Posts tagged “tourist”

Stereotype variations


Old Time Portraits, Vancouver, May 2010

I liked the list of stereotypes that Vancouver-visiting tourists (or locals out for a Real Good Time) might want to be photographed as

  • Roaring 20’s – Mobsters & Molls
  • Victorian
  • Western Guys
  • Saloon Gals
  • Seafaring Folk
  • 1st Nations
  • Early R.C.M.P.
  • Medieval

While these sort of shops are common, the choice of archetypes is an amusing reflection of the local culture.

Shave Ice Paradise (or Dystopia)

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A uniquely horrible part of our trip to Kauai was stopping here for a shave ice. This place was staffed by a gaggle of poorly trained, incompetent, aggressive, rude teenage girls. They stood behind their window and acted as if the people on the other side were not human, but merely objects. One stood there talking loudly about her social plans for that evening, ignoring the long line. Another complained about the line, and how much work she had. “I hope this fucking line goes away soon! I’m so sick of people!” she yelled to her friends, not 18 inches from the fucking people who were waiting to give her money. Everyone was made to feel as if they were inconveniencing these girls’ lives. One man received his shave ice in a foam cup with a leak; he went back up to return it or get a new cup and they were horrible to him; he shouldn’t expect anything from them since he only spent a few bucks!

This place is in the Hanalei Center on the north side of the island. Do not go there.
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We only saw one other shave ice place on the whole island, Jo-Jo’s Shave Ice in Waimea. The experience there was great. This place here sucks.

Hawaii, especially Kauai is a tourist economy; people were appropriately awesome in most places we went to. This place was off the scale in the other direction. Please stay away.

Brief trip report

We’re now in Mumbai – the last of our four-city tour. Since posting last, we spent two hot and fun days in Bangkok, had an interesting and great time in Bangalore (best parts being an interesting conference, a visit to Microsoft Research, and some really wonderful hosting/socializing/touring). We got here last night and have benefitted similarly from some great hosting/socializing/touring. In fact, we’re out in the suburbs where tourists would never go, visiting a friend in her home.

There’s just so much to see and think about and write about. I imagine blogging non-stop for weeks upon end when we return (not possible, I suppose). I’ve taken hundereds of pictures and will see if the technology I’m using at this moment will allow me to easily post a couple of recent ones.

In control, out of control

Another dispatch from a public Internet terminal. In this case, the Samsung e-lounge at the Hong Kong airport. We’re headed to Bangkok in an hour or so. Nice free service, but their custom browser blocks pop-ups, so I can’t check my email as I normally do via mail2web.com. I can see the messages, I just can’t open ’em.
Anyway, we had one of those experiences that is so typical of what you hear when people travel overseas – a miscommunication, a rip-off, etc. We checked out early this AM, and planned to head to the train station (the Kowloon station) and take the Airport Express train back to the airport. We had prepaid (with an Octopus card) for return trainfare. It’s quite handy; you can actually check in for your flight at the train station in town and drop your bags and all that. The train is fast and comfortable.
We told the hotel dude that we were going to the train station for the Airport Express, he came out with us. The taxi driver asks us something, I say “Kowloon Station, Airport Express.” He says “airport?” I say, no, Kowloon station. The hotel dude has caught up at this point and says something in Chinese. We figured he clarified it and we were off. The driver is talking in Chinese to his mounted cell phone (set on speaker phone) and then he apparently is speaking to us. He waves some money around, says a phrase twice, and then shows me a number on a piece of paper. How much to get to the station? We can’t really tell what he’s written, and not sure why this is happening (I know we sound like total suckers here, but hey, it’s what happened. Does it help that it was 6:15 am?). I guess taxi drivers are the only segment of the service business in Hong Kong with no English.
Anyway, we pass the train station. He is taking us all the way to the airport. Instead of $35 or so (HK), it’s now going to be $XX00? We have no idea. What do we do? How do we clarify, or confront, as moments pass and the situation veers from what we had anticipated? How do we deal with our own social norms? Are we being ripped-off, or just a bad communication?
Other types of people would no doubt have pursued some sort of resolution. We didn’t. We felt helpless and frustrated and did nothing. It was vaguely expensive and we were lucky to have cash on hand to pay for the final fare. But really, we got to the airport, we lost a little money, we lost a little control. I kept thinking that as our trip proceeds through Thailand and then India this sort of willful? miscommunication and loss of control due to language and white skin and general foreigness will continue. This was trivial, but it felt traumatic. Perhaps a good lesson about dealing with the mishaps, or simply the haps, of the rest of our trip.

Hong Kong Groovy

Just a quick note-from-the-field. We’re here in Hong Kong and have been for several days. Really a great city to be a visitor in; if nothing else (and there is lots that is great) the transit system is really incredibly well thought-out.

I’ve taken a huge number of photos already, eaten some interesting food, seen some great architecture and signage. I’m initially struck by the post-SARS hyper-awareness of the potential for disease through bad hygiene – through many public service announcements and warning signs and admonishments about various things like wrapping up your spittle and so on.

We leave for Bangkok tomorrow quite early, so we’re just doing our last few things today.

Not much content here; it’s hard to compose much of relevance at a public internet terminal in a museum. I can’t wait to share photos and stories here and on flickr in more detail!

We Carry XXL and XXXL

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We saw this sign in a window in downtown Banff. Seemed like a sign o’ the times, perhaps they have many obese (or otherwise large) travellers coming and asking if they offer such sizes, so in order to capitalize on the frequency of such trade, they put up a sign.

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