Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
In this issue
- This week: Living in a tourist resort
- Virtual Snacks
- Bizarre Searches
- Joke and quotation
Do you ever get mistaken for a tourist? I know it’s happened to me often enough in the past. I’ve often thought of getting a T-shirt made up with a message in the local language saying, “I’m not a tourist, I live here!” Chances are, though, that if I did that they’d be all over the markets within days, on sale for tourists fed up with being hassled by touts.
Many of you will be living in areas where you tend to integrate with the local people. Others, like us, are living in tourist destinations. There are pros and cons to either approach – this week I’m going to write about the way we live here.
From a purely material point of view, there’s plenty to say for living in a tourist resort. Shopping for familiar foods is very easy; we have Tesco, Carrefour and several other smaller supermarkets to choose from, plus two 24-hour convenience stores within ten minutes’ walk. There’s a wide choice of Western newspapers and magazines if we feel like catching up with them – though these are pricey – and plenty of books in English on sale at varying prices. If we fancy eating out, there’s an incredible variety of restaurants – Thai in profusion, of course, but also Japanese, Korean, gourmet European, Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Chinese, British pub grub… And there’s plenty of entertainment to choose from – glamorous lady-boy cabarets, cinemas, more bars than you could shake a stick at, a Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” – with more and more opening up every day. (Especially the bars, though many of them don’t last long.) Just in the last couple of months we’ve had a new fun fair and a western-style food court open on Beach Road.
The downside is those who make a living out of selling to – and ripping off – tourists. Some are just a nuisance. If you’re a man, or if you’re with one, you’ll be accosted by any tailor whose shop you pass – even though you’re walking along at a fair old lick and are dressed in a way which suggests you’re never likely to want to wear a suit ever again, they’ll still stand on an already crowded pavement and shove their catalogues under your nose. Then there are the people who tap you on the back while you’re sitting at a bar and try to sell you anything from lottery tickets (OK, they’re quite useful) and Thai musical instruments to battery-operated toy cars and combined cigarette lighter/flick knife gadgets.
Worst are the scamsters – the people who are all out to take your money off you without actually doing anything useful for you in return. I suppose we’ve all had our own experiences of these. Taxi drivers are notorious, especially where airports are concerned. In Calcutta, for instance, they’ll agree a price with you, set off, then inform you that it’s an extra 50% of the price to take the expressway. Not that there are any tolls to be paid on that road, they’re just preying on your need to get to the airport by a given time. And we’ve heard of other scams too – here’s some examples:
Travel Scams and Swindles
Delhi Daze: Rip-Off!
Speaking a little bit of the local language helps. If you’re living away from the tourist spots and the expat ghettos it’s all the easier to learn – to a certain extent, you learn it by immersion because not many of your neighbours will speak English. But even though the locals in tourist resorts often speak enough English to help you get by – and often a great deal more than that – it’s still useful to have a couple of handy phrases. I’m not thinking here of the phrases you learn as a mark of courtesy to your hosts – “please”, “thank you”, “hello” and “goodbye” – surely everyone does that, even as a tourist. No, what I mean is the kind of thing which shows that you know your way around and aren’t a target for the rip-off merchants. I’m not great at languages, but one phrase I learnt very early on was “Mai ao kaa” – I don’t want it. Last week I got one of our pals to teach me a new one – “Yoo nii kaa” – I live here.
I asked on the Forum recently whether others had made any headway in learning their local language. Round here, English speakers are in something of a minority even among the expats. Having said that I wasn’t great at languages, I have to say that my German’s coming on in leaps and bounds…!
Some people say that if you don’t go to Blackpool, sooner or later you get sent. Others think it’s great. Have you ever stayed in a tourist resort – other than as a tourist? How did you find the living there?
Bangkok Bob has a really excellent site for anyone interested in Bangkok. I recently discovered his Strange Things page. If this doesn’t make you laugh then nothing will. (Long download for anyone on a slow connection.)
[Obsolete link removed]
(Note that if you want to go back to Bangkok Bob’s site at some time in the future he’s at the .net of the name, as some cyber squatter pond scum nabbed the .com. But that’s another story…)
It always pays to be a little bit on your guard while on your travels, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar situation. Travelsnapz.com has some sensible advice on how best to avoid getting ripped off. But there’s plenty of other great travel stuff on there too – well worth a look around.
Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:
- pictures of women in bed (5)
- follow out of curiosity british (5)
- how to shock people (4)
- opec headquarter (4)
- carlos the jackel (sic) (4)
- ski sunday theme tune (4)
- my nomber one (3)
- casanova s first name (3)
- why do i move to canada (3)
- chok lepm lepm lepm (3)
- under stairs bar (2)
- british gardening clothing (2)
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.”
Paul Theroux, writer (1941-)
There’s a tour bus in Egypt parked in the middle of a town square. The tourists are all shopping at the little stands surrounding the square.
One tourist looks at his watch, but it is broken, so he leans over to a local who is squatted down next to his camel. “What time is it, sir?”
The local reaches out and softly cups the camel’s genitals in his hand, and raises them up and down. “It’s two o’clock,” he says.
The tourist can’t believe what he just saw. He runs back to the bus, and sure enough, it is two o’clock. He tells a few of the fellow tourists his story, “The man can tell the time by the weight of the camel’s genitals!”
One of the doubting tourists walks back to the local and asks him the time. The same thing happens! It is five past two. He runs back to tell the story.
Finally, the bus driver wants to know how it is done. He walks over and asks the local how he knows the time from the camel’s genitals.
The local says, “Sit down here and grab the camel’s genitals.
“Now, lift them up in the air.
“Now, look underneath them to the other side of the courtyard, where that clock is hanging on the wall…”