Sunday, May 16, 2010

Travel and Tourism

I don't camp. Unless it comes with room service. I haven't camped frequently, hamdullah, but the occasions when I have are, curiously, etched into long term memory like a computer virus. After what seems like lifetimes of muddy English fields, or even enthusiastic European campsites with sinks and flushing toilets,  I still 'don't do canvas'. Camping and it's even uglier sister, caravanning, is for those who can't afford the Marriott. It's for those with that appallingly British  'mustn't grumble' stoicism, determined to enjoy themselves in the teeth of a squall gusty enough to uproot marrows and lashing rain which systematically soaks everything whether directly exposed to the elements or not. On arrival, you discover with enthusiasm that there's a kilometer or more to walk to find either a flushing toilet or a stand-pipe from which if you wait long enough in the queue, you can collect enough water to make a small pot of tea. Thanks. But, no.
The reason for all of this is that, by and large, British expats are hardy and longsuffering worldwide travellers, packing a clean pair of underpants, a toothbrush and a SpeedStick in hand luggage and grittily making do for the rest. They arrive in strange foreign towns, dusty and unshaven, find the nearest Y, play catch with the cockroaches, eat triple portions for breakfast to save the expense of lunch and, terror notwithstanding, travel by local bus and to hell with the risk of either fire or electrocution. They drink polluted water, reasoning that the fastest way to gain immunity is to expose oneself to the local bacterial fauna. This is travelling, it would seem. Tourism on the other hand, its gentler face, seeks to protect the visitor from the more unwholesome aspects of a foreign culture and just show them a good time, ferrying them en masse in a rum-sodden haze, from one 'attraction' to another. I suppose, to jeers and mingled boos, I am one of those who prefer the latter, minus rum. Marriott hotels worldwide are accessible from a Freefone number. To Omaha, Nebraska.


  1. Having earned my 'Wilderness Badge' as a Girl Guide by camping out on New Year's Eve in an authentic lean-to constructed by yours truly, I clearly don't share your hatred of all things rustic. Mind you, I wouldn't camp out in January now, being old and decrepit. If I DO camp, I take a lovely cushy bed so that I can still walk in the morning. Minor concessions. Really... even the Marriott et al cannot compare to early morning by the fire drinking boiled campfire coffee (grit and all) while watching the deer/bears/moose/beavers go about their animal business.
    Maybe you just need to camp with the Canadians... the Brit version sounds pretty ick. lol

  2. Quite. Camping with Canadians. It has rather a jolly, bonhomous ring to it. Until one realises that they are entirely competent to light fires using only small pieces of their clothing and dismember small rodents with a Stanley knife for supper. I, on the other hand am looking round, anxiety mounting, an awfully long way from an ATM. Also, there's nowhere to plug the Espresso machine in.

  3. You gonna have to find an other reason :


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