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Old 04-23-2015, 06:52 AM   #41
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This may be our perception that everything is more Americanized with the fast food. However, another aspect of this is that the entire world has been brought here. When I was growing up there were two ethnic restaurants within 10 miles-Mexican and Chinese. This was in the East Bay. Going to San Francisco to was going to another world-Chinatown, Japantown, and Russian cuisine, and a few others. Indian food and dress we're halfway around the world.

Now in semi-rural PA, we have just about every kind of restaurant except Ethiopian, which can be found not too far away. I have met more people from more parts of the world here than I did in the 90s in Silicon Valley. Just about every part of the world has come here. And they bring their cuisine, their music, there festivals. If I need Indian spices and exotic vegetables, there are two markets within 5 miles. Afghan cuisine-no problem. There is a store specializing in Halal foods and one store of our local chains has been formally dubbed the Kosher store because it is located near our large Orthodox community.

In the last 15 years I have met people from many countries in my work. Bhutan, Nepal, Tunisia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Mali, Somalia, and many other African nations, Ecuador, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

So it may seem more vanilla, but it's also that it's more truly mixed, though not blended. Our culture has been enriched by these influxes but so have many others.

As far as technology reaching places, there is a shanty town outside Naples where most of the shanty houses have satellite dishes!


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Old 04-23-2015, 06:54 AM   #42
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While Burger King has a pretty good veggie burger. At McDonalds you have to go to India.

While McDonald’s may be known for its Big Mac containing two “all-beef patties” in its nearly 33,000 worldwide restaurants, a pair of forthcoming restaurants near religious centers in India will go completely meatless — the first all-vegetarian restaurants in the chain’s 57-year history.

McDonald’s Goes Vegetarian in India | TIME.com
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:19 PM   #43
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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.
This is just so strange to me. I don't get homesick overseas. I find the change so refreshing. I usually have my computer and any familiar things I need are on the Internet which I use at the hotel. Since I don't care for McDonalds or other US fast food restaurants, they don't do anything for me overseas other than clutter the cityscape with their signs.

Ordering food is usually something I learn very quickly overseas and I'm usually looking out for the regional specialties. We're looking forward to sampling the goat cheeses from the Loire valley, and cremant (sparking wine) from a couple of AOC regions. Will take the train to Munster in Alsace to try their famous stinky Munster cheese.

In Vienna when I needed a break from the heavy Austrian food - my tummy wasn't 100% one evening - I headed for a Vietnamese place and had a really nice bowl of pho. In France when I need a break I imagine I'll eat Italian or Asian.
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Old 04-24-2015, 12:44 PM   #44
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This is just so strange to me. I don't get homesick overseas. I find the change so refreshing. I usually have my computer and any familiar things I need are on the Internet which I use at the hotel. Since I don't care for McDonalds or other US fast food restaurants, they don't do anything for me overseas other than clutter the cityscape with their signs.

Ordering food is usually something I learn very quickly overseas and I'm usually looking out for the regional specialties. We're looking forward to sampling the goat cheeses from the Loire valley, and cremant (sparking wine) from a couple of AOC regions. Will take the train to Munster in Alsace to try their famous stinky Munster cheese.

In Vienna when I needed a break from the heavy Austrian food - my tummy wasn't 100% one evening - I headed for a Vietnamese place and had a really nice bowl of pho. In France when I need a break I imagine I'll eat Italian or Asian.
+1 Even though I don't travel overseas now, when I did we always ate the local food 24/7/365 no matter how long we were away from the US. I see little sense in traveling if one is going to try to simulate the US wherever one goes, eat US food, stay around other US tourists, and so on.

Living in Hawaii in the 1960's and later we noticed that phenomenon a lot. Sometimes people would come there from the mainland and then get all upset because it was different in some way from what they were used to; they brought their hometown with them, in their minds. Often they would just do a few tours with groups of tourists and not much else. They'd never get off the beaten track to explore the amazing aspects of Hawaii that they possibly wouldn't find at home, because they were too busy looking for things they missed from back home.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:23 PM   #45
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This may be our perception that everything is more Americanized with the fast food. However, another aspect of this is that the entire world has been brought here. When I was growing up there were two ethnic restaurants within 10 miles-Mexican and Chinese. This was in the East Bay. Going to San Francisco to was going to another world-Chinatown, Japantown, and Russian cuisine, and a few others. Indian food and dress we're halfway around the world.

Now in semi-rural PA, we have just about every kind of restaurant except Ethiopian, which can be found not too far away. I have met more people from more parts of the world here than I did in the 90s in Silicon Valley. Just about every part of the world has come here. And they bring their cuisine, their music, there festivals. If I need Indian spices and exotic vegetables, there are two markets within 5 miles. Afghan cuisine-no problem. There is a store specializing in Halal foods and one store of our local chains has been formally dubbed the Kosher store because it is located near our large Orthodox community.

In the last 15 years I have met people from many countries in my work. Bhutan, Nepal, Tunisia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Mali, Somalia, and many other African nations, Ecuador, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

So it may seem more vanilla, but it's also that it's more truly mixed, though not blended. Our culture has been enriched by these influxes but so have many others.

As far as technology reaching places, there is a shanty town outside Naples where most of the shanty houses have satellite dishes!


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+1 Very well put! Maybe in some ways we are not all becoming more vanilla, but rather, we are all becoming more colorful.
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:12 PM   #46
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I just realized today I:
  • video chatted for 1.5 hours with a friend in Taiwan about his experiences living in Mexico (in preparation for our trip down south)
  • hung out as a family with our friend and her kid who are Japanese nationals
  • FB chatted with my Venezuelan national friend about their kids coming over to play with our kids
  • cooked pad thai for dinner with ingredients imported from Thailand
  • have these sort of international experiences daily and don't really think much about them

Home life is pretty un-vanilla I guess.
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Old 04-24-2015, 09:41 PM   #47
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This is just so strange to me. I don't get homesick overseas. I find the change so refreshing. I usually have my computer and any familiar things I need are on the Internet which I use at the hotel. Since I don't care for McDonalds or other US fast food restaurants, they don't do anything for me overseas other than clutter the cityscape with their signs.

Ordering food is usually something I learn very quickly overseas and I'm usually looking out for the regional specialties. We're looking forward to sampling the goat cheeses from the Loire valley, and cremant (sparking wine) from a couple of AOC regions. Will take the train to Munster in Alsace to try their famous stinky Munster cheese.

In Vienna when I needed a break from the heavy Austrian food - my tummy wasn't 100% one evening - I headed for a Vietnamese place and had a really nice bowl of pho. In France when I need a break I imagine I'll eat Italian or Asian.
+1 We also love to eat the local food and go to the local eating places.

You are going to love Munster, and not just for the cheese,. We stopped there for a couple of hours in 2013, mainly to buy cheese as we were staying in a gite a couple of hours drive away in Lorraine. Beautiful city, and when we were there there were stork nests everywhere on the rooftops, with chicks in the nests. (This was in July)
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Old 04-25-2015, 02:07 PM   #48
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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.
Great photo! How long ago was it taken? Things are changing there fast, but more slowly in the provinces. Cambodia is certainly worth a trip, we just came back from 3 months there. Will be especially interesting for you if your wife still has relatives living there. About the plucking and eating, we sometimes see a chicken in a small inverted basket in the front yard, the kids playing with it in the morning, and having it for dinner in the evening. In many ways life is more real there, we are not so separated from all the aspects of food, living and dying there as we are here. Very worthwhile trip when you can make it, and in the off season (the best months actually in my opinion) you can get airfares half what they are otherwise. As I mentioned we were there 3 months, we wouldn't have minded staying there another three or more (except it started to get into the hot season).
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Old 04-25-2015, 03:06 PM   #49
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Oh yes you can order one coffee and squat at a traditional Viennese coffee house for hours and hours and hours. People were doing that long before Starbucks and the current coffee house craze. Whole books have been written and revolutions planned in Viennese coffee houses by now famous or infamous people That's why they have all those newspapers on the long sticks, for leisurely reading. However, that said I am also guilty of sitting in a Starbucks in Vienna and loving every second of it. Amazingly there is now one on Kartnerstrasse across from der Oper. I was there three weeks ago and sat for several hours just people watching and enjoying the amazing view and amazing location!
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:53 PM   #50
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Great photo! How long ago was it taken? Things are changing there fast, but more slowly in the provinces. Cambodia is certainly worth a trip, we just came back from 3 months there. Will be especially interesting for you if your wife still has relatives living there. About the plucking and eating, we sometimes see a chicken in a small inverted basket in the front yard, the kids playing with it in the morning, and having it for dinner in the evening. In many ways life is more real there, we are not so separated from all the aspects of food, living and dying there as we are here. Very worthwhile trip when you can make it, and in the off season (the best months actually in my opinion) you can get airfares half what they are otherwise. As I mentioned we were there 3 months, we wouldn't have minded staying there another three or more (except it started to get into the hot season).
It was taken within the last 5 years. They are way way way out in the sticks. Only about 80 miles from Ankgor Wat but they had never visited until my BIL and FIL and MIL went over with some money so they could afford to go visit.

My BIL totally scored and brought back a wife 10 years younger than him from their village (who's not related as far as we know lol).

Just after she arrived here in the US, she learned the world wasn't flat. It's incomprehensible that adults can't know that, but when you've never traveled much more than 80 miles from home, and your reality is a rice field, I guess it doesn't really matter whether the world is round or flat, since it's very flat in your locality.

I didn't know there was an off season for the heat. My BIL just said it's hot as hell all the time there.

Were you in Phnom Penh or traveling around the country? Do you know Khmer or did you muddle by with English? My wife doesn't know any Khmer (just a dialect of Thai that's closer to Laos but spoken pretty commonly in the NW of Cambodia in the border region).

My in laws didn't have a lot of nice things to say about the place after they went back for the first time in a few decades. Although that's a pretty common response from a lot of immigrants from all over once they get accustomed to the niceties of laid back life in the US (or at least laid back life down here in the South, ya'll). My BIL is a bit of a fancy resort person (champagne tastes on a light beer budget though), so I could see how Cambodia doesn't suit him very well.
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:20 PM   #51
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I've travel quite a bit over the years and it seems more and more lately many of the larger towns and cities around the world are starting to look and feel the same. Unless I travel to the smaller villages where there are still some of the more unique characteristics of that country I am becoming less interested in travel. I am also less interested in many of the tourist attractions home and abroad which have become more cheesy as time goes on.

Anyone having similar experiences?

Cheers!
Many U.S. cities are getting more homogenized. I go to church on Sunday, and everyone in the congregation looks the same. We need more individualization.

The world has gotten so much smaller. Cellphones are everywhere, and our 3 year old granddaughter was calling us on her mother's speed dial in Budapest last April--at 3:30 a.m. The American experience is everywhere, even on cable television dubbed in other languages. I'm sorry, but we Americans don't go around shooting each other, and I never saw Don Johnson's Miami when I went down there.

We've been to virtually every island in the Caribbean, and to Mexico many, many times--banana republics with just more T Shirt shops. The countries are generic.

The more we travel, the less excited we get about our fantastic foreign trips. But to stop would be to quit having anything to look forward to. Maybe I'll just start going to different parts of the world--New Zealand and Australia as a good start.
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:25 PM   #52
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+1 We also love to eat the local food and go to the local eating places.

You are going to love Munster, and not just for the cheese,. We stopped there for a couple of hours in 2013, mainly to buy cheese as we were staying in a gite a couple of hours drive away in Lorraine. Beautiful city, and when we were there there were stork nests everywhere on the rooftops, with chicks in the nests. (This was in July)
Great!

Munster is one of the places easily accessible from Colmar by train. So the cheese is just an excuse to head up into the Vosges Mountains. So we look forward to spending a few hours there, and will also stop in Trimbach on the way up or down. I think there are stork nests in Colmar too. It will be early June.
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Old 04-26-2015, 10:38 AM   #53
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I know what you mean. We were a little underwhelmed by our vacation to Canada last summer. As DW succinctly put it, "It looks just like the US without Mexican food". We admittedly cut our trip short and only spent 1 day in Quebec City and never made it to Ottawa.

This summer we're spending 7 weeks in Mexico and hope to see quite a bit outside the ordinary. Yeah, we'll be spending 3 nights in Cancun in the hotel zone but otherwise it'll be a good taste of different.

Most of what appeals to me are historic (old) cities, ruins, natural wonders, vistas, different plants and animals, the different way things are done elsewhere. We're not really into the typical tourist stuff either.
We live in Mexico for 6 months. One thing we noticed thanks to NAFTA is that local production of things like jams and jellies has disappeared, replaced by brand names imported. The prices have gone up and the quality has gone down (added pectin and colour). OTOH, for visitors, it is a relief. Cruise ships dock outside Walmart and the cruisers go there to shop! Yea that is the real Mexican experience!

As for Quebec, if you don't speak French in Quebec City, you will not get the real experience. And there are plenty of things to see if you know here to look.

But the idea of not seeing familiar things seems to be a thing of the past in the western world. I remember being shocked by the Ford Dealerships in Spain.

But Croatia, Turkey and Switzerland were unspoiled.
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Old 04-26-2015, 10:57 AM   #54
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I agree for the most part.

I lived in then West Germany and traveled through much of Europe for 4 years in the 70's, it was fascinating and different.

While there are still differences, I find the large and small cities far more homogenous than 40 years ago. Americans have become a little more cosmopolitan/culturally open and younger generations from other countries have moved more than halfway toward Americanization IME.

I remember years ago seeing McDonalds popping up in other countries and seeing Americans flocking to them. That's the last place I'd want to eat in another country. I'm there to immerse myself in new and different food, etc.

And even Americans have become more homogeneous IME, accelerated by the pervasiveness of Internet and media. Trends seem much more national/international than regional these days it seems.

It's sad to me. The last thing I'm looking for when I travel is 'just like home.' The more different a culture is than America the better IMO.
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Old 04-26-2015, 11:30 AM   #55
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We've been to virtually every island in the Caribbean, and to Mexico many, many times--banana republics with just more T Shirt shops. The countries are generic.

The more we travel, the less excited we get about our fantastic foreign trips. But to stop would be to quit having anything to look forward to. Maybe I'll just start going to different parts of the world--New Zealand and Australia as a good start.
If your impression of Mexico is generic and dominated by T-shirt shops, sounds like you've visited major tourist areas and cruise ship ports of call.

I've done a lot of interior Mexico traveling and it is nothing generic. It is quite diverse and very different from the U.S. If you get out of the major areas and to the smaller cities/towns and countryside, each state seems quite different to me.

BTW cellphones were all over Europe in the early 90s, and quite common in Mexico - nothing new there.
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Old 04-26-2015, 02:18 PM   #56
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It was taken within the last 5 years. They are way way way out in the sticks. Only about 80 miles from Ankgor Wat but they had never visited until my BIL and FIL and MIL went over with some money so they could afford to go visit.

My BIL totally scored and brought back a wife 10 years younger than him from their village (who's not related as far as we know lol).

Just after she arrived here in the US, she learned the world wasn't flat. It's incomprehensible that adults can't know that, but when you've never traveled much more than 80 miles from home, and your reality is a rice field, I guess it doesn't really matter whether the world is round or flat, since it's very flat in your locality.

I didn't know there was an off season for the heat. My BIL just said it's hot as hell all the time there.

Were you in Phnom Penh or traveling around the country? Do you know Khmer or did you muddle by with English? My wife doesn't know any Khmer (just a dialect of Thai that's closer to Laos but spoken pretty commonly in the NW of Cambodia in the border region).

My in laws didn't have a lot of nice things to say about the place after they went back for the first time in a few decades. Although that's a pretty common response from a lot of immigrants from all over once they get accustomed to the niceties of laid back life in the US (or at least laid back life down here in the South, ya'll). My BIL is a bit of a fancy resort person (champagne tastes on a light beer budget though), so I could see how Cambodia doesn't suit him very well.
Some thoughts on the bolded stuff:

About 6 years ago I was volunteering a bit at an English school in Phnom Penh. I was helping a group of "College" students, and thought it would be useful for them, and interesting for me, to give a geography lesson. Found some English geography books downtown (with errors and misspellings, but the best I could find). Taught them the continents, about the compass directions, various countries, etc. Toward the end of the lesson one of the students asked me, "What is all the blue?"

I told them it was the ocean, had anyone ever seen the ocean? Not a single student had. In fact they had only ever been to their home province and Phnom Penh. These were students who had finished high school. The boy thanked me a lot for teaching him about maps saying, "I had seen these before in books but never knew what they were." These were smart kids, even trying to study English from old books only, no teachers, but just very poor and isolated.

During the last trip I thought I would try the same lesson again at a different school near where we live. It was much different this time, they knew much more about the world and were more curious. But at this school they had been studying English for years with volunteer foreign teachers from around the world. Likely in the provinces they still would not know what the blue was. Also now I sometimes had to tell them to put their smart phones away during the lesson! They were poor (the classes were free), but still had a phone and were texting their friends during the lessons. Talk about things being the same!

From my perspective there are three seasons. Hot and dry, Extremely Hot and Dry, and Hot and Wet. Hot and dry, approximately Dec, Jan Feb. Actually this season can be quite nice, often with cool breezes, somewhat similar to Hawaii in the summer. It is a nice place to be to escape cold winters if one is so inclined.

Starting in March the temperature starts to rocket skyward, and the breezes start to become warm to hot. By April and May it is intolerable most of the time outside. Have been to the provinces during that time before, relaxing in the shallow waters on a Mekong offshoot and the water was hot. Had to get my t-shirt wet and relax in a hammock to survive.

Then around June or July the rainy season begins, and it is not so bad. The rains cool off the area and it can be quite pleasant.

So best months, in my opinion, are December through February.

We have traveled about before but this time we decided to stay in one place, to try to live more like "long term" ex-pats rather than tourists. Actually a lot to do there (away from tourist stuff) and much cheaper than here. We did get out on some day trips to see relatives, but most of the time just enjoyed being around Phnom Penh. I have some U.S. expat friends there and was enjoying meeting new ones from the U.S. and other countries. Some have been there long term, 10 years or more, setting up businesses, working with an NGO or in government, raising a family, etc. Great people to meet. Also, being a capital city and the center for commerce for the country, there are lots of interesting people living varied and interesting lives from all around the world. Love to listen to their stories and what they are doing.

I did try again to learn some Khmer, about the alphabet etc, took some lessons. Learned some but to be honest, I think I am just a bit lazy. Maybe I will do better next time.

What you said about Cambodians returning to Cambodia after living a few decades in the U.S. is so true! Even in a nice restaurant I have seen them afraid to eat the food, drink the water, etc, often afraid to go outside for fear of getting robbed or hurt. Many other long-time expats (not of Khmer origin) joke about this. When Khmers return they are the most squeamish about things there. So funny to me.
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Old 04-26-2015, 02:46 PM   #57
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when I shall see in 2 days as I travel the Rhine and Danube from Budapest to Amsterdam. I assume that as part of a tour group, I will be bombarded with "Americanized" type activities and silly "ethnic" dances/music which tend not to be authentic. However, we plan to ditch the tour group most days and just wonder the streets.. usually I find if I go a little off the beaten path we find the best experiences.. I assume if your in a tourist spot, your going to have the most watered down tourist experience...the food will be "tailored" to an American pallet. I'd rather have a meal where I can't pronounce anything and find out I"m eating something disgusting than eat the "standard" fair..as that's why I am going abroad.
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Old 04-27-2015, 09:32 AM   #58
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CaliforniaMan, thanks for your thoughts on modern day Cambodia. It sounds like progress is making its way even to Cambodia.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:03 PM   #59
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when I shall see in 2 days as I travel the Rhine and Danube from Budapest to Amsterdam. I assume that as part of a tour group, I will be bombarded with "Americanized" type activities and silly "ethnic" dances/music which tend not to be authentic. However, we plan to ditch the tour group most days and just wonder the streets.. usually I find if I go a little off the beaten path we find the best experiences.. I assume if your in a tourist spot, your going to have the most watered down tourist experience...the food will be "tailored" to an American pallet. I'd rather have a meal where I can't pronounce anything and find out I"m eating something disgusting than eat the "standard" fair..as that's why I am going abroad.
The food might be tailored to tourists in a heavily visited spot, but American tourist don't dominate. Tourists in Europe come from all over. There are tons of Chinese and Japanese tourist as well as tourists from all over Europe and countries all around the world.
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McDonalds abroad
Old 05-22-2015, 06:17 AM   #60
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McDonalds abroad

Although we have no interest in eating at them, we do enjoy peeking inside of McDonalds when we travel to see how they've been modified to suit the local culture.

Below is a photo of our favorite sighting to date, a praying Ronald in Bangkok, Thailand:
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