Chinese Tour Groups Suck
Panpan Wang

Thank you, Panpan Wang, for this illuminating piece. I live in Salt Lake City and once in a while ride my bike out to the marina and yacht club on the Great Salt Lake, about 25 miles from town. This place also happens to be a favorite stop for many Chinese tourists traveling by bus from Old Gold Mountain through the Wild West to Las Vegas. Some days there are literally hundreds of Mainland Chinese tourists (dressed and behaving exactly as you describe) wandering around the parking lot, lining up for the rudimentary restrooms, and once in a while looking out over the vast lake to the desert mountains beyond, when the air pollution isn’t too bad. I know, to them, I must be an absurd sight — a middle aged white man dressed in a bright red and dark black Lycra bike kit, fingerless red gloves, sun glasses, wearing a bright white and black plastic helmet, eating an energy bar (what might look to them like a dog turd), and drinking from a bright orange plastic bottle. Often I am mobbed by members of the tourist groups wanting a picture with me and my bike. Once I’ve posed for one or two groups, ten or twenty will line up and wait for their turn for a picture with me. Sometimes they ask me to take a picture of all of them standing with my bike in front of the Great Salt Lake Marina sign. At first, I was offended and felt like I was being treated like some kind of odd local wildlife. After reading your article, I realize that I AM odd local wildlife. The next time I see the “Fast Deer,” “Lucky Executive,” and “Golden Phoenix” busses I will have a much better understanding of how exotic (and truly strange) our corner of the western desert must seem to them. Thank you again. Your story is a generous gift.

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