Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Eurotrip de Manière Chinoise

When I was travelling in Italy I always tried to sneak into museums for free by pretending to be a member of those large packs of Chinese or Japanese tourists. Though somehow they always caught me - I blame it on my height. But have you ever wondered what it feels like to travel in those groups with matching hats and a guide carrying a small flag or umbrella as a rallying point? The New Yorker's Evan Osnos recently travelled across Europe on a bus with Chinese tourists and wrote an article about it. The result is a wonderful discussion about the subtle differences between Chinese and Westerners.
the myth that a richer China would soon become a Western, democratic China has rarely looked more frayed than it does today. But if it was naïve to imagine that China’s opening up would draw it close to the West, it is also naïve, perhaps, to dismiss the power of more subtle changes. Modern Chinese travel, like the modern Chinese state, is predicated on the fragile promise that it will impose order on a chaotic world, by shepherding its citizens and keeping them safe from threats that can include Western thieves and Western cuisine.