Authenticity, Tourism, and Self-discovery in Thailand: Self-creation and the Discerning Gaze of Trekkers and Old Hands
- Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 22, Number 2, October 2007
- pp. 153-178
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Through an analysis of tourist-related advertisements and literature, as well as some ethnographic work among tourists, I argue that hill-tribe tourism and sex tourism in Thailand are a means by which white [farang] tourists attempt to identify authenticity and incorporate this sense of the authentic into their own identity. Tourists (and ethnographers alike) attempt to become experts at distinction in order to perceive a truer sense of "self" through authentic interaction with Thais. This interaction is always problematic, however, as the tourist's pre-conceived image of the country continually differs from the reality, especially outside of those spaces designed for tourists, thus provoking a sense of anxiety about the truth of interactions between the tourist and the toured.