Posts Tagged ‘tourist’

Our little perch in Bangkok is surrounded by a wide green space. I can smell the Gulf of Thailand on the morning breeze. The rising sun resembles an expanding supernova. Bird song and Soi Dogs are the melody of this neighborhood. 7 AM and already 90 degrees F. I hung our towels out last night and they haven’t dried. Humidity during this late monsoon month is well over 100%. What a shock to have transitioned so completely from Dallas in such a short time. We were away two years and it feels like we never left. This is the anniversary of my 40th year of coming to Thailand.

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Our flight out of Vancouver to Dallas has been cancelled for the fourth day running. As American Airlines tries to reschedule it’s massive network of flights and clear up the back log of stranded passengers, Vancouver is an after thought for the schedulers right now. Even though other international flights are beginning to land at DFW after the massive ice storm …flights from Vancouver are getting the rump treatment….think of that next time you try and fly out of this place if there has been a disaster…..Vancouver is the last place that flights will start up again…as our experience has shown us. My advice..be prepared for a long stay…and remember…hotels, car rentals and restaurants are hyper expensive in Vancouver. The airlines do not give you vouchers for weather delay and the entire cost of being stranded will be borne by the stranded.

We’re not aware of YVR giving any comfort to stranded passengers during the three day delays. In Dallas they have given out thousands of cots, toys and food vouchers…Vancouver has given the hundreds of stranded passengers nothing that I saw while there. YVR, for those of you who know it, is one of the least comfortable airports and most disorganized or welcoming  on the planet. There are no suitable stations or special areas ( like Singapore has for ex) where passengers with long stopovers can make themselves comfortable. YVR is cavernous and barn like. It’s just one long cold hallway with no comfortable chairs or suitable areas for children or passengers in distress.

The only attached hotel starts at $240 per night if you need a shower. Arrivals are chaotic and there is no visible information for the first time traveler to know where the transportation access points are. The few signs there are tell the traveler nothing about which buses to take or where the teensy train goes. Frankly the train looks like a model left over from a tourist attraction. Oh..and YVR…thanks for letting the newly arrived traveler have to be greeted by the smokers at the front exit…..nice welcome…not.

This is a typical experience for anyone coming to Canada. It’s all smiles until there’s an issue..then they turn on you…and you realize that you don’t matter. Thats the true face of the Canadian experience.

The entire network of air traffic headed south came to a halt on Friday. Dallas Fort Worth in particular was hit by a massive early season ice storm. This is so unusual in Texas that the emergency administrations panicked and stuck their collective heads in the sand. The feeder airports like Vancouver, where we got stuck, can fly, but they have no destination to fly to, and that has caused thousands to be stranded in the airports overnight. Travelers are hard hit because airlines don’t give hotel vouchers for weather related delays. Hence there were thousands of people forced to sleep in the airports overnight….4000 in Dallas-Fort Worth alone.

Our being stranded in Vancouver for two extra days gives me a chance to get a good look at the city again. I can’t believe how miserable people really are here. There is no Christmas cheer. Say ‘Merry Christmas’ and you’re more likely to get a growling response about how crappy someones life is…or how much they want to get out. The cities famous road rage is whacked. There is zero courtesy on the roads. A simple drive to the grocery store yields people of all ages, races and attributes shouting at each other, honking, cutting one another off, failing to yield. If this was a sole indicator of peoples attitudes in a city then Vancouver deserves the reputation of ‘Road Rage Capital of the World‘…..what a bunch of assholes…seriously.

We’ve learned not to tell people we’re from somewhere nice. The mention that you’re heading out and you’ll instantly see the face of a Vancouverites turn sour. people seem genuinely angry if you have someplace better to go. I’ve been watching the local television stations for the past few days and I’m thinking that people here are being programmed to be as miserable as they are. There are two glaring aspects to the television offerings…one is the numbing number of murders, rapes, incidents of violence, police shooting citizens and getting off scot free 100% of the the time.

Everyone talks of how they neither trust the police or government and of how they’ve lost their faith in receiving justice, about fatal accidents, home invasion robberies, desperate families, starving children, poverty, grasping, needy, jealous, envious, rat and cockroach populations, breakout of maggots, bedbug infestations, polluting the harbour with raw sewage, arrogant civil servants telling people they’re stupid…things like that…there are no good news stories. A constant diet of these kinds of negative stories could be part of the problem. People might begin to see that they are being attacked from every side. With bad news inundating you from all sides, every day, I’d expect a person would come to expect a miserable outcome from every day activities. People get absolutely furious if you tell them their $45 dollar holiday turkey costs $12 in the USA. No one except the elite civil service has enough money to live at all well here…and everyone is furious that food and clothing in the US is a third the price….but ask why and the same people say “Its the high wages we pay government workers’.

The other prominent aspect of the news barrage is covetousness at it’s most raw. The television stations rotates possessions, hate fueled political diatribe, lottery wins, media stars with multimillion dollar salaries, expensive homes and the like that must have the effect of making people feel like inadequate losers. Together it is this characteristic which is most prominent in Vancouver’s population. People present themselves as mean, greedy, grasping, jealous, envious, burdened with dislike for the people around them and generally hate  for life outside themselves.

Another thing that is obvious is the failure of the multicultural experiment. You see ethnicities aligned against each other…there is no assimilation towards the greater good. Each ethnicity is distinctly separate…in isolated race ghetto’s, each with their own media, that appears to race bait one another without any blow-back from the administration….as if the separation exists on purpose. You’ll get the impression that a sanctioned state of apartheid exists is regulated by the government.

Poverty is increasing in Vancouver. The facade of middle income sanctuary is a myth. There is a thin layer of richly paid civil servants wrapped around a miserable rotting core. Child poverty is at it’s highest in Vancouver. Seniors are starving due to the high cost of living. Young families are the fastest growing segment of Food Bank clients. People who live in million dollar houses are sending their children to school hungry. 85% of income goes to pay mortgages. Credit debt is now the highest in the world with a debt/income ratio at 180% of disposable income. Those luxury goods advertised on TV are driving people into fits of dissonance. When people see that their civil servants being paid like international elites, four and five times what an average worker makes…of course it results in road rage and general incivility.

I have to laugh at the constant advertisements that describe Vancouver as ‘the best place on earth’. Thats something you’ll never hear on the streets of this city. Every one I’ve talked to wants to get the hell out….myself included.

I arrived in Vancouver last night. From the air the city reminds me of a weeping fistula. When I see the glass towers I am reminded of anal warts. I am constantly reminded of the millions of gallons of raw untreated sewage and toxic hospital waste that spills out into the polluted waters. It’s as if a little piece of hell broke through and now sits festering on the surface between the ocean and circling mountain. I know closer up I will see the thousands of homeless, addicts and mentally ill people who control the streets below. Between the drug fueled gangland violence ruling the nightclub scene and the unchecked police shootings of innocent citizens the inner city is no place I want to be these days.

Propaganda aside….this city is one sick puppy. people are miserable and it shows. There is no friendliness or compliments, the people I pass look suspicious and sullen. Are they jealous we’ve escaped and do they envy us our travel? I listen to passing conversations and I’m reminded of growling dogs. I know there’s an enforced hierarchy here, the rich civil servants and the poor working class. Is grinding personal poverty at the root of Vancouver’s cranky masses? After all, credit debt has reached the astronomical level of 170% of disposable income. Housing takes an average of 84% of a workers wage….are these people hungry? I know that child poverty rates are skyrocketing. People who live in million dollar homes are sending their children to school hungry and without food. Is this why crimes of violence are so common here?

Describing the US as  violent and gun crazed  is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The differance is that more legal gun ownership is the case in the US and in Canada the same number of guns are in the hands of violent criminals. Knives, hammers and hands are the weapons of choice among the rolls of offenders in Vancouver’s courts. The crimes are ugly and personal. Vancouver is a much more violent place per capita than Dallas…for example. Theres no doubt that Vancouver has an extreme incident count of rape and stands as the road rage capital of the planet.

We exist on a reputation that is long since passed. The propaganda machine of the elites who run things spends billions advertising on the back of a corpse. The cities civil service royals spend millions on planning pleasant bike lanes through public places when children , seniors and the under privileged shiver and starve. Vancouver they say in the ads…is the best place on earth,  except nowhere outside the reach of the tightly controlled local media machine will you ever hear this nonsense repeated. It takes only minutes after landing at YVR to realize that the myth of a friendly, welcoming, inclusive Canada doesn’t exist.

Step off the plane and  I am reminded of a death camp, there are no greetings or signals of welcome. Of course there is no car rental kiosk in the airport, we’re forced out into the rain and onto a dark causeway to find our way without signs. Once there, the service is abysmal. I can speak with some authority. I have been to the worst and most dangerous countries on the planet and have never witnessed as horrendous level of customer service as we do when we arrive in Vancouver.

Stay in Vancouver and you quickly see that the second myth of inclusive multiculturalism is a joke. Vancouver is a network of ethnic ghettos where interaction is impossible and not welcomed….people don’t mix…there is no common bond or integration…it’s everyone for themselves.  Ethnic divisions are strictly regulated by the elite politicians who farm the ghetto’s for votes. Government employment and welfare is  meted out by ethnicity…never by merit. Indian hates white, Chinese hate Indian, Mainland Chinese and Cantonese share no love for one another and will not tolerate the physical presence of the other. Muslim, Hindu and the other various odd ball sects avoid contact with anyone who doesn’t share the cult of slavery they impose upon one another . Vancouver is more like an old whore in bad light than a fresh faced princess. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

November is a month that brings change to thousands of peoples lives who live in northern latitudes. Call them snowbirds or escapee’s, they all have one thing in common, a driving compulsion to leave the northern latitudes for sunny southern climates. The exodus of Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, is as predictable as the migration of birds. Leaving Canada or Finland for the winter months has become a cultural norm… a statement of your financial status. Those left behind are considered ‘unfortunate’.

Suntan holidays became popular when soldiers returning from the tropics after WWII arrived home from the Pacific with ‘sunshine skin’.  There was a huge demographic shift  in the late 1940’s when rural populations moved en mass to the cities. The balance flipped from 80%  rural and 20% urban to the exact opposite. The changing economy and increased post war wealth introduced a new aspect to the North American culture…recreation. Suntans on the streets of New York and London became a status symbol. It said you could afford to get away.

It was fashion mavin Coco Chanel that put tropical leisure on the map for the masses. She appeared on the cover of Life magazine sporting a suntan. This was a shocking display at that time, rather like a Lady Gaga moment. The confluence of adventure seeking ex-soldiers, sudden wealth and a new found societal acceptance of sunburn bloomed into a tourism crush in between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. It was suddenly cool and possible to winter in Mexico and the Caribbean. Aviation technology produced long range commercial passenger planes and locations like Hawaii and the South Pacific became accessible.  The cruise ship and retirement community industries were born.

In November the Boomer generation of Europe flock by the million to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the North Americans focus is on Florida, Mexico and S.E. Asia. The post war economy has been very generous to the Boomer generation. It was a time when education and competition for seats in university was cheap and easy. Industries were still wanting for a few good men and opportunity for advancement was abundant. Inflation has made many Boomers rich with the passive holding of real estate investments. A prosperous and beneficial retirement is within sight for a great many  because defined pension benefits were once the norm.

We take the tourism industry for granted but it didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until the advent of ‘sunshine skin’ that it became possible to visit the undeveloped islands and continents of the third world. Now when  millions of tourists flock south for the winter they have forgotten the struggles of a preceding generation who didn’t enjoy the access to infrastructure available today. I shouldn’t take for granted that I can fly to Mallorca or Bangkok on a whim, because it wasn’t always  so easy. When the cold wind begins to blow we should thank a diminutive fashion mavin named Coco for the birth of modern tourism and the post war economic boom that produced the incredible wealth and leisure we enjoy.

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I’ve seen where  people go wrong. They fade into  the misery of a life unfulfilled, as if living is a pulp fiction novel that must reconcile predictably.  Trish and I surmounted every false dictum society set in our way.  We did the parenting, the home buying, the career chasing, and the suburban drudgery…. We managed to avoid the usual traps of china figurine collecting, filling a garage with useless junk and hunkering down to wait for old age. We are self-made, having relied on no one and never having received an inheritance by waiting for someone to die. The trouble with inheritance cases as I have observed is that they always live the rest of their lives knowing they haven’t deserved or earned what they possess. Our fight for success has given us self-confidence and we enjoy the crap out of what we’ve earned. Trust me… enjoying yourself when you can stand on your own two feet is the best revenge. If you’re past middle age and you’re not having fun… you’ve done something wrong. It’s late September here in Dallas and life is good.

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My how time flies. July is our one year anniversary in Dallas Texas. Honestly, it was a year of unexpected bliss. Texans are wonderful hosts, the place is easy going. We are still discovering new things to do. The media is hard on Texas because of it’s independence …but the truth is people are generally doing well. The Dallas art scene is wild. They love writers. Like a lot of people I had typical outsider misconceptions before I came here. I have even lost friends and readers (who’ve never been here)  sure that I must be wrong about my reporting’s….but the truth is a person can have a pretty sweet time of it here and much of the media diatribe is political bias and false.

I never expected to be here this long. My life has been lifted out of the mundane by a force I can’t explain. The work I have been doing has resulted in a new novel…13 Angels….currently in publication and should be available to the public soon. Writing a novel is a labor of love. The project has consumed many hours of every day over a period of a year and a half. Texas has been a warm fuzzy blanket that has allowed me the focus I needed to get the book done…..and I am thankful for that. My work is surreal dystopia. Please feel free to review any of my books on Amazon and Kindle.

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