Part of the cultural experience of traveling through and living in Asia is learning to enjoy the local cuisines, but everywhere I go, The Donald is there (as in Ronald McDonald).
I don’t really like McDonald’s, but I do like western food, and it’s EVERYWHERE! Globalization is alive and well in Asia. No matter what country I visit, I can find at least half of the following: The Sizzler, Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Auntie Anne’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Baskin Robbins, TGI Fridays, KFC, Wendy’s…. and a host of other American food chains. (There are plenty of British chains, too, but I don’t recognize them as quickly.) With all these choices from home, I struggle to force myself out of my comfort zone, and I’m an easy mark for whiny kids who don’t want Thai food for dinner.
Sadly, scarily, all these fast-food and popular restaurants are the most successful “development” of third-world nations that the western nations have been able to accomplish. Asians seem to love them, despite their high prices, but the only real development they bring is bigger bellies and smaller wallets (which both make me feel a little more at home).
Is this some subconscious “misery loves company” strategy on the part of western nations? Are we jealous of emerging Asian economies and trying to sabotage their populations with high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol? It’s working. Some of these countries have already graduated to the next stage in “development” – late-night infomericals for over-priced, under-used exercise equipment and weight-loss scams.
Now that’s progress!