Thought someone might find this interesting. This is the #1 conversation in Asia right now between residents and Americans:
Chinese: Where you from?
American: From America.
Chinese: *smile* America very good. You like Obama?
American: Yes, very much.
Chinese: *Big Smile* I also like Obama.
Now we’re best friends… I’ve had this same conversation in Macau, Vietnam and Thailand. Everyone is happy.
I’m at a local village gathering for National Children’s Day in Thailand when a bus of monks pulls up (complete with the yellow robes like in the movies). I’m brought over to where they all sit down as a little crowd of about 30 of us kneel in front of them.
Chanting and praying starts – I fold my hands when it looks like I’m supposed to and bow when I’m supposed to. I think I was very professional overall. But I was a little nervous as to what we were actually praying for because I didn’t understand the chant.
Then the monk passes in front of us and drenches us in water; from what looked like long incense sticks dipped in water. During this time I was thinking of the Beatles when they went out meditating, and wondered if I should have dressed a little more hippy instead of my Polo shirt.
Before the monk bus left one of them came up to me and said “God Bless You”. And God did, because after that we had all the ice cream we could eat and all the Heineken we could drink – ALL DAY. I understand Buddhism now, and I also understand why they spend so many hours meditating and praying. If the ice cream and beer is good – it’s worth the time invested.
For some reason eating grasshoppers and larvae in Thailand does not gross me out nearly as much as eating baby squid in China. Maybe it’s the crunch factor.
One of the things I love about Thailand is that I enjoy so much of the food. It’s the best overall food I’ve had in my life from any country. I mean – I like Thai food like I like peanut butter sandwiches; and that’s A LOT.
At a local gathering for National Children’s Day in Thailand today we had an all day feast of food, ice cream and liquor. And around sundown came out the primo drinking snacks – cruncy grasshopper and chewy larvae. They weren’t disguised or covered in sauce, they were just staring at you. So the big question is: What does grasshopper taste like? Mmmm…..a bit like wild locust.
One thing I have learned (or should I say real world lessons I have paid for) while being in Southeast Asia is how naive and guilty Americans are. When we are traveling abroad our guilt is used as a powerful leverage tool to part us from our money.
Two things to keep in mind when traveling in tourist areas in Southeast Asia:
- There are police EVERYWHERE and they are there to protect you. You will probably not get outright rolled over or beat up just minding your own business. (Although there’s always pickpockets.)
- The police can NOT protect you from simply being overcharged. So the main tool of the scam artist is using guilt to get your money. And guess who the number one easiest target is to use the guilt trip? Americans!
Continue reading “Tourist Scams and American Guilt”