Is irresponsible tourism partially to blame for the unethical treatment of people & animals

Ok touching wild animals, riding elephants, is just some of the most sought after experiences for backpackers, travellers, etc. To countries like, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam. The reason I’m just saying these countries is because, they are the ones I have personally visited & have experienced, therefore, I can comment.

After taking part in the majority of them I can honestly say I would never do it again. Why ? I will outline a few experiences below.

  1. I will never forget my visit to the bridge over the river Kwai, which, included elephant trekking. It was a beautiful day on the drive from Bangkok to the bridge, which always makes everything seem so much better. When we finally arrived in the town, after about a 5 minute walk, there was a baby leopard it was adorable, I just wanted to hold it but was obviously a bit sceptical at first. So I watched a while of how things were done. First I noticed the chain around its neck then, the handler kept using swift hand movement to control through fear & constantly feeding it bottles of milk when tourists were holding it, to for control reasons obviously. I will never forget the next part, the woman who went instead of me sat down, the cat did not want to play anymore it clearly had enough it was clear from its growling. Regardless, it didn’t stop the handler trying to make money. He forced the cat onto the woman’s lap, it was ok for a second then it locked onto her leg in a gentle way telling the horrible people to stop what they were doing to it. Luckily enough, the woman was super calm which kept the cat calm, resulting in, it letting go followed by a smack of a stick, by the handler. Furthermore, he holds up the bottle & says to me, do you still want to go. I couldn’t believe it “ I actually looked in a total confused state & said no it’s clearly obvious he’s had enough” he laughed   & said no-no he is fine. It’s because of people like him, doing things like that, which get poor innocent animals killed, because they were protecting themselves from people like him. To top it off it was a baby, clealy, they stole it from it’s mother, horrible.
  2. After the ordeal, the tour carried on to  the elephant trekking & I was already pissed off at what I had witnessed so wasn’t really up for it. We arrived at the place, there were some elephants in the water around us they looked happy I began to think, ok not so bad snap out of it. Then, when we got up on the podium to get on the elephant I remember thinking, I don’t want to do this the elephants looked so sick but, they had already started moving. There was a little girl no more than 10 leading the way, the elephant was being slightly disobedient so she jabbed a big steel stick in the elephants eye to control the poor thing, I was horrified. (Not her fault she is doing what she is being though from older people that was a taught exactly the same.)  It lasted all of 20 mins the whole time I just wanted to get off & see was the elephant ok. When we got back to base they wouldn’t answer anything I asked, I remember feeding the elephants some bananas, the poor things were exhausted their faces & everything were sunken. To say it was horrible is an understatement.
    IMG_1140 (2)
    It just wants to be let go free it wasn’t born to be chained to a bench

    Look at the dehydration & trines of this poor animal. If this is not the picture of sadness I really don’t know what is.

Then there is the other side of it all, if they really knew how cruel they were being, would they still do it ? They live in countries full of corrupt governments that leave them no option’s, so the people have to do what they can, just to survive.

In Cambodia the human trafficking rates are appalling because people have to do what they can to survive while wealthier & educated people pay for sex with babies, disgusting. Read my blog in relation to trafficking A SHORT STORY ABOUT CAMBODIA

So really, when you think about it, it really is up to the tourist to not support this type of entertainment because after all, we are the ones keeping it in business !!! I always hear people say ohh but come on everyone else is doing it, so what, be different say no. Thinking like that is using denial to make ourselves feel better about what we are doing,   I say this because, it’s exactly how I was thinking until I did it even though deep down  I knew it was wrong & still did it. I denied myself the reality of it until I had the experience  of it & felt the guilt instead.

Written By Siobhan

Reclining buddha, Bangkok.

Reclining buddha, Bangkok by Siobhan @


Handcrafted by Siobhan @

There is always a story attached to everything  I always try remember that. This is a little hand craft shop in Vietnam, can’t remember the exact name, of the area but it’s where a lot of bags come from.

On a stop off from a tour, I got myself a few of them which I loved more than what I would buy in a shop. For the simple reason I seen the process which made me appreciate them so much more.

Even if the majority of what you own is store-bought there is still a person behind the making somehow, its worth a thought 🙂

Ghosting Effect

Ghosting Effect by Siobhan @

This was an image I captured while backpacking, Vietnam. At the time, I had not got a clue what it was called, I was only getting started with a camera & didn’t have a clue about special effects or anything.

But now I am so glad I captured it & now know what it is called 🙂

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay by Siobhan Cleary @

This was one of my favourite trips to date. I remember the drive to the boats was exhausting the heat was unbelievable.

On the way, I got to really see how Vietnamese people lived, all the young kids going to school on dirt roads, but, they seemed happy with what they had.

We drove past paddie fields & pearl farms which really got me thinking, because, I seen the older women out in the fields, gathering the rice. Now, when I’m having rice dinner, I’m very grateful, because I know someone has to work very hard to put it on my plate.

When we arrived, my initial thought was “OMG” we have to sleep on this Junker for two days. There was me, my sis & a friend, when we boarded, we were shown our rooms & given a brief explanation of what we would be doing.

That night we had a lovely dinner with great people & a stop off at a beach & plenty of fun on the boat. It really is amazing what can happen when you put a group of people together who don’t know each other. Although, I’ve never seen them again the memories will last forever.

The next day we went & done some kayaking around the area, visited the caves, the scenery was beautiful & here we got to see how the people live. They are water people spend all their time on the water & get sick on land 🙂

I will always remember before we headed back to the mainland, I sat out on a balcony writing my postcards, it was the first time I really experience unaware mindfulness. I just sat staring out, the peace I felt was unbelievable, I had never experienced it before & now I would be lost without it. If you don’t know how to be mindful or meditate, learn, its amazing.

It’s one of my top places from my travels & would highly recommend not missing it on a trip to Vietnam.

Out of the whole experience I learned how to relax, understand & just enjoy every moment. Oh by the, the junker, was perfect for the trip, it was just a matter of appreciating & enjoying everything about it 🙂






Ankor Wat, Cambodia.

Their own thingAbsolutely love the vibrancy of their robes & how they stand out against the dark background.



A mystical trip down the Mekong Delta


This was one of my favourite days in Asia along the Mekong Delta. It was a lovely area called Bến Tre where there was also a place we went for some tea & to watch the fresh coconut sweets being made. They were delisious we took loads with us.

There were so many photo ops but this was one of my number 1 the fogginess all the way up  to the last boat in from of us and over our head & I was the last one so I’m very happy for that as it got the whole scene in the picture.

A day trip on a floating market


Damnoen Saduak, floating market, Thailand.

As a european the first time visit to a floating market is very different to what I’m used to. Me, my sister & a friend went on the day trip together. Our trip started off in Bangkok, which was our base for the whole time in Asia. It was just so much easier thank hauling all of out luggage around.

When we got to the floating market, there was a mix up with the boats. I got split up from them and ended up on a boat with a Korean family & one Italian woman. In the space of an hour I knew the Italian lady’s whole life story. But we had so much fun on the boat together, it actually turned out I enjoyed the split from the other two. Considering we were in it for the next two years together 🙂 Australia was after Asia.

What I learned that day in the market was Thai people have a very different lifestyle to Irish. There were a lot of older people still out working on the boats that would be retired in Ireland.

I think it was the first time I discovered what being mindful was. Just sitting on that boat taking it all in. There were men with snakes around their necks, older Thai ladies like the one in my picture selling different things everything is just so colorful. The hustle & bustle was just so lively. We even experienced a traffic jam all the boats bashing into each other.

It was really interesting to see how other people lived. If you make it to Thailand try it once & make sure you buy a souvenir. Enjoy the market but be cautious of the scammers because it is so busy there are many around. Once you have your wits you’ll be fine & enjoy.