Monday, April 20, 2009

Tourist attractions

Forbidden City, Beijing, 1996

Recently we were talking to a couple who lived with their children in Asia on a Fulbright last year. The subject of tourist attractions came up, and how strange it is to visit a tourist attraction and then to realize that you or your family has suddenly become a tourist attraction for the other tourists. And how difficult it is for young children who aren't comfortable with strangers coming up and talking to them or pinching their cheeks or kissing them, which is common in some cultures and not in others.

This has only happened to us twice: in Beijing, when B and I were visiting the Forbidden City , and in Dubai, when we visited a public beach (before we learned where the nicer, less crowded beaches were). In Beijing it was not a big deal--a few Chinese tourists approached us and asked (using hand motions) if they could have their picture taken with us, and we agreed--no biggie. In Dubai, we had children, so that made things very different (the situation was different in other ways too, actually, but it's a long story...).

These were obviously rare exceptions to our experiences overseas--nothing serious, just one of those odd things that occasionally happens when traveling.

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