Thursday, 15 November 2018

Traveller letters: The truth about the ‘stupid American’ stereotype

Traveller letters: The truth about the ‘stupid American’ stereotype
18 Aug


I am writing in response to recent letters in Traveller letters describing travellers’ experiences with ignorant Americans.

I spent three weeks travelling around California, Utah and Arizona whilst based on the outskirts of Healdsburg in northern California.

During that time I encountered many ordinary Americans, none of whom had never heard of Australia, confused Australia with Austria or believed that kangaroos hopped down George Street, Sydney.

Without exception their faces lit up when I told them that I came from Australia. A large percentage of the people I encountered had fathers who had served in Australia during the war.

I had set off for the US believing the stereotypical American was fat, ignorant, badly dressed and loud. All of these proved to be false, though I did observe an awful lot of overweight Americans which seemed to prove the truth of that stereotype until I returned home and found that there appeared to be just as many overweight people here.

In my travels I have found national stereotypes to be generally false and would urge travellers not to judge a whole nation by a the deficiencies of a few.

Michael Cullis, Denistone, NSW


In 2010 I was lucky enough to take time to travel in western China and the Silk Road countries of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on a small group tour with World Expeditions.

Reading your cover story, “The Stan Plan” (Traveller, August 4) brought back great memories of that trip.

While I had long anticipated the exotic nature of Kashgar and the west of China, I was smitten by the soaring snowcapped mountains, cold, clean rushing mountain streams and lush green landscapes of Kyrgyzstan (pictured), the landscapes so beautiful you could be forgiven for thinking that you were somewhere in the Swiss Alps.

Being treated to a musical soiree, during a fantastic lunch, by locals using their traditional musical instruments and participating in felt making with locals were absolute highlights. Uzbekistan too was a highlight with the beautiful madrassas, markets and history of Genghis Khan, Timur, and Tamerlane. The Registan, although largely re-built was humbling, and the locals were welcoming and friendly. Our guide who was an Uzbeki working for Ak-Sai Travel, was absolutely outstanding but the thing that stood out was the culture.

It was not a luxurious tour. It was gritty, dirty and dusty with long travel days but was jam-packed full of history, culture and eye-watering landscapes and one which I will always remember very fondly.

Vicki Copping, Oatley, NSW


Make of it what you will: as stated  in “The Stan Plan”, the Soviets opened Timur’s crypt in Samarkand in 1941, despite a warning we were told of disaster if the tomb was violated.

Two hours later Samarkand was advised that Nazi Germany had invaded Russia.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla, ACT


I’m just back from Uzbekistan and further to your cover story, Samarkand and Bukhara are more easily reached by fast (230km/h) train from Tashkent.

Rural roads range from terrible to high-quality freeways. Nukus has a gallery full of Soviet art but beware of sandstorms as they contain toxic chemicals left from Soviet weapons testing around the largely dried up Aral Sea.

Stay in the old part of Khiva – walking  at night was wonderful. The country was safe, clean, had no graffiti and the locals were very welcoming.   

Peter Milne, Ormond, VIC


We were alerted during recent travels to not carelessly discard boarding passes, due to the risk of privacy breach from the encoded information.

Confirming this, a simple barcode scanning app showed the six digit e-ticket code of an international boarding pass, which if coupled with a surname grants access to relevant aspects of the itinerary and whatever personal information has been entered online.

Our boarding passes are now retained for shredding.

Michael Daly, Hampton, VIC


Nina Karnikowski ends her description of a night of indulgence in Parte Vieja, San Sebastian, with a hint of the cheesecake that’s to come, but she doesn’t mention where to get it.

No pintxos crawl is complete without a slice from La Vina (one serve more than enough for two). And do ask for the jerez (sherry) to pour over the cheesecake. It is better than any cheesecake I’ve ever tasted.

Joanne Karcz, Dangar Island, NSW


My husband and I have just been travelling through Greece and Scandinavian countries where we have watched many changing of the guards displays with Athens the most flamboyant and fun by far.

They are a huge tourist attraction and very interesting from the point of view of pride displayed and different national styles. Wouldn’t it be great if Australia had one? I wonder what a distinctly Aussie one could look like?

T. Podmore, Cremorne, NSW


I hope no one needs this but it is good to know that fast, efficient and transparent emergency medical service is alive and well in New York City.

On our recent trip I availed myself of my American Express travel insurance and had a pleasing experience with CityMD in Hell’s Kitchen.

I received an appointment within an hour of my phone call, had a consultation, received a referral to Lenox Hill Radiology that afternoon and, by the evening, I had positive follow-up from CityMD.

Whilst our insurer was not able to recommend a specific clinic, our hotel concierge did and I’ve definitely put CityMD contact details in my phone.

Beth Sywulsky, Bywong, NSW


Taking selfies may be the way to remember an experience for some but then they would miss out on the fun of asking someone else to take a photo of you.

I have only been refused a few times, generally along the lines of “I don’t know how to use your camera but my son/daughter/friend does”.

Pick you mark carefully: 80-year-old Japanese women aren’t good photographers. Communication without a common language is not a problem.

Yet without asking for a photo to be taken of us we would never have got to Furano in Hokkaido, Japan, to see the beautiful and free gardens.

A Singapore family showed us their pictures while we were talking, the desire for a photo bringing us together.

The best shot was by an Australian who seeing the view and the angle took a magnificent picture of us sitting on the edge of the Victoria Falls.

The interactions with others is often what gives us the most pleasure in travel.

Claire Rodier. Glen Waverley, NSW

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