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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
  
  
  
 
What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by emsun on 12 January 2003 6:23pm
 
Hello,

I am new here. I have just read something Michael Palin said way back in an interview in 1997 here:

http://www.salon.com/wlust/feature/1997/11/18feature2.html

[excerpt from the above]
Question: One of the many beautiful descriptions in your book is a memorable image of children in Vietnam holding their hands out in the rain, begging, and their palms are filling with rainwater. When we travel we are constantly encountering beggars and others who are less fortunate than we. How do you deal with that?

Answer: I identify more with the people who have less than the people who have more. The people who I am most embarrassed about when I am traveling are not necessarily the poor holding their hands out; it is groups of tourists who just get off the coach, bristling with cameras. They look like people from Mars. They are dripping with money and they get taken to the nearest bazaar and get ripped off. Those are the people I feel most sorry for. But I sometimes feel worse for people who are like waiters in hotels. You think, "Oh, they have a good job, they're being looked after, they're not on the street" -- and yet they are trapped, paid absolute minimum. They are really taught to kow-tow. That is almost worse, that institutional inequality, than just someone on the street begging.
[end excerpt]

I don't understand why he felt sorry and embarrassed for those groups of tourists that he mentioned above. Why did he feel that way do you think?

Answers would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Min
 
Re: What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by hendo on 12 January 2003 7:40pm
 
I think he said what he did because it is true. Also, Michael (lucky man that he is) has had a great chance to see the world from a different perspective. I know I would hate to be on a coach tour or something like that - much better to explore the areas you visit in a more personal way thatn being carted off to the nearest souvenir shop. Unfortunately few of us will ever get teh chance to travel in the way Michael has done...unless we all petition him to take us next time.
 
Re: What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by emsun on 12 January 2003 7:44pm
 
hendo, thanks for your insight. Another question, should the coach tourists themselves be embarrassed by the way they chose to tour another country?
 
Re: What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by Kristine on 13 January 2003 12:55am
 
Well, I have agree with Palin 110%! And I'm not agreeing with him just because he's...well him.

If I we're traveling 'round the world, I would HATE to see it through the window of a crowded tour bus. Being draggred to boring place after boring place after boring place by some arrogent tour guide. I would rather go at it on my own, really interacting with envorment and it's people. Getting to really know what the place is like.

If I we're have experinced what Michael has experenced and shared with us, and if I we're to see a bunch of people getting off a bus, lining up together in a group flashing there camaras, and only getting a marginal taste of what the city or area or country was really like, I would pitty them so very much. Why? Because they don't know what they're missing... I may not have seen as much has Michael has first hand, but I feel like I can relate.
 
Re: What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by emsun on 13 January 2003 8:18pm
 
An elderly couple I know who have been on a few bus tours are quite offended when they read that part of his interview above because they are NOT dripping with money and they do not feel that they should be pitied. They too enjoyed his travel series but due to their age and financial constraints, they prefer to join bus tours instead of travelling on their own by themselves. It is much cheaper to go on budget bus tours than to travel to foreign countries on their own.

What do you all think of the different view above?
 
Re: What does Michael Palin mean by this ....? by Weeze on 13 January 2003 11:35pm
 
Hello to All,

First let me say that I am a huge fan of all of Mr. Palin's travel series. I am a great fan of just about everything he has done. He's wonderful..sigh..

Okay, with that said:
I believe that the elderly couple mentioned in the last posting is taking Mr. Palin's comments a little too seriously because:
#1 - It shouldn't matter to them what anyone has to say about their travels. Why be offended? His opinion should not matter to them. If taking a bus tour is what they can afford then by all means go by bus. It does not matter how you do it, just do it and enjoy yourself. :-)

#2 - The reality of the situation is that Mr. Palin's travels are different from what the average traveler experiences. The average traveler is not trying to get from "Pole to Pole" in a predetermined number of days or go "Full Circle". It is just not realistic...not to mention expensive!

I believe that Mr. Palin was simply acknowledging the reality of traveling by "bus tour" and probably thanking his lucky starts that he has other options. He has probably taken his own share of "bus tours" in his past. You can not deny that bus tours do push the "souvenir shops" and focus on the more "popular" and "touristy" side of things, but it is still better than not being able to travel at all and that is what's important.
 



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