Monday, October 31, 2005

Where do tourists to Bali come from?

With thanks to Ncoutts from Flickr from whom I stole this beautiful photo, and with apologies to the Japanese for this unfortunate bit of unthinking stereotyping, but guess which country sends the most folks to Bali? Yep, Nippon, almost one in four. Home of my ancestral salarymen.

That's really unfortunate because if there's a nation whose people are going to drive prices upwards in a tourist economy it's the Japanese, particularly in those economies where there is not at least some balance from Israeli backpackers on their year after military service grand tour. But Japan has provided some entertaining travelling companions, like the chick I travelled with in Thailand who ironed her t-shirt with her portable travel iron in the morning before going off with me and a German (I didn't mention the war) hitch hiking, throwing herself and her ironed t-shirt into the back of rusty utes which are marvellous fun to hitch in the back of. When we came to a very small town in the countryside the Japanese girl would be speaking of a virrage, while the Teutonic lad would be calling it a willage. Then there was the fellow I met in Kathmandu who had just finished riding a pony from Lhasa (every one of his photographs had Princess's two ears sticking up from the bottom), and the girl I heard several reports of whilst in West Africa who had successfully made her way south from Morocco through Mauritania and Western Sahara, without a word of French or Arabic. Both of those trips are inestimably difficult for different reasons which I will not bore you with except to say altitude and freezing cold, and closed borders and civil wars. The most far-flung and unorthodox stars in the Japanese traveller galleries make the Germans look like traveller namby-pambies.

But I digress. Nippon is followed by Australia at no. 2 (less than one in five), and then, to my surprise, Taiwan at less than one in ten, and then South Korea. Then "the Americas", the UK, Germany, Malaysia, France, and Holland, who pop back to check out their former colony.


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