Rowdy Chinese tourists

By: Jobers R. Bersales August 23,2017 - 10:06 PM


After studying as well as excavating quite a number of Chinese tradeware ceramics dating from the Song to the Ming dynasties (ca. 1200 to 1644), I still cannot quite connect between these beautiful works of art and what I experienced recently.

I was on my way back to Cebu on board a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila last Sunday, seated at the second to the last row of the plane, when my attention was called by six or so Chinese tourists who were making a commotion.

I had already noticed from the vantage point of my seat that four of them, including one woman, were talking so loudly to each other that other passengers in front of them — most conspicuously Tsinoys or Chinese Filipinos who probably understood their Hokkien or Mandarin words, would look back at them, others smiling, some fretting.

The latter were clearly irritated at all the noise but just kept their cool.

All the while, PAL flight attendants were busy with other incoming passengers while this noisy banter reverberated on the plane.

No one else was talking and so I believe everyone on that flight, from row 73 to the front, might probably have heard these tourists.

But no one seemed to mind.

Then one among these Chinese tourists took out playing cards and started playing with the two others beside him at what seemed to me to be poker, one of them noisily slamming the cards on the tray table in front of him.

All of us just kept quiet, but I muttered to myself that I was finally getting an idea as to why China is running roughshod on the West Philippine Sea: even its tourists seem to behave like they owned the plane!

One of these tourists, seated in front of me, then took out one of the burp bags provided on the seat pockets and started clearing his throat then spit out whatever it was on his trachea on to the bag.

At least he used the bag, I said to myself.

Never mind the squeamish feeling you get at having inadvertently seen him doing it.

A minute later, a young Filipino couple with an infant arrived and motioned one of the flight attendants that their seats were being occupied by three of these tourists occupying one row (row 71, seats A to C, if I remember correctly).

The flight attendant gently asked the three for their boarding passes to see if they were correctly seated. They never showed their boarding passes.

Instead, one of them, a female, made signs that they wanted to exchange seats, unmindful that the couple had an infant with them carried by the mother.

Knowing that they would be separated from each other if they agreed, the Filipino couple declined without showing any emotion, no dislike whatsoever at what was being done to them.

After more negotiations, the Chinese tourists finally agreed to let go of their seats. For a second there, I really thought the flight would be delayed because these tourists would be thrown out of the plane.

The noisy banter of these tourists continued, shouting at each other, something one does when you’re in the middle of a storm and your voice gets drowned out by the howling winds. But of course, we were not in one. The plane was quiet and no single passenger other than these rowdy tourists were talking.

After we landed, the tourists stood up and again talked loudly to each other, shouting and yelling in their language.

All the while, everyone else was silently walking to the exits. Then lo and behold, one of them took out a telescopic steel pole with a green flag printed with Chinese characters on it.

He was apparently their tour guide! He was leading this noisy bunch and did not even bother to discipline them! So much for tour guides.

I’ve read somewhere about how the Chinese authorities have had to apologize for the unruly and rough behavior of some of their nationals when touring abroad. But it was my first time to really go through one.

This was, nevertheless, a very mild, nay, tame experience compared to what I’ve read elsewhere. And I must commend all the other passengers and the flight attendants who were very patient with them. My only beef was that they should have been told to tone it down a bit.

This singular experience, while hopefully not representative of how the Chinese behave in their homeland or abroad, is quite telling at the difficulties of intercultural relations at the personal level.

At the opposite end were us Filipinos who, while probably irritated at the behavior displayed by these rowdy tourists inside a controlled space, accepted this momentary disruption with nary a whimper.

Writ large, however, one can imagine the difficulties this country is going through as China continues to exercise its military muscle over the West Philippine Sea. Like passengers on that flight, have we finally accepted that ours is not the type to complain?

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TAGS: Chinese, rowdy, tourists
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