The Globe as you know it is changing. Coming June 2019

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To understand more about why you are so important to our member support initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Peace at last

By: Manuel Meyer - Posted on: November 7, 2013 | Current Affairs

The tubing party is over in Vang Vieng, but tourism has managed to stay afloat

By Manuel Meyer

The Nam Song River meanders slowly through Vang Vieng in Laos. A couple of kids are casting fishing lines into it, while women wearing straw hats are pushing rickety old bicycles across an old wooden bridge. They are returning from their day’s work in the surrounding rice paddies, while beyond the cliffs, a red sun is setting.

 

Sink hole: locals made a living from selling drinks, drugs and souvenirs to drunken tourists. DPA
Sink hole: locals made a living from selling drinks, drugs and souvenirs to drunken tourists. DPA/Manuel Mayer

 

A handful of tourists are enjoying the moment, sipping gin and tonics with quiet chill-out music playing in the background as they take in their surrounds. But Emily, Jessica and Sophie, three students from Sydney, are deeply disappointed. “I don’t understand it,” Emily says. “It was here that things were really wild; a mega party. And now hardly anything’s going on.”

The three were in Vang Vieng two years ago. The scene was mainly Australian students, but also backpackers from the US and Europe, who came here during their semester break in order to be part of the “world’s wildest parties”, Jessica says.

Picture perfect: Vang Vieng’s natural beauty will continue to attract visitors, despite the death of tubing. DPA/Manuel Mayer
Picture perfect: Vang Vieng’s natural beauty will continue to attract visitors, despite the death of tubing. DPA/Manuel Mayer

Vang Vieng is located in the middle of the jungle landscape of northern Laos, about 180 kilometres north of the capital Vientiane. Nearly 120,000 partying youths used to descend on the provincial city every year.

One bar after another lined the streets, and party music blared out from countless discos day and night. Mojitos, whisky and Thai energy drinks were served up from plastic buckets. Cannabis, hallucinogenic mushrooms and opium pipes were available on every corner.

One highlight of the excessive partying in Vang Vieng was river tubing. Hundreds of drunk youths would go drifting down the river on the inflated inner tubes of lorry tyres. Every few metres along the banks of the four-kilometre river stretch hawkers would throw out a line and tow in one of the tubes with its cargo of inebriated tourists. The routine was always the same – after a free welcoming glass of schnapps, hard drinks in ten-litre buckets were waiting. Ready-rolled joints and other drugs were openly on sale at the bar.

After several hours, the party-goers returned like zombies to the water. But not everybody made it that far. Many would drunkenly slip on the rocks, breaking their bones. Others were injured while tubing or suffered from alcohol poisoning.

“Every day we used to treat at least a dozen tourists for cuts and broken bones,” a doctor at a local hospital recalls.

In 2011 there were nearly 30 deaths, prompting the provincial government to play the role of party-pooper. An army of police descended on Vang Vieng last year, closing down dozens of illegal bars and discos, and enforcing rules that tourists could only go tubing with a life jacket on and without alcohol.

“We used to be open almost 24 hours daily. Now we have to shut down at 1am and the music has to be turned down at midnight,” the Jungle Bar’s Mr Kee says bitterly, his eyes scanning an empty establishment. He estimates that tourism has plunged 70% since the government stepped in. “The people want to party. Now they’ll go looking for another place.”

This doesn’t bother Vone, a 36-year-old tour operator who admits that clientele numbers have dwindled. “But honestly speaking, I’m happy that it’s over,” he says. “First, it was much too dangerous and, secondly, it was neither good for us nor for our children.

“All they [the children] saw the whole day through was drunken youths and half-naked girls in bikinis, wildly making out everywhere you looked,” he says. “We Laotians are a very quiet, reserved and conservative people. The two things didn’t fit together.”

Up until last year, Vone had lived primarily from tubing rentals. Now he is concentrating on organising hikes, rafting, cycling and climbing tours in the surrounding mountains. This is Vang Vieng’s new tourism strategy, and it seems to be working.

By bicycle, one route leads through rice fields and small farming villages to the cave of Tham Poukham, seven kilometres away. Entry is free, but visitors enter at their own risk with flashlights to navigate the labyrinth of passageways, some of them still unchartered. In the middle of the first main cavern there is a statue of Buddha, illuminated by the sun’s rays, let in by a huge hole in the ceiling.

“This is crazy. It’s pure adventure,” says Steffen Kasber, a 25-year-old German tourist. “I’ll bet that all those party fans in the past had no idea what they were missing.”

 

Also view:

A pocket of resilience” – From the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the edge of the tourist trail in northern Laos

“Playing dirty” – Everyday Laotians are finding that joining the Asian Century comes with hidden costs

Suck it up” – Chi Phat is no walk in the park, but visitors prepared to rough it will be rewarded with an unforgettable travel experience