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I don't want to start a huge political rant, but having just returned from a ride in few countries (Hungary, Poland, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, Schweiz etc etc...) I ran into a problem. My bike got tipped over, kicked over, and I got ran off the road (intentionally) I came out of a pub once and there was animal FECES on my seat...and after a while I decided to try a theory of mine. I pulled my large AMERICAN FLAG sticker off of my Jesse Bags and put a CANADIAN FLAG (via internet purchase)on my bike and BAM, the violence and accidents ceased to exist! Not to mention I had much more pleasant conversations with locals at petrol stops. I have been riding for years in other countries, and I have NEVER had problems like this as a result of my nationality. NOW, I fear for my life in less advanced countries. I LOVE MY COUNTRY, but I DO NOT go around SPOUTING off about being AMERICAN and I am considering locating to CANADA in order to get different tags on my bike (passport etc....) I am much more careful about talking loud in cafes or pubs and I (as always) watch the way I dress (no American clothes etc). I hate to say this, but I fear that the current administration is alienating the rest of the world. We have more enemies now than ever before! It is sad. Has anyone else had these experiences? Is it me or is the American Flag a source of anger in an increasing number of countries?
If you want to stay alive on your trip around the world, PUT CANADIAN STICKERS ON YOUR BIKE. IF you want to be jailed or abused, put an AMERICAN FLAG on your bike.
The Bush dictation in US has been very unpopular indeed. Sadly, he's the boss again that makes things even more worse...
Mostly the rest of the world just hates the US for the simple principal reason: US consumes 40% of World's resources at the same time it has only 5% of Word's population. Did i just say they overconsume and virtually waste the resources while others can live happily with much less? The fact is that Earth has limited resources... At the time consuming the dominant resources for making peace or making war? Hard to say who's a real terror-country now, but the fact is - citizens choose their suitable goverment to put in charge...
Sure the words "advanced-country" has a very fake meaning here and is subjective approximation.
So i understand the reaction of violence too, as Maarten noted.
Well, in my practice typical younger generation Eeuropean says: "damn over-weighted americans, eating the fat hamburgers, dringking full freezer of s, having many cars, big house and lot of useless things that cost lot of money, likes a redicoulous smalltalks and think's he's a God if he's outside US too..."
I'd don't want to be under Your skin too. So indeed, the best way probably is to get Canadian flags and never say you're from US and sure never-ever(!) say publically you like your US country though i think. That could mean bad incidents outside US. So better to "camoflage" your bad-reputation origin country for the rest of the eyes. You may read some other US-literated postings about flags here too. If you get it OK then there're no problems and you're treated like a real friend everywhere. (It's strange to think how damned bad reputation the US Gov has made itself and that's affecting the citizens now too...)
Good luck, Margus
[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 15 January 2005).]
I certainly don't want to ruffle any feathers here, this is a very touchy subject with my neighbors to the south. If you're not Canadian, please don't fly our flag. Most of us would find this very insulting, if not somewhat tacky. Your best bet is to simply act apropriately. Always be polite, say please and thankyou. Never become over-bearing, and always wear a smile. Remove anything that resembles the stars&stripes and remove the screaming-eagle bandana.Make sure you laugh with people, not at them. Remember that you are a guest in any foreign country, and please leave your gun at home
Most think we fly our flag to show we are not Americans, but this is not true. We fly our flag to find fellow Canadians!
Dumb question, but are there such things as international license plates? Or can a bike be ridden without plates in some countries? It wouldn't seem it would help much to put a Canadian flag on luggage while having a US state license plate on the bike.
I don't think the resentment towards the US is due to its environmental practices. It's mainly towards it foreign policy, at least that's the situation here in the Middle East. Down here we resented the US because of its support to Israel. The rest of the world started to resent the US since its role as the “Global Policeman” turned into the “Global Bully” with infamous statements like “You're either with us or against us” and the actions that followed it.
Having said that I don't think the answer to this issue is hiding the fact that you're a US citizen. Don't advertise it with a flag, but do mention it if asked and show your sympathy and understanding to the locals and their views. The US government is doing a lousy PR job on a grand scale, US citizens can make a good job on a small scale. People need to know that this is more of a administration attitude rather than US citizens attitude for the violence against individual Americans to stop. Ironically, the people who will get this fastest are the people of Middle Eastern countries since the concept of the difference of the interests of the administration and the interest of the people is the norm.
It doesn't matter what the license plate says - the biggest sticker tells people what you are, which makes me Venezuelan My NJ plates and American sticker haven't brought me any trouble in Latin America, and maybe having lots of stickers for every country the bike has been in helps here.
Have to say I find the response typical of the narrow minded mentality of many Europeans (Brits included) towards citizens of the US. Eveyone has the right to be proud of their country without being directly linked to and blamed for the behaviour of their government.
Seems most of the World can get over previous injustices much quicker than we can in Europe, even though it is not us on the receiving end of current US government misbehaviour on the World stage.
Sorry to hear that you received this treatment in Europe and would go along with the thinking of keeping the flags stashed away for now. In the UK, foreign cars are often trashed if their country of origin beats the home side at football. Better be thankful that the US are not so great at soccer!
<font face="" size="2">Is it me or is the American Flag a source of anger in an increasing number of countries?</font>
Displaying the flag of what has arguably become the most hated country in the world can land you in trouble, it seems. Other Americans have reported here and elsewhere of having had good experiences, even in countries whose governments don't have good relations with the US. So, just being American won't land you in trouble, as you have experienced yourself. The US regime is not well liked here, and for good reason: European countries and the EU constantly get bullied by them. They have exempted themselves from the international court. They need to, otherwise they would risk being indicted.
Anyway, we sholdn't be discussing this here on a bike travellers' site. For an eye-opener check out this site: www.democracynow.org
The bottom line is: you are an American. You can't really hide this fact, nor should you have to. Displaying the flag, however, is probably conceived by a few people as you being proud of what the US does. I think the best thing you can do is simply listen to what people tell you and try to understand them.
Stick the flags of the countries you are visiting on your bike. Most locals like that, I think.
Salut from Southern France, the bikers' paradise,
Sorry to hear about your treatment in Europe, thats really unfortunate & unfair. People may not like your governemnt but you have nothing to do with it.
Its obvious by your experiences that the U.S. is not popular at the moment, so flying the flag only draws attention to you. Until the mood changes, the simple answer is to be low key, draw as little attention to yourself as possible, and start by pulling down the flag.
I'm following an American on a California plate doing a RTW trip and he's currently in the middle east with no problems to date. He's not displaying an American flag.
I hope this doesn't discourage you from doing more travelling, just carry on but for now, stash the flag.
Have any Aussie travellers had problems? I'm interested to know if any anti-Yanqui sentiment has rubbed off on us as a result of Emperor Johnny's unbridled support for "The War On Terror" (coming soon to a third world country near you). Is the more recently declared "War on Tsunamis" any more winnable?
Basically, should I be painting a kangaroo on my machine, or the Jack and Stars? Or neither?
As far as flags go, I'm half Finnish. Have they doen anything to piss anyone off recently? (Apart form marketing Koskinkorva to the world)
I would say that most locals I have met travelling, although opposed to US foreign policy, can distinguish between the government of a country and its individual citizens. I pointed this out to the Taliban I met near Peshawar in Pakistan.
As an Australian it seems we have managed to slip beneath the radar in terms of what the common man knows of our shameful involvement with recent US lead military actions. People are more inclined to rant against Dubya than against his 'deputy' John Howard.
With regard to the flag issue, if you don't want to display a US flag, just leave it off. Why replace it with another flag?
An interesting (or not) annecdote: In Addis Ababa a local chap looks at the back of my bike, where there was a very prominent GB sticker (the only other sticker was a Free Tibet sticker)and asks me in English whether I was French Probably the beret/stripy shirt/garlic/Galloise I was sporting.
Am in the process of trying to get a German Passport (I already have a UK pp) in order to be able to ride to India via Iran.
PS If you never wash you bike nobody can read any writing/sickers on you bike anyway.
Or...you could just tell everyone you nicked the bike off a yank...instant hero!
Seriously, its a bitter pill to swallow, I know the feeling, I had to travel with a SAF p/port during apartheid and it wasn't fun. On more than one occasion I had to make rather hasty retreats to avoid confrontation. I know you can't compare the two situations but you get the drift. Much better nowadays, because after the smooth non violent transition I guess the world saw that the poeple themselves did not always represent the previous policies. That will ultimately happen with the US as well, regardless of their policies, it just takes poeple like yourself to change the worlds perceptions. I wouldn't bother with the flag though, its just an excuse for some ***** to be nasty whilst you're in the can...get a sticker of a dope leaf instead, always goes down a treat...
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