Friday, 13 January 2012

The guide to tourist spotting

tour•ist (tourists)
A person who is visiting a place for pleasure and interest, especially when they are on holiday

Just in case you didn't know, that is the dictionary definition for, you've guessed it, a tourist. Although it seems silly to explain this, it is important that we know exactly what they are. For the past five months I have desperately struggled to disguise myself in an attempt to blend in with the locals, and on the whole, I think I have managed it. Well, on the surface, at least; I still stand in queues, carry English money, and get overly excited when I catch a glimpse of the sun. 

It will take some time to iron out these deeply rooted British habits, but until then, I feel that I should pass on my wisdom and experience, for as we all know, it is the nightmare of every middle-class Englishman to be seen as a tourist. The conversation between a couple packing for holiday includes many uses of the following phrases: "No! You cannot be seen in that!", "I threw that out months ago... Where on earth did you find it?!"' and, "Remember the sun-cream... Yeah, factor 100...", in an attempt to prepare themselves for instant integration. As you might have guessed, these snide remarks are generally directed towards the man in the family or relationship. Belonging to the male species myself, I believe I speak for all men when I say that we find this thoroughly offensive, since if we even dreamed of saying such things to our partners (for all women reading, this is something we never, ever do), chaos, screaming, and general peril would quickly ensue. Anyway, before I am lured into ranting about double standards for the sexes, I believe it is time to introduce the subject of today's post: "The Guide to Tourist Spotting".

Preface: The species homotouristus has several varying breeds of character, often distinguished by the subject's age and company. Mannerisms between groups of single males, for example, are very different to those of a middle-aged couple. Within this guide I have neglected to define which feature belongs to which breed, but it should be fairly self explanatory.

Physical description:

The most common sighting of a homotouristus sees him wearing overly short shorts whatever the weather, shoes (generally sandals) accompanied by grey socks pulled as close as possible to the knee, a khaki or beige shirt decorated with a magnitude of sweat patches, and the essential bum-bag faithfully strapped at his waist. Their weapon of choice, a camera, hangs around their necks, ready to capture images to be stored on their computer's hard-drive, never to be seen again. Please note that several spotters have confirmed rare sightings of the common homotouristus with sunglasses lenses clipped on to their glasses. These tourists must be avoided at all costs unless you truly want to hear a lengthy, dreary speech about the quality of their flight and accommodation, the list of their allergies, and the names of all their plants that they left behind at home. 

Biologically, they often boast pale, pasty skin, a squishy build, a receeding hairline, and depending on sun exposure, their coloration can vary from looking overly embarrassed to a sun-dried tomato. 


Clutching their faithful maps in their pudgy hands, many wear a puzzled expression whilst wandering around towns and places of cultural interest, glancing between their maps and street-signs. However, when herds of 10 or more males gather, this generally timid species becomes extremely rowdy, disturbing everybody around them whilst they pursue their quest of finding a mate. 

Aside from this difference, any interaction with the locals remains the same across all breeds. Many will attempt to speak the native language in their own accent, but their purposefully patronising tone inevitably gets them nowhere. Once this has failed, they will then resort to a series of over-expressive hand gestures followed by a period of tutting, muttering how the locals should learn to speak English.  

Known locations:

Due to the varying characteristics of the homotouristus, there is no one place that can be attributed to them as a species. However, they can be found at places of cultural interest (monuments, museums, art galleries etc), land marks, or slowly frying themselves on the beach. As night begins to fall, however, hundreds flock to the watering hole (bars) to drink their fill, and can later be seen stumbling back to their hotels', cursing as they walk into lampposts and other objects in the street. 

Aside from the above locations, it has often been reported of lone males standing outside shopping centres looking glum. Do not think, dear readers, that they are upset because they have forgotten to pick up some local currency. Instead, they are simply patiently waiting whilst their partners browse the retailers' outlets within. 

Disclaimer: I, the writer of this post and of "The Guide to Tourist Spotting", take no responsibility to those offended by the above information. If you do happen to take offence, please feel free to keep your complaints and opinions to yourself.

And so that concludes my guide. Compiled purely from experience, stereotypes and a good dose of British sarcasm, feel free to use this information at any time. Be it for your own amusement whilst tourist spotting or to help you gain a fuller understanding of the group you are trying to disguise yourself from, I'll leave it up to you. 


Ramakant Pradhan said...

Now that's very stereotypical :)

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