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Traveling as an American


TotallyOz
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I was sitting in a gogo bar in Thailand and having a nice time. The bar is well known in the area for having a great drag show and I get there as much as I can because I enjoy the show and the guys that work there.

 

I had two gogo boys sitting next to me. All of the sudden an older gentlemen from France leaned over to me and said, "are you American?" I replied yes. He said, "Supporter of Bush I bet." I said, "no actually, I am not."

 

He then went on to say, "I hate America. I hate you. I hope all America dies."

 

I was shocked and a bit dazed by his comments. They did not stop there and finally I called the manager over and he talked to the man and asked if there was a problem. "Yes, he said. I hate Americans and don't want to be in the same bar as them." The manager politely, said, "Well I hate you but I don't go around shouting that to everyone do I?" After about 5 min of talk between the guy and the manager and the owner of the bar, the guy calmed down. But, his stares were constant and his hatred was visible.

 

I just wondered if anyone else has experienced this hated before? And, if put in the same situation, how would you respond?

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Not the same thing, but similar: on a flight, a young guy from Britain who had been living in the US told me that he was returning to Britain because he simply couldn't stand living here any more. He'd gotten to pretty much despise Americans and said that all of his friends in Britain kept asking him "how could you possibly want to live in the US?" His comments were made in a conversational fashion but were full of enough hatred that others around us were becoming visibly disturbed.

 

I like France very much and have been well-treated there many times. But sometimes it does seem as if the French are the ones who lead the anti-American brigade. A pity, given what good friends we've been at times.

 

BG

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i travel all over the world and the only place i've run into this type of thing is france. now the original post does say the man was an older man; as a rule, i've found the younger people not only love america but want to move here! in the orient, even the people of viet nam are over their war with us and i've found no ill will toward america.

 

france has never gotten over being rescued TWICE by us in the last century. frankly, if it was now for the anglo/americans, they would be speaking german now and they know it. when i commented to one of our french suppliers how unfriendly the people of paris seemed, he laughed and noted that he lives an hour outside paris and the people of paris look down on him,too.

 

the people of france should be ashamed at the behavior of their government, it seems that the french (and chinese) have the oil contracts from sudan and for that reason are helping slow down any united nations actions against the murdering in darfur where thousands die. while going to war in iraq can, should and will be debated, now that saddam is gone, all nations that love freedom should help the people of iraq fulfill their aspirations for a democratic government. at this point, thugs and murders are trying to stop the people of iraq from living the type of life we have in the west. syria and iran are supporting the remainder of the bathists to try to derail any chance that the people of iraq will be like yhose of a normal western democracy. the people of france will sell out the people of iraq to insure the oil contracts they had under saddam (when the corrupt "oil of food" united nations history is exposed, france will be found to have been a willing partner).

 

the french government is letting their oil business drive their foreign policy. they would happily let thousands die DAILY in suddan and they would let the people of iraq become slaves once again to keep their oil flowing. shame on the french government.

 

personally, my company is stopping its importation of french goods and here i will no longer purchase french products.

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Here in Brazil and elsewhere in South America that would be an unusual sentiment. People here can't stand Bush and hate his policies, but seem to differentiate between what the U.S. government does and average Americans. On the few occasions when someone has tried to start a discussion, I just point out that I can't stand Bush either and, for that matter, the majority of Americans voted AGAINST him in 2000. Unfortunately, we had a judicial coup d'etat, and we're just hoping we can get rid of him in 2004.

 

I was recently in Germany and the Netherlands and also didn't run into any overt anti-Americanism there, although the opinion about Bush is the same as in South America -- it's hard to imagine how it could be any lower.

 

If Bush were to win the coming election fair and square (G-d forbid!) I think attitudes could change and animosity very well could shift to individual American travelers in countries where they have previously been welcome. If it's clear that Americans actually chose Bush to lead them, the distinction between what the government does and what most Americans think will disappear, and we'll have to face the consequences of our idiocy.

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Personally, I've never had any such run ins that I can recall. Last year in Russia, I usually would initiate the "conversation", you know, the one about Bush, just to get it over with.

Most everyone I've met abroad have been exceptionally polite, even demure when discussing politics - unlike people I meet at home. In fact, I've been in e-mail contact with a frenchman living in Kyrgyzstan, whom I plan on meeting while I am there in September. He's been delightful, and any political comments he might have he keeps to himself.

I agree with Tri that most people are able to distinguish between a person and that person's government. Especially people who live in countries where the government is as stable as a passing cloud. They know better than to judge a person based on the latest office-holder.

However, I am expecting some stronger views during my upcoming trip to two muslim countries, Kyrgyzstan and more especially Uzbekistan. I don't mind such discussions at all, and hope that I will be able to give people food for thought (for better or worse) on how they perceive the US.

 

Trix

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And I thought messages involving politics, war and religion were moved south to Antarctica....

 

One of these days it may dawn on the dunces who vote for Bush and serve on juries manipulated by trial lawyers that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda is the second most effective organization for recruiting terrorists in today's world.

 

The leader is about to hold its convention in NYC.

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Totally Oz's story rings alarms bells to me folks. This amount of anger, in Thailand,the land of smiles??

I was confronted by a tour guide in Europe last summer when I asked him who owned the mountain were standing on, he replied "No one, but don't tell George Bush that". Being the only American out of 15 people, all eyes landed on me! When I identified myself as a 'San Francisco Democrat' everyone smiled and shook my hand, one gal from Spain hugged me.

Remember that most foreigners see us waving flags and cheering Dubya. (Great stage crafting by GOP)

There is not enough decent expressed, or shown - perhaps maybe next week in NYC???

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I spend a lot of time in France and with French friends in America. I have never experienced this, although it's certainly true that Bush and his cronies are unpopular there, and with good reason. Bush's grandstanding, arrogant policies have earned our country scorn in pretty much every corner of the world, but most individuals separate the American people from the government's policies. I am sorry to hear that there are some rather stupid people who do not make that distinction.

I must also say that the usual bromides about the French not being thankful for American help in two wars, and being jealous of American power, are much overplayed in this country. In fact, most French people are very aware of our past alliances and are grateful. But, people, we're talking about more than half a century ago. Their gratitude for help in WWII does not mean that they can't express any criticisms of American policies now. Nor do they hesitate to, and I think they, and other Europeans, are right to see Bush as a poor leader with little intellectual reflection and suspicious motives.

To the poster who pointed out that French foreign policy is driven by oil interests, don't you think that's a tad hypocritical? Our own foreign policy is blatantly oil-driven, and that is a concern, in truth, for just about every nation's foreign policy that doesn't have its own reserves.

I know the French, as a people, are arrogant. But we must also admit that Americans are also arrogant -- probably many don't realize it, but we are. Just watch your fellow countrymen overseas with an objective eye, and you'll see.

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Guest zipperzone

>However, I am expecting some stronger views during my upcoming

>trip to two muslim countries, Kyrgyzstan and more especially

>Uzbekistan. I don't mind such discussions at all, and hope

>that I will be able to give people food for thought (for

>better or worse) on how they perceive the US.

>

>Trix

 

I'm not writing this to be a smart ass - that's Rick's job - but I would be genuinely interested to hear why one would pick Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as vacation destinations? I think they are close to the bottom of my list of "the last places I would want to visit"

 

And...... what's the gay scene like there?

>

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Some years back, I was a member of a small American delegation that traveled to Jordan and Israel as guests of their respective governments. If my memory serves me correctly, this was around 1989, and the first intifada had begun in Israel. How well I remember being at the airport in Amman and having one member of our group exhibit the classic characteristics of the "ugly American". All this guy could do was complain about what wasn't available to him there that he could get "at home". Our departing flight was delayed, and this guy threw a fit. He became so obnoxious that some airport security people came over and began to question what was going on. I was sorely tempted to speak up and say, "Pay no attention to him, he's just a hopeless asshole". The leader of our group took him off to the side and told him in no uncertain terms, that his behavior might just further delay his departure from Jordan, and if it delayed our group's departure, he would be held accountable. Thankfully, the asshole shut up.

 

I'm sure most American travelers behave well overseas, but not all.

 

I believe I'm correct in stating that Dubya had never been outside the United States prior to being appointed president. I'm sure, left to his own devices, he would exhibit many of the "ugly American" tendencies. In fact, when in Ireland, he did.

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And in response to Anton, it's indeed a shame that the U.S. has boycotted and sabotaged the International Criminal Court, which was set up to try cases involving crimes against humanity. The opposition in the U.S. to the Court comes from the same crowd that doesn't think we should be in the United Nations, or that we need to develop alliances in order to act against terrorist threats.

 

The opposition to the ICC was also shameless grandstanding, because the U.S. has nothing to fear from the existence of the court. The court's statute expressly provides that the home country of anyone accused of human rights violations is to be tried by his homeland. The ICC only takes jurisdiction if the home country refuses to take action. Since the U.S. already has strong laws prohibiting human rights violations, it would be extremely unlikely that the U.S. wouldn't put an alleged violator on trial here, under U.S. law. That would end the jurisdiction of the ICC, even if the accused is acquitted by the U.S. court.

 

Refusing to join the ICC was another nail in the coffin for the world's regard for the U.S. After spending an eternity proclaiming our championship of human rights, we dodged the first international effort to end human rights violations, and we did it in the ugliest, most chauvinistic way. Just another example of what the G.O.P. has done for America's reputation around the world!

 

P.S. -- this has nothing to do with the NATO treaty. The ICC was established by a separate treaty.

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Guest backbaygayguy

I experienced similar sentiments in Ghana, West Africa -- dislike of Bush but much affection for Americans. (I'm guessing that affection for Americans is long-term, because of many U.S. visitors and Peace Corps and religious volunteers over the years. And of course all Americans are rich -- so they think -- and might spend money in Ghana, so of course they like us.) This was my fourth trip in as many years, and I usually avoid political discussions of any kind, but people are friendly and volunteer opinions. Many Ghanians were very enthusiastic about Clinton because he visited Ghana and made several public appearances, and because he talked of U.S. aid to Ghana. But no one seems to like Bush or "the war" or his lack of concern for Africa, and I was asked several times if I thought he would win reelection (Ghana has a presidential election at the end of this year). Only one man, in his mid-20s and working in a hotel, said he thought Bush was great, because he fought the Arabs. I didn't pursue this, but perhaps this was anti-Islamic sentiment -- southern Ghana is mostly Christian (the north is more Islamic, but there are many mosques in the south as well), and sometimes I hear complaints about outsiders from other, poorer countries who have come to Ghana to beg or make money, and the outsiders referred to are usually Muslims from countries like Niger or Burkina. I guess every country has "outsiders" who are poorer and different, to look down on.

 

Speaking of anti-Americanism, I vividly recall living in London at the height of the Vietnam War, and being accosted in the Tube and on streets by strangers yelling at me to get out of Vietnam, or dinner companions expounding on the stupidities of U.S. foreign policy -- no one asked me my opinion of the war, they just blamed me for it! And it wasn't much better travelling in the countryside or in Paris during that year. I was glad to come home to the protests here.

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I spent a week in Madrid last May. The Spanish people were very friendly and helpful with me. Everyone asked if I was American and were happy to tell me all about Spain. I see plane loads of English tourists arrive in Florida each day and buy everything American to bring home. I was in New York City this week and the town was buzzing with European and Asian tourists. Visited the New York Yankees shop on East 59 Street. The store was filled with Italian tourists, all buying Yankee shirts and caps to take home. Everytime I visit Europe, I bring some gifts with me. Yankee caps, Disney stuff and everyone want's something from the USA. While in Switzerland, the chef in a Swiss Chalet cooked me a great dinner. I went to the kitchen and gave him a Yankee cap. He took off his white chef's hat and on went the Yankee cap. He went into the street to show all his friends what the American customer gave him. In Florida a new condo went up a few miles from me. It was sold out in two weeks, mostly by South Americans. The cheapest apartment sold for $400,000. They might hate America, but brother they sure want to invest money here. :-)

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I've never heard of this. The American cemeteries in Normandy and around Verdun are immaculately kept up. If some nut case has done some grave desecration, it can hardly be charged against the entire French nation. Believe me, I've been to the battlefield cemeteries and they are pristine. I don't know where you read about some desecration of them, but it is not widespread.

There has been a lot of news lately about desecration of Jewish tombstones (not military). This is largely thought to have been done by skinheads or Muslim fundamentalists.

We have grave desecrators here too. No nation can keep out all the weirdos.

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This is true. Dubya, though he is the scion of a wealthy elite New England family (and tries to make people think he's a Texan cowboy), and grew up with every privilege imaginable, never bothered to visit any other country. He clearly lacked any curiosity about other countries and how people live. He was and is very limited by this limited exposure to the world, and this is one of many reasons he is unfit to be president of the world's most powerful country. His lack of cultural awareness and intellectual breadth have been abundantly visible in his leadership for the last four years.

Anti-Americanism in the world today is due in some degree to the lack of confidence foreigners have in the appallingly limited man who is our leader.

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>I've never heard of this. The American cemeteries in Normandy

>and around Verdun are immaculately kept up. If some nut case

>has done some grave desecration, it can hardly be charged

 

Everyone with the slightest interest in WWII should visit Normandy. The cemetaries where American GIs are buried at Normandy are essentially little bits of America. There is a fairly significant staff of American employees who oversee the cemetary. The cemetary itself is just beautiful. An uncle of mine, who died in the Normandy invasion, is buried there. No member of the family had made it to Normandy prior to my visit a few years back.

 

I was really glad I went. A member of the staff at the cemetary greeted me and took me to the grave. Since this was the first visit to the grave by a member of the family, a ceremony was arranged. The ceremony was very moving. Sort of a mini military funeral, with full honors, including a military band. There is a small group of US soldiers assigned for this purpose. At the end of the ceremony, his medals and a US flag were presented to me. The cemetary is just beautiful. A very fitting final resting place.

 

While in Normandy, I stayed at a lovely country inn. Ended up staying a few days longer than I planned. The family that owned the inn went to the ceremony with me, and asked a few of their friends to join as well. I was glad for the company. The warmth and hospitality extended to me was quite genuine.

 

--EBG

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RE: The 'Stans

 

Good Evening, Mr. Zipper...

(Boy, have I said that before!) I take no offense to your question. Believe me, I've heard it MANY times over the past year that I've been planning this jaunt. Mostly, when people ask me where I'm going this year, they're not even aware the countries exist. When I say "Uzbekistan", the usual reply is "What? Pakistan?"

 

My only and best answer for why I choose the places I choose to visit is that the World is a beautiful and fascinating place. There's so much to see, so much to experience. And it is the experiences, great and small, that make life worth living. For instance, last year, in my trip through Russia, I visited the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. I also had dinner with the security guard of my hotel and his family in the provincial town of Vologda. Both of these experiences resonate with equal magnitude in my heart and mind... for different reasons, but they are of equal importance.

 

Good travelling requires a combination of planning and then letting go of the plans

when something better comes along. Because sometimes it's the smallest of things that makes a travel experience truly great. An afternoon's conversation with a stranger, an odd curio found in an old shop, a night spent in a place you never thought you'd be. These, more than anything, are what makes up the "Romance" of travel.

 

As for Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan... why did I choose them? Well... Uzbekistan harbors in it's national boundaries some of the World's most beautiful pieces of architecture. The Registan and the Bibi Khanum Mosque of Samarkand, the Kalon Minaret & Mosque and the Ismail Samani mausoleum in Bukhara... although perhaps more foreign to our eyes, these are monuments of World history just as signicant as Chartres Cathedral or the ruins of ancient Rome.

And Kyrgyzstan. Although it has very few architectual monuments, it has a proud nomadic culture that has more or less weathered the Soviet era intact. In the high meadows of the Pamir and Tien Shan Ranges, the Kyrgyz still run their sheep, yaks and camels as they've done for millenia, retreating to the valleys with the snows of winter. I have made arrangements to stay with a shepherd family in their yurt for a few days... I hope I will be a good guest, and will be able to acclimatize to the altitude (11,400 feet!!!).

 

Apart from all that, I will be buying some really keen handicrafts! The artisans of Central Asia create some of the most beautiful woodwork, carpets and pottery that you'll ever see!

 

As far as a gay scene goes... well, there isn't one. It's still illegal in Uzbekistan, and although legal in Kyrgyzstan, it's stil very open to official persecution and harrassment. But this doesn't bother me... as we all know, even in the US, one has to make up a good story sometimes.

But, there are internet resources for gays even in these countries. A site I found called GayEgypt has message boards for all muslim countries, and I left messages there. I've been contacted by quite a few people through that site. I've been in contact with a few of them, and hope to meet them during my trip. What will transpire of our meetings I do not know. It's important to me that they know they're not alone, in any case.

 

So... I don't know if i've answered your question, Zipperzone. I guess it's one of those cases of "To Each Their Own". Even though my vacation plans do not include a gay scene, room service or even flush toilets all the time, I can hardly wait!!!

 

La Trix

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Guest zipperzone

RE: The 'Stans

 

>So... I don't know if i've answered your question, Zipperzone.

> I guess it's one of those cases of "To Each Their Own". Even

>though my vacation plans do not include a gay scene, room

>service or even flush toilets all the time, I can hardly

>wait!!!

 

Thank you Trix - you have indeed answered my question and most elequently I must say.

 

Still not my cup of tea but at least I now understand the attraction.

 

I hope you have a rewarding vacation and experience many new adventures.

 

You sound like a most interesting person!

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Guest zipperzone

>>...I believe I'm correct in stating that Dubya had never

>been outside the United States prior to being appointed

>president.

>

>Is this true?? That's something I never knew.

 

I believe it is true as I have read this in the press on more than one occasion.

 

A further example of how geographically challenged he is.........

 

When the young Welsh singer - Charlotte Church - sang for him and was presented to him afterwards, he asked her where she was from. She told him she was from South Wales, and he replied "Oh, what state is that in?"

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RE: The 'Stans

 

"You sound like a most interesting person!"

 

Unlike you! Love how you demand to know what possible reason that anyone could be interested in visiting any place that wasn't rife with cheap, gay sex for hire encounters! After all, all gay men are such shallow people, only interested in visiting countries where the sex is for hire cheap!

 

IMO, Trixie is a beautiful person, and I, for one, love his off the beaten path adventures and his recounting of such on this site. I loved his posts about his trips to Mexico and Russia last year and I hope he will post about his adventures in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan! I appreciate his bringing these places to life for me, places that I will not likely ever see, and the appreciation of the beauty of these places and the people who inhabit them.

 

I'm only dissapointed that he felt the need to justify his travels to narrow minded, sexually obsessed, shallow people.

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RE: The 'Stans

 

>Love how you demand to know what possible reason

>that anyone could be interested in visiting any place that

>wasn't rife with cheap, gay sex for hire encounters! After

>all, all gay men are such shallow people, only interested in

>visiting countries where the sex is for hire cheap!

 

 

Go back and check, I believe he inquired, but see no evidence of a demand.

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>Totally Oz's story rings alarms bells to me folks. This

>amount of anger, in Thailand,the land of smiles??

 

To be fair, this single incident occurred in a bar where some people's civility (and common sense) might be a bit suppressed depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. (I think a couple of posts in this thread have suffered from the same problem.) I've dealt with the occasional sarcastic comment about Bush or the American stereotype - never from a Thai but almost always from a European - but I haven't really encountered any problem with people not liking me just for being an American. I haven't even had a problem during my regular May visits to Pattaya, which coincide with the Thai-US Cobra Gold joint military exercises when thousands of drunken American sailors and marines descend on the town. Trust me, at that time even Americans suffer from a bit of American fatigue.

 

Re: the US saving the French, it should be remembered that in 1940 and 1941 the majority of Americans didn't give a rat's ass that France had been conquered by the Nazis. We didn't go to war with Germany to save the French or even the English - we went to war with Germany because Hitler declared war on us. Yes, some French can be right obnoxious bastards. So can some Americans.

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To answer Totally Oz's question: How would I respond?

 

I keep my loud American mouth shut and agree with everything a drunken asshole has to say or I leave.

 

In my travels I have had very few anti-American sentiments spewed at me. Most came from actual friends in London who are easy to ignore and one from a guy cutting my hair in Amsterdam. After he shampooed it in ice cold water, he spent the entire time railing against America and Americans. Since he had scissors at my head, I smiled and agreed with everything he said. Eventually, I learned he was an ex pat from California. (Actually it was on of my best haircuts, but I will not go back, so he lost a customer.)

 

Why is it that on the Larry King Show recently, His Holiness BILL CLINTON said had he been president on 9/11, given the intelligence reports at the time, he would have done exactly what George Bush did, including taking out Sadaam Hussein?

 

As I recall, John Kerry voted for the war.

 

I feel like John Yossarian.

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