I might be an Australian who has travelled to most of the world, but the worst sight to be seen may certainly be my fellow citizens.
I recently read a newspaper article lambasting the behaviour of Australian tourists in Japan. Everything from physically harassing geishas to climbing cherry trees to carving their names into the beautiful bamboo forest. Australians, it asserted, were turning Japan into another Bali.
I’ll confess I’ve never been to Bali, because if I wanted to thrust myself into a crowd of drunken Australians chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!” there are football stadiums in Melbourne where I could have the pleasure. But now it seems I have to strike Japan off my list as well, and add it to the long list of places where Aussies can be found giving us all a bad name. More specifically, Aussie men. Not all, to be sure, but enough.
They are storming the beaches of Turkey on Anzac Day, smashing beer bottles and strewing the battlefield with rubbish. Strutting down to the centre of Istanbul in stubbies and thongs, beer can in hand at midday, shouting on their phones “Yeah goin’ downa Sultanahmet, mate!”
They are in hostels in Prague and Paris and Amsterdam, only leaving the communal lounge to top up their supply of beers. As day turns into night, and tipsiness slowly but surely becomes inebriation, their cries to the female guests change from “Eh darling, where are you from?” to a slurred “Eh darling, how ‘bout a blowie?”
They are in the Australian bars in New York (where I had the misfortune to work for the briefest of stints), making the most of the all-you-can-drink happy hours (responsible service of alcohol laws are more relaxed overseas) and throwing up in the bathrooms and occasionally the dance floor (this is why we have alcohol laws).
They are in Mexico, wondering loudly why there are no Mexicans on the beaches they frequent. They are high on drugs in the mountains, not realising that the walls of the hostel are paper-thin, or perhaps not caring, and that everyone can hear them exclaim “S’been a while mate, thinking I might take a trip down to Chinatown and give it a rub, eh?”
And yes, they are at Singapore airport, boarding a flight back to Perth and complaining that the place is full of Asians. In Asia.
As day turns into night, and tipsiness slowly but surely becomes inebriation, their cries to the female guests change from “Eh darling, where are you from?” to a slurred “Eh darling, how ‘bout a blowie?”
In every hostel I’ve ever stayed at, when I’ve asked which nationality makes for the worst customers, the answer is unequivocal: Australians. “What, worse than the Americans?” I ask. Drunker than the Americans, they reply.
I will say though, there was one place where the Brits really gave us a run for our money: Egypt. I watched in helpless horror one night as a dozen inebriated men proceeded to strip all of their clothes off in the middle of a beer garden in a little tourist town called Dahab. Their display of public nudity apparently not being offensive enough in this conservative Muslim country, they ran around the bar shouting “Naked naked yeah yeah yeah!” which is the only chant I’ve heard that’s worse than the one that starts with “Aussie” and ends with “Oi”.
I turned to an Egyptian friend, who was watching the spectacle with a look of weary resignation and asked why they weren’t being kicked out by security. “It’s their culture,” he shrugged.
Drunken Aussies and Brits, this is what the world thinks of us. And it’s not a competition we should want to win.