dimanche 29 avril 2018

Tourist Advice: Thank you for not coming

Tourist Advice: Thank you for not coming
With the advent of cheaper airfares across the world, there has been an explosion in tourism, an added factor being the throngs of the Chinese now able to travel as the other middle class in developing countries join them.
Lately there has been news that certain countries, mainly Thailand and Philippines are considering giving some of their beach resorts “a holiday from the tourists”, Boracay now is closed for tourists in Philippines, affecting flights to Kalibo.
For people who have been perennially travelling, these mass temporary migrations of tourists have only brought on headaches. I am so glad they are travelling but they are also ruining a lot and leave a trail of trash, plastic bottles and destruction while they return to their homelands. I am certain that the majority of the tourists from India or China have no thoughts about the destruction caused by their weight (it is becoming literally too, as both Chinese and Indians are becoming fat).
I can only write about how this has affected me personally. I will concentrate on the city that I “live” in and also the airports and flights and airfares.
(at home in Havana, Cuba)
Havana Cuba used to get relatively small number of tourists until Americans were allowed to come (don’t get me wrong, they are welcome). American government usually vitriolic in their pronouncements about their humble neighbor, did not stop cruise ships or flights proliferating while thundering propaganda put fear into Americans coming to the island.
Cruise ships that were a rare sight before the Americans began appearing at the legendary wharf of Havana on a regular basis as berthed whales taking a break while 4000 tourists were put down for few hours to wander through the oldest of the Spanish colonial cities of the continent, 500 years. On occasions there would be two cruise ships and the trouble is doubled.
I no longer venture into Old Havana where the majority of the tourists congregate while the enterprising Cubans hover over them like a skulk of foxes, sucking the last of the dollar possible.
When foreigners are visiting me, on their first visit, I may take them for a short visit to the Old Havana area, and point out the relevant architectural or historic gems but spirit them away to the tranquility of other Havana sights, spared of the selfie-mad crowd.
On their second visit, I will not go or encourage my friends to go to the following sites:
Old Havana
Vinales full of tourist traps including people dressed as Indians
Varadero, beautiful beach but with the usual tourist traps
Trinidad, a colonial town now a colossal thief
Cuba is a large island with thousands of little gems of villages and natural sites, but tourists like the doomed moths attracted to light, gather at these very same sites, to the glee of my cunning Cuban brothers and sisters.
(Minnesota Mon Amour)
May May Beach in Thailand receive 4000 visitors a day, the attraction? De Caprio was there? Is that a reason for such a deluge?
Many of the beach resorts in Thailand are in danger of overcrowding and I advise you to avoid them. Phuket Pattaya Hoi An anything starting with KO, cities where the main airlines flying into are Low Cost ones such as Larnaca in Cyprus… my own prejudices I suppose.
(an occasional cigar with my american indian friends)
In the rich countries the places in danger are fragile places like Venice or Florence.
One list that I keenly follow is any that begins with:
Ten Best places to visit in 2018
Lonely Planets List of places to visit
Must see places
And then carefully avoid them
Fortunately my favourite places are in no danger of being over run by tourists because of lack of interest or budget such as Rapa Nui (I wish the Chileans wont come and stay but go home to their country!), parts of South America such as the Amazon River basin and of course I have Cuba with its private places.
(staff at Bristow's Bistro Fort Cochin)
Fort Cochin is not going to be overcrowded, would be nice if the Kashmiri Muslims would pack their pashminas and leave. Even Malaysia is not crowded with tourists and is one of the best places to visit in SE Asia. India and Indonesia are both too crowded for me and I know that Japan would always welcome me.
Whenever someone says OFF THE BEATEN TRACK, you know they are innocent buyers of some Lonely Planet propaganda. You don’t have to search for the track OFF; the track is very close to where you are.
In Havana, we say, you can walk along the streets and miss every thing if you don’t keep your eyes open, because Life is happening right in front of you.
Enough of ranting and raving!
(my favourite seat  1K on Qatar Airways)
Flying to get to places has become easier but the comfort level has decreased. The old mantra is extricating yourself from the crowds: find ways of flying comfortably and ensconce yourself in lounges at airports.
My favourite airline without doubt is Qatar Airways and the Lounges that I enjoy on a regular basis are, in no particular order
Al Mourjan Lounge Doha
Flagship Lounge MIA JFK ORD DFW

Centurion Lounge MIA SFO PHL 
I am happy to be in a Lounge at an airport whether Bogota or Brussels (Latam in Bogota and Brussels Airlines Lounge in Bruselas)

Lately I have come to enjoy hotels and sometimes some of them have become destinations to relax, it is nice to be pampered by staff that you have known for a while.
Bristow Bungalow Fort Cochin
Double Tree by Hilton in KL

Beyond Yangon in Siem Reap
Amazon BnB in Leticia, Colombia

This photo of Hotel Amazon Bed & Breakfast is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Marriott Marquis in Doha
(Guest Relations Manager at Marriott Marquis)
 (a friend from Kyrgyzstan in Doha)
(view from the Executive Lounge at Hilton Hotel in Doha)

In 2007 I had published even though it was written a decade earlier about Maqroll El Gaviero Judio   the vagrant Jew
On receiving a note from the Malabar coast that home of an aging Jew was about to be passed on to him, he imagined himself ensconced there, waited on by thin Malabari Moslems who questioned their faith, with his traveling companion, the Prince of Palms and the little girl who loved him so much that she continually adoringly attached herself to other lovers in faraway lands she dreamt of visiting with him. Making vagrancy a profession young people all over the world could aspire to, he plans to convert the 700 year old synagogue, when it is not in use, of course, into a Museum of Vagrant Peoples where others may find refuge from the restriction imposed upon them by their fear of being alive
(sleeping on my way to Narita)

Yes my aspiration in life seems to have come to fruition
Now ensconced in various lounges and aircraft cabins around the world, learning a taste for Champagne as well as Teh Tahrek, I have settled into a peripatetic life of vagrancy
I have no home
But I have rooms in the hearts of many people around the world.
Tourists are not among  of those People
 (Billecart-Salmon and cabin crew from Sao Paolo)
Qatar Airways is my favourite airline, with friendliest cabin crews from around the world, she is from South Korea.

dear friends
I am enjoying SLOW TRAVEL ..no agenda no itineraries and no destination either..
I will leave in KL in a couple of days, I think?