Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



While on vacation touring the ruins in Upper Egypt, a bored teenager got an idea.  Waiting for the just the right time...he snuck away from the organized group.  Alone amongst the 300 foot high columns, he quickly rummaged through his pockets.  What did he want?  Candy? No...  Phone? No...  Pocket knife? Yes!  Careful not to be seen, he climbed the base of a column.  Quickly, he carved his message onto the 3,400 year old granite, where it would remain forever.  From now on, anyone who visited the Luxor Temple, would read his astute message: "Ding Jinhao Was Here!" 

For the next two years, tens of thousands of tourists visited Luxor Temple  They all walked past the Chinese graffiti.  No one seemed to care or notice.  (Let's face it: There is a lot of graffiti in Egypt!)  However...two weeks ago...everything changed.  That's when a fellow Chinese tourist also got bored at the same exact spot.  He stopped and noticed Ding's tagging and got angry.  But this was no ordinary visitor...  Nope, it was a blogger / tourist. (Yikes!)  Instantly, he whipped out his Smart-Phone and zeroed in for the perfect shot.  Next, it was just a quick tap-tap-tap.  Then.. SEND!  Seconds later, all of China logged into his post and became outraged.

Attached to the downloaded picture, the blogger wrote: "The saddest moment of my trip to Egypt.  I'm so embarrassed.  I said to the Egyptian tour guide: 'I'm Sorry!'"  As we all know, the Chinese are very sensitive to their national image.  Other people from other countries might do vandalism...but not citizens from the People's Republic of China!  Within minutes, the correct Ding Jinhao was located and contacted by authorities.  The juvenile delinquent is now 15 years old and goes to high school in Nanjing.  Amazingly, he had told his parents about the incident when it happened and had already been punished.  Nonetheless, his mother issued the following statement:  "We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China."

At this point, you might be asking yourself:  Is this subject really worthy of a DUNER BLOG?  Aside from bringing up the subject of China's state-insured-nation-worshipping, what point are we trying to make?  Answer: We want to warn fellow international travelers of a new trend: Chinese Tourists.  According to the World Tourism Organization, China now has more international travelers than any other nation on earth.    Last year, they spent $102 billion dollars on overseas trips.  That means Germany is now #2 and the USA and UK are #3 and #4.  The other surprise on the list is Russia at #5.  It's another communist nation that recently lifted restrictions on international travel for its citizens...who are leaving in droves.

Finally, we'd like to touch on the odd nature of graffiti itself.  See, Ding Jinhao's tagging has now become a tourist spot in itself.  It's not the first time this has happened in Egypt either.  Napoleon's armies carved messages on the great pyramids back in 1805.  Nowadays, people go to Cheops to see the graffiti.  Also in the 1800's: Lord Byron notoriously carved his name on the Temple of Poseidon in Attica.  Nowadays, people crowd around to photograph that!  Despite these exceptions, we here at the DUNER BLOG feel graffiti and all forms of vandalism are bad.  Even if you're a famous poet, conquering soldier or a snotty-nosed teenager...don't do it.  

NOTE: This does not include the dozen "DUNERs" written in wet cement on Berkeley and San Francisco sidewalks.

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