Monday, June 1, 2009

My Lost in Translation #3: Annie

{Annie from Coffee and Cigarettes is a Montreal friend, and she decided to quit her job, sell her and condo, and go travel the world for a year. She left alone with her backpack, and has been seeing the most amazing sights ever since. We even met up in Seoul during my last week there, and had the best time catching up, eating cupcakes, going to the spa, and partying. I admire her so much for doing this on her own, and I'm excited she shared a few 'Lost' moments she's had so far}

{Good times together in Seoul, February 2009)

Dear fellow travelers,

Viv’s idea of having guest bloggers is genius! Even though my own blog is in French, I thought I would share some of my stories with you in English, so please try to ignore the many mistakes if you can…

Unlike some of you, I am not technically “living” abroad, but I have been traveling to 6 Asian countries in the past 5 months. Therefore, I tend not to get as annoyed by the bad stuff inherent to the places I visit, probably because I don't have to deal with it every single day like people who have to work in the same city all year.

Sure, it gets on my nerve when tuk-tuk drivers lie to my face and tell me my hotel no longer exists and then drive in circles for half an hour to increase the fare. It makes me sweat when they try to overcharge me for a meal and I can read the actual price on the menu with my dish’s name in their language (I try to learn the local names of the food I like). Long ago I decided that the only answer to their lying was to lie back. When I get in a taxi, I pretend to speak on my iTouch as if it were a cell phone and I say something like: “Yes daddy, I’m in the cab now and I’ll be here in 15 minutes!” Or instead of asking to go to a hotel, I find a temple close by on the map and I tell them that my brother is waiting for me there so they are not tempted to bring me to a place where they receive a commission.

But generally, I am so pleased to be traveling for a year that I have been in a very accepting frame of mind. On the other hand, I often have to share accommodation, transports and tourists attractions with fellow travelers and that can be quite irritating…

The French

I have witnessed many travelers from France in Vietnam trying to communicate in French with local people. When they were not understood, they began shouting their request slowly, as if speaking louder and slower would help… Just because it has been a French colony at one point in history doesn’t mean everyone speaks your language. Also, they tend to travel in big groups and are very loud and annoying. After a month, I started to ignore them and spoke only in English in front of them. To be fair, I have to say I met a few very cool French travelers, but they are definitely the exception.

Dorm Etiquette

When staying in hostel dorms, it can get very frustrating when your roommates are inconsiderate. A few days ago in Singapore, I had the worst night possible. First, the snoring guy in the bunk 12 inches next to mine started farting non-stop in his sleep. The fan was blowing the scent in my face and I almost threw up. At 4:00AM, two 19 years old sluts came back from a club, intoxicated, and opened the light, spoke loudly and made noise for 20 minutes until they finally crashed without turning the light off. Then, at 6:00AM, the farting Japanese -who has been living in this hostel for the past 3 months because he can’t find an apartment- woke up to go to work and proceeded to remove his clothes from a plastic bag. This woke me up yet AGAIN. People are so selfish sometimes. It seems obvious to me that if you have to wake up early, you would get your clothes ready the night before. Or is this just me?

“Organizationally-challenged” and Picky-Eaters

Finally, there are these travelers you meet in hostels, whom have no clue what to do in the country they are in and proceed to tag along everywhere you go. Why do they travel if they don’t even bother researching their destinations, at least a bit? I met this guy who would ask me question after question on things to see, the history of the place, the cost of things… Do I look like a F*&%ing guidebook? Buy a Lonely Planet. Don’t get me wrong, I love exchanging tips with fellow tourists, but the key word here is EXCHANGE. The worst thing is that I took him along one day and when I wanted to eat in a local restaurant, he said he didn’t like any local food and proceeded to go to McDonald.

Facebook Frenzy

I met the most annoying girl in the world in Japan. I don’t remember her name, but an English guy nicknamed her Judy, because she was heavy-duty (try to say it out loud with the English accent and you’ll get it). Anyways, the very first thing Judy told me when I met her was that she was afraid that this guy she had picked-up in a bar and slept with the night before was stalking her. Talk about a great introduction! Then she asked me my name…and my email address, so she could add me as a “friend” on Facebook. I told her that I didn’t even know her (we had met 3 minutes before) but she didn’t seem to care. She was long past the count of 1000 so-called friends and I guess she was trying to beat a Guiness record. Anyways, my point is this: Facebook is a useful tool when you travel, but some people just don’t get it.

All in all, even these aspects of my trip are not so bad. I sometimes get annoyed, but I have also been very fortunate to meet so many interesting and special people. Stupid and clever people are everywhere and it makes me realize that other countries are not so different from home after all.


Kelly said...

hahaha Annie, your experiences are great and hilarious! Thank you for sharing!

Vivian - thank you for the sweet comment on my grad pics. It brightened my day :)

Anonymous said...

Great post, Annie! It really gets on my nerves when taxi drivers in SE try to rip you off. I also agree about the French in Vietnam. I was there a year ago and saw some angry Frenchmen. The natives call them a very derogatory term I do not wish to repeat :D

aaron thomas smith said...
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{lovely little things} said...

Wow, your friend is a risk taker, what an experience, one she'll never forget. I wish I had enough confidence and strength to just get up and go like that. Good luck to her!

The Lil Bee said...

I can't believe she traveled for a year on her own! That is amazing. My best friend and her husband are traveling through Asia on a three-month honeymoon right now and I told her about your blog:) xo

Anonymous said...
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aaron thomas smith said...

I apologize for the impression taken regarding my comment using the expression "slap in the face" towards the french (referring to people of the language, and ignoring country origin). I was enthralled with Annie's story and in living nowhere near France, I was just referencing giving a 'wake up call' to the nearest geographical french. Being of french canadian roots myself I have no ill will here nor there (as I have many parisian friends as well). It was simply a joke playing on the rudeness of the people in her story, just as we do the Japanese, Koreans and even Canadians!

Anonymous said...

great to see this...
thanks for sharing....

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