14 January 2006

Talking with non-travellers, etc.

I just saw this on the Lonely Planet website http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bluelist/index.cfm?fa=main.viewList&list_id=232 and the comments hit a bit too close to home for comfort. I think I've heard them all or variations on the themes. It's wierd how people think it either A) takes a lot of money to travel a lot, or B) you're such a slacker not having a regular job all these years (or maybe you're just a giant mooch). I also don't get people's comments that it's some great difficult thing to go someplace where you can't speak the language. There are so many people whose first language isn't the same as mine in Auckland (uh, that being English) that it's not that different to go to another country. While some people complain about his kind of thing, eg. "immigrants taking jobs", "can't even speak OUR language" or other of this variety of misinformed banter, I actually love the fact that I can walk down the high street and be confronted with so many ways of doing things. I guess thats one reason why I like to travel; to see more of the same. I don't really see other places as scarily different. There's fun in the challenge of uncovering the ways we are the same while appreciating the differences we have. Is that what makes a "non-traveller" then? Someone who is so blinded by the differences people in different countries have that they can't see the similarities? It doesn't help that our media teaches us this fear by always making sure that there are a few stories about how terrible life is in other places and blowing things out of proportion so that a local incident becomes the representation of an entire country.
Anyway, let's talk about something waaaaay more serious...brewing. My brother is a brewer who has taken it far enough to decide to give up his day job and do a brewing course. He studied in the States and Germany and is now a "Masterbrewer". As I am a "Master enjoyer of fine ales" I can say that his earlier brews were excellent so, I can imagine what sort of stuff he churns out now. At the moment he is working for someone else's brewery to get experience with future plans to open his own place. The only problem is that he has gone from earning a decent amount of money to having to take a huge paycut to enter the trade. Seems a shame that our historic arts and skills such as brewing are so unappreciated that the participants can not earn a decent living. Well, I can appreciate the time and effort that you can taste in a good pint of ale as here in Japan, there are mostly giant corporate breweries. That's not to say this is only a Japanese problem, nor that there aren't other things here that are excellent such a sake. My partner, Pi Dog, and I are soon to move to a major sake producing region in Japan. It'll be interesting to find out what kind of lifestyle the sake brewers have. Plus I can't wait to taste the sake as I love the stuff. One of the few 'slowfoods' left in Japan along with tsukemono (pickles) and hopefully others I can't think of just now. A bit of brewing banter can be seen here (Link now deleted.). I love to see this kind of thing where borders don't come into play and everyone is translating madly so they can help each other out with the thing they love.
Just about out of time at the ol' netcafe. It's Saturday night so me and Pi dog are heading out in search of some tasty brews, speak of the devil. Hope everyone's having a great weekend wherever you are!

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