Friday, February 24, 2012

A poor strategy - Bangkok, Thailand

I'm reading a book and sipping an Americano at a nice Starbucks coffehouse downtown. A group of Bangkok gays who are sitting a few tables away are engaged in a casual conversation. My knowledge of Thai language, which is rather poor, is good enough to understand the topic of their current conversation: they are saying that the foreigner sitting over there by himself is cute.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why do we travel?

Opposite types of tourists (or travelers?) that I'd rather not meet: those who travel the world to prove (most of all to themselves) that their country is the best there is, without even giving a chance to the place they are visiting, and the ones who often love any country they come across better than their own, even though the filth, violence, greediness, racism, corruption, poverty and injustice they might find there are things they would never tolerate at home.
Lack of balance and intellectual honesty apart...what a huge waste of resources! If they have already made up their minds, why don't they just stay in the place that was awarded their prize before the contest even took place, enjoying the case-hardened clarity of their opinions, by doing so saving lots of time as well as the money of the flights, the hotels, the restaurants, the tours and the guides? 
Besides the confirmation of our expectations, shouldn't we also find in travels the pleasure of discovery?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Motorcycle thieves (or the lack of them) - Pattaya, Thailand

A few years ago in Milan someone stole my brother's brand new scooter. It was parked in his building courtyard, the door to the sidewalk locked, secured to a post with expensive and inviolable chain and padlock.
In Thailand you park your motorbike wherever you find a good place and at any time of day or night, you simply lock the handlebars (but you might even not do it), you leave your helmet in the basket and maybe a shopping bag hanging on the hook. You come back a few hours later or even the following day and everything is still there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tourists, travelers or just confused?

In Asia I often meet Westerners who feel offended if someone calls them tourists.

"How come? Do you live here, by any chance?"
"No, I don't"
"Well, then, what do you do?"
"I travel."
"And how would you define yourself, if not a tourist?"
"A traveler!"
"Oh, I see..."

Monday, February 6, 2012

The jungle and the cage

A few months back I wrote a post called Stay out of the cage. Did you read it? Congratulations! You're one of the four people who did. You didn't? Well, I'm not surprised, of course. In case you were interested it's not too late to join the small group. You just need to click here. I kept it short and I wrote it as if I was writing a poem, or maybe a nursery rhyme. It's not my stuff really, but it was fun. Now I'd like to dig the subject a little deeper, in a more prosaic form.
What is the cage? Let's see. I think it's a cultural, traditional, material, custom and viewpoint framework we normally are brought up in. By the time we are adults its elements are embedded in our mind and, as if we had been administered increasing doses of them, we have become addicted.