Monday 24 September 2012

It's very nice to go trav'ling

But it's oh so nice to come home, so the lyrics say. I flew in last night from KL, and had the bad luck to arrive at customs with 3 other flights, all full, and one from Bali, judging by the hair. The queues at immigration were huge, and a guy behind me said to his friends "Oh, so now you get in quicker if you aren't an Australian" as if this was yet another instance of the Australian citizens being bullied by foreigners in their own country. He proceeded to do his imitation of what I think was meant to be an Asian person "Oh solly, me no green card, me go through". Much laughter from his mates.
It took all my will power (and fear of prolonging my time in immigration) not to say something then and there.
Firstly, if you are on a flight from Bali, there is a good chance that 97 percent of the passengers are made up of Australian citizens. That's just how it is, and lucky us for being able to travel there for holidays. That plane is what made the queue so lopsided. Our plane from Malaysia was about fifty-fifty as it was a co-share with Sri Lankan airlines and KLM, so there was a huge number of visitors, as well as travelling Australian Residents. It's not a Government conspiracy to punish Australians, it's just luck and possibly poor organisation. Small price to pay for a lovely overseas holiday.
My gripe, however, is this example of the delusional attitude of some people that somehow they are being discriminated against. I will say this upfront. In this country, if you are a white male who can afford holidays overseas, I find it highly unlikely you are being discriminated against at any level. You are top of the tree, yet somehow some people don't realise this. We have a wonderful country that attracts immigrants, but the melting pot has been on the stove for well over a century, so surely those Rudyard Kipling days are long gone, and we can all see each other as people, as Australians? Every race and creed that has actually been discriminated against for centuries around the world must find our distorted view hilarious.
We are a great nationality, though there seems to be an ugly racism growing unchecked and I'm not sure why. I also don't know how we stop it, because the statistical evidence doesn't seem to justify the complaint, which means it's not based on facts, just emotion.
Perhaps in our travels, we need to look at countries where large populations of different ethnicity do mix harmoniously? Isn't that why we travel? To see different countries and people?
I sincerely believe we are better than that.
I'll finish with the odd coda at the end of the Sinatra song, because while I do love to travel, there's also a certain happiness that I only find here, living in this sensational city, Sydney.
'No more customs
Burn the passport
No more packing and unpacking
Light the home fires'


  1. i just looked at my passport... it expired about 3 months ago.. but thats ok cos I have a married name now.. so need a whole new one..

    My dad once got stopped and taken to a lil room for interigation at Perth airport.. because he was travelling on a NZ passport.. to Japan, England, China, USA... but never to NZ... not in 16 years.. because we live in Perth and have done for over 25 years.

    So he went and got an australian passport (because we are australian citizens) just to use in australia.

    #teamIBOT was here to say hello! :)

  2. I've been taken to the little room in Paris, thus the reason to avoid causing a ruckus in the queue by starting an argument with this guy.
    I actually had thought I was doing a tourism survey (I was young & incredibly naive) and when I realised what was going on, I can't describe the wave of fear that overcame me when I realised no one knew where I was and I had no witnesses. It was all fine and above board but was glad I spent the first 20 mind oblivious to what was actually happening...(no doubt to the amusement and frustration of the official doing the interrogation)

  3. Comments like the one you heard from that guy disappoint me greatly, too. A rumbling, racist underbelly is a sad blight on this fantastic country and a blight I hope we can all do a little to help correct through, at the very least, showing respect to those we share this world with. Great post x

  4. Great description "a rumbling, racist underbelly" - it's exactly what it is!

  5. Darwin is a very multicultural place, and I don't see a huge amount of racism here.
    I think shows like border patrol play a role in this stigma though. Seeing other cultures blatantly disregard our customs makes us think that everyone from their country must be like that.

  6. Nice to hear that about Darwin. I thought Sydney was, but I guess it's more just the part I live in, so I assume it's everywhere.

  7. Not seen border patrol, but can only imagine. Let's hope the rest of the world doesn't decide all Australians are drug mules, based on the large number of high profile cases we've had in the last 10 years. Could make travel very unpleasant for us...and my suitcase is often very carefully packed in order to close! Could be quite humiliating...