Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Adults Say the Darndest Things

When we were in the USA during the first leg of our year-long trip, we mostly stayed in hotels or motels, so interaction with other travelers is very limited. Things changed when we came into South America, though.

We started staying in hostels (if they spell the name in English), hostals (if they spelt in in Espanol) and hospedajes (I reckon this is either the real Spanish word
for hostel, or it means homestay, which is similar to staying in a hostel here).

While we have met many good people and great friends during our st
ay, there have been a significant number of louts who are rude, prejudiced, high-and-mighty or just plain inconsiderate. Or maybe even a mixture of those. The wife has already posted an entry a couple of months back on this, so I shall only focus on the irritating things they say - most times in loud booming voices so that everyone in the hostel can hear them, like it or not.

"Holland is the smallest country in the world"

Group of 5-6 Europeans were engaged in conversation while we were quietly working on our laptops. Then, for some reason or other, it became a discussion of
which is the smallest country in the world.

After much debate (where a Swiss girl injected that Switzerland was
really really small), it was declared:

"Holland is the smallest country in the world"

We kept quiet. Seriously, we had no idea if Singapore WAS the smallest country in the world, but we at least knew that Singapore existed, and it was smaller than Holland. We wanted to work on our blog entries, not get drawn into a discussion that did not interest us.

Then, a few minutes later, one of the guys said,"Oh, after my travels, I am going to Singapore to further my studies."

Ah. Idiot must have thought that Singapore was part of China or something then. Bleah.

"People pee in their wetsuits??!"

The topic of going to the beach to take surfing lessons was brought up, and one of the guys suggested that the girls buy their own wetsuit rather than rent one.
Then he explained why.

Girls squeal in disgust: "People pee in their wetsuits??! Why wouldn't they take it off to pee?"

Ummm... obviously has not put on a wetsuit (or taken one off!) in her life.

"Lonely Planet says..."

Topic of conversation was about visiting the Galapagos. One of the girls had just came in from visiting the Galapagos, and others were (naturally) grilling her for information on how it can be done cheap.

She was saying that it was possible to stay on the island and still be able to see all the animals and sights by taking day excursions, including swimming with the seals.

One of the older ladies got up, stalked to her room, got out her Lonely Planet guidebook, opened it to the Galapagos section, and said:

"Lonely Planet says that unless you do a liveonboard, you will no
t be able to see the seals."

Um, okay, sure. Go ahead. Trust the guidebook that was checked and printed God knows when, rather than some girl who just did what she said she did.

"Well, they're poor, and we're not."

This was after our 4-day tour to the Uyuni Salt Plains. At the Bolivian border, there is an "exchange" of travelers, where those returning will take the van back to San Pedro in Chile, while those who were just starting on their trip would have taken that very same van from San Pedro to the border to be transferred to a 4-wheel drive.

We had found that while Bolivia is supposedly one of the cheapest places to visit, the Bolivians really did try to "extort" money from tourists whenever possib
le. So we told them about the changing room at the hot springs where you have to pay USD 0.80 to use, as well as the hot shower in one of the hotels where you had to pay USD 2 to use (it's either that or go without showers for the entire trip) and how you had to buy toilet paper at the hostels because there wasn't any provided for free.

One girl opened her mouth and the most inane thing came out.

"Well, they're poor, and we're not. If I have to pay to use the t
oilet so that the woman guarding it can live another day, that's okay."

Newsflash! The Bolivians may earn little, if you rank the countries in the world in terms of wealth. But things there are incredibly cheap as a result, so people are generally not about to topple from hunger at any moment. Charging for a room with a separate charge for the shower just smacks of downright exploitation to me.

Just like we would complain if airlines charge for check-in baggage, we should also have every right to be upset when showers are not part of a package when you book a room in a hotel. In fact, the airlines have more right to charge for bags as far as I am concerned. Because there are these airlines who will really go bankrupt if they do not rein in their costs, and then thousands of jobs will be lost.

Our friend, the Granny Smith Bandit, calls this the white supremacist talking. I call this valuing the money I earned through my own hard work. But if these uppity tourists think that they can buy Bolivia out of poverty by purchasing toilet paper and going to pee, then be my guest.

Oh, and give that lady guarding the toilet a hug while you're at it. I'm sure she's trembling with gratitude at your generosity and that you're helping to ensure that she spends the next 50 years of her life cleaning up after people like you.

"So what do the people here eat for breakfast?!"

We were sitting in the restaurant area of our guesthouse in M
indo, Ecuador, where some guests from the US were having a conversation with the guesthouse owners over dinner.

Lady Guest: "Do you have cafes that sell things like muffins and bagels here? You know, like Dunkin Donuts?"

Owner: "Dunkin Donuts? Not here, in Quito yes, but not in the smaller towns."

Lady Guest: "Oh! Then what do the people here eat for breakfast?!"

Us: ?!?!?!?!

Does she really think that all the local women rise at 4am every morning, don their cotton aprons and frilly bonnets, knead dough by candlelight, stick twigs
through the dough, and hold them over an open fire till dawn breaks? Better yet, they hold hands and sing campfire songs while waiting for the bread to bake?

Well NO, silly silly lady! They buy bread from bakeries equipped with modern electric ovens. Just like everyone else. And please, only people with unhealthy eating habits scoff down muffins, bagels and Dunkin Donuts for breakfast every day.

Rubbish goes into my mouth...and comes out of yours. Meh meh mehhh!


Rhys said...

I think Lichtenstein might be the smallest country in the world

Dannie said...

Haha... I was just discussing this with the wife over dinner. Or was it lunch? Hmm. Anyways, we were saying that when we did our Caribbean cruise, we actually visited a couple of islands that are independent. They are so small that while each country has its own sovereignty, the administration seems to be shared. They are the islands of St Kitts and Nevis. But apparently, Vatican City is the smallest!

Yeepster said...

Yes, and budget airlines are very poor then! Let's start charity for them...heehee... Often works out more expensive (for 2 persons) to stay in hostel than a double room in a nice hotel.

Dannie said...

Yeepster: South America is a little unique in that sense. We've gotten pretty good deals for private rooms, but with shared bathrooms too!

P. Chong said...

BTW, smallest country in the world is the Vatican City...yes, it is a full fledged country.

Dannie said...

Hi P.Chong,

Yup, that's what I found out too. Lichtenstein is no. 6 smallest!

Water filter said...

I enjoy a lot you traveling experience. thanks for sharing it. I also don't know that Singapore is the smallest country of the world.

Dannie said...

Water filter: Oh no, Singapore is NOT the smallest country in the world. It has already been revealed in our other comments that the Vatican City is the smallest country in the world!

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