I’m from the US and have lived for a couple years in one of these “fun” countries in Southeast Asia, and I’ve travelled across a couple more with just backpacks. I know something about what you’re talking about.
I’m also not someone that uses the word “privilege” very much, but this article seems to merit it. Yes, travel in these places can be fun and it can be an adventure. But you’re talking about slums and desperation like just another adventure for the rich American, and that bothers me. When people you know get robbed and stabbed to death by a shady driver, that’s not “fun”; that’s not a “game.” It’s not an adventure for the people who live in those slums, desperately trying to get enough to eat and dying of diseases some basic hygiene might prevent while you traipse through to gawk at the natives.
The human suffering involved in this “fun” is REAL, and I don’t feel like you’re acknowledging that—that your fun and adventure is often based on the suffering and desperation of real human beings who don’t get to just leave in a couple weeks. You skip through to enjoy the chaos and corruption; that chaos and corruption is their inescapable life.
For how much you’ve played up the thill of being attentive in “fun” countries, it seems as if you’ve been rather inattentive to some aspects of life there.