Letters: Sounding off on older Vancouver, voluntourism in Cambodia and more
I enjoyed Margo Pfeiff’s article on the three older districts of Vancouver, Canada [“Hip-storic,” April 3]. It brought back memories of growing up in Vancouver. In the early ‘70s my parents and I would frequent a restaurant in Chinatown that specialized in Peking duck.
This restaurant didn’t have a liquor license but allowed customers to bring their favorite adult beverage as long as it was in a brown paper bag and kept under the table.
The restaurant would provide glasses and ice (if required). I must admit that Scotch certainly paired well with Peking duck.
The article “Giving Back While Traveling” [by Rosemary McClure, April 3] is disappointing in that it promotes voluntourism in Cambodia and ignores problems associated with it, thus undermining the work the Cambodian government and other organizations are doing to address this issue.
“Orphanage tourism” or “voluntourism” is problematic in Cambodia. A couple of good resources on this issue are a 2011 UNICEF report, “With the Best Intentions,” and Friends-International’s “Children Are Not Tourist Attractions.”
When visiting a country such as Cambodia, what can you do to help protect children and support families to stay together? Spread the message.
Most children in Cambodia’s orphanages are not orphans. They have living parents or family members to care for them. These families are poor, so they give their children to an orphanage. The orphanages are run as businesses, relying on donations from tourists. Many do not operate in the best interests of the child, and some are rife with abuse.
The 49,000 children living in Cambodia’s orphanages are commodities in an industry partly fueled by tourists and foreign donors. These children can live with their families, with support from many organizations that provide high-quality social work and community services.
Unvetted tourists also pose a risk to these children. It is also unacceptable for these children to have to perform and dance to generate income from tourists, often at the expense of their education. Would it be acceptable for random tourists to visit children’s homes and schools in America? No, so why is this acceptable in Cambodia?
Flying with kids
Regarding “Getting Seats With the Kids on Flights,” by Catharine Hamm, Feb. 21: All the airlines need is gutsy parents who are willing to leave their children next to strangers for a part of a flight to see how ridiculous this marketing scheme is.
My children screamed through landings in Salt Lake and fussed on nonstops to Chicago. As parents we came up with many strategies to keep the kids calm and happy.
Let’s see if a stranger can do that for two to three hours, let alone four or five. I would have loved to hand my 2-year-old his bag of toys and to have said, “Mommy is six rows up.”
What enjoyable flights I might have had.
No fan of LAX
As much as I love your beautiful country, I don’t always want to visit the U.S., especially when transiting LAX on international flights between Mexico and Vancouver, Canada. However, on arriving at LAX, I am forced to join the slow-moving queues at the Tom Bradley terminal and at times am frustrated waiting for more than an hour to be processed. I then collect my bag, move through the public domain to the appropriate terminal, queue to remove my shoes, notebook and get screened etc. all over again and then (hopefully) catch my connecting flight.
I cannot understand the logic of this process; it seems contradictory to your efforts to keep out undesirables. Why not just facilitate the transfers between flights as they do in many other countries by keeping those passengers “in transit” air-side, thereby avoiding the possibility of the unwanted entering the U.S. when supposedly in transit and then not taking their connecting flight? The freeing up of passenger pressure in the immigration hall would, no doubt, result in more effective screening and processing of those whose final destination is the U.S.
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