Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Were Yellow Hats with Red Brims

In basically every public place in China, the domestic tourist scene looks something like this.

There is a tour guide carrying a flag at the end of a long stick. The flag is emblazoned with the name and logo of the travel company. The more, shall we say, vocally aggressive guides also have microphones or even megaphones (which they know how to make generous use of).

Rather than being followed by a sea of black heads, the guides are the leaders of more colorful brigades. You see, domestic (as opposed to waiguoren) tours come complete with their own group hats, included in the price of the trip.

There are the red hats. The orange hats with blue brims. The occasional green hats. The visors. The floppy hats with plaid patterns. Group after group, each bound together by place of origin and outward appearance.

Moving through China on our own terms, we naturally miss out on all of this hat fun. That said, we never miss an opportunity to reminisce about the "old" days of 2004, when we were walking billboards for our favorite little Taishan travel agency.

This time around, I guess, we are in effect representing a country of 300 million people that is located thousands of miles away. Hey, Uncle Sam...where are the red, white, and blue top hats!?



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