Travelling is a fantastic experience for a variety of reasons varying from obvious to obscure, but the most rewarding part of traveling is that it gives you the chance to completely escape the four walls of your normal routine. If done correctly, travelling will put you in brand new situations in which you will have to think on your feet and make a decision that can potentially alter the rest of your trip. This is an incredible opportunity, and it means that travellers can develop their sense of spontaneity, break away from social ‘norms’, and say ‘YES’ to experiences that you could only dream of from your dreary office back home. Most travellers are great, well-rounded people: open-minded, liberal, culturally aware, and exciting, with incredible stories to tell.
So why on Earth is there a collection of people being a ‘McDonald’s traveller’ and insisting on solely eating fast food and drinking Starbucks?
It’s tourist season here in Chiang Mai, which means a number of things. The roads are busier, the prices are higher, the weather is cooler, there’s a lot of sunburn, lots of elephant pants, and too many vests.
My boyfriend and I like to play a game. There’s a great café at Thapae Gate that we like to go to in order to treat ourselves to an occasional brunch. It’s a great location for people watching, as Thapae Gate is the easiest landmark for tourists to use in Chiang Mai. No matter what the time of day, there will always be a steady stream of travellers passing the window, backpacks on, looking slightly lost and confused (the best look to have whilst travelling). Opposite said café, there is a Starbucks. To be honest, it always baffled me how a Starbucks got any interest and custom in Chiang Mai, due to the abundance of amazing coffee, cheaper coffee shops, and beautiful locations (many with high-speed Wifi). However, when we started our game, it all became clear, as every single patron of the Starbucks was a tourist. Now, I’m the first to admit that being in a foreign country can be pretty terrifying, and everyone misses home and their home comforts, and due to Starbucks’ global reign, I suppose their coffee reminds everybody of home to some degree. However, as I have previously mentioned, Chiang Mai is riddled with coffee shops selling coffee at less than the price of Starbucks, in a much fresher way, using locally-sourced coffee beans. At the end of the day, it’s coffee. It’s not your mum, or your favourite winter jumper, or your dog: it’s a cup of coffee. It’s not like your dad is whipping you up a decaff extra shot cappuccino with whipped cream and soya milk on a Sunday morning is it? If you’re lucky, you get ground coffee from a cafeteria, which is sold in literally every other coffee shop in Chiang Mai (even the little street vendors sell fresh coffee!). So stop buying bloody Starbucks if you’re visiting Thailand, you absolute cockwomble.
So, you thought that I was wound up by the Starbucks gig? Wait, it gets much worse.
McDonald’s: the root of all evil. We’ve all been there, drunk as a skunk, craving that greasy chicken goodness in our faces. Or waking up the morning after the night before, mouths tasting like an elephant’s butthole, with absolutely no desire to ever move again, until somebody mentions McDonald’s breakfast. However, when you are travelling you get to sample hangover food of the world! For example, in Thailand you can get rotee with banana and chocolate (35 baht), barbecue chicken (10-40 baht), dumplings (40 baht), Pad Thai (35 baht), mango and sticky rice (40 baht)… the list could go on and on. However, take a peek into the McDonalds by Thapae Gate and again, you will see an entirety of foreign patrons, forking out over 100 baht for a meal, the fluorescent lighting reflecting off their sunburnt shoulders and arms, as exposed by their low cut vests. If you’re really unfortunate, as I was in Bangkok airport, you will realise that they are all without a doubt, British. They often come in packs of 3+, and speak a completely broken down form of English, scattered with a variety of swear words and crude gestures (a guy in this group genuinely started making the doggy style action as a girl who he tried to chat up walked away from him, it was vile and I was SO embarrassed to be British). They’re the kind of people that you wish rickets upon.
There is such a great selection of Thai street food (or restaurant food for the nervous) around Chiang Mai, what possesses a man or woman to eat exclusively at McDonald’s and drink at Starbucks is beyond me. Your finances will drain so quickly (which might be for the better as then you will be out of our hair faster), you’ll feel vastly unhealthy, you’re not supporting the little guy, and you’re missing out on the best part of the country. If you are the kind of person who chooses McDonalds and Starbucks over the abundant local cuisine, then you are not fit to call yourself a traveller, let alone a tourist. So, go home, think about what you’ve done, and please never come back.