Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Dumb Tourists from Around the World

Having just endured my own trials with hordes of dumb tourists coming to the Rose Parade, I was happy to read of another writer's plight. Chris at the Spiked Magazine Scattered Blog, who lives in Bangkok, gives us his personal eyewitness account of dumb tourists visiting Cambodia:

You can encounter these people in droves at Angkor Wat, the spectacular ancient temple complex in Cambodia, more recently used as the backdrop for the first Lara Croft movie. They're known as Angkor Wankers. They can be spotted milling around outside whining about the $25 entrance fee, seriously debating whether they should simply content themselves with the distant view of the temples from the road despite the fact they've paid hundreds of dollars to travel the length of Cambodia specifically to get there. (I do actually know of one couple who did precisely that. It's the sort of revelation that can be only met with open-mouthed awe at such breathtaking stupidity). Or, once inside the temple complex, they can be seen wandering aimlessly from ancient ruin to ancient ruin, wondering why there's no McDonald's. Or Lara Croft merchandising stand. They usually manage two hours and then leave, thoroughly bored.

Like Chris, having lived outside the states for a period of time, I too can relate a few zingers about clueless tourists. My favorite is the seemingly ubiquitous American clutching their tour guide who, once they learn you have been living in town for the past year or more doing research, will ask you about "the better places to eat in town" (this example was in Oaxaca, Mexico). When you provide them with a long, detailed list, plus good advice, they immediately start to thumb through their paperbacks muttering, "but it isn't in here." (And if they do try an "unlisted" restaurant, they are likely to complain about the service, fare, etc.)

Of course not - the travel writer flew into town, stayed in the better hotels downtown, and vanished after a couple weeks. Part of the joy of travel is exploring the unknown, not the prepackaged rubbish that becomes a laundry lists of travel destinations. Next time you want an adventure, ask the locals.

No comments: