren’t allowed.

These photo’s above made me wonder whether people know how to do cultural tourism sensitively. So I decided to compile a list with some quick pointers for all you travellers in the Pacific or else where.

  • Don’t take photo’s of people without there permission. I don’t care if it’s a artistic imperative Steve McCurry. How would you like it if you were just trying to go about your business and someone snapped a photo of you, uploaded it on flikr, titled it ‘Struggling white freelancer fries there retinas looking at there laptop screen all day”. Ask permission. Also permission does not equal allowed to upload on the internet and sell for profit.
  • See if the time you are going is appropriate to visit. I know (in Australia at least) there are sensitive times like funerals & during law were you do not go to visit. Get in contact with the community and see.
  • Take someone local with you People will like you better if you go with someone known and you will get a warmer reception.
  • If you are interested in seeing a certain peoples see if there are any tourism opportunities were money goes to community There are issues with tribal tourism. But it’s better than spontaneous visit. I’m sure you don’t like it when you get a random knock on the door when you weren’t expecting anyone.
  • Some places you are not wanted so piss off. Don’t go there. Seriously just don’t. Communities are still dealing with the legacy of colonialism and greedy multinational corporations vying for resources. Respect people’s decision in how they choose to live there lives.
  • Know that your fascination of ‘tribal cultures’ is not new For the past three centuries European curiosity manifested itself in a variety of ways including travelling Human Zoo’s. Think about the intention behind your visit. Are we humans to you or just another tick off your bucket list?
  • Not all villages/tribes/people are the same or will react the same way.

That’s all folks! Happy travelling & feel free to add any other anti-asshole tips and tricks