The Naive Tourist - CycleBlaze

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The Naive Tourist

Steve Miller/Grampies

I came across a video blog by a young man from Hyderabad. He was on a visit to Taipei to tour the ASUS headquarters. The blog begins as he leaves his hotel to see what kind of food might be around.  'Oh wow, McDonald's, and even Starbucks", he exclaims. "And look, KFC!".  He goes to KFC and gets a chicken burger, dragging it back to his hotel room to see what he got. He is intrigued by the KFC bag, written in Chinese, the fact that a napkin was included in the bag, and the small size of the burger. And he reviewed the price in Taiwan dollars, making the conversion to rupees. Plus,  clearly as a Hindu,  he was glad to confirm that his burger was indeed chicken, despite the fact that the restaurant staff did not speak English, at all!

I found this attention to what to him was a foreign language, script, and currency endearing. But Dodie was not impressed. Nobody can or should be that naive, she asserted. So I checked, and found 15 or so KFC's in Hyderabad. But of course, none of them write their bags in Chinese.

This episode made me think about my own blogs. "Oh look", I may write, "a bakery!", in France! I adamantly maintain that if finding a bakery in France is part of the magic and wonder of cycle touring there, for me, it is fair game for blogging. It's like Scott Anderson photographing a cactus (or many cacti) in Arizona, and so many thousands of similar examples through Cycleblaze. I think it's great. But is noting the napkin in a KFC bag going too far?

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2 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauTo Steve Miller/Grampies

 Aha! A forum topic in which I feel like I have some expertise.  I once referred to myself as America's most naive bike tourist in one of my journals and I was only half-joking.  I really did feel naive in terms of touring experience, bike terminology and, especially, bike parts & components & high tech gear.

Even now I embrace a little naivete by not planning my tours too much.  That way, almost everything becomes an "Oh, look, a bakery in France" moment.  Or a "this is one freaky cactus" moment.  Or a "check out those really old buildings" moment.  Or a "how the heck did I get into this amazing canyon" moment.  Or, in my case, a "look at my Cheetoes fingers" moment after eating half a bag of them at my campsite. 

I admit to playing up the naivete angle, just as I think that guy from Hyderabad probably did.  I mean, really?  Napkins?  Nobody could be THAT naive, could they?  If that was his schtick, I dig it.  

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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Yes, I think it’s going too far; but maybe it’s because I hate KFC.  Rachael is still mad at me because once in Japan I refused to eat at a perfectly fine KFC and steered us to a plastic food shop instead (one of those where they have plastic food replicas on display outside).

Now cacti are a different situation.  I don’t think you could ever have too many cactus photos, even if they’re an expected sight.   they just add color without blocking any views.

Or cows.

Or French bakeries.

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2 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott Anderson

Ah,  now there is  a potentially productive tangent - things you can't have too many photos of.  Cacti, cows, and bakeries are worthy founding categories. Then of course there are churches, flowers, other touring cyclists, ....

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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/Grampies

And birds.   And snakes and lizards.  And cats.  And summit signs.  Ooh, and livestock drives.  I could never get tired of sheep and goat drives.

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2 weeks ago
Graham SmithTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Steve I also have recently and naively interacted with a chicken dish in Taiwan.

Not KFC but a uniquely Taiwanese huge chicken roadside eating place.

I’m still not clear why we ended up with a whole roast chicken with head and feet, and a double set of gloves. 

https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/taiwan/its-a-tad-windy-9d7/#19531_bd02f0b1rzp1anwe8q7kq3by55k

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2 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Maybe it’s the amusement of seeing a familiar brand with unknown characters. The Coca-Cola logo in Thai is recognizable but with Thai characters, a master of graphic design, actually. There is a feeling that you have entered an alternate universe, recognizable but completely foreign. We check out local Pringles flavors in Thai grocery stores. Squid!?! We are not in Kansas anymore! Maybe we’re just not very worldly but we are easily delighted by the strange contexts of this sort of thing.

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2 weeks ago
John PescatoreTo Andrea Brown

Back in the late 1970s, on my first job out of college,  I had a work trip to Cologne, Germany where all week I ate dinner at local's houses or German restaurants and stayed in a hotel that had traditional-type breakfasts (ie, stuff I never in my life ate for breakfast). I managed to do some long bicycle rides over the weekend on a loaner bike and ate more German food. Lots of meat, lots of sauces, lots of cabbage - which I had never even seen before! The only beef my mother ever served was hamburgers or steak very well done -none of this was close to that.

I was never an adventurous eater, still am not. By the end of the week, I just wanted a hamburger. Walked through Colgne until I found a restaurant with menus with black and white pictures of a hamburger, saw one with "ananas" which I naively assumed were onions - and my hamburger came with pineapple on it!!

I told that story at work the next morning and they said "If you really want a familiar hamburger, just go to McDonalds, they opened one a few miles from where you are staying." I walked there and sat at some outdoor seating eating a somewhat familiar hamburger (I think it had mayonnaise on it!) next to a family speaking a language close to English - they turned out be Scottish.

We chatted and they told me they drove here from the next town over - because they really wanted some Scottish food and McDonalds had been started by a Scottish entrepreneur. 

I think most travelers fit the naive profile!

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2 weeks ago
John SaxbyTo Scott Anderson

I could never get tired of sheep and goat drives.

Just for you, Scott:  Rhamblin' up the Rhine in mid-Sept. 2012, just entering Köln on a calm Saturday morning on the west bank of the historic river, when through a gap in the wall separating us from the flood plain came, of all things, a surging woolly torrent.  My friend David, just ahead, turned around and yelled, "We're flocked!"

We're flocked! Bikepath traffic in Köln -- and Canadians get fussed about urban chickens!!??
A torrent of sheep--new collective noun?
And still it continues in full spate...
...and subsides at last

There must have been at least 3000 or so -- ten across, at a trot for some 15 minutes. Three shepherds and a couple of sheepdogs.  No-one was fussed, and all I could say was, "Sehr schön!"

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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo John Saxby

that’s so wonderful.  That’s larger than any sheep drive I remember seeing.  I’m surprised by the location too - it’s not a region I associate with something like this.I’m especially impressed with the little kid with the stick keeping them on task.

Btw, I think I owe you a response.  It took awhile to figure it out, but Gaspe didn’t make the cut this year after all.

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2 weeks ago