In life we are constantly reminded to buy, to consume and to throw away what we possess, in order to get new more technological, more advanced or more fashionable products. This modern day reality was thrown in my face continuously in South East Asia with the abundance of markets and shops.
Are you really going to wear this pair of hippy pants back home? If not, do you really need to get 5-6 of them? Same question for; tank tops, bikinis, t-shirts, fake-brand products, flip-flops, Ipod cases, headphones... there is no end to the possibilities of consumption. By consuming in those lovely, pretty night markets, you're creating and increasing a demand for these useless products, and sadly promoting the big textile industry. I know its cheap... but what is the real cost..?
The condition of the textile industry worker is extremely low and often compared to modern day slavery... I won't go into any details on that, but its something important that most of us should try to take into consideration before buying.
Most of us want to buy artisanal/traditional goods, but sometimes we get led into the wrong street and waste away our money on a tacky replica. Think twice about the quality of what your buying and are you really supporting the local community with this item? Don't be hesitant to ask where things come from, who made it, ect.
In Cambodia there are endless options on where you can purchase good quality items and help a good cause. Max brought some handmade slippers for his sister in Phnom Penh and he was able to meet the ladies who were going to make his sisters slippers, choose the design and share a smile. The good cause helps women that have been victims of landmines in Cambodia have jobs, so they are able to live a normal life.
I'm not saying, don't buy anything in Asia. I'm just trying to put this idea out there, to have some moderation when consuming items that appear 'cheap'. We did buy some fantastic clothes and souvenirs out in Asia, but we did our research and shopped in places where we knew we were helping the local community and NGO opportunities.
Try to dress respectfully towards the culture and country you're about to visit. By doing your research, it will make it easier for you when packing time arrives. Most night markets are built for tourists demands, on a mass production line in a factory.. They aren't for locals and certain types of clothing could offend if you were to visit a Temple or to walk around in a remote village. If you plan ahead you'll be able to bring what you need the most and might just treat yourself with one or two items...