Backpackers, dress like a human being

It’s not going to misalign your chakras to shave and throw on a pair of knock-off Levis.


Hey! Yes, you with the dreadlocks and hobo backpack. I see you walking around Yangon with that Indiana Jones look on your face. I know what Lonely Planet said about Myanmar, that this is a “lost land” of “untouched beauty”.

But that doesn’t mean people here don’t have, like, soap, dude.

Do you know what your unwashed Black Hawk Down tank top says? That you think this place isn’t civilised. Well, newsflash, asshat: This isn’t The Last Samurai, and you aren’t Tom f—ing Cruise. The village medicine man isn’t going to invite you to the council tree to smoke a peace pipe. So take that 10 dollars you were saving for edibles and splurge on a clean button-down before walking into a bank to withdraw the equivalent of six month’s salary for that Shan State homestay.

This is a city. People have jobs. You might be shoestringing it on $25 a day, but if you can afford to spend the daily minimum wage on a vegan smoothie bowl, you can afford to dress better than Obi Wan Kenobi.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

Sure, that #nomad getup was fine for a mountain trek. But at least bathe yourself before you get back on the bus. Use baking soda shampoo and chia seed body wash, I don’t care, but take a goddamn shower. Yes, the bus is noisy and crowded and maybe there are a few chickens on board. But just because people are rural doesn’t mean they don’t have noses, my dudes. It’s a passenger vehicle, not a hippie van to Woodstock, and you smell like Jack Kerouac’s rear end after five days under the Mexican sun.

Listen, I get it. I’ve been there. That new lotus blossom tattoo looks cool as hell. And yes, clothes are ultimately an oppressive social construct; you used that line on that American volunteer in Thailand to get her to go skinny-dipping. But do you honestly think it’s okay to walk around an embassy district in hand-woven fisherman pants? Do you see any traditional leg rowers on Yangon’s Kandawgyi Lake? It’s not going to misalign your chakras to shave and throw on a pair of knock-off Levis. Seriously.

And since this is the Moon Age and people might be reading this online: this goes for the rest of you #wanderlust wannabes. Your Instagram story will survive a photo or two without jorts that show off your underass. Cairo isn’t Agribah, and you aren’t Aladdin. Rio de Janeiro isn’t the Lost City of El Dorado, and you aren’t Che Guavara. And just because a country is developing doesn’t give you right to act like a savage. For f—-’s sake.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar