Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

A question for our resident European, Julie

Posted by Kathy G on 1/06/05 at 18:50 (166617)


We are seeing that many Swedish people were vacationing in the area that was hit by the tsunami. I guess it would be equivalent to us in the US going to say, St. Thomas or even Hawaii. To get to Hawaii from the Eastern US is very expensive and not all that common. Is travel from Sweden to Sri Lanka, for example, very expensive? Do people from England vacation down there? Or are there a lot of wealthy people in Sweden? I ask this as a serious question; not in jest. Perhaps others knew that vacationing in the Thailand area was common for Europeans but I was not aware of it.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

wendyn on 1/06/05 at 19:28 (166621)

I was surprised at the same thing Kathy, so I'm glad you asked.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/06/05 at 22:43 (166627)

Yes: people from all over Europe travel to the areas worst hit by the tsunami: Sri Lanka, India, and especially Thailand, where most of the 200 or so Britons who were killed were vacationing. The reason the tsunami caught so many foreign tourists is that the winter season in those parts, November to January, is the so-called cool season, which means it is only very hot (in the 80s and 90s) not extremely or unbearably hot (100s - 120s), so if you're going to Thailand or Sri Lanka, that's when you go. My four sojourns to Tamil Nadu were all in December.

And this may sound awful, but I am sure the fact that thousands of European holiday-makers were killed is what has has kept this disaster high in the headlines for so long. Had it been 'only' poor, non-white people killed, I doubt that the shock, the horror, the ongoing interest in the topic, and above all the huge compassionate response to the relief effort, would have been as great.

As for the expense of such travel, I suppose it depends on what you consider expensive. There are charter flights to most of the popular destinations. I paid around 500-600 pounds for my return flights (not sure how much that translates into in American/Canadian money). I thought it expensive - how does it compare with your travel to Hawaii?

One other point to make about European travel to these destinations, is that holiday entitlement in all European countries is far more generous than what you have in the States (I don't know about Canada). Even in poor, benighted, workaholic Britain, most people get at least four weeks. In France, Germany and Sweden they get a lot more. Most employed people on reasonable incomes take more than one holiday a year - particularly young people without children.

And to answer your other question, yes, there are lots of wealthy people in Sweden. It's a prosperous country: rich in natural resources and a small population.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Kathy G on 1/07/05 at 11:04 (166637)

Thanks for the information, Julie. And Wendy, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who wondered about this!

I think you're absolutely right that if the victims hadn't been white, affluent people we wouldn't be hearing as much about this, although I must say that we are hearing a great deal about the children over there. And last night, I was moved to tears by a report on CNN in which a fellow reported that a village of 7,000 people had only 300 survivors. I taped, but haven't yet watched, a special on CNN last night with Chritianne Ampour (I know I spelled that wrong.) on the plight of the children.

I forget how backward we are in the states about vacation time. Here, many companies cap vacation time at four weeks, no matter how long you've worked for them. At my daughter's new workplace, they include her sick time in her vacation time!

500 pounds translates to $935. A quick search brought up one-way January airfare from Boston to Honolulu as $522, so yes, your fare was very expensive.

I knew that Sweden was rich but it still amazes me that people can afford to go all the way to Thailand.

Thanks for the very interesting information!

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

vince on 1/07/05 at 11:46 (166641)

A significant number of people, sick, mentaly deranged people, go to Thialand and nearby area to indulge their sickness in the sexual abuse of children. I only pray that a great number of them are among the dead. The world is well rid of them.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Carole C in NOLA on 1/07/05 at 13:13 (166646)

Being a government employee, I started with 104 hours annual vacation time (a little over 2.5 weeks). After five years we have 156 hours (a little under 4 weeks) annual vacation time. This time is used to cover any late morning arrivals, errands run, or sickness over the allowed amount, as well as vacations.

But you are right... most Americans don't get this much time off! The benefits are very good in government work. I think people need at least 4 weeks off every year.

Carole C

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/07/05 at 14:14 (166651)

That's pretty mean, Carole! You are right that everyone needs at least four weeks off each year: that is the start point for people new in jobs over here. It is rare for it to include sick leave or anything else, and it generally goes up. Also, it is normal for firms to close down over the Christmas-New Year period, and that ten days or so is not usually included in one's holiday entitlement.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

John H on 1/07/05 at 14:18 (166652)

You can really live on the cheap in Thailand if you want to. I lived there for 2 years. Of course some of the big resort areas where the reporters are reporting from are 5 star hotels, etc. In northern Thailand near the border of Laos there is a town named Chang Mi (spelling). It was once a lepor colony but now is a vacation area for those who are informed. Cheap train transportation if you choose and very inexpensive. The famous Bridge Over the River Kwai is only a few miles from Bankok and a bus ride for a few baht takes you to a very famous bridge and beautiful cemetery full of British soldiers killed by the Japanese building the bridge. I have a number of buddies who retired in Thailand because it was an inexpensive place to live. In fact I saw on TV some American military retired who were first on the scene after the Tsunami and started to organize groups to help save people and recover bodies. When I was there I saw many German and Scandavians who vacationed there. It was not much of an American destination as it is approximately half way around the world. During the war some of the American pilots wives came to Bankok to live while there husbands were flying combat missions out of northern Thailand. I had dinner with a group of 6 of them who all chipped in and rented a house. They wanted to be charitable to the old guy. They also conned me out of my trailer. As a Colonel I had a trailer (half of it) as my living quarters. The lower ranking officers in my unit lived in a houch (open bay with about 10 to a room). When one of the wives in Bankok wanted to come up to the air base I would let them and their husband have my trailer and I moved in with the troops. Sort of a strange war where your wife could watch you take off on a combat mission. I know the higher ups knew about this but looked the other way. The Thai people are some of the most gracious people I have ever met.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

John H on 1/07/05 at 14:20 (166653)

If you go to Thailand by all means avoid the monsoon season.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Carole C in NOLA on 1/07/05 at 14:51 (166656)

Wow! Not counted at all? That sounds like a dream come true. :)

I used 27 hours of my vacation time between Christmas and New Years this year, and thought I was doing pretty well.

We got an 8-hour holiday on New Years' Eve (instead of New Year's Day since that was a Saturday). Then, I worked 45 hours this week instead of 40 to compensate make up for only having 27+8 last week.

We also got Christmas Eve off instead of Christmas Day, since the latter was a Saturday as well.

Then we got off 3 hours early on the 23rd, as a last minute gesture announced that morning.

So, I was off after working 6 hours on the 23rd, until Monday the 3rd, all for only 27 hours vacation time (leaving me 129 hours for the rest of the year).

I feel pretty lucky about that, compared with most people. :)

Carole C

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/07/05 at 16:27 (166662)

That doesn't sound too bad, Carole. Here everyone got Monday and Tuesday off in lieu of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and the Monday after New Year's Day as well as the whole week in between.

I remember that by the end of my being employed full time my holiday entitlement was five weeks plus the Christmas-New Year week, plus I can't recall how many days of sick leave - something like 21. I never took any of those - I was never ill.

Enjoy the rest of your 129 hours!

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Dorothy on 1/07/05 at 16:29 (166663)

I think it was the prolific science fiction writer Isaac Asimov who lived most of his adult life in Sri Lanka, if I recall correctly.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/07/05 at 16:30 (166665)

Dorothy, you are thinking of Arthur C. Clarke.

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Dorothy on 1/07/05 at 16:37 (166667)

Right you are. Thank you for the correction. Please do not tell my husband who is a major science fiction fan and would know 'the error of my ways' immediately!

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

john h on 1/07/05 at 19:35 (166674)

I never have been good for long vacations even to exotic places. Three or four days and I am ready to go home and to work. My wife would stay for months if it was her choice. I do however stay the usual week to make her happy. I think all those years of flying and being gone 2-3 weeks a month changed my perspective. I spent 5 years flying on a regular basis into London,Paris,Frankfurt,Athens,Madrid,Portugal,etc. You would think that would be heaven but after about a year of this it can get old. I got to where I found Thule, Greenland, Ankorage or some other strange places as much fun as the more famous places. I did get to do some strange things when I was young and foolish. Once in Paris I took the subway to where I thought was home at about 2 or 3 in the morning and arrived at the end of the line only to find out that the trains had quit running for the night and I was in some village with nothing open. And yes I did have to fly the next day. Found a cab about 6am. Me and the co-pilot were making a lot of noise down on the walk by the river Scene (spelling) late one night. The Police yelled something in French at us and the co-pilot jumped in the river. What else could I do but follow. The policeman came down to the walk way yelling something in French and eventually walked away. An irate Italian woman ran me out of a public bath in a little hotel in a remote village in northern Italy near Treaste. The bath served the entire floor of the two story hotel and when I went in the tub was nicely filled with hot water. I thought 'excellent service'. About the time I got in the tub a woman entered and begin yelling at me in Italian. She was really angry and I was really scared. I exited the tub and she ran out. I still do not know the rules of who has priority on use of the tubs. I discovered what a bidet was in Paris. Me and the co-pilot pondered this object for some hours before one the hotel employees explained its use. I carried so many currencies in my pockets as we were usually in 3-4 countries on a given trip. Best food in Europe was Pairs. Worst was English (sorry Julie). Most interesting place for me was Greece as I am into history.Learned the metric system pretty good as in Europe all flying information regarding ceiling heights and weather info is given in metrics. Although English is the international flying language you would never know it in many countries. My first year in Europe I thought they were speaking in their native language on the radio but I was usually paired with another pilot who had learned the lingo. Good thing passengers do not know what goes on in the cockpit or they might never fly again. In the old days of the DC-6 nearly all our trips across the North Atlantic were in heavy weather as we were between 12-17000 feet. Since the jet age you are enjoying the sun almost 100% except on landing and take off. Worst place to land by far was Harmon AFB, Newfoundland. Steep glide path between mountains and almost always windy and low ceilings and ice in the winter. Good places to land all over England other than the fog. Long runways and flat terrain. Worst weather for aircraft flying under 20,000 feet is the North Atlantic by far. Ice, bone jarring storms that reach from the states all the way to England. I think we lost 15 -20 military aircraft over the North Atlantic during my year in Iceland. Mostly they just took off from Iceland and were never seen or heard from again. No wreckage, no nothing. Looking at the ocean from 10,000 feet over the North Atlantic it always looks like the 'Perfect Storm' is occuring. Never have wanted to take a cruise in the Atlantic. Keep me in the sky. I got to witness the first ever civilian scheduled trans atlantic flight by a jet in 1955. A Pan Am Boeing 707 who's senior crew appeared to average near 60 yrs old. They stopped in Keflavik, Iceland to refuel. Moving from piston aircraft to jets was a real change. Every thing doubled. Your speed. Your thought process. I can only grasp what it might be like to be flying at 2000 mph as your decision making process must keep up with the speed of the aircraft and you always have to stay ahead of the aircraft in you planning for approaches,etc. Todays pilots are very much system managers as the aircraft are loaded down with computers and electronics. Flying a helicopter requires the use of both hands both feet, both wrist in twisting and at least 3 fingers and thumbs of both hands all at the same time. The new ones which I have not flown are also loaded down with computers. The pilot must learn to also fly with one eye looking through a night vision scope while the other eye is used for normal vision. I have hooked up with one of these helmets and it is like looking through a pipe with one eye and seeing normal with the other and also flying in the dark. I guess in my younger days I could have made the grade with this but when you read about all the helicopter crashes know that a very young man or woman is there using all hands,feet,fingers and looking through one eye with someone shooting at you that can bring you down with one bullet in the right spot. We have a number of women flying these high tech helicopters these days. They are as competitive and gung ho as the men

Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/08/05 at 01:55 (166691)

I won't breathe a word. Trust me.


Re: A question for our resident European, Julie

Julie on 1/08/05 at 02:03 (166692)

Wow, John. THAT was a trip down memory lane if ever there was one. Fascinating: The Sentimental Education of John Holt. What a lot you've seen of the world, even swum in the River Seine at night. (Lucky you escaped without some terrible infection, though perhaps rivers running through cities weren't as polluted as they are now.)

I think I have told you this before, but you do not need to apologise to me for commenting on English food. I am not English. But you do need to come to England again and have a new Eating Experience. London has become the most cosmopolitan city in the world, bar none (yes, even New York, though I think New York does run it a close second) and you would have your work cut out for you even to find an 'English' meal, in the plethora of Italian, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, French, Mexican and you-name-it-London's-got-it restaurants. London is a gastronome's paradise now.

And English food is good. Real English food, that you get outside London, and particularly in the north of Britain. We've had wonderful food in country pubs in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Scotland.

So I think you need a refresher course.