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Old 04-20-2015, 11:00 PM   #21
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The world is far more similar now than when I first started some international travel in the 1970s. Remember that back then communication was very slow and very expensive. You could not just phone home, you sent a letter. And how and where would they reply back to you when you were traveling. News was hard to get. English was not as pervasive then as now. More and more I am struck about how far off places are becoming more the same. There were places in China just a dozen years ago where people lined up to take photos with me, because I was so different. Now people that look like me are not even noticed. Just a decade ago in Cambodia there were no shopping malls, cell phones, coffee shops, etc. Now I cannot even find a village where there is no cell phone service, or where you don't see young people with cell phones and internet access even Facebook. The capital city has modern shopping malls, with more planned. College students study in coffee shops with laptops and smart phones. Where they used to sell sugar cane juice and rice soup they now sell coke and pizza. There seems to be no place any longer when you can go and just get lost. I sometimes miss the nostalgia of being really remote and the insecurity you had knowing that you were really alone with no way to communicate. Wait, now when I look back on it, maybe it wasn't so great after all.
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Old 04-21-2015, 02:04 AM   #22
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In my limited experience, more vanilla but other flavors are still available.

The more outside the big cities (or big city attractions), the more flavor Also, although cities might start looking alike a bit more (starbucks, mcd, cell phone, you get it), the people and their behavior are still mighty different. Need to go below the surface though and that's hard to do with short stays as an outsider.

I do find that more and more the adventure part is lost. Could be me seeing more places, or that things have gotten really easy to visit many places. Probably a mix of both?

For OP: Try Antarctica for something completely different.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:28 AM   #23
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I've quit travelling overseas but find plenty of variety here in the US. Heck, just travelling the various neighborhoods of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens gives me enough stimulus. Then I make a trip back home to the lakes of Michigan and it's another world.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:48 AM   #24
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I began to travel as a student in the 1970s, too. I remember in Austria we had to go to the post office to place a long distance call and that no one spoke English. Scarey stuff for a young person away from home for the first time, but I also learned the language well and quickly! Otherwise, the only communication was letter writing on that onion skin type paper where you filled every possible line with tiny script. They must have been very expensive to send.
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:06 AM   #25
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We've always loved to travel, and fortunately still do.
But my impression is that the vanilla parts are a very small subset of the experience in other countries. Sure, you can find very similar things in most places, but generally only if you're looking for them. We prefer to focus on what makes other places different, since that is what makes for a memorable trip.
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:29 AM   #26
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With globalization, and the reach of the Internet, it is true that few places remain isolated. And with the mobility of people, the difference in cultures may get eroded. Speaking of food, one does not have to go to Belgium to taste many of its beers. There was a restaurant in Napa Valley offering Himalayan dishes. And if one wants to, he can learn to make beef tripe the Galancian way, or pay a lot of money to get jamón ibérico, but that's still cheaper than traveling to Spain.

Still, there are many dishes that one can only get by traveling to the locales. Roast suckling pig in Segovia? Loire River eel, or Loire Valley pheasant?

Quebec City and Montreal may not look too different than many US metropolitan areas, but they do have different food. Various pâté and terrines, and the wonderful Lake Brome duck?

And then, the traveler does not take a trek just for food. There's the scenery, of which there's plenty to enjoy and impossible to exhaust, even if one stays within the US border.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:02 AM   #27
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Quebec City and Montreal may not look too different than many US metropolitan areas, but they do have different food. Various pâté and terrines, and the wonderful Lake Brome duck?
Don't forget the poutine.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:02 PM   #28
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I don't think I'll ever come to grips with the world outside my own country. Since we don't travel, the deep seated images are of.. darkened streets of the Casbah... narrow, sinister and crowded, of mud huts, and camels walking the tiny streets... China, and Japan, buildings with paper walls, people in robes, or later, quilted parkas... Eskimos in igloos... "Nanook of the North", Rice Paddies, bars in Casablanca, dikes and windmills in Holland, and coal miner homes in Scotland. Hard to even imagine automobiles or multi story buildings.

It was when Beijing was Peking, Sri Lanka was Ceylon, Myanmar was Burma, Thailand was Siam, and Zimbabwe was Rhodesia... and there weren't any automobies there then, either.

So now, when I see the lights of Shanghai, the panoramas of Dubai, or the ghost cities of China... I see fields of rice, Coolies in grass hats, or people in robes and turbans in an outdoor market.

Literally thousands of years to bring the world to what I recall from the 1950's... to now, when these same countries are almost indistinguisable from the United States.

The only interim adjustment was a ride on the Bullet Train in Tokyo, in 1972.

Vanilla indeed... and I like that better than "the marshmallow world that we live in".
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:15 PM   #29
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Don't forget the poutine.

Egad, now I have to start over.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:40 PM   #30
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..........
It was when Beijing was Peking, Sri Lanka was Ceylon, Myanmar was Burma, Thailand was Siam, and Zimbabwe was Rhodesia.............
So that explains it. I wondered where the heck those places went to.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:50 PM   #31
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I know there are McDonald's and Starbucks in major cities all over the world, but somehow I just don't notice their presence. I don't frequent either in the US, so I gloss over them.

I remember a guide book mentioning the Starbucks location in Vienna, and all I could think was - why would anyone go to a Starbucks for coffee in Vienna?
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:53 PM   #32
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I know there are McDonald's and Starbucks in major cities all over the world, but somehow I just don't notice their presence. I don't frequent either in the US, so I gloss over them.



I remember a guide book mentioning the Starbucks location in Vienna, and all I could think was - why would anyone go to a Starbucks for coffee in Vienna?

When I lived in Tokyo in the early nineties (Yokota AFB) it was common to give driving directions with references to McDonalds, Denny's, Dunkin Donuts and KFC.
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:09 PM   #33
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When I lived in Tokyo in the early nineties (Yokota AFB) it was common to give driving directions with references to McDonalds, Denny's, Dunkin Donuts and KFC.
I guess for visiting Americans those are handy landmarks.

I so don't do fast food in the US, so those places mean nothing to me overseas.

I enjoy taking a break from the US now and then.
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:21 PM   #34
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why would anyone go to a Starbucks for coffee in Vienna?
Wifi? That's the only reason I visited the Starbucks in Montreal. The apartment we rented had the wifi go out and we only had a dumb phone and all our trip planning info was stuck in the cloud.
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:31 PM   #35
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Quebec City and Montreal may not look too different than many US metropolitan areas, but they do have different food. Various pâté and terrines, and the wonderful Lake Brome duck?
Quebec City also has the wonderful PFK - Poulet Frit Kentucky. Amazing stuff. Can't get it anywhere else in the world!



Though it's kinda weird. Their gravy is called "sauce".
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:40 PM   #36
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Just a decade ago in Cambodia there were no shopping malls, cell phones, coffee shops, etc. Now I cannot even find a village where there is no cell phone service, or where you don't see young people with cell phones and internet access even Facebook. The capital city has modern shopping malls, with more planned. College students study in coffee shops with laptops and smart phones. Where they used to sell sugar cane juice and rice soup they now sell coke and pizza.
My in-laws' place in a tiny village in Cambodia.



They have cell phones, but charging them gets tricky without electricity. No running water. Dinner is usually plucked from a tree or plucked after killing it (plus rice of course). It's not quite tribal stone age out there but not too far from it. Needless to say, we hope to visit if we ever make it to Cambodia. Maybe just a day or two. I'd love to show our kids how mom and grandma and all their aunts and uncles lived not that long ago.
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:46 PM   #37
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Wifi? That's the only reason I visited the Starbucks in Montreal. The apartment we rented had the wifi go out and we only had a dumb phone and all our trip planning info was stuck in the cloud.
Lots of the historic cafes in Vienna have free wifi.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:05 PM   #38
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Lots of the historic cafes in Vienna have free wifi.
Yeah, I know. But can you spend 2 euro on a cup of coffee and squat there for six hours without getting thrown out?

An acquaintance of mine is a starbucks addict. She studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence France. And commuted over to Marseille to hit the starbucks. I had the same reaction as you - "What, what? Why? You're in France and you go really far out of your way to visit a starbucks?" (edit to add: she's on the path to very early ER and she might read this forum. If so, hi T! ).

Though I kind of understand. I do like the comfort I get from visiting a McD's abroad. You know exactly what you're going to get and even if there's a language barrier you'll come pretty close to getting what you want.

At a local place, unless they speak English, ordering can be a chore. Sometimes you just want simple and familiar. The inattentiveness of the McD's staff means you probably won't be spoken to in a foreign language and you can sit there and read your guide book or surf on the net for a few minutes in your little pocket of America overseas. Step out the front doors and walk away from the Golden Arches and you're once again back in the urban wilderness of foreign travel.
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Old 04-23-2015, 02:00 AM   #39
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There are McDonald's in many countries, but there are some differences. Instead of filet of fish, it's filet of Lapu-lapu and something different in Manila - McSpaghetti.

And in Japan, there's the ever-popular corn pizza.
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:14 AM   #40
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There are McDonald's in many countries, but there are some differences.
To say the least.
I used to greatly enjoy a beer with my hamburger at a McD in Rio.
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