Why I Am Not One Lucky Bastard

One Lucky Bastard?
One common thread I’ve noticed when people interact with me is that they will often refer to me as being “lucky”.

“You are so lucky to be able to travel that much!”

“You are so lucky to have visited Fiji!”

“You are so lucky to have gone to the Rugby World Cup!”

With my latest trip to Antarctica the “lucky” cries have grown even louder.

I understand that no one intends to be disrespectful when they say I’m lucky, but I want to make it clear that luck has nothing to do with it.

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Paris Syndrome and Setting Travel Expectations

Recently on This Week In Travel, we came across a story about Japanese tourists who visit France and come down with something called “Paris Syndrome“. Paris Syndrome is a condition that strikes tourists who visit a place and find that it doesn’t live up to how they imagined it.

Some Japanese have a vision of Paris which comes from fashion magazines, television and movies. They assume everyone is thin and wears designer clothing all the time. When they arrive, they are shocked to see normal looking people wearing normal looking clothes. The added problems of cultural shocks, language differences and jet lag can result in some people becoming dizzy, depressed and having breakdowns.

This effects an average of one Japanese tourist to Paris each month.

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The Absurdity Which Is The New7Wonders of Nature

Underground River in Puerto Princessa, Philippines - One of the New7Wonders of Nature
Underground River in Puerto Princessa, Philippines - One of the New7Wonders of Nature
If you have been paying attention to the news the last several days, you might have heard that the New7Wonders Foundation released their list of the New7Wonders of Nature. You also might remember a similar announcement a few years ago for the New7Wonders of the World. Here is the list they released:

  • Amazon Rainforest and River
  • Halong Bay
  • IguaƧu Falls
  • Jeju Island
  • Komodo Island
  • Puerto Princesa Underground River
  • Table Mountain

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The Sorry State of the Travel Channel

Given the amount of traveling I do I don’t have many opportunities to watch television. When I am back in the US I use Hulu and Netflix to catch up on some of my favorite shows as well as watch some of my favorite channels. In addition to the Discovery Channel and the History channel one channel I used to watch extensively before I started traveling was of course the Travel Channel. The Travel Channel was one of the ways I got my travel fix before I hit the road. When I’ve tuned in to the Travel Channel this month things were different.

It is hard to describe how disappointed I’ve become in the Travel Channel.

Outside of Anthony Bourdain, who is really a food guy when you get right down to it, Travel Channel basically has nothing to do with travel anymore. Take a look at some of their current shows:

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Commentary: Put Down the Guidebook, Pick Up the History Book

Colosseum in Rome
Knowing who Vespasian and Domitian are can give you a much deeper understanding of the Colosseum. You can find the entrance fees and operating hours anywhere.
As I have previously written, I’m not a big fan of travel guidebooks. That does not, however, mean I am not a fan of books. I am a voracious reader and during my almost three years on the road I have consumed so many books that carrying them around became a serious issue for me on several occasions. It is why I’m such a big fan of the iPad. The idea of having global access to an English language bookstore that doesn’t require me to lug around an ever expanding collection of paper fills me with glee.

I am not here to talk about guidebooks. However, I do believe you should be reading prior to and during your trip. In particular you should be reading history books.

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Commentary: The More I Travel, The Dumber I Get

The first question you are probably asking yourself is “what is a video of Donald Rumsfeld doing at the top of this blog post?” Go ahead and click on it and watch the video. It is only 21 seconds.

I’ve seen a lot of people make fun of Rumsfeld for this quote, and honestly, I think he has a point. There are things we don’t even know that we don’t know. Most of you probably are aware of something called quantum physics, and most of you probably have never taken a class on the subject. You are aware that you are ignorant about quantum physics. That would qualify as a known unknown.

Just last week in Singapore, I was being taken around the city by a Singaporean traveler by the name of May. She took me to get Peranakan food. What is Peranakan food you ask? It is the cuisine of the Peranakan culture in Malaysia. What is the Peranakan culture you ask? They are the descendants of 15th and 16th-century Chinese merchants who settled in Malaysia and took local Malay wives.

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Commentary: Of Things Which Are Different, Both Little and Large

The first time I ever visited Canada I was fascinated by all the things which were different. The road signs, the occasional sign in French, the metric system, and the different products in the stores. The reason why those things stuck out is because, as much as Canadians hate to admit it, America and Canada are pretty much the same. The things I found different were aberrations (to me) on what was otherwise a very familiar background.

I point this out because humans are pattern seeking animals. We evolved to notice patters in the weather, the environment, migrations of animals, and the stars. When I went to Canada I noticed trivial things because they broke up the patterns I was used to seeing. You can notice similar things as you go from state to state as well. I assume the same would be true of Canadians visiting the US or Germans visiting Austria or people from Beijing visiting Shanghai. What very few differences exist between people from Wisconsin and Minnesota are exaggerated and amplified whenever they get together. (duck duck goose vs duck duck grey duck)

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