Globalisation takes the fun out of travel

Exactly who is that we have to thank for globalisation? Someone with good intentions, I imagine: noble it is indeed to set about ensuring that every place in the world a common standard of health care and child protection laws. Globalisation has meant that NGOs have more influence as they have been able to build coalitions in so many countries.

For my part, I have been very grateful to find clean bottled water and Panadol at some of the most remote places on earth. This is a less obvious outcome of globalisation but it has made life more comfortable.

Unfortunately for the traveller, not to mention the inhabitants of these remote and beautiful places, where one finds road rules and somewhat satisfactory health care one will also find this:

UAE

 

Italy

 

China

 

Japan

 

Taiwan

 

Qatar

What is it about that sinister black fizzy pop in the shiny red can? Must our mustard be Heinz? Doesn’t anyone ever get sick of a Big Mac ? Thing seem to be getting worse: we let McDonald’s go from having 5,000 outlets in 1979 to opening almost 32,000 in 2011. I do remember travelling in the days before you could buy Coca-cola in every country, when one couldn’t find a blueberry in Laos and when noone watched The X Factor on telly. I don’t think people I met were any worse off than they are today and life was perhaps a bit more exciting.

There is some comfort for human beings in uniformity. I also prefer Branston pickles and I have grown accustomed to using Colgate Total over the years but perhaps importing all these foreign products and franchises means I see less and less of these:

 

Morocco

 

Taiwan

 

Japan

 

Cuba

 

Greece

 

You see, we can appreciate the beauty in things that are not the same as everything else.

If we can’t have any foreign influences then without destroying the culture and industry of our neighbours around the world then I will switch toothpastes. I will forsake my cheese and pickle sandwiches. It’s worth the sacrifice as far as I can see, who needs Evian when we can boil our water? The world is such a weird. vibrant, exciting place which expires and teaches me every day – I don’t want to miss my chance to experience Tibet or Nigeria because I was too busy at the Travelex office or KFC and never got to meet any real people.After spending several months on the road in Asia, Europe and the Middle East I am sick of everything being the same. Especially Europe! The long reach of the EU means that a lot of lovely little places have lost their charm. I was looking at my photos last week and wondering “is this Greece, Croatia or Italy? Maybe Turkey?” With the same currencies, laws, bottled water, McDonald’s, H&M, Mercedes and Citibank abounding I could be in Japan instead of Argentina or Canada instead of Hong Kong. There is something perverse about that.

I am sure there is a happy medium somewhere – can anyone think of a place that has managed to preserve its culture and industry without totally cutting out foreign influence? Any ideas about this? Does anyone know of any such movements similar to Intrepid Travel to show travellers how to traveller in a local way, support the locals and have real experiences.

As for me, I am going to keep on doing it my way: rabies shot yes, Starbucks no, maximum intergration with the locals to learn what they have to offer and then off to find the next remarkable place. Happy travels to you, dear reader. Please make sure you take a stroll down the back streets of Mumbai or Moscow for lunch on your next trip and have an authentic experience. Sanitation isn’t everything.

One response to “Globalisation takes the fun out of travel

  1. Agreed.I avoid any shop/ cafe that I can go to at home. Starbucks seems to be even more prolific than MacDonalds.

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