Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Club Med-ically brain dead

I once talked to someone who had gone to Bali, and I excitedly tried to exchange travel stories. Like how a bunch of local people selling knick knacks actually got on our rented kombi van and wouldn't get off until we bought stuff, or hilariously embarrassing food poisoning tales. But no, she wasn't interested in that at all. She wanted to tell me about how much she spent on some uber-deluxe Club Med package, and how wonderful the in-house spa was.

There seems to be two breeds of tourists: those who actually "see" the places they visit, and those that just get stamps in their passports. The latter are the type who hide out in the luxury of their air conditioned hotel rooms, and make sure their hotels have continental buffet breakfasts so they don't have to - god forbid - eat the local food. They hang about the touristy areas and assume everyone speaks English. They eat at McDonald's if they must venture out of their little Westernised haven.

And while my adopted home of Melbourne is obviously a predominently white, Westernised kind of place where you don't have to worry about malaria or being swarmed by beggars, tourists do the same thing here. I've had friends visit from interstate or overseas, and for some reason they always make a beeline for the shopping centres.

Their suitcases end up stuffed with garments from Country Road or Sportsgirl (not particularly unique Melbourne items). I've tried twisting their arms and dragging them down Centre Place or Smith Street, shoving them down the Flinders Street Station subway or force feeding them delightful bagels from local cafes, but it never works. Sigh. It's always Starbucks and Chadstone (which I can fucking guarantee is not the fashion capital of anywhere).


PS I also have the greatest respect for backpackers. I have never understood the concept of travelling light.