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November 1, 2012

The Banana Pancake Syndrome: watch your steps

Some twenty odd years ago, Ian Mckaye – at the time the angry singer of straight edge punk pioneers Minor Threat – sung “guilty of being white”. The lines of the aggressive chorus blazed into my mind as I stepped at the airport’s immigration line to re-enter Malaysia; a bunch of what seemed young Australians were waiting behind me.  They were dressed and attired in the quintessential banana pancake trail non-outfit: singlets, flip-flops, short pants. The picture was stereotypically completed by over exposed tattoos – even the shabbiest ones -, visibly dirty long hair, and the red cheeks which are typical of an in-flight heavy boozing session. They were exchanging idiotic comments on the situation in their slurred, drunken Aussie lingo.

As I tried to forget them and walked to the officer getting my papers in order and surpassing the passport check stations, here I see another white trash queen: she is about 20 years old, trashing her thongs around, wearing the shortest mini hot pants you may imagine in order to expose her tighs, emblazoned with one of those silly female-skull-with-butterfly-wings tats you can get at every cornershop.  I instantly turn around to check if the beach is in sight, but the only thing I can score is the luggage carousel, slowly spitting bags out of his noisy esophagus. Luckily, no other passenger around me  suffered from the banana pancake syndrome.

It may be the coming of age, or it may be the fact I have been used to travel in Islamic nations where such a behavior would result in an instant flash mob or a brutal gang rape, but I think that by carrying the symptoms of Western casual stupidity and holiday retardedness, these youth are reconfirming to Southeast Asian people that inventing ways to empty their wallets is approved by every God. Mohamed included.

I feel offended by the low profile of such people: Southeast Asia is not a fool’s playground, for chrissakes. If humanity has a decency level which is measured in the ways we act, I candidate the backpacker type as some of the ugliest, gone wrongest experiments. Please people, react and do something. Asia is not your playground, and when your flabby beergut stinks, let me tell you, it really does.

Posted by | Comments (7) 
Category: Asia, Backpacking, Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road, Vagabonding Advice, Vagabonding Life, Vagabonding Styles


7 Responses to “The Banana Pancake Syndrome: watch your steps”

  1. Sally Says:

    In American English, the phrase “low profile” means to be unnoticed, to conduct oneself in a way that will not attract attention. I don’t think that’s what you meant to say here. It sounds like you mean that these people had an unpleasant profile or were displaying low morality or bad habits, not that they were staying below the radar.

  2. Mani Says:

    Actually, I’m far more offended by your post than by what you refer to as a “backpacker type.” From your reference to “white trash”, to your implication that a brutal gang rape would occur were such behavior to occur in certain Islamic nations, to your use of the highly offensive term ” retardedness”, you clearly are not someone who lives up to Rolf Potts’ ideals.
    I’ve travelled in virtually every Islamic nation, and can only say that if you think the citizens of those countries are capable of such actions, then you really are learning no lesson from your travels. Implying that this would happen is offensive to Muslims, women, and humanity as a whole.
    In addition, freedom of expression is valued by any free society- I’m not going to defend these women’s actions, but I will defend their right to be idiotic if they so choose.
    I personally would love to see both better editing (your last two paragraphs are painful to decipher/read), as well as an apology from this website. This post is not what we come to this website to read.

  3. Epiphanie Bloom Says:

    I agree with Mani.
    You’re ruining Vagablogging for me.

  4. john Says:

    yeah stay positive man, there’s trash in every form everywhere but the challenge of enjoying your trip is to just keep on focusing on the things that you enjoy about it. they’re no threat to you, and life becomes whatever you choose to notice.

  5. Prepare for Cultural Challenges in Asia Says:

    [...] couple weeks ago I published a similar post on Vagabonding, receiving a number of different angry comments as I colorfully criticized foreign [...]

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