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Tea Leaves

Developing Asia can do without Western 'influencers'

Tough line needed on ill-informed social media and antisocial tourists

Western tourists cut conspicuous figures while strolling through a village on Mabul Island in the east Malaysian state of Sabah. (Photo by Kit Yeng Chan)

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia -- When I started traveling overland around developing Asia nearly 15 years ago, paper guidebooks were my Google, and my cellphone -- lacking a fast mobile data connection -- was most useful as a pocket alarm clock. If I wanted to send a picture home, I'd have to find an internet cafe, connect my digital camera and risk getting its memory wiped clean by a hidden virus. More important, before visiting a country I would try to familiarize myself with local customs and cultural and religious sensitivities. 

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