The photograph above was taken in a branch of MacDonalds a two days ago. Can you guess where it is by looking at it? Think about it for a moment before reading on.
The photograph was actually taken in
by a friend of mine who is on holiday there; but there's no way to know that
because every MacDonalds is pretty much the same as every other. I did wonder
why she travelled almost half way around the world for just another Big Mac; as
it happens, she and her family are sampling a lot of the local food too, as
well as delving into other aspects of Thai culture. But I'll never forget the
group of Porters who went off to Malta
for a week. I wished I could have joined them because I'd have loved to have
seen the ancient monuments by the pre-Babylon Temple-Builder culture. When they
returned I asked one of them: "What did you think of the Hypogeum and
Gigantija?" My Brother Porter replied: "Eh? What's that? We spent
every day on the beach, Mate, and we hit the clubs all night." If all one
is interested in is getting a suntan and then getting drunk why not holiday in Milton
Keynes? There are tanning salons and plenty of pubs there; that's
all they need. Save themselves the busfare!
A few years ago I went to
for a few weeks to visit my brother. I was very thrilled as I travelled to the
airport in London. I was about to
fly to the other side of the world! In the departure lounge at there are of course lots of
shops there so the passengers can buy things on their trip. One of those shops
was the well-known high street stationer and newsagent WH Smith. I got on the
plane and flew to Heathrow
and landed after just twenty-eight hours. In just over a day I'd made a journey
that took Captain Cook years! How the world has changed. But the effect of this
is also that it has made the world feel smaller. The increased speed and
decreased cost of travel has made the world a fraction of the notional size
that is was a century ago. As I walked out into the arrivals hall in Sydney Kingsford
Smith Airport Australia
there were shops there too; one of them was WH Smith. I thought to myself:
"How far have I really travelled?" As I walked through the streets of
Sydney, and later Canberra
where my brother lived, I saw the same shop names above the doors as I see in Oxford.
There's a saying that "it's a small world"; it is indeed, and it's
also a very uniform one. Going to Australia
was a important lesson for me; it changed the way I see the world forever.
However I don't want to paint a gloomy picture; this "Global Village" we live in might be very small, a "pale blue dot" as Carl Sagan called it, but it does contain a lot of fascinating little alleyways. There are still exotic locations in the world that the determined traveller can find. However to find these locations it's not longer a question of going a great distance, it's a question of how close or far away the place is culturally from the mainstream global civilization of Mackie-D's and Smiths? In fact there are some amazingly foreign places almost within walking distance of my home, for example see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-gyptians.html. As regular readers will know I have no passport any more, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/destroying-my-passport.html. People have often said: "But that means you can't travel abroad! How do you manage?" As I've said I don't see any reason to miss travelling. I do want to see more of the world, but I want to see a free world. One day the world shall be free. It will still be notionally small; indeed it will be even smaller than it is with today's jet airliners once the technology to build even faster aircraft is declassified, but the nations and cultures of the world will be liberated to exist and develop in their own fashion. There will come a day when there will be no MacDonalds in
I hope my friend still likes the place as a result!