Monday, January 18, 2010

Ohh...That's Why Some People Don't Like Americans

Our feet were tired after another day of exploring markets and parks in Hong Kong, so Mariana and I decided to go to Lan Kwai Fong and SOHO, which were both bar districts on Hong Kong Island. There are not a whole lot of things in life that are better than having a tasty beverage with good company and slowly watching the World go by. That is until your company begins blaring the US National Anthem (followed up by a 9/11 montage) and flicking off the middle eastern bar owners across the street in an attempt to incite some kind of local war. I am not sure if the guys we met (one from California and the other a self-proclaimed Texan from Sweden???) were simply drunk, or if they truly hated Asian culture. My gut feel is that it was a little of both. Trying to avoid bloodshed barely in to our second week of travel, I convinced them to simply play some Johnny Cash, which would still be VERY American, and to sit down with us. Two "Fulsom Prison's" and one "Walk the Line" later, we dicovered that the two guys were extremely intelligent business men who were frustrated with what they proclaimed to be the arrogance of Beijing.

Normally this is where my anxiety kicks in and I pull the Irish goodbye by exiting stage left, but another American woman and a British woman happened to enter the bar just as Mariana and I were paying our bill. One worked as a foreign correspondent for a very well known news provider and the other worked with her consulate. They provided a much less jaded perspective of the World in general (especially Hong Kong) and gave me a small dose of hope for humanity. In an interesting twist, I was assured by the correspondent that she has never had a story censored to meet the views of her superiors (she does not work for a Chinese news outlet). I found this intriguing, because I have had many discussions on media bias, but this was the first time that I had actually held a conversation with a reporter or anyone in the news industry for that matter. We even had a laugh as she discussed covering Sarah Palin's visit to Hong Kong and China. What in the WORLD is Sarah Palin doing in China? Not speaking on my behalf I hope. At the end of the night we exchanged emails and happily parted ways.

Mariana and I went to sleep that night with a newfound understanding and acknowledgement that as visitors to foreign lands, we are in fact ambassadors for our country, albeit in a small way. I feel that we have an opportunity to show other cultures that we respect our differences and hope to learn from them in order to be better citizens of the World.

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