"Some people, like myself, like to visit places unspoilt by commercialism, as it reminds us of how life could be."
Not judging commercialism as good or bad, but who are tourists to dictate what advances a country can or cannot take. Why are modern amenities like clean water or sewage systems to be heralded, but cell phones or shopping malls are to despised?
Who decides what development is ok and who decides where it stops? I find many (not all) backpackers to bemoan everything that is wrong with the the "culture". And most of the things they focus on are advances. The Thais, nor any people for that matter, are not exhibits in a museum. As much as many tourists would like to come here and view a village filled with sarong wearing fisherman, and call that Thailand, those same fishermen may be dreaming of a pair of jeans and a life in the city.
I just find it arrogant for visitors to talk of Thailand's "spoiled" culture. What is spoiled to some may be an advance to others.
Why should we get to eat pad thai, but a Thai should be deprived of the opportunity to eat at McDonalds? Because the backpackers deemed Mickey D's un-thai?
All of that talk of spoiled culutre is just reverse cultural imperialism, tourists trying to dictate what a culture can or can't be so as to not ruin their holiday destination.
Let the Thai's develop Thailand as they see fit. It is their culture and they can allow it to evolve in any way they like.
If the backpackers don't like it, I hear there are plenty of empty fields in Africa. I hear the food is authentic. No touts either.