Posted by: Moon | August 4, 2008

I think I’m a lucky boy ….

I spent Thursday and Friday meeting new people, about 50 to be exact. Part of my job involves presentations and ‘networking’ with all types of people. These people were all part of a company that wears brown overalls and deliver parcels, however this group were part of the Capital Finance side of the business, so I think intelligent people. I then had the pleasure of playing golf with two of the guys…. and this is where opinions of things struck me …..

You see, everywhere I go at the moment, they key conversations is not about the Economy, of people going out of business, or what I can do to help avoid this, but it always starts with …

“Oh, I like your accent, are you South African/Australian/English ?”…

Grrrr, do I really sound like a Saffa, Kiwi or Aussie ??..

The particular chap I was golfing with was a top bloke, after all, I nearly killed him when my Buggy went out of control…. he was saying that he and his wife fancied a trip abroad, but had heard England… well, as he said… it was Shit … I was kinda offended, I love my country, with a passion, a real passion, but of course it has it pros and cons, I am not blind to see that, but it certainly ain’t shit !!!!

It then got me thinking as to what has California has got, and why the residents, in general, don’t travel. Well, the first thing I did was think why I have travelled …. I have a short attention span, and love new places, new smells, food, sights, language, beer and the feeling of adventure.

The Bridge over the River Kwai

The Bridge over the River Kwai

So, I have been a lucky boy,? well no actually,  I made my luck, decided to spend my money on travel, and these are some of the things I have seen… Mount Everest, The Sahara Desert, Atlas Mountains, Kathmandu, Uluru, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road, Bluebells in Ashridge Woods, The Twin Towers, Golden Gate Bridge, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, New born Piglets, St Paul’s Basilica, Drenched in the rain in Rome, Colosseum, Grand Palace, Bridge of the River Kwai, canals of Amsterdam, The Caribbean, Phi Phi island,Grouse Mountain, Teotihuacam Pyramids….. I could go one forever …. These are the reasons I left my home… to go see and experince the world, an I am loving every second of it .. so why do Americans not travel….. ???

Amazing what they throw away in Mexico !

Amazing what they throw away in Mexico !

One excuse is Terror… sorry to insult any Americans here, but that just makes me laugh… I got this from talking a few (so I might add, I don’t believe all Americans to think this way) Americans… they seem to think the whole world hates them, and will kill anyone that has an American twang …. Doh !!!

The second reason, and one I can understand is the fact that America does have every single geographical feature. In California alone, we have Desert, snow, beach, rain forest, mountains… and it is breath taking, I mean, I am sure that I could spend the rest of my life travelling around here, let alone the rest of the 49 states…… this state alone is incredible… I mean that, so why bother going to another place when you have this on your doorstep?, I can drive to one of the wonders of the world .. in 7 hrs I can over look The Grand Canyon !!!!!

Sunset at Big Bear Lake, CA

Sunset at Big Bear Lake, CA

 

But, .. can I try to explain my way across an exotic city to a motor bike taxi who can’t understand me ?, drink a cold pint of Guinness in a proper Irish Pub?, Face a swearing, sweating Aussie Quick trying to knock my head off with a cricket ball because I am a Pom , see a health healer with no teeth as he mumbles in Slovakian?, drink sweet tea with 8 Moroccans who don’t speak a word of English hundreds of miles from anywhere ?, follow a little fella who is in flip flops, carrying all my stuff, a tent, another trekkers equipment for 12 days ?, ride a mule with a stuffed knee for 10 days, with a man who can’t understand a word I say, and he listens to me singing on my headphones to Van Morrison ?…….

 

My point is this .. what makes travelling the wonder that it is .. Scenery, of course, food, weather… obviously … but for me, it’s the diversity of the inhabitants, cultures, food, beer…. the smells, just the atmosphere. Where ever I travel, I will NEVER seek and English Pub, with English People, drinking English Beer, that is what England is for.I do everything I can to be part of the country I am in, sadly, I love being here in California, fallen truly in love with it, but, I will never be satisfied with America, it just can’t give me what world travel can …..

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Responses

  1. Luck – don’t get me started……
    There certainly are some smells I can live without – ripe durian mixed with raw sewage springs to mind.

  2. Moon

    Many of your rambling thoughts are spot on, and in this instance I can agree with most of what you say. I am not nearly as well travelled as you, but I do enjoy experiencing the local customs wherever I go (except France). I think Americans need to get out and see the world a bit more. There could be two reasons they do not (among many I am sure):

    First – they know almost nothing about the world in general. Their schooling is not world oriented, it is America fixated, and this leaves them profoundly ill-equipped to travel – they simply do not know what they are missing.

    Second – although America is the “richest” country in the world, I believe the average American is not wealthy. They have big houses, big cars, and big debts. Perhaps they simply do not have the funds for travel?

    Anyway, it is a shame. Their country would be so much the better if the populace traveled a bit and learned a bit more about the world at large.

  3. Wow! What a well-written post Moon. Well said, indeed.
    One thing I should add in Americans’ defence, however, is the vastness of the country (like Canada). If I tallied up all of the travelling I have done within my own country, from east to west, north to south, I would have covered an unbelievable amount of territory and different countries had I lived in Europe.
    As a kid, travelling abroad was beyond my family’s financial means. So instead, we did car trips to Gaspé, Canada’s East coast, which was a two-week trip in itself, or elsewhere.
    It sounds so boring when people say, no, I haven’t travelled outside Canada yet. It’s very hard for Europeans to understand the concept. Travelling across one’s border is so much more accessible if you’re in Europe.
    Now that I am in a better financial position to travel, I do plan on visiting Europe, New Zealand, and a number of other places. I enjoy travelling (obviously), and look forward to adventures outside North America.
    However, let finish this comment by saying that there’s nothing that replaces an atmosphere, a people, or a culture. Yes, there may be many mountains in North America, but the Alps are the Alps (or the Eiffel Tower, or the Maori), and one must travel to see and experience these things and people, just as one must travel to the Yukon the experience the vastness, the wilderness, and the fresh air.

  4. Very good points, Cortes. You’re right about the U.S. being very inward-looking, in addition to being xenophonic. Their media and education feeds into these, unfortunately.

  5. Cortes, Yukon : It’s a fair point on the size, and to get anywhere outside of the USA is indeed, a long and expensive trip. Also, I am aware the lack of holiday time the Americans get.. so to travel to Thailand from here, is not an easy trip….but finance is not it, as people chose to spend thier maony as they wish, cars, tv’s whatever.. Thailand etc are not expensive … at all.. just a big effort to get there, a trip to Hawaii is far more expensive…

  6. My country is not the place where you can make pocket money while you study. You either study or you work. If you work and still live with your parents it’s easier to travel. Those who don’t live with parents have hard time to find founds for any travels outside the country. So how comes about 50% of youngsters take their chance every summer and hit the round (even if it’s neighbour State) and go and make some money so they can travel. I was 23 when I first time left the border of Slovakia. And it wasn’t lack of money as much as lack of will to see something more. People love to moan and be clever, judgemental .. well I was one of them. But once I hit my road I’ve changed my opinion. The world is there for you. Smell it, taste it, love it, hate it… you can do what ever you desire but after you experienced this. Many would think that my country is 100 years behind and still suffers from post-communist doctrine that we can’t learn the truth which is lie and very wrong. I must say I am very surprised that many of those who judge ME are actually those who learned that their country is the top of the top and they are not ready for travelling because either they don’t want or really truly believe that everything outside of boarder is not good. BUT…. I’ve met some wonderful people who wants to travel and they do, they see the beauty of the World behind the gate. So I must agree with Moon. What travels gives me? Smile on my face and in my heart. I smile when I remember Thailand, smile in my heart when I recall the memories on my godson, smile when I saw my cousin wondering around Hollywood Blvd. smile when I walk hand-in-hand on Grouse Mountain with my husband.. travel completes me and I believe makes me better and open minded person.

  7. Envious I am, it seems years since I’ve properly travelled. And it does complete me . . . I’m already planning trips for my retirement which depend only upon selling up and moving on! Well 14 to be exact! Funds are the only thing stopping me now so I live vicariously through my 23 year old who is tasting the world for a year. She’s done the gringo trail, Mexico, North America, Western Canada and a short stint as an Au Pair in the English countryside, (when most Aussies think that London is the centre of the European universe) she’s met amazing people and had incredible experiences and soon is off to Mrs M’s side of the world, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia . . .she will have experienced more in her year abroad than most . . .me . . .I wait impatiently for the next adventure . . I just hope I remain young enough to take the road less travelled rather than the blue rinse bus!

  8. All good obsevations, Moon; and everyone else. Is it luck… certainly not. As an American who has never traveled outside of the USA (does sneaking across the border to poach moose in Canada count?)…
    I have several different views simultaneously.

    Finances… certainly a very major part of the equation for most of us. We may be one of the richest countries in the world, but that really only applies to what – maybe the top 18% – give or take (no, I didn’t check the stats).
    Size… Wow! I have travelled every eastern seaboard state, been as far west as Chicago and every where in between in that triangle. In comparison, how many european countries would that cover?
    Desire… Even a bigger WOW! Although I would love to be able to travel all of our states (SO much to see) I dream of being able to go visit my ancestral homeland in Europe! And to visit Asia!!! OMG! My dream come true… to be able to go to such places consumes me.
    But alas, back to the finances. Could I make a change somehow and go abroad regardless of home? I guess I could. But, then what? I would have no place to live, no job (yeah right. I will work until the day I die or am no longer able to work) etc. so on.

    A sad fact is, as Cortes pointed out, that we are America fixated. We (or at least my generation) are taught in school the desire to travel our own country, not abroad. Yes, Yukon, as a whole (or at least a majority) I beleive we are xenophobic. Where in the hell did this come from? I for example, am the 2nd generation of my family born in this country. So why would I be xenophobic. Yet I admit that I am. Stupid. Maybe it is because of the influx over the last 20 years or so that have not assimilated. How would that work elsewhere in the world? Since I don’t personally know, I can only presume that in another country I would be expected to learn their ways and adapt. But now, thanks to Yukonchatterbug, I will spend countless hours fixating on where this mindset came from. Hmmmm… gee, this isn’t even my blog and I am rambling on (no pun intended, Moon).

  9. I didn’t really mean to un earth such a can of worms, but I do realise that cost is a major aspect, esp when airfares from here are expensive, and, even though the USA is a wealthy country, I am also aware that the wealth is held by few.

    I could travel around America forever, so much to see, but the place (I have seen so far) has no soul. The people I have met have been fantastic, Fanuch being one, who under some strange circumstances is a great friend, who I probably would not normally have met, but I think they are right, Zenophobic is so very true, content inside a massive country, not aware of the rest. Quite rightly pointed out, the miles are amazing, for me to travel to Maine, my head office, I could fly to London…..

    But …….

  10. It’s interesting how the conversation turned, among other things, to xenophobia. I think that perhaps we cannot accuse Americans of this without looking at ourselves also. I’ve been thinking about Moon’s post all day, and realize that humans are xenophobic by nature. It’s a continuum between xenophobia and curiosity/fascination, I think, and few people are at the extreme end of the spectrum. Many Canadians are no better, really. Where I live now, it’s very open-minded as a result of transiency. Most people here are from somewhere else, and are therefore not afraid to travel and see places. People in my hometown, however, are more “stayed put” (for lack of a better expression). For those who can afford it, their idea of travelling is a beach in Mexico or Florida, year after year.

    As for the idea of “navel-gazing,” I think it’s a result of the U.S. being the current world power (hang on while I throw up my dinner). When observing/studying nations who, at one point in history, were considered a world power, the same qualities are present. They are/want/have the biggest/best/grandest/etc… of whatever, and are not popular with other nations.

    Now I’m the one who’s rambling. But it’s great; it’s posts like this that get us thinking and conversing, which is the whole point of blogging, in my humble opinion.

  11. I think people have their priorities and for most Americans it’s image and possessions and travel is not the top of the list.Also as was mentioned geography and extensive knowledge of the rest of the world is not taught.My grandsons school spent a day on England for instance.I am amazed that the bloggers i read from other parts of the world just up and go, traveling all over the world.We are supposed to be the richest nation etc, but rich in what, definitely not the joy of knowing how other cultures live and exist.Great post Moon.

  12. Not quite your first meme: http://thriftcriminal.org/?p=301

  13. First, I have to say that I’m not a traveller. I hate travelling for the sake of it, and I’m a coward. I’m also allergic to lots of things so I can’t have the vaccines you need to go some places and I’m nervous of not being able to make myself understood and therefore having a bad reaction to something miles from any decent medical treatment.

    Having said that, I have travelled within the English-speaking world. I’ve been to New Zealand, and Canada and the US. And I too would never seek out the English (apart from maybe menu choices), because you just don’t get the feel for another place like that. The best way to do it is to stay with friends, or locals, and experience life as they experience it.

    If someone ever invents that magic wand and frees me from all allergies, permanently, I’d like to see some more exotic places, but I won’t kid myself. I’ll never travel widely because I’m too darned lazy!

  14. Another thing that ‘forces’ English people to travel is this .. if we want skiing, sun, beaches .. we HAVE to travel …..

    Some of the people I have spoken to since I have been here have amazed me, some that want to discover the world, others that really do feel the world stops on the East and West Coast… and the whole world hates Americans …… I watch the news here, try to watch CNN ‘world news’ .. sorry, but it’s not world news at all, it’s USA news… Sports coberage (which is a future blog I can assure you) is also just covering American sports… it will be interesting to see how the Olympics are covered …..

    I am biased, I know that, but the BBC is 100% world wide …….

    Please don’t get me wrong, I am loving being here, and (another post) I will tell you all why soon I promise, I m not knocking the USA, I am just seeing it through my eyes.

  15. Moon, Great post. I’ve lived here for over 10 years now, and consider it home. I’ve put down roots, had kids, made some great friends etc. However, I DO understand what you mean by ‘no soul’ can’t explain it though, but it’s definitely there. I’ve lived in France, Ireland and England, and there is soul in each of these in a way that is somehow missing here. I wish I could put it into words, maybe someone with more insight can. Also, explains why I love reading English Mum, she finds the soul in dear old Co. Cavan and writes about it so wonderfully.

  16. Maybe in other parts of the USA there is soul, living in South California is not a fair example of the USA…… I do love the place…. but ….


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